Geology news

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 - www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/58034/title/A_fresh_look_at_Mount_St_Helens.htm , an interesting read but is largely concerned with the recovery of flora and fauna.

Supervolcanoes under the sea

At www.redorbit.com 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 http://arxiv.org/abs/1004.0416 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.

Glaciers

At http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/greenmelt.htm has a story on Greenland glaciers - and what lies beneath them. The research is of course AGW orientated, but useful - the role of water flowing beneath the glaciers. They have found that such water has little actual influence on ice loss around the coast - which is caused by inter-action with the ocean.

Lava, climate change, and amber

Science Daily April 7th (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100406142602.html ) new research suggests the Columbia Plateau in the NW of the US was formed by a series of lava flows - and these happened much more quickly than previously imagined. It may even have changed earth's climate and caused some fauna and flora to become extinct.

Mid Pliocene

The Daily Galaxy, March 31st (www.dailygalaxy.com) ... prehistoric fossils from a geological period, the mid-Pliocene (3.3 to 3.0 million years ago) that was apparently very warm, are being used to demonstrate how AGW will affect the earth in the future. No surprises there as the research was probably funded in order to find such a link with global warming - and therefore a gloss on that subject was a necessary feature of the findings.

Ice Ages in the early history of the earth

Getting back to March 31st 2010 www.physorg.com/print189258390.html another geologist claims to have solved a mystery - why earth's surface was not a big lump of ice four billion years ago when radiation from the sun was thought to have been weak. Previously, scientists had assumed the atmosphere then consisted of 30 per cent C02 trapping heat like a greenhouse (but see Peter Warlow's talk at the SIS Autumn Meeting a couple of years ago).

Hole in the Ground

BBC News March 24th ... deforestation has revealed what might be a giant impact crater in central Africa - in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The findings of an Italian researcher was presented at a Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas and the shape of the crater is clearly visible from satellite imagery. It is unlikely to be recent as part of the structure has been eroded but future study on the ground is planned in order to place a date on the crater.

Plates and Tectonic Activity

At www.physorg.com/print188500078.html March 22nd ... a new model of the earth which took 20 years to construct offers a precise description of the relative movements of 25 interlocking tectonic plates over 95 + per cent of the surface of the planet. The model can be used to predict plate movement relative to any other plate. It is remarkably simple in a mathematical way, the research offers.

Triassic Boundary

www.physorg.com/print188488094.html March 22nd ... 200 million years ago most land on the planet was consolidated into a single continent - Pangea. There was no Atlantic Ocean and the animal world was dominated by creatures related to modern crocodiles. Their world was transformed after what appears to have been a huge catastrophe involving massive and widespread volcanic activity which in turn led to a spike in atmospheric greenhouse gases that wiped out half of the plant species and brought the Triassic to an end.