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Category Archives: Geology
Break-up of the supercontinent Gondwana about 130 Million years ago could have lead to a completely different shape of the African and South American continent with an ocean south of today’s Sahara desert, as geoscientists from the University of Sydney and the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences have shown through the use of sophisticated plate tectonic and three-dimensional numerical modelling. The study highlights the importance of rift orientation relative to extension direction as key factor deciding whether an ocean … Continue reading
Ancient zircon crystals discovered in Western Australia have been positively dated to 4.374 billion years, confirming their place as the oldest rock ever found on Earth, according to a new study. The research reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, means Earth began forming a crust far sooner than previously thought, following the giant impact event which created the Earth-Moon system 4.5 billion years ago. “That age is 300 million years older than the oldest previously dated age [of other rocks], and … Continue reading
Japan has acquired some new territory in the Pacific Ocean following a powerful volcanic eruption. A new island has emerged from the sea, 1,000km south of the capital Tokyo. The islet is growing and changing shape all the time. BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports.
Gloppy mats of microscopic life left the same signature on coastal and river bank sediments 3.48 billion years ago that they do today. Earth scientists recently discovered that signature, known as a “microbially induced sedimentary structure” (MISS), on rocks from 300 million years earlier than any previously known MISS fossils. To this day, MISS still forms in pools of stagnant water along rivers and lakes or in the muck of coastal mud flats. Complex communities of microorganisms form layers of … Continue reading
In most gems inclusions are perceived as flaws, but sometimes they can grace them with extra beauty or an interesting geological story. These are known as scenic inclusions and are now highly sought after, though they were routinely discarded not that long ago. This sculpture of quartz with natural inclusions of green chlorite and a red mineral, possibly hematite, was created by gem artist Lawrence Stoller. via Facebook. Image credit: Lawrence Stoller
A University of Houston (UH) professor led a team of scientists to uncover the largest single volcano yet documented on Earth. Covering an area roughly equivalent to the British Isles or the state of New Mexico, this volcano, dubbed the Tamu Massif, is nearly as big as the giant volcanoes of Mars, placing it among the largest in the Solar System. William Sager, a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at UH, first began studying the volcano … Continue reading
A team of geoscientists from the U.K. and the U.S. has found that measuring the contour of hilly regions using a laser scanner can reveal aspects of the geographical history that led to its formation. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes laser scan analysis they undertook of a pressure ridge in California and the model they created using data they’d obtained. Scientists have known for many years that studying the shape of hills can sometimes … Continue reading
We value gold for many reasons: its beauty, its usefulness as jewelry, and its rarity. Gold is rare on Earth in part because it’s also rare in the universe. Unlike elements like carbon or iron, it cannot be created within a star. Instead, it must be born in a more cataclysmic event – like one that occurred last month known as a short gamma-ray burst (GRB). Observations of this GRB provide evidence that it resulted from the collision of two … Continue reading
If you follow the Rhone downriver from the centre of Geneva in Switzerland, after half an hour or so you will come to the confluence of the Rhone and Arve rivers. Both of them are born in the same area around Mont Blanc, and flow down different valleys to meet just below the city. The difference in colour is due to sediment load. As they flow down from their sources, they carry large quantities of rock flour, the fine powder … Continue reading
The rocks you see here being sampled by Caltech grad student Jena Johnson look rather ordinary; somewhat weathered and covered by dirt, but they sit in a key spot for the development of life as we know it. These rocks, found across large portions of South Africa, are just over 2.4 billion years old. That age means these rocks come from the time just before the rise of oxygen, when the mechanism that would allow for photosynthesis was evolving. These … Continue reading
The Boiling River, only 100 yards in length, pours out of the ground as one of Yellowstone’s many hot springs. It is most famous for its picturesque conjunction with the Gardner River, where the 60 degree Celsius water of the Boiling River merges with the chilly 15 degree Celsius water of the Gardner. Here, the thermal water is rapidly chilled by its outnumbered quantity of colder water, turning into a beautiful and constant display of steam. The channel in which … Continue reading
The Richat Structure, also known as the Eye of the Sahara and Guelb er Richat, is a prominent circular feature in the Sahara desert of west–central Mauritania near Ouadane. This structure is a deeply eroded, slightly elliptical, 40 km in diameter, dome. The sedimentary rock exposed in this dome range in age from Late Proterozoic within the center of the dome to Ordovician sandstone around its edges. The sedimentary rocks comprising this structure dip outward at 10°-20°. Differential erosion of resistant … Continue reading
This pastry cake sedimentary formation overlooks the touristy village of Purmamarca (Aymara for the city lost in the desert) in the Quebrada de Huamahuaca in the northern province of Jujuy. Bordering Bolivia, this province ranges from Altiplano to Andean landscapes. A quebrada is a ravine, in this landscape usually a river canyon carved by flash floods, also known as wadis. In this quebrada the line of weakness exploited by the flowing water originated tectonically. It was a site for exchange … Continue reading
Earthquakes that last minutes rather than seconds are a relatively recent discovery, according to an international team of seismologists. Researchers have been aware of these slow earthquakes, only for the past five to 10 years because of new tools and new observations, but these tools may explain the triggering of some normal earthquakes and could help in earthquake prediction. “New technology has shown us that faults do not just fail in a sudden earthquake or by stable creep,” said Demian … Continue reading
We know about Einstein’s paper on Special Relativity, and we know about his paper on General Relativity. Many of us even know about his paper about chemistry and Brownian Motion. What’s less well know is his brief stop over in geology. In 1926, he published a paper that examined Baer’s Law. Ever heard of that? You probably haven’t – for two different reasons. It doesn’t have any practical effect on the world, and Karl Ernst von Baer was such a … Continue reading
Russian drilling operations at Lake Vostok, Antarctica, have succeeded in collecting a long-sought core sample of water frozen into the borehole from the glacier-covered, 20 million-year-old lake they cracked into last year. “The first core of transparent lake ice, two meters long, was obtained on Jan. 10, at a depth of 3,406 meters (11,174.5 feet). Inside it was a vertical channel filled with white bubble-rich ice,” stated the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, part of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental … Continue reading
And here’s proof: A couple of Dinosaurs in the Grand Canyon! – Deskarati An analysis of mineral grains from the bottom of the western Grand Canyon indicates it was largely carved out by about 70 million years ago—a time when dinosaurs were around and may have even peeked over the rim, says a study led by the University of Colorado Boulder. The new research pushes back the conventionally accepted date for the formation of the Grand Canyon in Arizona by more than 60 … Continue reading
The Devils Tower is an igneous intrusion or laccolith located in the Black Hills near Hulett and Sundance in Crook County, northeastern Wyoming, above the Belle Fourche River. It rises dramatically 1,267 feet (386 m) above the surrounding terrain and the summit is 5,112 feet (1,558 m) above sea level. Devils Tower was the first declared United States National Monument, established on September 24, 1906, by President Theodore Roosevelt. Geologists agree that Devils Tower was formed by the intrusion of Igneous rock, which is the cooling and solidification of magma or lava, but they cannot agree on how, exactly, that process took place. Geologists Carpenter … Continue reading
The sequence of huge earthquakes that struck off the coast of Sumatra in April may signal the creation of a new tectonic plate boundary. Scientists give the assessment in this week’s Nature journal. They say their analysis of the tremors – the biggest was a magnitude 8.7 – suggests major changes are taking place on the ocean floor that will eventually split the Indo-Australian plate in two. It is not something that will happen soon; it could take millions of years. “This … Continue reading
10,000 years ago, at a time when humans recorded historical events by telling mythical stories that got passed from one generation to the next, huge parts of the North American continent were deluged by massive walls of water. They were, as geologist David R. Montgomery writes in this month’s Discover magazine, “Biblical-type floods.” Huge regions of the Pacific Northwest, called the “scablands” were chewed up by flash floods that were more like tsunamis. And it was all caused by the … Continue reading