Taxonomy term

october 2014

Saturn's polar hexagon stable over time

Saturn’s peculiar polar “hexagon” has proven perplexing for scientists studying the atmospheric phenomenon since Voyager 1 and 2 first observed it in the early 1980s. Now, an international team has completed the most thorough study of the six-sided jet stream yet, using images and data collected between 2008 and 2014 by the Cassini spacecraft.

07 Oct 2014

For cloud formation, a little aerosol goes a long way

Clouds play a starring role in creating and controlling climate, but cloud physics are notoriously difficult to model, leaving wide gaps in understanding how cloud conditions have changed since the pre-industrial era. A new study looking at pristine regions of the sky in the South Pacific is shining some much-needed light on how particulate air pollution interacts with water vapor to form clouds.

06 Oct 2014

How the Spanish invasion altered the Peruvian coast

When Francisco Pizarro landed in Peru in 1532, his band of Spanish conquistadors set off a chain of far-reaching consequences for the people and economics of western South America. A new study has found that the Spanish invasion also changed the shoreline of northern Peru, by actually ending a several-thousand-year cycle of anthropogenic alteration.

05 Oct 2014

Alaskan megathrust fault more active under Kodiak

In 1964, a magnitude-9.2 earthquake ruptured two segments of the Alaskan megathrust fault along more than 900 kilometers from Prince William Sound to Kodiak Island. Historical and paleoseismic evidence has hinted at previous events in this region in 1788 and about 1100, and now a team working on Kodiak Island has found clues of another large event that struck about 500 years ago. The find makes the recurrence interval for the tsunami-producing fault much shorter, potentially increasing the earthquake and tsunami hazard profile, not only for Alaska, but also Hawaii and California.

05 Oct 2014

First building blocks in Oahu found

The Hawaiian Islands that jut above the waves are merely the tops of a string of towering volcanoes known as the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain. These mountains have formed flow by flow, eruption by eruption, over the past 28 million years as the Pacific Plate moves over a hot spot in the mantle.

03 Oct 2014

Shallow crust magma with a dash of salt and peperite

Magma and salt are not often paired on the menu of geology. But, occasionally, the two do mix — with surprising results. Researchers explored these interactions in a new study, the first to examine how magma emplacement occurs in salt formations.

02 Oct 2014

Energy notes: May 2013-2014

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

01 Oct 2014

Methane lingered after Gulf blowout

Between April 20, 2010, when BP’s Macondo oil well blew out, and July 15, when the well was finally capped, more than 4 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico. Along with it came up to 500,000 metric tons of natural gas, mostly methane. Previously, researchers tracking the fate of those chemicals and their impacts on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem estimated that most of the methane had been consumed by methane-oxidizing bacteria by the end of August 2010.

30 Sep 2014

Where on Earth? - October 2014

Clues for October 2014:

1. This 1.1-kilometer-wide crater is thought to have been formed by a chondritic impactor 30 to 50 meters in diameter that struck Earth about 220,000 years ago. The crater’s name translates to “place of salt,” a reference to the saline deposits that have drawn visitors to the feature since the Late Pleistocene.