Taxonomy term

september 2014

In Turkey, the older the fault, the bigger the quake: Good news for Istanbul?

For decades, Istanbul has been bracing for a major earthquake from the dangerously active North Anatolian Fault, which passes just 20 kilometers south of Turkey’s largest city. A new study looking at the age of the fault zone may set a cap on the maximum quake size that could hit Istanbul, suggesting that the older, more mature sections of the zone in the east are capable of bigger earthquakes than the younger sections in the west, which are near the city.

05 Sep 2014

On the Web: Personalizing drought data with digital tools

One of the hardest parts of hazard mitigation is communicating risk to the public. With drought, people feel the heat while it’s happening but understanding how the current drought fits into past trends — and their implications for the future — is harder to grasp. Now, several online tools are available to help the public and decision-makers look at drought data.

04 Sep 2014

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

Nutrient runoff feeding Baltic Sea dead zone

Low-oxygen, or hypoxic, deep waters now extend over an area of about 60,000 square kilometers in the Baltic Sea, a tenfold increase compared to 115 years ago, according to a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The hypoxic zone has fluctuated substantially in that period, but much of the expansion has occurred in recent decades as a result of large inputs of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from human activities such as agriculture, reported Jacob Carstensen of Aarhus University in Denmark and colleagues.

03 Sep 2014

Calculating America's energy landscape

Studying the landscape-scale impact of energy development requires working at the interface where policy, business, activism, scientific research and stakeholders overlap.

02 Sep 2014

Living in the shadow of Mauna Loa: A silent summit belies a volcano's forgotten fury

After 30 years, no one is quite sure when Hawaii’s Mauna Loa will erupt again. History warns us that the volcano’s current silence is anomalous, and the odds are good that it will reawaken within the next couple of decades. So geologists are already taking steps — upgrading their monitoring tools and talking with the public — to prepare for another eruption.

01 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

Kilauea vs. Mauna Loa

In the 19th century, Mauna Loa was the most active volcano in the world. Today, Kilauea is the star. Tourism agencies, journalists, civil defense, and even U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) geologists have played a role in funneling public attention toward the Big Island’s youngest volcano. Consequently, some people ignore the other volcanic threats on the island, including Mauna Loa. Without knowing the differences between the two volcanoes, people walk away thinking that if they have seen and interacted with one, they know them all.

01 Sep 2014

Mississippi sand still abundant

Flood control measures along the Mississippi River have likely saved countless lives, but the effects of upstream dams and containment on the river’s delta have been ecologically catastrophic: In the past 80 years, more than 5,000 square kilometers of wetlands along the Louisiana coast have been starved of vital sediment and drowned. Now, researchers have found that the lower river contains a significant reservoir of the sand needed to mitigate land loss at the river’s mouth — if  it can be diverted downstream.

01 Sep 2014

How to keep the flows out: Build a wall

The upper northern slopes of Mauna Loa are a painter’s palette of red, brown and black lava rocks. A cluster of scientific buildings composing the Mauna Loa Observatory and Solar Observatory stands out with their reflective white and silver rooftops against the Mars-like backdrop.

01 Sep 2014