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

Thirty years ago this month, on Dec. 7, 1988, a magnitude-6.8 earthquake shook the northern region of the then-Soviet republic of Armenia. At 11:41 a.m., the earthquake damaged nearly a third of the small country and destroyed the town of Spitak near the epicenter.

07 Dec 2018

Geomedia: Gifts: Holiday Gift Guide

Gifts can be hard to find for the geek that’s got it all. If the science devotees in your life have already collected every piece of science memorabilia, or cleared out the shelves in the gift shop at their favorite museum, this guide might be just the solution. From inventive home and office items to engaging toys for kids, EARTH has curated a list of unique, fun gifts that any science lover would be happy to receive.

01 Dec 2018

Geomedia: Books: "This Gulf of Fire" recounts the 1755 Lisbon disaster

In the panoply of history-altering natural disasters, Lisbon’s destruction on All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1, 1755, stands out. You may have heard of this Portuguese calamity in the context of tsunami coverage, but it was a sequence of three disasters — an earthquake, a tsunami and a fire — that combined to level much of the city and claim tens of thousands of lives. Some scholars suggest a fourth calamity was the way the aftermath was handled, but author Mark Molesky seems more charitably inclined on that front. In “This Gulf of Fire: The Destruction of Lisbon, or Apocalypse in the Age of Science and Reason,” Molesky, a historian at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, has written the definitive scholarly account — if not the most accessible one — of that fateful day and its historical aftermath.

19 Nov 2018

Benchmarks: November 16, 1990: Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is established

Off the tip of the Florida Peninsula lies the world’s third-largest living coral reef, the Great Florida Reef. The only barrier reef system in North America, it is composed of a system of individual reefs that together extend 270 kilometers south of Miami through the Florida Keys, a crescent-shaped chain of more than 1,500 islands, about 30 of which are inhabited. This ecological treasure is home to more than 6,000 species of marine life, including colorful fish and endangered sea turtles, as well as extensive seagrass beds, mangrove islands and about 1,000 shipwrecks.

16 Nov 2018

Down to Earth With: Geologist Robert Brinkmann

As a child, Robert Brinkmann was always curious about rocks. He wondered how they got where they were and why they were different from each other. Brinkmann grew up in the farm country of southeastern Wisconsin, as well as in the woods in the northern part of the state. After one of his first geology classes in college, he went home and finally understood what he was looking at. “It was such an eye-opening experience to be able to read the landscape,” Brinkmann says.

09 Nov 2018

Mineral Resource of the Month: Phosphate

Phosphate rock refers to unprocessed ore and beneficiated concentrates that contain some form of apatite, a group of calcium phosphate minerals. Apatite in phosphate rock is the primary source for phosphorus in phosphate fertilizers. More than 80 percent of the world’s current production of phosphate rock is mined from sedimentary deposits, which were formed by the deposition of phosphate-rich materials in marine regions. Most of the rest comes from igneous deposits of carbonatites and silica-deficient intrusions. The grade of phosphate rock is classified by the phosphorus pentoxide content.

23 Oct 2018

Down to Earth With: Volcanologist Thorvaldur Thordarson

Despite growing up in Iceland, with Earth’s most volcanically active landscape as his playground, Thorvaldur Thordarson had no idea he would grow up to be a volcanologist. Nor did he suspect that his career path would take him all over the world to witness eruptions and aftermaths on six continents.

19 Oct 2018

Geomedia: Film: 'First Man' Navigates Neil Armstrong's Journey Between Two Worlds

First Man” is a vivid depiction of Neil Armstrong’s life during NASA’s ambitious and terrifying program to reach the moon. The film uses exquisite cinematography to portray the crowning achievement of the space race — Armstrong becoming the first human to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969. Directed by Damien Chazelle, who won an Academy Award for his direction of “La La Land,” the film navigates a fine line among the triumphs and tragedies of the Gemini and Apollo missions, while also telling the story of the home lives of the astronauts and their families. The dynamics in this human drama cannot be solely explained by physics.

12 Oct 2018

Benchmarks: October 11, 1899: Second Boer War begins, fueled by discovery of gold

The 1886 discovery of gold on a farm in the Witwatersrand region of southern Africa drove the growth of Johannesburg, and gold mining has aided the South African economy for more than a century since. But gold, and diamonds, also fueled the Second Boer War, one of the most destructive armed conflicts in Africa’s history. The war resulted in the deaths of nearly 100,000 people, including tens of thousands of Boer women and children who died in British concentration camps. The consequences of the war, including gold mining’s lasting environmental legacy, and the rise of Afrikaner nationalism that reinforced apartheid, are still felt today.

11 Oct 2018

Benchmarks: September 6, 1869: Pennsylvania's Avondale coal mine fire kills 110, igniting reform

In the mid-19th century, American industry was fueled by coal, which was provided largely by the anthracite coal mines of eastern Pennsylvania. The work drew tens of thousands of immigrants, including experienced English and Welsh miners, and many fleeing the Irish Potato Famine. But the work was dangerous, and each year thousands of workers died in the mines and many thousands more were seriously injured. 

06 Sep 2018

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