Geology news

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 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 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.

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.