Archive for the ‘Geology’ Category

Venus


The presence of sulphur in the atmosphere hinted at this.
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A new study identified 37 recently active volcanic structures on Venus, reports Phys.org.

The study provides some of the best evidence yet that Venus is still a geologically active planet.

A research paper on the work, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland and the Institute of Geophysics at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, was published in the journal Nature Geoscience on July 20, 2020.

“This is the first time we are able to point to specific structures and say ‘Look, this is not an ancient volcano but one that is active today, dormant perhaps, but not dead,'” said Laurent Montési, a professor of geology at UMD and co-author of the research paper. “This study significantly changes the view of Venus from a mostly inactive planet to one whose interior is still churning and can feed many active volcanoes.”

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Position of the Storegga Slide (west of Norway). The yellow numbers give the height of the tsunami wave as tsunamites recently studied by researchers [credit: Lamiot @ Wikipedia] – Mer du Nord = North Sea


The report states: ‘It is thought the tsunami, the largest to hit Northern Europe since the end of the last ice age, happened following a period of global climate change.’
We can only speculate as to the cause(s) of such climate happenings.

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Scientists have found new evidence of a massive tsunami that devastated ancient Britain in the year 6200 BC on the east coast of England, reports the Daily Mail.

The giant tsunami event, known as the Storegga Slide, was caused when an area of seabed the size of Scotland – around 30,000 square miles – under the Norwegian Sea suddenly shifted.

New geological evidence reveals three successive waves tore across an ancient land bridge connecting Britain with the rest of Europe, known as Doggerland, now submerged beneath the North Sea.

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There are two faces of the Earth: study

Posted: July 2, 2020 by oldbrew in Geology, History, research

Pacific ‘ring of fire’


Recent research has also found why changes to Earth’s magnetic field are weaker over the Pacific.
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Earth’s mantle is currently classified into two main domains, African and Pacific.

However, little is known about their formation and history, and they are commonly assumed to be chemically the same, says Tech Explorist.

In a new study by Curtin University, scientists studied chemical and isotopic “make-up” of rocks sourced from thousands of kilometers below the surface.

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This twitter video caught my eye last night, it was taken near Miami a few nights ago. It shows mysterious lights, confirmed from many sources and featured on national US TV channels where it’s reported answers are being demanded from the Pentagon.

Then today my physicist friend Mike McCulloch posted a tweet about some similar phenomena which have been observed for many years in Norway.

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Base of “black smoker” chimney, Pacific Ocean [image credit: USGS]


How many more such discoveries could be waiting to be made? The report says ‘Geologic evidence…suggests that hydrothermal activity is part of a cycle that reshapes the seafloor over many thousands of years’.

An autonomous diving robot captured the vents in unprecedented detail, reports Live Science.

In the dark ocean depths off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, a magical fairyland of towering spires and hydrothermal chimneys sprout from the seafloor, a stunning new underwater map reveals.

These towers belch superheated liquid warmed by magma deep inside Earth.

The field of hydrothermal chimneys stretches along the ocean bottom on the Juan de Fuca Ridge to the northwest of coastal Washington state, in an area known as the Endeavor Segment.

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Image credit: naturalnavigator.com


We’re told: ‘They refer to what they’ve found as ANTS, for Active Nearside Tectonic System’, which is ‘a mysterious system of tectonic features (ridges and faults) on the lunar nearside, unrelated to both lava-filled basins and other young faults that crisscross the highlands.’ Tectonic activity on one side only sounds a bit unlikely somehow, but what about tidal disturbance from Earth? We know it works the other way round: the Moon causes tides on Earth. Of course the Moon is tidally locked to Earth, hence the term ‘nearside’.
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Researchers have discovered a system of ridges spread across the nearside of the Moon topped with freshly exposed boulders, reports Phys.org.

The ridges could be evidence of active lunar tectonic processes, the researchers say, possibly the echo of a long-ago impact that nearly tore the Moon apart.

“There’s this assumption that the Moon is long dead, but we keep finding that that’s not the case,” said Peter Schultz, a professor in Brown University’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences and co-author of the research, which is published in the journal Geology.

“From this paper it appears that the Moon may still be creaking and cracking—potentially in the present day—and we can see the evidence on these ridges.”

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As the video reminds us: Earth’s atmosphere is mostly (78%) nitrogen. Plus about 21% oxygen at sea level, and a few minor trace gases – one or two of which some people like to fixate on.

Researchers have used a new geochemical tool to shed light on the origin of nitrogen and other volatile elements on Earth, which may also prove useful as a way to monitor the activity of volcanoes, says ScienceDaily.

Their findings were published April 16, 2020, in the journal Nature.

Nitrogen is the most abundant gas in the atmosphere, and is the primary component of the air we breathe. Nitrogen is also found in rocks, including those tucked deep within the planet’s interior.

Until now, it was difficult to distinguish between nitrogen sources coming from air and those coming from inside the Earth’s mantle when measuring gases from volcanoes.

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Credit: metro.co.uk


The idea is that “Every time the rock sags into the chamber, it creates a resonance and this produces this strange signal that you see far away.” Is this really ‘The Hum’?

Can you hear it? That elemental thrumming emerging just beneath the engulfing din of everyday city and suburban life? 

Well, chances are you’re not losing your mind or developing some extra-human ability akin to comic book superheroes, says SyfyWire.

Better odds are that it’s Mother Earth’s growing pains in the form of loud volcanic stirrings, as revealed in a new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

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Mount Etna, Sicily


The article says: ‘Every 6.4 years, the axes line up and the wobble fades for a short time.’ This looks a lot like 5.4 Chandler wobbles (CW), so you would have 6.4 years minus 5.4 CW = 1 cycle, i.e. 32:27 ratio = 5 (32-27) cycles.
Much more analysis of this time period and related matters in this 2013 Talkshop post:
Ian Wilson: Solar System Timings Evolved Lunar Orbital Elements Linked to Earth’s Chandler Wobble
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New research suggests forces pulling on Earth’s surface as the planet spins may trigger earthquakes and eruptions at volcanoes, reports Phys.org.

Seismic activity and bursts of magma near Italy’s Mount Etna increased when Earth’s rotational axis was furthest from its geographic axis, according to a new study comparing changes in Earth’s rotation to activity at the well-known Italian volcano.

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A researcher said of one of the new finds: “It is hard to see how the planet got there!”
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Six ‘very hot’ rocky exoplanets orbiting stars in the local region of the Milky Way hold the key to understanding more about how the Earth was formed, astronomers claim.

Researchers from the Open University have been studying planets discovered by the European Space Observatory’s planet-hunting telescope in Chile.

They are orbiting stars between 160 and 440 light years from Earth and all have hot surfaces with temperatures of around 2,012F to 3,272F.

The new findings could shed light on the geology of Earth and other rocky planets in the Solar System including Mercury, Venus and Mars, researchers say.

Full Daily Mail report here.

The grand cliffs of the island of São Jorge, formed by fissural volcanism. [Credit: Azores @ Wikipedia]


New research suggests that ‘the composition of Earth’s entire mantle may differ from current thinking’. More work for theorists beckons.

What is the chemical composition of the Earth’s interior?

Because it is impossible to drill more than about ten kilometres deep into the Earth, volcanic rocks formed by melting Earth’s deep interior often provide such information, says Phys.org.

Geochemists at the Universities of Münster (Germany) and Amsterdam (Netherlands) have investigated the volcanic rocks that build up the Portuguese island group of the Azores.

Their goal: gather new information about the compositional evolution of the Earth’s mantle, which is the layer roughly between 30 and 2,900 kilometres deep inside the Earth.

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Natural gas flare {credit: Wikipedia]


As we already knew from elsewhere in the solar system, fossils are not essential for the production of methane aka natural gas. Only two ingredients are needed, one being water, as explained below.

New research from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) published Aug. 19, 2019, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science provides evidence of the formation and abundance of abiotic methane—methane formed by chemical reactions that don’t involve organic matter—on Earth and shows how the gases could have a similar origin on other planets and moons, even those no longer home to liquid water.

Researchers had long noticed methane released from deep-sea vents, says Phys.org. But while the gas is plentiful in the atmosphere where it’s produced by living things, the source of methane at the seafloor was a mystery.

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Hebridean islands of Scotland


So it is believed at least. Researchers say a more detailed underwater survey is needed.

Evidence for the ancient, 1.2 billion years old, meteorite strike, was first discovered in 2008 near Ullapool, NW Scotland by scientists from Oxford and Aberdeen Universities.

The thickness and extent of the debris deposit they found suggested the impact crater—made by a meteorite estimated at 1km wide—was close to the coast, but its precise location remained a mystery.

In a paper published today in Journal of the Geological Society, a team led by Dr. Ken Amor from the Department of Earth Sciences at Oxford University, show how they have identified the crater location 15-20km west of a remote part of the Scottish coastline.

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1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damage [image credit: H.G. Wilshire, U.S. Geological Survey]


Smaller quakes seem to have taken over, for the time being at least. The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 in Northern California had a magnitude of 6.9 but was not considered to be ‘major’, despite some deaths and billions of dollars worth of damage.

There have been no major ground rupturing earthquakes along California’s three highest slip rate faults in the past 100 years, reports ScienceDaily.

A new study concludes that this current ‘hiatus’ has no precedent in the past 1000 years.

U.S. Geological Survey researchers Glenn Biasi and Kate Scharer analyzed long paleoseismic records from the San Andreas, San Jacinto and Hayward Faults for the past 1000 years, to determine how likely it might be to have a 100-year gap in earthquakes across the three faults.

They found that the gap was very unlikely — along the lines of a 0.3% chance of occurring, given the seismic record of the past 1000 years.

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National flag of South Korea

Is this the end for ‘enhanced’ geothermal technology? Note this quake was 1,000 times stronger than the next one of similar causes.

The nation’s energy ministry expressed ‘deep regret’, and said it would dismantle the experimental plant, as Nature News reports.

A South Korean government panel has concluded that a magnitude-5.4 earthquake that struck the city of Pohang on 15 November 2017 was probably caused by an experimental geothermal power plant.

The panel was convened under presidential orders and released its findings on 20 March.

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The ability to recognize patterns in Earth’s behaviour by sifting through masses of geological data could be programmed into machines.

Scientists seeking to understand Earth’s inner clockwork have deployed armies of sensors listening for signs of slips, rumbles, exhales and other disturbances emanating from the planet’s deepest faults to its tallest volcanoes.

“We measure the motion of the ground continuously, typically collecting 100 samples per second at hundreds to thousands of instruments,” said Stanford geophysicist Gregory Beroza. “It’s just a huge flux of data.”

Yet scientists’ ability to extract meaning from this information has not kept pace, reports Phys.org.

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Location of Mayotte, in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Southeast Africa


Epic. Why are ‘schools of dead fish appearing in the water?’

Last November, a huge seismic event that shook the planet left experts wondering about its possible source, says ScienceAlert.

Researchers now think they know what might have caused it: an offshore volcanic event unlike any other in recorded history.

If the hypothesis is right, and there has been a massive movement of magma underneath the sea floor, that has implications for nearby Mayotte and the neighbouring Comoros islands off the coast of Africa.

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Glacier in Patagonia


The latest Ice Ages theory rolls off the production line. This one relies on ‘pulling enough carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere’, so we can see how they’re thinking. A possible problem there is that historical data from ice cores usually show carbon dioxide changes following temperature changes by a few hundred years, which seems to contradict the findings here. It’s the old chicken and egg conundrum – effects can’t precede causes. An important part of the carbon cycle is ocean outgassing of CO2 (response to warming) and absorption (response to cooling).

Over the last 540 million years, the Earth has weathered three major ice ages—periods during which global temperatures plummeted, producing extensive ice sheets and glaciers that have stretched beyond the polar caps.

Now scientists at MIT, the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the University of California at Berkeley have identified the likely trigger for these ice ages, reports Phys.org.

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Arctic region


At last – something that can’t be blamed on Brexit! Just joking of course, and wandering poles can be a serious matter for navigators.

Erratic motion of north magnetic pole forces experts to update model that aids global navigation.
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Something strange is going on at the top of the world, a Nature article says.

Earth’s north magnetic pole has been skittering away from Canada and towards Siberia, driven by liquid iron sloshing within the planet’s core.

The magnetic pole is moving so quickly that it has forced the world’s geomagnetism experts into a rare move.

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Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica


The latest research comes up with a new addition to the list of possible ice age mechanisms.

Earth’s latest ice age may have been caused by changes deep inside the planet, reports ScienceDaily.

Based on evidence from the Pacific Ocean, including the position of the Hawaiian Islands, Rice University geophysicists have determined Earth shifted relative to its spin axis within the past 12 million years, which caused Greenland to move far enough toward the north pole to kick off the ice age that began about 3.2 million years ago.

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