Taxonomy term

sara e. pratt

R.I.P. Nereus

Nereus, the United States’ only full-ocean-depth submersible, was lost at sea on May 10, 2014. The unmanned and remotely operated vehicle was capable of reaching the hadal zone, the ocean region 6 to 11 kilometers deep, and was designed, built and operated by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts. Nereus was at a depth of 9,990 meters in the Kermadec Trench off New Zealand, the fifth-deepest ocean trench in the world, when it lost contact with researchers aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson. Debris later surfaced, which was recovered and determined to be the remains of the vessel. The debris indicated a catastrophic implosion, likely of one or more of the vehicle’s ceramic buoyancy spheres.
 

04 Sep 2014

Benchmarks: September 1, 1957: Fossil Cycad National Monument is dissolved

On Sept. 1, 1957, with the stroke of a pen, the U.S. Congress declared Fossil Cycad National Monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota to be no more. At one time, the site held the world’s largest collection of rare fossil cycad-like plants that thrived during the Cretaceous. Over the years, mismanagement, vandalism and theft left the site barren of fossils — the site never had a staff or visitor center, and was never opened to the public. The site’s initial designation as a national monument, in October 1922, had been brought about by the crusading of one man, Yale University paleobotanist George R. Wieland; in the end, he was also responsible for its demise.

01 Sep 2014

Natural arsenic levels in Ohio soils exceed regulatory standards

A new study in which all 842 soil samples taken in Ohio had more arsenic than recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raises the question of what to do when natural background levels in the environment exceed limits set to protect ecosystems and human health.
 

31 Aug 2014

Longer season for Rocky Mountain wildflowers

A nearly 40-year study of Rocky Mountain wildflower phenology has found that almost two-thirds of species have changed their blooming patterns in response to climate change. Flowers are blooming earlier each spring and lasting longer each fall, but not all species are reacting similarly.
 

23 Aug 2014

Benchmarks: August 15, 1984 & August 21, 1986: African killer lakes erupt

Only three lakes in the world are known to explosively release dissolved gases from their bottom waters. All three are in Africa; two have erupted with deadly consequences.
 

18 Aug 2014

Ancient seawater found in Chesapeake Bay impact crater

The oldest seawater discovered to date — up to 145 million years old — has been found in deep sediments below the Chesapeake Bay impact crater. The highly saline water, a remnant from the ancient North Atlantic Ocean, was likely preserved when a 3-kilometer-wide bolide impacted the Delmarva Peninsula 35 million years ago, altering the region’s underlying structural geology, reported U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist Ward Sanford and colleagues in Nature.

19 Jul 2014

Down to Earth With: Scott Sampson

During a recent public lecture at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, dinosaur paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Scott Sampson was making a point as he walked up the aisle when a preschooler charged the stage, grabbed hold of his leg and wouldn’t let go until her mother retrieved her.
 

19 May 2014

Benchmarks: March 27, 1964: The Good Friday Alaska Earthquake and Tsunamis

During the Cold War, many Americans lived in fear of the day their town would be shaken by an atomic bomb blast. On Good Friday 1964, some Alaskans thought that day had come. Beginning at 5:36 p.m., intense ground shaking continued for almost five minutes as the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America struck 22.5 kilometers beneath Prince William Sound, where the Pacific Plate is subducting beneath the North American Plate. The shaking — felt over an area of more than 1.3 million square kilometers — was so severe and long-lived that some survivors later said they first thought the Soviet Union had dropped a nuclear bomb on Anchorage, 120 kilometers northwest of the epicenter.

27 Feb 2014

Tsunamis from the sky: Can meteotsunamis be forecast?

The Great Lakes, along with the U.S. East Coast, the Mediterranean, Japan and many other parts of the world, have a long history of mysterious large waves striking unsuspecting coastlines. Such waves have characteristics similar to tsunamis triggered by earthquakes or landslides. Only recently, however, have scientists unraveled how a storm can create and propagate these far-traveling waves — called meteorological tsunamis or meteotsunamis. 

19 Feb 2014

A history of tsunami-like waves on the Great Lakes

Severe and deadly seiche events are rare on the Great Lakes. In the last century, about 10 major waves have hit the shores of the Great Lakes, but smaller anomalous waves occur much more frequently. Many of the deadliest have occurred on Lake Michigan, but Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie have also experienced them. In addition to the June 26, 1954, event, some others were: 

18 Feb 2014

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