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World's largest deep earthquake recorded

The seismology world may have a new leader in superlatives: On May 24, 2013, the largest, deep earthquake ever recorded struck beneath the Sea of Okhotsk, between the Kamchatka Peninsula and Russian mainland. Scientists are still puzzling over how such a large event could occur so deep.

30 Oct 2013

Sinking sediment in deltas is as important as swelling seas

Sea-level rise due to melting ice is a common worry in coastal areas. But the sea-level story is much more complicated: What lies below the surface — sediment, and the rate at which it compacts — is also an important consideration, especially in deltas.

In a new study, researchers exploring the role of subsurface sediment compaction in coastal subsidence along Egypt’s Nile Delta, most of which lies just a meter above sea level, found subsidence rates there are four times greater than the rate of sea-level rise.

26 Sep 2013

Ancient volcanic island arc blocked Antarctic current formation

There has long been a debate in the geological community over what caused the formation of the Antarctic ice sheet during the Eocene-Oligocene period about 30 million years ago. One of the widely accepted hypotheses is that the glaciation was triggered by the commencement of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), an ocean current that circles Antarctica insulating the continent from the warm waters to the north, allowing the ice sheet to remain relatively stable.

11 Sep 2013

Bare Earth Elements: Rim Fire Roundup

The devasting Rim Fire has been torching a growing patch of California for the last week and a half. The latest update from Cal Fire reports that the fire has burned about 726 square kilometers (~179,000 acres), currently making it the 7th largest fire by burn area in the state's history. EARTH offers a roundup of sites where official information can be found, as well as some of the many recent news reports covering the fire.

27 Aug 2013

Blogging on EARTH: A letter from field camp

Bryce Mitsunaga, a recent graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., is currently attending field camp at the Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Association camp located in the Beartooth Mountain Range outside of Red Lodge, Mont. In honor of EARTH's August feature on field camps, Bryce wrote in with some reflections on his experiences so far.

24 Jul 2013

Bare Earth Elements: The field camp experience in photos

For the August issue of EARTH, I wrote about some of the ways in which geology's longstanding rite of passage — field camp — has changed over the years, as well as how it has remained the same.

22 Jul 2013

Mediterranean mammals migrated prior to the Messinian Salinity Crisis

The people of the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa share a long and complicated history, evident in culinary and genetic similarities, due in large part to their close proximity. Now it appears that the animals of the region have shared an even longer history. Researchers studying mammal fossils in Spain and Morocco recently determined that a migration event between the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa occurred more than 6 million years ago — more than half a million years earlier than previously thought.

19 Jul 2013

Map provides clues to natural protection of U.S. coastal communities

Devastating storms like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina have left many coastal residents wondering how to protect life and property from future catastrophes. In a study published this week in Nature Climate Change, researchers suggest the best protection from storms and rising sea levels in the U.S. may entail a combination of engineering and conservation.

16 Jul 2013

Ancient Egyptian artifact is otherworldly

In ancient Egypt, iron was a rare and symbolic metal, but scientists and historians have long wondered about the prehistoric civilization’s knowledge of metallurgy. Now, one part of that mystery has been solved: The oldest-known iron artifacts were made from meteorites. The evidence comes in the form of iron beads from approximately 3300 B.C., more than 2,000 years before the Iron Age in Egypt, and before there is record of trade in iron goods with other civilizations.

03 Jul 2013

Blogging on EARTH: Behind the scenes with a storm chaser (part 3)

This past May, Nick Luchetti, an undergraduate meteorology student at Virginia Tech, chased supercell storms and tornadoes across the U.S. Great Plains as part of a field course offered by the school. In this series of three posts, he describes the thrills and emotions he experienced while fulfilling a personal dream.

26 Jun 2013