Taxonomy term

plate tectonics

Down to Earth With: Terry Plank

“You’re a genius! Now here’s half a million dollars to use however you please.”

That, in essence, was what geochemist and volcanologist Terry Plank was told when she received a surprising phone call early last October. The voice on the other end of the line was that of Robert Gallucci, president of the MacArthur Foundation, who was calling to inform her that she’d been selected to receive one of the foundation’s 23 fellowships — the so-called “genius grants” — for 2012. The prestigious, “no strings attached” grants award $500,000 over five years to innovative individuals to allow them the flexibility to pursue creative, often otherwise out-of-reach interests.

18 Feb 2013

Benchmarks: September 21, 1930: Alfred Wegener begins a fateful polar expedition

In September 1930, 15 polar explorers set out from their base camp at Kamarujuk on the west coast of Greenland. The team was carrying much-needed supplies 400 kilometers inland to two meteorologists waiting at a satellite camp at Eismitte at the center of the Greenland icecap. The team, consisting of German meteorologists Alfred Wegener and Fritz Loewe as well as 13 Greenlanders, traveled slowly, their dogsleds hindered by storms and frigid temperatures. All but Wegener, Loewe and one Greenlander, Rasmus Villumsen, were forced to turn back by the blizzards. At last, the three explorers managed to reach the icecap camp at the end of October.
03 Sep 2010

China quake kills at least 400


In 2008, it was the Longmen Shan Fault, a 250-kilometer long thrust fault that divides the 6,500-meter-high Tibetan Plateau from the lower Sichuan basin, which ruptured. However, today's series of quakes occurred several hundred kilometers to the northwest, in the eastern Tibetan Plateau, and were the result of strike-slip faulting, according to USGS.

14 Apr 2010

Large earthquake rattles Baja California

A magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck northern Baja California, Mexico, at about 3:40 p.m. local time Sunday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. At least two people were killed, several hundred were injured and thousands were without power as a result of the quake. Aftershocks as high as magnitude 5.0 have continued to rattle the region today.

05 Apr 2010

Venus' gentler, Earth-like past

Today, the surface of Venus is a hellhole, seared by scorching temperatures, crushing pressures and a toxic atmosphere of carbon dioxide with occasional clouds of sulfuric acid. But evidence is mounting that billions of years ago, Earth’s evil twin planet was a much more pleasant place — a second blue marble covered by water. The latest data come from the European Space Agency’s Venus Express spacecraft, which has spent three years constructing a detailed map of the surface of the planet’s southern hemisphere and finding new evidence for Earth-like plate tectonics and a watery past.

07 Oct 2009

Chemical clues reveal ancient geography

Reconstructing the history of supercontinents requires careful detective work. A variety of geological processes wipes the evidence clean, like a burglar who smears away his fingerprints. Yet even the most cautious criminals leave clues behind — and so do supercontinents.

07 Oct 2009

Shell tectonics may explain Mars mysteries

Mars may be mythologically known as the Red Planet, but its topography can be as captivating as its celestial glow. Several striking features stand out with only a glance at a topographic map of Mars: the odd distribution of land on its surface and the equatorial string of giant volcanoes known as the Tharsis Rise. Since Mars has no plate tectonics, how these unique features formed has been a longstanding mystery.

16 Jan 2009

Large earthquake rocks Iran oil port

Wednesday, Sept. 10, 12:30 p.m. EDT — At 3:30 p.m. local time, a magnitude-6.0 earthquake struck Iran near the southern port city of Bandar Abbas. Tremors from the quake were felt as far away as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

USGS detected a magnitude-4.8 aftershock about 30 minutes after the quake, although John Bellini, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo., says that many other aftershocks have and will bypass U.S. detection.

10 Sep 2008