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may 2011

D-Day's Legacy: Remnants of invasion linger in beach sands

Before dawn on June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops began storming the shores of Normandy, France, in what would be the turning point of World War II. Troops poured out of planes and off ships along an 80-kilometer stretch of coastline. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 airplanes supported the ground troops. The battles were bloody and brutal, but by day’s end, the Allies had established a beachhead. Gen. Dwight D.

27 May 2011

Hazardous Living: Italian seismologists on trial for manslaughter

Last June, EARTH reported that seven Italian scientists were under investigation and might be charged with manslaughter for not predicting (and warning the public about) the magnitude-6.3 earthquake that struck L’Aquila, Italy, in April 2009. By last fall, it looked like the charges might be dropped – with the support of many of the world’s seismologists.

26 May 2011

Energy Notes: January 2010-2011

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit www.api.org.

 
20 May 2011

Mysterious disease sounds the death knell for bats

These are dark days for bats. Hundreds of thousands of tiny white-nosed bats have died over the past few winters, falling to cave floors across the eastern United States. The killer is White Nose Syndrome, a mysterious disease inflicted by an unusual cold-loving fungus that attacks bats while they are hibernating. Come spring, as few as 5 percent of the bats in heavily infected roosts are still alive.

18 May 2011

Japan's megaquake and killer tsunami: How did this happen?

On March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. local time, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake ruptured a 500-kilometer-long fault zone off the northeast coast of Japan. Its epicenter was 130 kilometers off Sendai, Honshu; it occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 32 kilometers. The temblor violently shook northeast Honshu for six minutes, and collapsed its coastline by one meter.

17 May 2011

Don't forget about the Christchurch earthquake: Lessons learned from disaster

In the aftermath of the devastating magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck the Tohoku region of Japan on March 11, attention quickly turned away from a much smaller, but also highly destructive earthquake that struck the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, just a few weeks earlier, on Feb. 22.

17 May 2011

Mineral Resource of the Month: Tantalum

Tantalum — a rare, blue-gray, very hard transition metal — was discovered in 1801 or 1802. However, extensive use of the metal did not begin until 1940, when it became an important material for capacitors used in electronics.

 
14 May 2011

Travels in Geology: Soaking up the Dead Sea: A trip to Israel's salty sea is a geological and historical delight

Almost anywhere you turn in Israel, you’re bound to find fascinating geology or the remnants of ancient human history. Some of the best of both can be found where you might least expect it — near the Dead Sea, one of the least hospitable places on Earth. Located in the western Judean Desert on the border between Israel and Jordan, the sea is an artifact of incredible tectonic activity, which also birthed the jagged mountains that surround one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water.

07 May 2011

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah: Earthquakes or Volcanoes?

The name of the Dead Sea’s Mount Sodom comes from the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Old Testament says God destroyed the cities with fire and “flaming smoke” for the sins of their inhabitants. God allowed Lot and his family to flee the destruction. But Lot’s wife disobeyed God’s orders and was turned into a pillar of salt. Mount Sodom is made almost entirely of halite — sodium chloride — and among the formations near the Dead Sea is a pillar known as Lot’s Wife.

 
07 May 2011

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