Geology news

Antarctic Fossils

Daily Galaxy, March 22nd (see ) ... a team working in an ice free region of high mountains and dry valleys in the Olympus Range in Antarctica last summer discovered a rare trove of perfectly preserved fossils of mosses, diatoms, and astrocods - life forms usually associated with tundra conditions such as exist today on South Georgia. The climate switched from tundra to a deep freeze suddenly, it goes on.

Mammoth Mountain March 8th ... 'Study sheds new light on Mammoth Mountain's age' is not about mammoths but a mountain that has a secondary role as a ski resort. Stanford University geologists say that the mountain itself is an old volcano, 11,000 feet at it's summit and came into being some 68,000 years ago. It formed very rapidly, the story continues, but a string of nearby volcanoes whose eroded domes can be seen as part of the mountain massif, formed less than 9000 years ago - in the Holocene.

Chile Earthquake id187271371 March 8th ... the earthquake that struck the west coast of Chile in February moved the entire city of Concepcion by at least ten feet - westward. It also shifted other parts of South America such as the Falkland Isles and Forteza in Brazil/ Beunost Aires moved by an inch while Santiago in Chile moved 11 inches WSW. The cities of Valparaiso and Mendoza in Argentina were also moved significantly - and how do they know. GPS satellite technology.

Fresh water  January 3rd 2009 ... a blog with the title Open Mind that reported a year ago on the Firestone et al (2008) claim that a comet was responsible for the YD boundary event - a sudden reversion to cold almost glacial conditions in high latitudes of the northern hemisphere. However, the cooling episode does not appear in Antarctic ice cores (at Byrd station for example).

Antarctic Impact ... the BBC reported from the 'lunar and Planetary Conference' in Texas by saying, 'a large space rock may have exploded over Antarctica thousands of years ago, showering a large area with debris. The evidence comes from tiny meteoritic particles and a layer of extraterrestrial dust found in Antarctic ice cores. The event would have been similar to the 1908 Tunguska event' they said. Looks like another one - they are coming thick and fast.

Toba Super Volcano March 4th ... the Toba super volcano appears to have been overhyped. It is said to have blown around 74,000 years ago and was responsible for a 1000 year cooling episode - but quite how these things are measured from so long ago must leave root for alternative explanations. At one point scientists were saying that humans became almost extinct at this time - until somebody pointed out that Neanderthals appear to have thrived and the Hobbit persisted in fairly close proximity to the Toba eruption.

K/T Boundary March 4th ... the asteroid impact at the K/T boundary left a clear band between light coloured Cretaceous sediments and dark coloured Palaeocene sediments (a picture of the geology is provided online), recovered from the sea floor off South America. The abrupt shift in colour reflects an instantaneous drop in ocean biological productivity. There is also an online video (including an audio interview and animated graph) of the asteroid impact, with Dr Joanna Morgan of Imperial College explaining the science.

Ocean Vents and El Ninos March 3rd ... the Earth Institute at Columbia University has posted evidence of hydrothermal vents on the seafloor near Antarctica. These vents spew volcanically heated seawater from the underwater mountain ranges where lava erupts and new crust forms (mid ocean ridges). Chemicals dissolved in the vents help sustain a complex web of organisms (Geophysical Research Letters).

Asteroid strike at K/T boundary

Science Daily March 1st ( id100301102805) an asteroid strike at the K/T boundary may account for geographic uneveness of the extinctions and recovery according to research by Penn State University geoscientists. At the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary 93 per cent of nanno plankton became extinct - and these are basic to the ocean food chain. The highest rate of extinction was in the northern hemisphere with decreasing levels in the southern hemisphere.

Volcanic Lightning, ice on the moon, and ice on Mars. March 2nd ... Daily Galaxy often have an 'image of the day' - on this post it is volcanic lightning (from a volcano that erupted in southern Chile in 2008). Electrical storms directly above erupting volcanoes are well documented phenomena but scientists can't agree on what causes them. There are three images that can be downloaded to your computer - and the source of the phots is given as (2005)