Taxonomy term

july 2014

Travels in Geology: Peru's petrified forest: The struggle to study and preserve one of the world's most remarkable fossil sites

Tucked high in the Andes Mountains of northern Peru is a remarkable fossil find: a 39-million-year-old petrified forest preserved in volcanic deposits in nearly pristine condition. Researchers are working to preserve the site.
 

07 Jul 2014

Searching for evidence of ancient subduction

For billions of years, portions of Earth’s rigid surface have dipped and sunk along plate boundaries to be recycled back into the mantle below. Determining when the process of subduction began — a fundamental step in Earth’s physical, and possibly biological, evolution — has proved difficult for geoscientists due to the challenges of interpreting evidence from the few remnants of early Earth that remain. In a recent study, researchers have now proposed a new approach for identifying ancient subduction zones that could help tackle the longstanding question.
 

06 Jul 2014

Mercury's shrinkage underestimated

In addition to its myriad craters, Mercury is marked by mountainous ridges and faults that, similar to wrinkles that emerge on an overripe apple as it shrinks, are signs that Mercury’s surface has cracked and buckled as the planet has cooled. From previous observations, it was estimated that Mercury’s radius had decreased 1 to 3 kilometers in about the past 4 billion years, but according to a new study in Nature Geoscience, the amount of contraction has been greatly underestimated.
 

06 Jul 2014

Message in a bottle gourd

For about the last 10,000 years, bottle gourds (Lagenaria siceraria) have been cultivated the world over for food and crafted into canteens, instruments and other utilitarian goods. But just how they became globally ubiquitous by the Early Holocene has long been a subject of debate among anthropologists and archaeologists. Some scientists thought the plant migrated with humans from Africa to Asia and, eventually, across the Bering land bridge to the Americas. But a new study suggests it’s unlikely the plants would have survived the long trek through harsh Arctic conditions, and instead offers a different globe-tripping hypothesis for everyone’s favorite dried fruit-turned-drinking vessel.

04 Jul 2014

Travels in Geology: Basalt cliffs and columns along Nothern Ireland's Causeway Coast Way

Like its neighbor to the south, Northern Ireland is renowned for its green vegetation, but the rocks that underlie this part of the Emerald Isle are also legendary. The Antrim Coast famously hosts a fantastic hike along the coast to one of the most striking examples of columnar basalt in the world, the Giant’s Causeway

03 Jul 2014

Between rocks and hard places

If you are interested in exploring Northern Ireland but are unsure about going it alone, the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland offers custom-guided landscape tours to any and all of Northern Ireland’s natural attractions, including the Causeway Coast, Mourne Mountains and Sperrin Mountains. Experienced guides will take you on half-day or all-day trips highlighting the region’s geology, history and folklore. The “Between Rocks and Hard Places” tours can be scheduled seven days a week, year-round, for groups of up to 29 people. For more information, email gsni@detini.gov.uk and see www.bgs.ac.uk/gsni/landscape.

03 Jul 2014

The legend of Finn Maccool's Causeway

A long time ago, when giants ruled the Earth, a massive Irishman named Finn MacCool was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Now, as everybody knows, giants can’t swim, so MacCool, an expert mason and not one to back down from a fight, built a walkway of hexagonal stones across the North Channel to the coast of Scotland so the two behemoths could meet.

03 Jul 2014

Getting there and getting around the Causeway Coast

To visit the Causeway Coast, fly into Dublin or Belfast and rent a car or take a bus to Ballycastle, Bushmills or Portstewart. During the summer tourism season, public buses run on a regular schedule up and down the coast. Accommodations are available in most of the small towns, ranging from high-end hotel rooms in Portstewart to quaint bed-and-breakfasts to budget hostels. More information on the Causeway Coast Kayak Association’s Port Moon Bothy hut can be found at: www.canoeni.com/canoe-trails/north-coast-sea-kayak-trail/access-point/po....

03 Jul 2014

Belugas, climate, mercury and cancer

Overall, the beluga whale population in the Arctic is robust and healthy, reported Stephen Raverty, a veterinary pathologist with the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture and the University of British Columbia who has long studied belugas, at the AAAS meeting.

03 Jul 2014

Parasites spread across the Arctic under the 'new normal'

The last several decades have seen Arctic sea-ice minimums drop by more than half in sea-ice area and more than three-quarters in volume. With current models expecting further reductions, scientists are calling it the “new normal” and are trying to grasp its implications — one of which is the occurrence of pathogens never before seen in the Arctic.

02 Jul 2014

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