Benchmarks Archive

Each month, EARTH reviews a geologically significant event in history.

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2019

February: February 17, 2017: Arkansas Gets a State Dinosaur

January: January 12, 1888: "Schoolchildren's Blizzard" Strikes the Great Plains

2018

December: December 7, 1988: A Massive Earthquake Devastates Armenia

November: November 16, 1990: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Is Established

October: October 11, 1899: Second Boer War Begins, Fueled by Discover of Gold

September: September 6, 1869: Pennsylvania’s Avondale Coal Mine Fire Kills 110, Igniting Reform

August: August 27, 1958: Operation Argus Creates First Anthropogenic Space Weather

July: July 29, 1958: The Birth of NASA

June: June 15, 1991: Mount Pinatubo Erupts

May: May 3, 2003: New Hampshire’s Old Man of the Mountain Falls

April: April 4, 2011: Air France Flight 447 Wreckage Found Using Modern Oceanography Tools

March: March 29, 1912: Scott’s South Pole Journey Ends in Death

February: February 12, 1986: France and the U.K. sign the Treaty of Canterbury, paving the way for the Chunnel

January: January 25, 1968: The Last Firefall: A Yosemite Tradition Flames Out


2017

December: December 5, 1952: The Great Smog Smothers London

November: November 18, 1929: Turbidity Currents Snap Trans-Atlantic Cables

OctoberOctober 8, 1871: The deadliest wildfire in American history incinerates Peshtigo, Wisconsin

September: September 23, 1806: Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery Return from the West

August: August 31, 1886: Magnitude-7 Earthquake Rocks Charleston, South Carolina

July: July 15-24, 1975: Apollo-Soyuz Mission Launches Space Collaboration

June: June 1977: First Excavations at Nebraska’s Ashfall Fossil Beds

May: May 23, 1967: Space Weather Forecasters Avert War

April: April 24, 1990: The Hubble Space Telescope Is Launched

MarchMarch 11–13, 1888: The Great Blizzard of 1888 Paralyzes New York City

February: February 5, 1931 & February 20, 1935: Antarctic Firsts for Women

January: January 31, 1961: Ham the Chimpanzee, First Hominid in Space


2016

December: December 6, 1916: Dinosaur fossils lost at sea in World War I

November: November 13, 1985: Nevado del Ruiz Eruption Triggers Deadly Lahars

October: October 2, 1574: Dutch unleash the ocean as a weapon of war

SeptemberSeptember 8, 1900: Massive hurricane strikes Galveston, Texas

August: August 25, 1916: The National Park Service is established

July: July 26, 1905: The rising Salton Sea swamps the Southern Pacific Railroad

June: June 4, 1783: The era of aviation launches with the first balloon flight

May: May 12, 1905: Andrew Carnegie donates 'Dippy the Dino'

April: April 22, 1995: GLOBE is launched

March: March 17, 1944: The most recent eruption of Mount Vesuvius

February: February 1962 and 1984: John Glenn and Bruce McCandless make space flight history

January: January 10, 2013: Pinnacles National Park is founded


2015

December:  December 10, 1930: Seattle’s Denny Hill Disappears

November: November 1, 1755: Earthquake Destroys Lisbon

October: October 4, 1915: Dinosaur National Monument Founded

September: September 26, 1991: Crew sealed inside Biosphere 2

August: August 3, 1958: USS Nautilus Crosses the North Pole

July: July 22,1960: Mineral discovery ends meteor crater debate

June: June 1, 1840: Setting out for the Copper Country

May: May 8, 1902: The Deadly Eruption of Mount Pelée

April: April 12, 1934: Record Winds Buffet Mount Washington

March: March 29, 1936: Notes on Earth’s inner core

February: February 17, 1977: Hydrothermal Vents Are Discovered

January: January 3, 1970: Lost City Meteorite Is Tracked and Recovered


2014

December: December 26, 2004: Indian Ocean Tsunami Strikes

November: November 8, 2013: Super-Typhoon Haiyan Tests Philippines Warning Protocols

October: October 10, 1913: Atlantic and Pacific Waters Meet in the Panama Canal

September: September 1, 1957: Fossil Cycad National Monument Is Dissolved

August: August 15, 1984 & August 21, 1986: African Killer Lakes Erupt

July: July 15, 1806: Zebulon Pike Launches Southwest Expedition

June: June 16, 1963 & June 18, 1983: Valentina Tereshkova and Sally Ride Become First and Third Women in Space

May: May 6, 1852: Edward Sabine Links the Geomagnetic and Sunspot Cycles

April: April 20, 1832: Arkansas’ Hot Springs Named the First National “Park”

March: March 27, 1964: The Good Friday Alaska Earthquake and Tsunamis

February: February 23 – 24, 1999: Alpine Avalanches Sweep Through Austrian Towns, Killing Dozens

January: January 26, 1905: The World’s Largest Gem-Quality Diamond Is Unearthed


2013

December: December 27, 1888: The Geological Society of America Is Founded

November: November 10, 1934: Arizona Declares War Against California at Parker Dam

October: October 9, 1963: The Vajont Landslide Kills 2,500 in Italy

September: Sept. 26, 1912: Birth of Preston Cloud, Geologist Who Deciphered Banded Iron Formations

August: August 3, 1769: The La Brea Tar Pits Are Described

July: July 28, 1996: Kennewick man is discovered

June: June 1, 1873: The Modoc-Lava Beds War Ends

May: May 12, 2008: Earthquake Devastates Western China

April: April 1916: "Jingo the Stegosaurus" Campaigns to keep the U.S. out of World War I

March: March 1913: The First Complete Geologic Timescale is Published

February: February 3, 1953: Jacques Cousteau's "The Silent World" is Published, Opening a Window on the Underwater World for Millions

January: January 1, 1960: The Discovery of  "Extinct Radioactivity"


2012

December: December 4, 1992: The Seattle Fault Zone Is Described

November: November 29, 1991: The Interstate 5 Dust Storm Injures Hundreds

October: October 1, 1960: Camp Century, a Cold War Ice Fortress Is Built

September: September 23, 1933: The U.S. Oil Industry Arrives in Saudi Arabia

August: August 24, 1873: The Mount of the Holy Cross Is Found, Photographed and Mapped

July: July 1, 1912: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Officially Becomes the First of Its Kind in U.S.

June: June 10, 1886: New Zealand’s Mount Tarawera Erupts

May: May 15, 1909: The Northern Great Plains Earthquake

April: April 1, 1946: Hawaii Tsunami Ushers in a Pacific-wide Warning System

March: March 1961: Project Mohole Undertakes the First Deep-ocean Drilling

February: February 7, 2009: Deadliest Day of Fires Ever Recorded in Australia

January: January 3–5, 1982: 18,000 Landslides Wreak Havoc on the San Francisco Bay Area


2011

December: December 16, 1811-February 7, 1812: The New Madrid earthquakes strike the Heartland

November: November 7, 1940, and November 25, 1990: Washington Suffers a Pair of Debilitating Bridge Failures

October: October 1904: Mineralogy Solves a Murder

September: September 30, 1861: Archaeopteryx is discovered and described

August: August 1576: False Gold Found in Meta Incognita

July: July 9, 1958: Megatsunami Drowns Lituya Bay, Alaska

June: June 22, 1969: The Cuyahoga Burns

May: May 31, 1889: Johnstown Flood Kills Thousands

April: April 9, 1895: James Edward Keeler Confirms Saturn’s Rings Not Solid

March: March 18, 1925: Tri-State Twister Kills 695 People

February: February 26, 1896: Henri Becquerel discovers radioactivity

January: January 23, 1960: Humans Reach the Deepest Point on Earth


2010

December: December 31, 1853: Dinner in a Dinosaur

November: November 27, 1873: Red River Logjam Removed for Good

October: October 13, 1947: A Disaster with Project Cirrus

September: September 21, 1930: Alfred Wegener Begins a Fateful Polar Expedition

August: August 2, 1922: Marines Invade Teapot Dome, Deepen Scandal

 

July: July 11, 1997: Neanderthal DNA Unraveled

June: June 30, 1972: Timekeepers Add First “Leap Second” to Clocks

May: May 18, 1952: Stonehenge’s Age Solved with Carbon-14

April: April 1, 1877: Prospector Begins Search for Tombstone’s Silver

March: March 23, 1821: Bauxite Discovered

February: February 4, 1962: Five Planets Align — But No End of the World

January: January 13, 1404: England Prohibits Alchemy


2009

December: December 1, 1959: Antarctic Treaty Signed

November: November 22, 1859: “On the Origin of Species” Published

October: October 9, 1865: First Successful U.S. Oil Pipeline

September: September 16, 1987: Montreal Protocol Signed

August: August 17, 1959: Hebgen Lake Earthquake and Landslide

July: July 4, 1054: "Birth" of the Crab Nebula

June: June 9, 1938: Huang He Diversion: Largest Act of Environmental Warfare in History

May: May 29, 1919: Solar Eclipse “Proves” Relativity

April: April 26, 1986: Nuclear Explosion at Chernobyl

March: March 1, 1872: “Bone Wars” Heats Up

February: February 12, 1809: Charles Robert Darwin is Born and so Began Modern Biology

January: January 3, 1961: Three Men Die in Nuclear Reactor Meltdown


2008

December: December 3, 1984: Bhopal Gas Leak Kills Thousands

November: November 26,1872: Great Diamond Hoax Exposed

October: October 31, 1992: Vacation Reverses Position on Galileo

September: September 21, 1938: The Great New England Hurricane Strikes