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Models suggest that stretching forces shaped Jupiter moon's surface

July 8, 2014 12:46 pm | News | Comments

Processes that shaped the ridges and troughs on the surface of Jupiter's icy moon Ganymede are likely similar to tectonic processes seen on Earth, according to a team of researchers led by Southwest Research Institute. To arrive at this conclusion, the team subjected physical models made of clay to stretching forces that simulate tectonic action.

New bridge design improves quake resistance, speeds construction

July 1, 2014 3:24 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a new design for the framework of columns and beams that support bridges, called "bents," to improve performance for better resistance to earthquakes, less damage and faster on-site construction. The faster construction is achieved by pre-fabricating the columns and beams off-site and shipping them to the site, where they are erected and connected quickly.

Study: Squashed extinct volcanoes cause tsunamis

June 27, 2014 9:58 am | News | Comments

Tsunami earthquakes happen at relatively shallow depths in the ocean and are small in terms of their magnitude. However, they create very large tsunamis: just 5.6 on the Richter scale can produce a 10-m wave. New research reveals that tsunami earthquakes may be caused by extinct undersea volcanoes causing a “sticking point” between two sections of the Earth’s crust called tectonic plates, where one plate slides under another.

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Breakthrough provides picture of underground water

June 18, 2014 10:52 am | by Rob Jordan, Stanford Woods Institute for the Evironment | News | Comments

Superman isn't the only one who can see through solid surfaces. In a development that could revolutionize the management of precious groundwater around the world, Stanford Univ. researchers have pioneered the use of satellites to accurately measure levels of water stored hundreds of feet below ground.

Earth-building bridgmanite

June 18, 2014 8:15 am | by Katie Neith, California Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Deep below the Earth's surface lies a thick, rocky layer called the mantle, which makes up the majority of our planet's volume. For decades, scientists have known that most of the lower mantle is a silicate mineral with a perovskite structure that is stable under the high-pressure and high-temperature conditions found in this region.

Few, if any, big impact craters remain to be discovered on Earth

June 18, 2014 8:02 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

It’s likely that most of the large impact craters on Earth have already been discovered and that others have been erased, according to a new calculation by a pair of Purdue Univ. graduate students. Although it's known that natural processes erase craters fairly quickly from the Earth's surface, this model was the first to quantify how many craters have likely been erased.

Swarm of earthquakes in Alaska puzzles scientists

June 17, 2014 11:20 am | by Rachel D’Oro, Associated Press | News | Comments

A moderate earthquake shook northwest Alaska on Monday, the fifth temblor of the same magnitude since April in an area with otherwise little activity, seismologists said. The swarm of magnitude-5.7 quakes is connected to more than 300 smaller aftershocks, some with magnitudes in the high 3s, Ruppert said. The series of earthquakes has scientists puzzled about activity that is considered very unusual in the region of Noatak.

Study: Melting and refreezing of deep Greenland ice speeds flow to sea

June 16, 2014 9:28 am | News | Comments

Beneath the barren whiteness of Greenland, a mysterious world has popped into view. Using ice-penetrating radar, researchers have discovered ragged blocks of ice as tall as city skyscrapers and as wide as the island of Manhattan at the bottom of the ice sheet, apparently formed as water beneath the ice refreezes and warps the surrounding ice upwards. The newly revealed forms may help scientists understand more about how ice sheets behave.

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New evidence for oceans deep in the Earth

June 13, 2014 7:59 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers report evidence for an oceans worth of water deep beneath the U.S. Though not in the familiar liquid form—the ingredients for water are bound up in rock deep in the Earth’s mantle—the discovery may represent the planet’s largest water reservoir. The presence of liquid water on the surface is what makes our “blue planet” habitable, and scientists have tried to figure out just how much water may be cycling between Earth’s surface.

A habitable environment on Martian volcano?

May 28, 2014 8:25 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

The slopes of a giant Martian volcano, once covered in glacial ice, may have been home to one of the most recent habitable environments yet found on the Red Planet, according to new research led by Brown Univ. geologists. Nearly twice as tall as Mount Everest, Arsia Mons is the third tallest volcano on Mars and one of the largest mountains in the solar system.

Radar surveys and data models indicate West Antarctica Ice Sheet collapse underway

May 13, 2014 7:27 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Washington have concluded that Antarctica's fast-moving Thwaites Glacier will likely disappear in a matter of centuries, potentially raising sea level by more than a half a meter. Data gathered by airborne radar, detailed topography maps and computer modeling were used to make the determination. The fastest scenario based on the data, the researchers said, is 200 years, and the longest is more than 1,000 years.

Ice-loss moves the Earth 250 miles beneath our feet

May 12, 2014 9:22 am | News | Comments

Studies of Antarctica have shown the earth is “rebounding” due to the overlying ice sheet shrinking in response to climate change.  This movement of the land was understood to be an elastic response and a very slow uplift over thousands of years. But new research has revealed that the land in this region is actually rising at a phenomenal rate of 15 mm a year, much greater than can be accounted for by the present-day elastic response alone.

New insight may help predict volcanic eruption behavior

May 6, 2014 7:39 am | News | Comments

Volcanologists in the U.K. have discovered that a process called frictional melting plays a role in determining how a volcano will erupt by dictating how fast magma can ascend to the surface, and how much resistance it faces en-route. The process occurs in lava dome volcanoes when magma and rocks melt as they rub against each other, creating a stop start movement in the magma as it makes its way towards the earth’s surface.

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Network for tracking earthquakes exposes glacier activity

May 1, 2014 8:32 am | News | Comments

Alaska's seismic network records thousands of quakes produced by glaciers, capturing valuable data that scientists could use to better understand their behavior, but instead their seismic signals are set aside as oddities. The current earthquake monitoring system could be "tweaked" to target the dynamic movement of the state's glaciers, suggests State Seismologist Michael West.

Traces of recent water on Mars

April 25, 2014 9:40 am | News | Comments

The southern hemisphere of Mars is home to a crater that contains very well-preserved gullies and debris flow deposits. According to a recent study by geology experts in Sweden, the geomorphological attributes of these landforms provide evidence that they were formed by the action of liquid water in geologically recent time.

Researchers find 3-million-year-old landscape beneath Greenland Ice Sheet

April 18, 2014 3:15 pm | by Joshua Brown, Univ. of Vermont, and Maria-José Viñas, NASA's Earth Science News Team | News | Comments

Glaciers and ice sheets are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything, including vegetation, soil and even the top layer of bedrock. So a team of university scientists and a NASA colleague were greatly surprised to discover an ancient tundra landscape preserved under the Greenland Ice Sheet, below two miles of ice.

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

April 18, 2014 10:22 am | by Mark Nickel, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists exploring large fields of impact glass in Argentina suggest that what happened on Earth might well have happened on Mars millions of years ago. Martian impact glass could hold traces of organic compounds.

Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

April 17, 2014 2:56 pm | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Detected by NASA's orbiting Kepler telescope, a newly found planet is the most Earth-like planet yet detected. Astronomers say the distant, rocky world is similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it's not too hot and not too cold for life. The find, announced Thursday, excited planet hunters who have been scouring the Milky Way galaxy for years for potentially habitable places outside our solar system.

Computational record: Earthquake simulation tops one quadrillion flops

April 15, 2014 4:28 pm | News | Comments

A team of computer scientists, mathematicians and geophysicists in Germany have optimized the SeisSol earthquake simulation software at Leibniz Supercomputing Center to push its performance beyond the one petaflop/sec mark, which equates to one quadrillion floating point operations per second. SeisSol is used to investigate rupture processes and seismic waves.

Gravity measurements confirm subsurface ocean on Enceladus

April 7, 2014 9:18 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | News | Comments

In 2005, NASA's Cassini spacecraft sent pictures back to Earth depicting an icy Saturnian moon spewing water vapor and ice from fractures, known as "tiger stripes," in its frozen surface. It was big news that tiny Enceladus was such an active place. Since then, scientists have hypothesized that a large reservoir of water lies beneath that icy surface, possibly fueling the plumes.

How Earth got its plated shell

April 7, 2014 9:03 am | by Eric Gershon, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

New Yale Univ.-led research suggests how and when Earth came to develop one of its most distinct features—rigid tectonic plates—and why Venus, Earth’s twin-like neighbor, never has. Earth has a unique network of shifting plates embedded in its cold and rocky outermost layer, the lithosphere. The motion of these plates drives many Earth processes, while also stabilizing the planet’s climate and enabling life.

Ancient whodunit may be solved: The microbes did it!

April 1, 2014 8:41 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT | News | Comments

Fossil remains show that sometime around 252 million years ago, about 90% of all species on Earth were suddenly wiped out in what was the largest of this planet’s five known mass extinctions. But pinpointing the culprit has been difficult, and controversial. Now, a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers may have found enough evidence to convict the guilty parties, but you’ll need a microscope to see the killers.

7.5 quake on California fault could be disastrous

March 31, 2014 3:16 pm | News | Comments

Experts say a bigger earthquake along the lesser-known fault that gave Southern California a moderate shake on Friday could do more damage to the region than the long-dreaded "Big One" from the more famous San Andreas Fault. The Puente Hills thrust fault stretches from northern Orange County under downtown Los Angeles into Hollywood, a heavily populated swath of the Los Angeles area.

Researchers develop new model of Earth’s dynamic interior

March 31, 2014 7:33 am | News | Comments

Seeking to better understand the composition of the lowermost part of Earth’s mantle, located nearly 2,900 km (1,800 miles) below the surface, a team of Arizona State Univ. researchers has developed new simulations that depict the dynamics of deep Earth. A paper published in Nature Geoscience reports the team’s findings, which could be used to explain the complex geochemistry of lava from hotspots such as Hawaii.

New hypothesis explains why Earth is continually capable of supporting life

March 19, 2014 2:25 pm | News | Comments

An international research team has documented evidence suggesting that part of the reason that the Earth has become neither sweltering like Venus nor frigid like Mars lies with a built-in atmospheric carbon dioxide regulator. Basically, ”fresh” rock exposed by uplift also emits carbon through a chemical weathering process, which replenishes the atmospheric carbon dioxide.

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