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july 2016

Geologic Column: The dog days of July

As months go, July has some distinctive qualities. In particular, it’s when the so-called dog days of summer begin. Today, we tend to think that dog days refers simply to the hottest part of summer, but the ancient civilizations of Europe had a more astronomically based understanding.

13 Jul 2016

Buried lunar craters filled by lava long ago

Craters dot much of the nearside of the moon. And buried beneath this pockmarked landscape, according to the latest findings from NASA’s two Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft, are the remnants of even more craters, many of which were covered long ago by lava.

12 Jul 2016

Geoscience on Film: Innovation meets tradition for earthquake safety

Doug Prose and Diane LaMacchia have produced documentaries showcasing Earth and the geosciences since 1992. At work on a project delving into the complex interplay of tectonics, natural hazards and humanity in the Himalayan region, LaMacchia and Prose traveled to Nepal and Bhutan in June to investigate recovery and resilience in the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha earthquake. Prose wrote about their recent experiences while there, and filed the following series of posts upon returning home.

11 Jul 2016

Weak magnetic field may have triggered Earth's first mass extinction

For about the first 3 billion years of life, the only living organisms on Earth were microscopic. The Ediacaran Period, between 635 million and 541 million years ago, saw the rise of the first large-scale life, most of which then went extinct at the period’s close — a collapse that scientists have yet to explain. Now, researchers may have found one of the extinction’s drivers: rapid flip-flopping of Earth’s magnetic field — wherein the field’s north and south poles reverse — that could have left the planet and Ediacaran organisms vulnerable to bombardment by harmful cosmic radiation.

08 Jul 2016

Geoscience on Film: Soaking in beautiful Bhutan

Doug Prose and Diane LaMacchia have produced documentaries showcasing Earth and the geosciences since 1992. At work on a project delving into the complex interplay of tectonics, natural hazards and humanity in the Himalayan region, LaMacchia and Prose traveled to Nepal and Bhutan in June to investigate recovery and resilience in the aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha earthquake. Prose wrote about their recent experiences while there, and filed the following series of posts upon returning home.

07 Jul 2016

Travels in Geology: Sculptures of wind and ice: Sleeping Bear Dunes and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshores

Two of the U.S.’s four national lakeshores are in Michigan. Visit them both for a look at how an ice sheet drastically reshaped the landscape, eroding and carving dunes, cliffs and the Great Lakes.

07 Jul 2016

Legend of the Sleeping Bear

Sleeping Bear Dunes gets its name from a Chippewa legend that tells the story of a mother bear and her two cubs who, fleeing a fire in the woods of Wisconsin on the other side of Lake Michigan, plunged into the lake and began swimming to find safe haven.

07 Jul 2016

Getting there and getting around Michigan

The nearest city to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the more remote of the two lakeshores, is Marquette, Mich., where travelers can fly into Sawyer International Airport, typically via connections through Chicago or Detroit. The closest town with lodging is Munising, right next to the lakeshore.

07 Jul 2016

Late Antique Little Ice Age underpinned unrest and upheaval in Europe and Asia

Effects of climate change on society aren’t just a contemporary concern. A new study has found that a cold snap in the sixth and seventh centuries may have been the catalyst for a period of societal turmoil, marked by famine, plague and political tumult.

06 Jul 2016

Earthquakes can jump long distances

Earthquakes are known to “jump” from one fault to another, with the ground ­shaking from one rupture triggering movement on nearby faults. However, evidence for earthquake transference between faults separated by more than a few kilometers has been scarce. Now, researchers looking at two closely timed earthquakes that struck Pakistan in 1997 suggest that earthquakes can jump between faults more than 50 kilometers apart, a finding that may have implications for hazard projections in Southern California and elsewhere.

04 Jul 2016

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