Taxonomy term

august 2010

Sinkholes: Florida grapples with the wonders of the not-so-deep

This story was printed in August 2010. In response to the tragic sinkhole event in Tampa, Fla., on March 1, we are reposting this story.

Sinkholes are a natural part of Florida’s landscape, forming when rainwater levels fluctuate. They've occurred naturally for millions of years and they haven’t been a big problem for humans until recently: Florida’s population has increased from fewer than 8 million in the 1970s to just shy of 20 million today — and farmers, snowbirds and Mother Nature have begun to engage in an increasingly acrimonious water war. The addition of humans to the landscape has made the situation increasingly volatile. Now, sinkholes open up seemingly — or literally — overnight. When a sinkhole opened up in a cow pasture, few people cared, but now if one opens up under somebody’s house or under Interstate 4, we pay attention.

01 Mar 2013

Florida swamps - ancient sinkholes

In Florida, the limestone bedrock is protected by a surface layer of sand and clay. Thus, when a sinkhole forms naturally, over centuries, sand and clay fill the void, creating a muddy depression. These depressions tend to evolve into swamps.

01 Mar 2012

Opening up space travel to everyone

Jason Marsh is done waiting around for someone else to transport him into space.

Marsh, a system administrator near Washington, D.C., is preparing to launch a new website for his Open Space Movement (OSM — currently here), a nonprofit project that aims to be a platform for developing and funding aerospace technology — and will be open to anyone who wants to join in. 

31 Aug 2010

Hazardous Living: New Orleans, five years after Katrina

This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s strike on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

27 Aug 2010

Where on Earth? - August 2010

Clues for August 2010:
1. This gorge has been a national park on its host island since 1962. The national park was designed as a refuge for mountain goats, once thought to be endemic to the island. Instead, the goats were likely brought by Bronze Age traders.
2. The hike through this gorge is a grueling 16 (or so) kilometers long, yet it remains one of the region’s most-visited tourist attractions. The hike starts at 1,200 meters elevation and ends at an azure sea with black sandy, rocky beaches.

Water Wise: An oil plume at depth, and NOAA vs. the White House

There is definitely a deep plume of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and it was definitely produced by BP’s damaged Macondo well, according to a report published today in Science. Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts reported unequivocal evidence of a plume at a depth of about 1,100 meters that was at least 35 kilometers long, as of the end of June. The plume, they said, was traveling to the southwest, largely driven by the topography of the seafloor.

20 Aug 2010

Energy Notes: April 2009-2010

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit

20 Aug 2010

Mineral Resource of the Month: Perlite

Formed from viscous lava, perlite is a volcanic glass of rhyolitic composition that contains between 2 and 5 percent water. Most volcanic glasses contain some water, including obsidian (less than 1 percent) and pitchstone (up to 10 percent). Although the exact formation process for perlite is debated, it is theorized that the lava that formed perlite was deposited and cooled near the surface and hydrated over time. Pumice is closely related to perlite in composition but, because of the explosive way in which pumice forms, the rapidly cooling lava entrains air and becomes much less dense than perlite.

14 Aug 2010

Getting There And Getting Around Zürich

Most visitors to Scuol fly into Zürich, and either stay to check out the old yet modern cosmopolitan banking city or grab a train straight to the Lower Engadine Valley. A train ride to Scuol from Zürich’s main station (Hauptbahnhof in German) takes just under three hours, with a transfer at Landquart. The trip provides passengers with amazing views of the Swiss Alps. Check or for fares and schedules. If you plan to continue traveling south by train, into Italy’s dolomites, consider buying a Eurailpass to save some money. Once you’re in Scuol, try the Post Bus for day trips.

11 Aug 2010