Geology news

Fish Extinctions

At it is claimed a mass extinction of fish some 360 million years ago reset the button on earth's life forms triggering modern vertabrae biodiversity. The mass extinction event, it is theorised, scrambled the species pool near the juncture when the first vertebrae were crawling out of the water on to the land.

Layering of Loess

At Nigel Calder has a post on the 1960s discovery by Czech geologist George Kukla, who counted the layers of loess, each separated by darker bands of material thought to be left over from warm interglacial periods. Kukla found too many layers of loess - and this did not fit into current thinking. Until then everyone had been thinking in terms of just four Ice Ages.

Blobs of crust that excite May 9th ... old pieces of continental crust that are thought to fall to the bottom of earth's mantle region are being blamed for mysterious dents in the planet's gravitational field. At some points on  the globe, such as the middle of the Indian Ocean, the NE Pacific, and the Ross Sea, earth's gravitational field is weaker.

Floods of Water at the end of the Ice Age

At April 28th ... a paper that can be accessed in full (or abstract) at on research that shows part of Alaska was inundated by a massive flooding event - 17,000 years ago. I am assuming this coincides with the end of the Ice Age but the dating differs from other studies. It is being described as a mega-flood event which formed dunes in the ground over 110 feet high and spread half a mile apart

Asphalt Domes

At April 25th ... in 700 feet deep water off Santa Barbara in California is a series of asphalt domes that it is thought derive from flows of petroleum deposited by an underwater volcano 35,000 years ago. The deposits hardened into asphalt domes (see Nature Geoscience April 25th). The domes were discovered by a deep submersible vehicle and were teeming with life - like an artificial reef.

The Origin of Water on Earth

At April 18th ... we have a post by Steven Goddard, 'Volcanoes and Water' ... with a series of stunning images. Water vapour is consistently the most abundant of volcanic gases - normally comprising some 60 per cent of total emissions. C02 accounts for between 10 to 40 per cent. Around 70 per cent of the surface of the earth is covered with water - but where did all that water come from?

Gulf dry and wide

At April 11th there is a story in which a team of archaeologists from Birmingham University (who pioneered research on the North Sea bottom) have been in Qatar and looking at the sea floor of the Gulf (in conjunction with the Qatar Natural History Museum). They have been able to demonstrate how the Gulf has changed during the last ten thousand years as a result of sea level rise. During the Ice Age the peninsular of Qatar was part of a huge plain stretching all the way across to Iran - broken just by a couple of fresh water lakes.

Mount St Helens - 30 years after

Science News April 10th ... this is a preview of a paper to be published on April 24th in Science News volume 177. If you have ever wondered what happened in the Mount St Helens landscape in the 30 years since it blew it's top so dramatically this is the article to read - , an interesting read but is largely concerned with the recovery of flora and fauna.

Supervolcanoes under the sea

At id1847871 April 8th ... scientists have been looking at a 145 million years old supervolcano on the ocean floor east of Japan. Known as Shatsky Rise it is composed of a huge outflowing of magma, some individual flows being as much as 75 feet thick. Geologists have argued about the formation and origin of large oceanic plateau - the mystery being in the origin of the magma. Was it deep mantle or from a shallower depth? They also seem to occur at the boundaries of tectonic plates.

Tails of a Recent Comet

At there is a reference to an SIS article, 'Tails of a Recent Comet' by Milton Zysman and Frank Wallace, in which they describe eskers and drumlins that appear to swarm up hills and across streams and valleys in discontinuous strands sometimes for 100s of km. They say they have their parallel beneath the oceans - a reference I think to the material attributed to iceberg activity in the Heinrich event model.