Tag Archives | Geology
Edwin Cartlidge writes on Science:
A project to drill deep into the heart of a “supervolcano” in southern Italy has finally received the green light, despite claims that the drilling would put the population of Naples at risk of small earthquakes or an explosion. Italian news agency ANSA quoted project coordinator Giuseppe De Natale of Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology as saying that the office of Naples mayor Luigi de Magistris has approved the drilling of a pilot hole 500 meters deep.
The Campi Flegrei Deep Drilling Project was set up by an international collaboration of scientists to assess the risks posed by the Campi Flegrei caldera, a geological formation just a few kilometers to the west of Naples that formed over thousands of years following the collapse of several volcanoes. Researchers believe that if it erupted, Campi Flegrei could have global repercussions, potentially killing millions of people and having a major effect on the climate, but that such massive eruptions are extremely rare…
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Just your daily dose of news on mysterious soft eggs allegedly found inside Mars meteors that crashed into Africa. I’d be afraid to hold it. The Sun writes:
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Scientists claim this egg-shaped object is the final proof of life on Mars after finding it inside a meteorite from the Red Planet.
Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe [of Cardiff University] said the globule from the rock named Tissint is rich in carbon and oxygen and insisted they could only have been produced by living organisms. He added that they could not have been caused by contamination when they fell to Earth. PhD student Jamie Wallis, who was working with Dr Wickramasinghe, said: “All the indications are that structures such as we have found are evidence of life on Mars. “The spheres are probably remnants of polysaccharide shells surrounding algal type cells.”
The meteorite was named after the village where it came down in the Sahara desert in Morocco last July.
Zhigang Peng, associate professor in School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has converted the earthquake’s seismic waves into audio files. The results allow experts and general audiences to “hear” what the quake sounded like as it moved through the earth and around the globe.
“We’re able to bring earthquake data to life by combining seismic auditory and visual information,” says Peng, whose research appears in the March/April edition of Seismological Research Letters.
“People are able to hear pitch and amplitude changes while watching seismic frequency changes. Audiences can relate the earthquake signals to familiar sounds such as thunder, popcorn popping and fireworks.”
The different sounds can help explain various aspects of the earthquake sequence, including the mainshock and nearby aftershocks …
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In geology as in cancer research, the silver bullet theory always gets the headlines and nearly always turns out to be wrong. For geologists who study mass extinctions, the silver bullet is a giant asteroid plunging to earth.But an asteroid is the prime suspect only in the most recent of five mass extinctions, said USC earth scientist David Bottjer. The cataclysm 65 million years ago wiped out the dinosaurs.
“The other four have not been resolvable to a rock falling out of the sky,” Bottjer said. For example, Bottjer and many others have published studies suggesting that the end-Permian extinction 250 million years ago happened in essence because “the earth got sick.”
The latest research from Bottjer’s group suggests a similar slow dying during the extinction 200 million years ago at the boundary of the Triassic and Jurassic eras. The latest research from Bottjer’s group suggests a similar slow dying during the extinction 200 million years ago at the boundary of the Triassic and Jurassic eras.
Obviously, the best result from inspection would be (additional) evidence of Martian lifeforms. Via the Globe and Mail:
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Scientists are confirming a recent and rare invasion from Mars: meteorite chunks from the red planet that fell in Morocco last July. The fireball was spotted in the sky six months ago, but the rocks weren’t discovered on the ground until December.
The last time a Martian meteorite fell and was found fresh was in 1962. All the known Martian rocks on Earth add up to less than 240 pounds. This is an important and unique opportunity for scientists trying to learn about Mars’ potential for life. So far, no NASA or Russian spacecraft has returned bits of Mars, so the only Martian samples scientists can examine are those that come here in a meteorite shower.
Scientists and collectors of meteorites are ecstatic, and already the rocks are fetching big bucks because they are among the rarest things on Earth — rarer even than gold.
BLDG BLOG examines the emerging field of ice engineering, which may prove more and more useful as naturally-occurring ice formations recede:
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The city of Ulan Bator, Mongolia, will attempt to keep itself cool over the summer by way of a kind of artificial glacier.
According to the Guardian, this “geoengineering trial” will try to “‘store’ freezing winter temperatures in a giant block of ice that will help to cool and water the city as it slowly melts during the summer.” Project directors “hope the process will reduce energy demand from air conditioners and regulate drinking water and irrigation supplies.” The cool air will presumably be pumped through the city via a continuous and monumental network of ducts.
The project aims to artificially create “naleds” — ultra-thick slabs of ice that occur naturally in far northern climes when rivers or springs push through cracks in the surface to seep outwards during the day and then add an extra layer of ice during the night.
The wackiest part of this chain of events? That NASA has undercover agents who orchestrate stings to crack down on space crimes. Via the Guardian:
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A woman who tried to sell what she said was a rare piece of moon rock for $1.7 million was detained when her would-be buyer turned out to be an undercover NASA agent, officials said Friday.
The gray rocks, which are considered national treasures and are illegal to sell, were given to each U.S. state and 136 countries by then-President Richard Nixon after U.S. moon missions and can sell for millions of dollars on the black market.
NASA investigators and Riverside County sheriff’s deputies detained the woman after she met Thursday with an undercover NASA investigator at a restaurant in Lake Elsinore, about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the sheriff’s office said. The investigation was conducted over several months.
NASA planned to conduct tests to determine whether the rock came from the moon as the woman claimed.
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Geologists have known for years that tectonic plates affect climate patterns. Now they say that the opposite is also true, finding that intensifying climate events can move tectonic plates. Using models based on known monsoonal and plate movement patterns, geologists say that the Indian Plate has accelerated by about 20% over the past 10 million years. “The significance of this finding lies in recognising for the first time that long-term climate changes have the potential to act as a force and influence the motion of tectonic plates,” Australian National University researcher Giampiero Iaffaldano told COSMOS.
The researchers plugged information from research on monsoonal patterns and the Indian Plate’s movement into a model, which indicated that the monsoonal erosion that has battered the eastern Himalaya Mountains for the past 10 million years erodes enough material to account for the plate’s counter-clockwise rotation. By gradually shaving off rocks from the eastern flank and decreasing crustal thickness, the monsoonal rains essentially lighten the load on the eastern part of the Indian Plate, causing the plate to actually turn (at geological speed).
The New York Times reports:
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Ebay and other Web sites pulse with hundreds of sales pitches. “The pieces below have an exceptional patina,” a site called Star-bits.com said of 10 pictured fragments.
The ads are for chunks of meteorites, bits of asteroids that have fallen from the sky and are as prized by scientists as they are by collectors. As more meteorites have been discovered in recent years, interest in them has flourished and an illegal sales market has boomed — much to the dismay of the people who want to study them and the countries that consider them national treasures.
“It’s a black market,” said Ralph P. Harvey, a geologist at Case Western Reserve University who directs the federal search for meteorites in Antarctica. “It’s as organized as any drug trade and just as illegal.”
The discovery of a rich and historically significant meteorite crater in southern Egypt, just north of the Sudanese border, has shown the voracious appetite for new fragments.