Taxonomy term

july 2016

Sand shouldn't stand in for volcanic ash in jet engine tests

In 2010, the ash cloud produced by Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull Volcano grounded trans-Atlantic and European flights for six days due to fears that the high-flying ash could damage — and stall — jet engines. The eruption, which snarled international air travel and led to billions in economic losses, spotlighted the need for more study of the effects of volcanic ash on jet engines. Many such studies have been done using sand as a convenient stand-in for ash. But a new study shows that some types of volcanic ash behave very differently from sand at high temperatures, suggesting sand is an inadequate analogue.

31 Jul 2016

Snake River eruption history offers glimpse into Yellowstone hot spot dynamics

About 8 million years ago, what is now the Snake River Plain of southern Idaho ripped open in a catastrophic super-eruption that spewed roughly 1,900 cubic kilometers of lava and ash across thousands of square kilometers. New research, based on field studies and geochemical analyses of rocks collected on the plain, shows that this eruption was just one of many massive mid-Miocene volcanic events arising from the Yellowstone hot spot. The work also provides a window into the complex and evolving mantle-crust interactions that have occurred as the North American Plate has moved westward over the hot spot.

30 Jul 2016

Ocean acidification worsens overnight along California coast

Carbon dioxide absorbed by the oceans causes seawater to become more acidic, which, as scientists have long been documenting, can negatively impact marine animals; for example, acidified waters damage the calcite skeletons and shells of organisms like coral, mussels and oysters by causing them to dissolve. In a new study, scientists have found that ocean seawater acidification may also be taking a toll on shelled organisms like coralline algae, bivalves and gastropods residing in tide pools along California’s coastlines.

29 Jul 2016

Geomedia: Film: A glimpse into the geology of 'Star Trek Beyond'

After a three-year wait by anxious fans, “Star Trek Beyond” hit theaters nationwide July 22. The third installment of the latest series of “Star Trek” movies, directed by Justin Lin and co-written by Simon Pegg, features more than two hours of action, stunning scenery and witty banter among the USS Enterprise crew — plus a bit of geology.

28 Jul 2016

Artists draw inspiration from fire and ash

Volcanoes have been shaping human culture and art for millennia — from Roman art to Victorian paintings and literature to modern poetry.
28 Jul 2016

Volcanoes and historical politics

As well as influencing art and faith, volcanoes are often portrayed as the very manifestation of the human condition. Expressions of anger are readily described as “volcanic.” They have become a metaphor for anything of suitable magnitude or wrath. One such painting sees a volcano become the embodiment of the French Revolution.

28 Jul 2016

Asian bats resist white nose fungus

White Nose Syndrome has devastated bats across North America in recent years, but possible genetic resistance to the fungus has now been identified in some species of Asian bats. Researchers comparing North American and Chinese bat populations in a new study have found lower levels of infection — and greater capacities for recovery — in bats from five cave sites in China.

27 Jul 2016

Lunar ice reveals moon's poles shifted

In 2009, NASA’s LCROSS mission sent a rocket crashing into a crater near the moon’s south pole, sending debris into space and confirming earlier indications of the presence of water ice on the moon. In a new study, researchers have found that the distribution of ice around the lunar poles doesn’t quite match what scientists initially expected. Instead of ice deposits centered only on the present-day poles — the darkest, coldest spots on the modern moon — ice appears to also be concentrated several degrees away from either pole. And, these off-axis deposits are directly across from one another, or antipodal, on opposite sides of the moon. The reason for this, the study’s authors say, is that the moon, shortly after its formation, shifted off its original rotation axis, causing new ice deposits to form around the new poles while older ice deposits remained at the original poles.

26 Jul 2016

Benchmarks: July 26, 1905: The rising Salton Sea swamps the Southern Pacific Railroad

On a scorching summer day in 1905, in the middle of a desert, the Colorado River, which had broken free from an irrigation canal and found its way to the lowest point around — the Salton Sink — swamped the Southern Pacific Railroad. Bounded by the Mojave Desert to the north and the Sonoran Desert to the south, the sink lies 70 meters below sea level at the bottom of the Salton Trough. By the time the railroad sealed the breach 18 months later, the Salton Sea stretched 58 kilometers long and 42 kilometers wide, making it California’s largest lake.

26 Jul 2016

Jawless fish more like jawed fish than thought

Vertebrates come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing almost all have in common are jaws, which developed early in vertebrate evolution. Jawless fish, which evolved about 530 million years ago and are thought to be more primitive than their jawed relatives, are an exception. According to a new study, however, the brains of jawless fish have more in common with the brains of jawed vertebrates than previously thought.

24 Jul 2016

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