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18 December 2013

Santa Cruz Island tsunami more massive than previously thought

An 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck 70 kilometers west of Santa Cruz Island in the Solomon Islands Feb. 6. It triggered a tsunami that swept through tribal towns and wooden huts along a 20-kilometer stretch of coastline.

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17 December 2013

Former German mining site becomes laboratory for carbon dioxide storage research

A local legend circulates in the Upper Neckar Valley in southeast Germany. It tells of a worker, a healthy, strong young man, who lay down one day beside the railroad tracks for a midday nap. The man never woke up, prompting speculation about his death that endures until today.

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16 December 2013

Seismic activity near Samoan Islands hints at crust’s thickness

Seismologists at James Madison University are analyzing 20 years worth of seismic data to create a map of the Earth’s crust and a possible mantle plume underneath the Samoan Islands.

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As the Earth warms, Arctic tundra rots

Melting ice caps may not be the only problem the Arctic has to worry about as the climate changes. As temperatures rise, permafrost melts earlier and stays wet longer. When plants and other organic material in the soil thaw, they decompose, releasing huge quantities of methane and carbon dioxide.

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13 December 2013

Microbial memories carry the pulse of past ocean climates

New data from ocean microbes in the Soledad basin off the coast of Baja, Calif., confirms a La Niña-like effect cooled surface waters 4,000 to 10,000 years ago.

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NEPTUNE and VENUS: Sentinel sea observatories of the north Pacific

Wally the robot crawls along the ocean floor, watching the bubbles. And 8,000 miles away, a German scientist sits on a couch with a laptop, watching with him.

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Scientists developing dating method based on Earth’s ancient magnetic field

Cassette tapes or eight-tracks might be the first things that come to mind when thinking about dated magnetic storage, but Bronze Age clay pottery has them both beat. Using information stored in the clay’s magnetic minerals, scientists are developing methods to determine how old these artifacts are when other dating methods come up short.

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12 December 2013

Volcanic eruptions bubbled beneath Earth’s largest extinction

Long before the dinosaurs died off, the “Great Dying” killed nearly all life in the ocean, 70 percent of terrestrial animals and even insects. But this mass extinction more than 250 million years ago – Earth’s greatest natural disaster – is still a scientific mystery. Little evidence remains of why and when life on the planet crashed to this long pause.

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Rooting out carbon’s effect on plant growth

In 1988, scientists at the Tennessee Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park planted a scattering of Sweetgum seedlings to fill a space equivalent to a running track. Nearly 10 years later, after the trees had matured, construction crews plopped four rings of 40-foot PVC pipes into the floor of the new deciduous forest. In 1998, two sets of pipes switched on and began blowing carbon dioxide into the trees’ air supply, non-stop for 12 years.

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Lasers and radar find typhoon risks in the Philippines

A new way to identify areas at risk for landslides will help countries avoid tragedies like super-typhoon Bopha. The storm slammed into the Philippines in 2012, killing 1,200 people and causing $1 billion in damage. Scientists from the University of the Philippines are using lasers and radar to identify alluvial fans: sediment deposits resulting from streams or debris flows. Debris flows are landslides with rocks and dirt wet enough to …

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