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7 August 2015

Natural arches hum their health and scientists are listening

Natural arches ring like guitar strings, plucked by seismic energy and the wind. New research shows how those seismic chords can be used to determine whether the arches are in danger of collapsing.


2 June 2015

Flooding, erosion risks rise as Gulf of Mexico waves loom larger

Waves in the northern Gulf of Mexico are higher than they were 30 years ago, contributing to a greater risk of coastal erosion and flooding in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, according to a new study.


7 April 2015

Why I study soggy volcanoes

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to talk more about my research, and I thought it would be good to start with my basic elevator speech: I study how water and heat interact in stratovolcanoes, and how that can make them unstable even if they’re not erupting.


17 February 2015

Earthquake faults identified in surge of Oklahoma quakes

New research has revealed the faults associated with more than 3,600 earthquakes that have been recorded in Oklahoma since 2009. The study also finds that recently reactivated ancient faults in the center of the state could generate higher-magnitude and more destructive earthquakes than the region has experienced since earthquake activity picked up there five years ago.


22 December 2014

Picture Perfect and Water Wise: Images May Someday Predict the Hazards of Volcanic Gas

Earlier this year, superheated water within Japan’s Mount Ontake triggered a hydrothermal explosion. Scientists monitoring the volcano had seen no signs of impending danger. The resulting steam-triggered eruption killed 57 people. Clusters of earthquakes often precede major eruptions of lava and ash. The same is not true for smaller steam-triggered eruptions of gas like the Ontake event. But those are the sorts of events that Társilo Girona would like to predict, and he believes that cameras may be the key.


13 November 2014

Satellite nightlight images show flood exposure increasing worldwide

More people around the world live in flood-prone regions than did 20 years ago, increasing death tolls and economic damage from floods and the chances that flooding will cause similar losses in the future, a new study finds. The increased concentration of human populations in flood-risk zones could exacerbate an already expected upsurge in flood-related destruction in a warming climate, the researchers report.
The study has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. Its authors used satellite images to show that a widely used proxy for population—the number of lights seen at night—increased globally along rivers by an average of 1.2 percent each year between 1992 and 2012.


5 August 2014

Sea-level spikes can harm beaches worse than hurricane

Unforeseen, short-term increases in sea level caused by strong winds, pressure changes and fluctuating ocean currents can cause more damage to beaches on the East Coast over the course of a year than a powerful hurricane making landfall, according to a new study. The new research suggests that these sea-level anomalies could be more of a threat to coastal homes and businesses than previously thought, and could become higher and more frequent as a result of climate change.


22 July 2014

Oso disaster had its roots in earlier landslides

The disastrous March 22 landslide that killed 43 people in the rural Washington state community of Oso involved the “remobilization” of a 2006 landslide on the same hillside, a new federally sponsored geological study concludes.


14 August 2013

Around the world in four days: NASA tracks Chelyabinsk meteor plume

Atmospheric physicist Nick Gorkavyi missed witnessing an event of the century last winter when a meteor exploded over his hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia. From Greenbelt, Md., however, NASA’s Gorkavyi and colleagues witnessed a never-before-seen view of the atmospheric aftermath of the explosion.


4 June 2013

Return to Tohoku – Taking a big quake’s temperature

There’s a hole in the bottom of the ocean near Japan, the deepest ever drilled for science. It leads to the heart of one of the world’s most dangerous faults, the one that unleashed the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, which devastated Japan’s east coast. The earthquake’s power astonished geologists, who didn’t think the fault was capable of such destruction.To find out why the quake was so massive, an international team drilled through more than 800 meters of rock, seven kilometers beneath the waves, to take the fault’s temperature.


3 June 2013

Hurricane Sandy took highly unusual path, but climate change doesn’t get the blame – yet

Hurricane Sandy’s peculiar path was exceedingly rare, but whether or not climate change influenced the trajectory remains unknown, new research suggests. Sandy differed from most North Atlantic hurricanes by veering west over the northeastern United States and merging with a winter storm. But nothing proved more unusual about the “superstorm” than the nearly perpendicular angle at which it approached the New Jersey shoreline and collided with the coast on October 29, 2012. Usually, hurricanes graze the coast rather than plunging into it head on.


19 April 2013

Exploring a changing coast in the face of sea level rise – Galveston, Texas

Over 80 scientists gathered at a conference here this week to share their latest research on past, current, and projected future sea level rise and to discuss how this information can be used to shape policy. Despite their diverse perspectives and expertise, one thing the scientists agreed on for sure: the rates and impacts of sea level rise are local and communities are facing a growing risk.


13 December 2012

Secret tsunamis of the South Pacific

The crumbling volcanic islands of the southern Pacific Ocean could be a major source of undocumented – and potentially dangerous – tsunamis.


6 December 2012

Ground under ancient Chilean volcano is rising fast

The Laguna del Maule volcanic field in the Chilean Andes Mountains lies in the heart of volcano country. The region is a well-known subduction zone, where the friction of one crustal plate sliding under another heats rock to form magma. But for the last 2,000 years, Laguna del Maule has been a quiet water-filled caldera. Now, scientists are recording rapid deformation of the land around the caldera, suggesting that a magma reservoir is inflating below the surface.


5 December 2012

Glacial quakes mask those warning of volcanic eruptions

Swarms of tiny, repeating earthquakes often precede volcanic unrest, as they did prior to the 1989 eruption of Alaska’s Mount Redoubt. New research at Mount Rainier in Washington state finds that glaciers produce similar low magnitude seismic shocks that are not predictive of volcanic activity, and that could be interfering with efforts to predict when a dangerous eruption is imminent.


Tsunamis in the sky

High in the sky seems like an unusual place to look for a tsunami, a natural disaster created deep beneath the ocean’s surface. But an international team of researchers is scanning the atmosphere for signs of these hazards. Looking at the sky, they say, could help scientists and emergency response agencies improve warning systems before they see any problems on land.


23 August 2012

The rare 5.8 Virginia earthquake: One year later

One year ago today, the Washington Monument – along with many other buildings in Washington, D.C. – shook as a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered near Mineral, Va., rattled the ground beneath it. Since then, experts have deemed the structure unsafe for tourists to enter and estimated that the monument suffered tens of millions of dollars in damage that will take years to repair. Despite these setbacks, the rare seismic event sparked a new era in earthquake assessment in the eastern U.S.


10 August 2012

Mini maars

A while back, I wrote about UB’s exciting new facility for experimental volcanology, which is part of our Center For Geohazards Studies. The facility itself isn’t anything like a big fancy laboratory – it’s out in the country and is mainly open space. But that’s a perfect setting for making holes in the ground, which (in a very basic sort of way) was the whole point of the most recent test. Volcanologists and engineers from UB, Italy, and New Zealand were all present for this explosive event:


21 June 2012

AGU interviews astronauts in space

AGU Video: On 19 June, AGU had the unique opportunity to interview three astronauts aboard the International Space Station about what it’s like to live in orbit and study the Earth from space. Astronauts Joe Acaba (NASA), André Kuipers (ESA) and Don Pettit (NASA) answered questions about their everyday lives in orbit, the hazards of life in space and how their experiences in microgravity have affected their thoughts about our home planet. Watch the video interview here!


15 June 2012

Volcanic impacts on everyday life — circa 1600

Massive volcanic eruptions that spew sulfur-rich particles into the atmosphere can disrupt climate around the globe, leading to cooler temperatures worldwide. Researchers can track the impacts by looking at ice cores or tree rings that record summer growth, but a different approach involves scouring through historical records to see what kind of an impact these volcanic explosions had on everyday life.