Volcanic activity contributed to first of the "Big Five" mass extinctions

During the Ordovician, between about 488 million and 444 million years ago, plant life first emerged on land, while primitive fish and a variety of marine invertebrates flourished in the oceans. Toward the end of the period, however, a mass extinction — the first of the so-called “Big Five” Phanerozoic extinctions — wiped out roughly 60 percent of all marine invertebrate genera. In a recent study, researchers shed new light on a possible cause of the Late Ordovician extinction: volcanic activity.

15 Nov 2017

Troubled waters: Lead lurking in U.S. water supplies

In 2014, Flint, Mich., started drawing its drinking water from the highly corrosive Flint River, which leached lead from old pipes, exposing the population to lead poisoning. Such aging infrastructure exists in towns across the nation, leaving many to wonder if what happened in Flint could happen to them. The answer in many cases is yes.
30 Oct 2017

T-A-P (Testing, Awareness, Prevention)

Not all water corrosivity issues are obvious. For this reason, Ryan Gordon, a hydrogeologist at the Maine Geological Survey, recommends that regular tests be conducted at least once every three years.

30 Oct 2017

Geomedia: Books: Vivid anecdotes abound in "Eruption: The untold story of Mount St. Helens"

The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens was a pivotal event in the geologic careers of many volcanologists. Maybe it drove them to the geosciences, maybe it opened a door for more monitoring and research jobs in the United States, or maybe it was just an excellent example that the lower 48 states are volcanically active. However, as seminal as the 1980 eruption was, it happened almost 20 years before most of today’s college students were even born. To them, the eruption is another example from history, like Pelée or Vesuvius. They likely don’t have the same visceral reaction to it as those who remember it (even if, like me, you were still in preschool when the eruption occurred.)

26 Oct 2017

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

On Oct. 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire burned through 900 hectares of the city, killing as many as 300 people and leaving another 100,000 homeless. More than 17,400 buildings were destroyed and financial losses totaled more than $200 million at the time (equivalent to $3.7 billion in 2016 dollars).

08 Oct 2017

New method offers improved monitoring of Kilauea

Kilauea Volcano, on Hawaii’s Big Island, has been erupting continuously since 1983, mostly releasing relatively slow-moving lava flows, although rare violent eruptions have occurred. Both explosive and nonexplosive eruptions pose risks to tourists, roughly 2.6 million of whom visit Kilauea annually, as well as to island residents whose safety and property have at times been put in jeopardy by flowing lava.

04 Oct 2017

Less-developed countries with high climate risk need better access to weather and climate data

Rising seas, more persistent droughts and more frequent severe weather events are predicted to occur in the coming decades as the planet continues warming. In a new study, researchers who analyzed spending internationally on weather and climate information services (WCIS) suggest that access to reliable WCIS is becoming more vital for communities and governments looking to assess their vulnerability and to safeguard people and property amid changing climates.

22 Sep 2017

When schools shake: Keeping students and teachers safe during earthquakes

After seismic events strike schools, ensuring that people are safe and education is minimally disrupted are simple goals with complex solutions. Researchers and stakeholders are working together to navigate the maze of financial, social and technical challenges involved.
04 Sep 2017

Benchmarks: August 31, 1886: Magnitude-7 earthquake rocks Charleston, South Carolina

In late August 1886, Charleston, S.C., was in the grip of a heat wave. It was so hot during the day that many offices were closed and events were postponed until later in the evening when temperatures had cooled. So, when powerful seismic waves rippled across the city at 9:51 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 1886, people were sent scrambling not just out of homes, theaters and the opera house, but out of churches, offices and other buildings in which they might not have otherwise been at that late hour.

31 Aug 2017

Dust influences pollution levels in eastern China

Air pollution often enshrouds cities in eastern China in a thick haze that impairs visibility and causes respiratory health problems. Emissions from human activity are mainly to blame, but climate researchers now report that natural forces — namely, dust kicked into the air by wind — can also exert a strong control over how much pollution persists in the air.

22 Aug 2017