Geophysics

geophysics

A new tool for atmospheric studies

Scientists are putting GPS to work in some unexpected new ways, including in atmospheric research.

30 Apr 2014

A truly global system

Like the GPS navigation system in your car or smartphone, a high-precision GPS receiver uses signals from satellites to determine the distance from the receiver to the satellite. But that’s where the similarities end. 

30 Apr 2014

Observing a plate boundary

The U.S. Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO), a component of EarthScope, includes more than a thousand continuous GPS stations arrayed across the western United States and Alaska. 

30 Apr 2014

Faking quakes at full scale: Giant shake tables simulate earthquakes to make buildings safer

At a few select facilites around the world, engineers are able to shake full-size buildings to learn how to make them safer during earthquakes. Take a look at the massive shake tables that make it possible.

23 Apr 2014

Slab tear explains perplexing Colombian earthquake activity

Colombia sits atop a restless intersection of tectonic plates: The Caribbean Plate is subducting along the country’s northern coast while the oceanic Nazca Plate subducts along its western edge. In between, the narrow but buoyant Isthmus of Panama continues to crash into South America like a battering ram. The complex pattern of earthquake activity produced by these disparate forces has long confounded scientists hoping to decipher the plate structure beneath Colombia.

08 Nov 2013

Hidden graves give up their secrets to geologists

As of April 2013, more than 61,000 people were registered as missing in Colombia, many of whom are feared to be victims of the country’s narcotics-fueled gang wars and, presumably, buried in clandestine graves. Now a new study comparing the most effective remote sensing tools for finding hidden graves may help bring justice for victims and closure for families.

08 Aug 2013

Iowa impact crater confirmed

An airborne geophysical survey mapping mineral resources in the Midwest has confirmed that a 470-million-year-old impact crater nearly five times the size of Barringer (Meteor) Crater in Arizona lies buried several hundred meters beneath the town of Decorah, Iowa.

07 Jul 2013

Natural gas production linked to earthquakes in Texas

A saltwater disposal well, a part of the natural gas production process, may have been responsible for triggering a series of minor earthquakes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas in 2008, according to a recent study.

11 May 2010

Geoscientists Without Borders: Geologists Lend a Hand

Craig Beasley’s one-year term as president of the Society for Exploration Geophysicists had a challenging start. After about two months in office, a magnitude-9-plus earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra on Dec. 26, 2004, triggering a powerful tsunami that killed more than 225,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

SEG members wanted to help, but did not know how to contribute their expertise. “I could encourage members to donate money and time, but how does that distinguish a contribution from SEG from what people would normally do?” Beasley says.

08 May 2009

Danger in the Deep: Chemical weapons lie off our coasts

Flash back to 1944: It’s a misty Hawaiian morning and a military vessel carries a nervous crew and deadly cargo from Pearl Harbor into the Pacific. The crew’s instructions are clear: Travel eight kilometers out to sea and dump tons of unused chemical weapons that are piled on deck. As the ship reaches the open ocean, the captain slows the vessel and sailors start pushing their lethal freight into the water. During the next half-hour, several thousand chemical bombs go overboard and into the abyss.

27 Jan 2009

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