Taxonomy term

december 2008

Swarm of earthquakes rattles Yellowstone

An abnormally high number of earthquakes has shaken up Yellowstone National Park in the past week. Since Friday, a “swarm” of more than 250 low-magnitude, shallow quakes has repeatedly rattled an area under Yellowstone Lake, with the highest-magnitude tremor — a magnitude-3.9 quake — on Saturday. The seismic activity has raised fears that the quakes may foreshadow a larger earthquake, or a volcanic eruption — but scientists say there isn’t yet reason to fear an eruption.

31 Dec 2008

Down to Earth With: Maurice J. 'Ric' Terman

A general wants to advance his army of tanks, but doesn’t know if the terrain he plans to cross will allow it. Tanks can’t go up steep slopes, for instance. And they can’t knock down large trees or traverse soft ground like peat bogs. That’s where military geologists come in — earth scientists who scope out the terrain to determine its suitability for different types of movement and construction.

23 Dec 2008

AGU: Colorado ski industry owes Great Salt Lake thank you note

SAN FRANCISCO — Colorado skiers have long suspected that snowfall is fluffiest when winds blow salt and dust eastward from the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Now that wisdom is confirmed by science.

After measuring cloud particles from plane flights over Colorado, atmospheric chemist Kim Prather of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla and colleagues determined that nascent snow largely formed as a result of suspended Utah salt.

In order for snow and rain droplets to form, water needs a particle base on which to accumulate. This process is called nucleation.

20 Dec 2008

Energy Notes: August 2007-2008

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

20 Dec 2008

Mineral Resource of the Month: Iron Oxide Pigments

Iron oxide pigments, which may be natural or synthetic, have been used as colorants since early humans began painting on cave walls. Natural pigments are derived from several iron oxide minerals: Red pigments are derived from hematite. Yellow and brown pigments — ochres, sierras and umbers — are derived from limonite. Magnetite provides a black iron oxide pigment. Micaceous iron oxide is a special form of hematite that occurs in thin metallic gray platelets or flakes. Synthetic pigments are manufactured under controlled conditions such that particle size, distribution and shape can be accurately replicated, resulting in superior uniformity, color quality and chemical purity. 

20 Dec 2008

AGU: Mount St. Helens has gone back to sleep

SAN FRANCISCO — After more than three and a half years of continuous eruption, Mount St. Helens in Washington quieted earlier this year. Following intense monitoring efforts, the volcano is officially “asleep,” researchers reported Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

18 Dec 2008

AGU: How scientists should talk climate change

Blogging on EARTH

SAN FRANCISCO — The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment report last year showed a strong consensus among scientists that the climate is warming, thanks largely to anthropogenic greenhouse gases. So one has to wonder why scientists are still struggling to get that message through to both policymakers and stakeholders.

17 Dec 2008

AGU: Climate science report questions likelihood of abrupt climate change

SAN FRANCISCO — A new U.S. Climate Change Science Program report states that abrupt climate change is unlikely to happen over the next century, scientists announced Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. However, the longer-term impacts of climate change could still be severe.

16 Dec 2008

AGU: Aloha, magma! Geothermal engineers drill into surprising lava

SAN FRANCISCO — While drilling deep into Earth, geothermal engineers struck geological gold, opening a never-before-seen window into a classic geologic process: how basalt magma becomes granite. The find, they announced at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union on Tuesday, could amount to the first magma observatory on Earth.

16 Dec 2008

EIA: Worldwide oil demand will plummet in 2009

Blogging on EARTH

The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration is projecting that the global demand for oil will plummet even faster next year than it did this year — largely because of lower forecasts for global economic growth.

10 Dec 2008