19 April 2016

Living Together in the Deep Sea

Living Together in the Deep Sea

Around hydrothermal vents, many animals have evolved specific relationships with bacteria that use the chemicals in venting fluid to make sugar, providing them with the nutrition the animals need to survive (as mentioned in the previous blog). These bacteria are often actually found inside the animals’ cells. In other words, the animals are essentially farming their own food inside their bodies.

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18 April 2016

The Struggle to Survive

The Struggle to Survive

Tubeworms are unusual creatures. They have no eyes (there is no light where they live) and they do not have what we think of as a mouth or stomach. The way they survive is with a mutually beneficial relationship with other creatures. Instead of taking up food with the mouth, little gutless tubeworms house sulfur bacteria in their body.

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Post-wildfire erosion can be major sculptor of forested mountains

Post-wildfire erosion can be major sculptor of forested mountains

Erosion after severe wildfires can be the dominant force shaping forested mountainous landscapes of the U.S. Intermountain West, new research suggests. After the 2011 Las Conchas fire in New Mexico, soil and rock eroded from burned watersheds more than 1,000 times faster than from unburned watersheds nearby, the new study found. Most of the erosion happened in the first year after the fire.

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14 April 2016

AGU journal cover features work of Icelandic mouth painter

AGU journal cover features work of Icelandic mouth painter

The AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters recently featured the work of mouth painter Brandur Bjarnason Karlsson on its cover. The image depicts the eruption at the Holuhraun lava field in Iceland, where magma originating from the Bárðarbunga volcano spewed out of eruptive fissures from August 2014 to February 2015. The spectacular eruption is the subject of a new study in GRL co-authored by Brandur’s mother, Bryndis Brandsdottir, a senior researcher at the Institute of Earth Science at the University of Iceland.

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13 April 2016

2012 Texas earthquakes may have been man-made

2012 Texas earthquakes may have been man-made

Analysis of a series of earthquakes in East Texas in 2012 has found it plausible that the earthquakes were caused by wastewater injection. Previous studies relied on the timing and proximity of wastewater injection to earthquakes to decide if earthquakes were induced by human activity. This was the first to simulate the mechanics of an earthquake generated by water injection for this site.

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12 April 2016

Bringing the Seafloor into Focus

Bringing the Seafloor into Focus

This is the latest in a series of dispatches from scientists and education officers aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor. “…Our study sites are at water depths of 1,900-2,700 m, which is the equivalent of 4-6 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other. In this water depth, ship-based sonar systems could produce maps with a mesh size of about 100 m, or the length of 2 Olympic swimming pools. At this resolution we would not even see an airplane sitting on the seafloor.”

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The University of Washington’s eScience Institute, a unique environment for geospatial data science education

The University of Washington’s eScience Institute, a unique environment for geospatial data science education

Earth scientists can choose from an ever-increasing array of datasets when they set out to study our changing planet. Every year, advances in remote sensing and sensor network technologies increase in resolution, streaming data to us on demand, in real time. If you’re like me, you find this new era of discovery exhilarating but also overwhelming. How will I ever find the time to learn the software and cloud technologies needed to keep up with this flow of new information?

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New studies uncover mysterious processes that generate volcanic lightning (plus video)

New studies uncover mysterious processes that generate volcanic lightning (plus video)

Two new studies are unraveling some of the mysteries of this violent phenomenon and revealing the similarities – and differences – between volcanic lightning and the kind of lightning produced by thunderclouds. Understanding how this process works could enable scientists to use volcanic lightning to monitor and track the progress of powerful eruptions in real time, according to the studies’ authors.

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10 April 2016

Inside the Box: Bringing Vent Life to the Surface

Inside the Box: Bringing Vent Life to the Surface

Imagine if we replicate the conditions of a deep sea hydrothermal vent onboard the ship! That is exactly what we intend to do aboard the R/V Falkor using our custom-built mobile laboratory. Known as the “pressure van,” this laboratory—which is housed in a 20-ft shipping container—contains the infrastructure needed to keep deep-sea animals alive onboard a research vessel.

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8 April 2016

2,400 meters under the South Pacific

2,400 meters under the South Pacific

Today we are embarking on a research expedition to visit hydrothermal vents in the South Pacific. These particular deep sea vents are found about 1.5 miles (~2400 m) below sea level, nestled between the islands of Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. Like the first vents discovered off the Galapagos Islands, these vents are teeming with life, from microbial mats to snails, mussels, barnacles and fish. The snails and mussels dominate these vent sites, and are symbiotic with bacteria. During this expedition, our research will focus on better understanding these symbiotic relationships and how they are affected by natural and human-induced (i.e. anthropogenic) changes in their environment.

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