Tag Archives | Geology

Pieces Of Planet Mars Landed In Africa Last Summer

meteorite Morocco Obviously, the best result from inspection would be (additional) evidence of Martian lifeforms. Via the Globe and Mail:

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.

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Cooling The Future: Artificial Glaciers?

victoricelaBLDG BLOG examines the emerging field of ice engineering, which may prove more and more useful as naturally-occurring ice formations recede:

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.

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Woman Selling Million-Dollar ‘Moon Rock’ Arrested

moon_rocksThe wackiest part of this chain of events? That NASA has undercover agents who orchestrate stings to crack down on space crimes. Via the Guardian:

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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Scientists Find First Evidence Climate Affects Tectonic Plate Movement

Plate TectonicsVia Discover:

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).

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Black-Market Trinkets From Space

The Willamette Meteorite, the largest ever to be found in the United States.

The Willamette Meteorite, the largest ever to be found in the United States.

The New York Times reports:

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.

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Earthquake Hits Burma

275px-Burma-CIA_WFB_MapJust in case things weren’t shaken up enough, Burma gets a taste of Mother Nature. CBC News reports:

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 has hit northeastern Burma, also known as Myanmar.

The quake struck at 8:25 p.m. local time Thursday near the Southeast Asian country’s borders with Thailand and Laos, about 110 kilometres from the northern Thai city of Chiang Rai.

Two earthquakes were initially reported with a 7.0 magnitude, but the U.S. Geological Survey soon amended its report to confirm one shallow quake, centred 10 kilometres below the surface of the earth.

“Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist,” said a report posted on the monitoring agency’s website shortly after the quakes. “The predominant vulnerable building types are wood and unreinforced brick masonry construction.”

The monitor said 600,000 people would have experienced shaking anywhere from strong to violent and moderate to very heavy damage is expected in homes.

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Is U.S. West Coast About To Experience The Next Great Quake?

disinfo reader Aleph Omega sent along this video from Fox News's Cavuto show, saying:
The geologist [Jim Berkland] who predicted 1989 SF earthquake within 4 days is predicting an earthquake on the west coast within the next month, but more likely between 3.19.11 through 3.26.11. His telltale signs are: rare closeness of the moon to earth (full moon is tomorrow), equinoctial tides on the 20th, earth and groundwater tides -- all of which loosen pressure in the earth. Also, massive fish kills in Redondo Beach and whale beaching.
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Earthquake Moved Japan Closer to U.S., Shifted Earth’s Axis, Shortened Day

Japan MovedThis is astounding. Paul Rincon reports for BBC News:

Japan’s coastline may have shifted by as much as 4m (13 ft) to the east following Friday’s 8.9 Magnitude earthquake, according to experts.

Data from the country’s Geonet network of around 1,200 GPS monitoring stations suggest a large displacement following the massive quake.

Dr Roger Musson from the British Geological Survey (BGS) told BBC News the movement observed following the quake was “in line with what you get when you have an earthquake this big”.

The quake probably shifted Earth on its axis by about 6.5 inches (16.5cm) and caused the planet to rotate somewhat faster, shortening the length of the day by about 1.8 millionths of a second.

Japan’s meteorological agency has proposed updating the magnitude of the earthquake to 9.0. [UPDATE: Has been changed to 9.0] This would make it the joint fifth biggest quake since instrumental records began, but other agencies have not yet followed suit.

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New Zealand’s Lost ‘Eighth Wonder Of The World’ Found Deep Underwater

110203124824-largeKiwi scientists have discovered portions of the Pink and White Terraces, a natural wonder which was ravaged by a 19th century volcanic blast. Sadly, the remnants are buried at the bottom of a lake, meaning they will remain hidden away from the eyes of humans. Science Daily reveals:

They were called the Eighth Wonder of the World. Until the late 19th century, New Zealand’s Pink and White Terraces along Lake Rotomahana on the North Island, attracted tourists from around the world, interested in seeing the beautiful natural formations created by a large geothermal system. But the eruption of Mt. Tarawera on June 10, 1886, buried the terraces in sediment and caused the lake basin to enlarge, engulfing the land where the terraces stood. For more than a century, people have speculated whether any part of the Pink and White Terraces survived the eruption.

This week, scientists from New Zealand’s GNS Science, in collaboration with engineers and scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and colleagues from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and NOAA-PMEL, located portions of the long-lost Pink Terraces.

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Supercontinents of Planet Earth: 650 Million Years in Under 2 Minutes (Video)

SupercontinentAlasdair Wilkins on io9.com has a great post about the past and future of our planet's continents. Definitely worth a read:
Earth's continents are constantly changing, moving and rearranging themselves over millions of years — affecting Earth's climate and biology. Every few hundred million years, the continents combine to create massive, world-spanning supercontinents. Here's the past and future of Earth's supercontinets.
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