Geology in the News
This is a selection of stories, subject to the following rules. First, I don't guarantee close daily coverage of everything that happens (because I have things to do apart from maintaining this Web page). Second, the site has to be generally accessible. (Many journals make their pages accessible only to people who have paid a subscription to the written version.) Third, I choose newspapers and news sites that tend to keep their pages accessible for more than two weeks over those that do not. Fourth, I keep older articles archived for varying lengths of time, depending how important I think they are (or interesting, at least); whether they have been updated or made redundant; and whether the site has dropped them. For example, I've had to limit stories from the New York Times. It is a fine paper, but its new policy is to take off its stories within DAYS and then charge for access to them. I'll attach a notice to each item which says, This won't last long on free access (with free registration). If you want to keep this, DOWNLOAD IT NOW!
Similar pages on the UC Davis Geology Department web site are
Geology in the News
December 29, 2006. Snake head-banging: bad sign for earthquakes! BBC News OnLine. I don't make this stuff up, you know: I just pass it on.
December 25, 2006. The West Tahoe Fault could deliver a strong earthquake (and tsunami) to the Tahoe Basin. San Francisco Chronicle. This was from a talk at AGU. Wait for the publication to see the evidence.
December 25, 2006. Powerful explosive eruption of Bezymianny in Kamchatka. Novosti news agency
December 22, 2006. Volcano photographs by Thomas Reichart, including the new (and ongoing) Etna eruption. Thomas Reichart
December 21. 2006. Update on oil shale development in Colorado. New York Times. If you want it, DOWNLOAD IT NOW before they start charging money for it!
December 20, 2006. The asbestos threat in the area east of Sacramento, California, is REAL. Sacramento Bee. For years, the Bee, and reputable geologists have reported that levels of asbestos in school playgrounds and construction sites in areas east of Sacramento are at dangerous levels. The development lobby, and the school superintendent, have denied the claim, and even hired a meretricious company to call the situation safe. You can bet the the denials will continue: after all, the kids will likely develop lung cancers after these officials have retired. It seems to me that at least some local officials are neglecting their public duty. I don;t know how long this page will remain available, so DOWNLOAD IT NOW IF YOU WANT IT.
December 20, 2006. The New Zealand Air Force took pictures of the new island volcano in Tonga. For previous stories, see November 24, 2006.
December 18, 2006. And the world's largest offshore oil operator is....? Statoil, from Norway. BBC News OnLine
December 15, 2006. The Hawaiian earthquake last October is associated with the formation of a new fault offshore. The fault, like others on the south coast, relates to loading of the crust from the weight of the lava on the island. The worst-case scenario is a mega-landslide down the fault that takes part pf the coast with it. There are many of these old slides on the deep sea floor around all the major Hawaiian islands. It doesn't mean that Kailua-Kona will fall into the ocean. This is not a new phenomenon in Hawaii, and I would worry more about the volcanically active south coast than I would about the northeast of the island. Live Science. For the earthquake, scroll down to October 16, 2006.
December 13, 2006. More about the topography of Titan.
December 12, 2006. Snot-like bacteria speed up cave formation. Live Science
December 12, 2006. Renewing the idea of running water from the Red Sea to save the Dead Sea. Years ago, I used to use this project as a "thought question" on my final exams in Geology 1: what would be the *geological* repercussions?
December 12, 2006. Looming water crisis for Beijing. Seed magazine
December 11, 2006. St. Mark's Square in Venice is once again under water. Seed magazine Previous stories:
Venice has its first "aqua alta" of the year. National Geographic Photos in the News, October 24, 2006.
Another new plan to save Venice. BBC News OnLine, November 22, 2005. This one (pumping seawater into the depleted aquifers under the city) would seem to me to deprive Venice and the surrounding cities of their freshwater supplies. But I don't know the details.
Venice will get a protective dam, episode 552. BBC News OnLine, September 29, 2005. We've seen this before. Maybe it will be built, and maybe it will work...
Venice flooded for the fifth straight day: 80% of the city is under water. Reuters, from Planet Ark, November 1, 2004.
A new proposal for saving Venice. BBC News OnLine, July 2003.
Italy launches anti-flood scheme for Venice. BBC News OnLine, June 2003.
December 10, 2006. Eruption of Nyamulagira, near Goma in the Congo.
NASA image . Previous story: AP story, Seattle Post-Intelligencer , November 2006.
December 10, 2006. Lake levels are dropping across tropical Africa. It's partly climatic, and partly human activity: either way it is very bad news. And the bad news goes all the way down the Nile to Egypt... Live Science
December 10, 2006. Another typhoon hits the Philippines, causing more danger for mudslides at Mayon. Why is this geology? Because the mudslides form from fresh volcanic ash on the slopes of Mount Mayon. And now there are accusations that the geologists failed to warn people of the imminant hazard.
BBC News OnLine, December 10, 2006.
Sane essay by Ana Marie Pamintuan for ABS-CBN News, December 5, 2006
The accusations: Manila Standard, December 5, 2006. The accusations are rubbish, of course: every Filipino knows what heavy rain does to fresh volcanic ash.
BBC News OnLine, December 3, 2006
a tragic picture gallery from the BBC, December 3, 2006
Scroll down to August 17 for stories about this year's eruption of Mayon.
December 8, 2006. Blood diamonds. The background (NOT the movie). National Geographic News
December 7, 2006. State investigators say that lightning did cause the Sago Mine explosion. AP story, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. For previous stories, see March 14, 2006.
December 6, 2006. There IS water on the surface Mars today (very very occasionally). This is obviously a big deal! The paper is in Science. Critics say that the flowing fluid might have been carbon dioxide, but water is what you'd expect as a first hypothesis.
December 6, 2006. Monitoring volcanic activity at Galunggong. A personal account by John Dvorak. American Scientist
December 6, 2006. Water will be returned this week to the Owens River in California. Christian Science Monitor
December 5, 2006. The Alps are at their warmest for 1300 years. ABC News
December 5, 2006. The west coast of Sumatra is likely to be hit by more tsunami over time. Well, I would hope that anyone who has done an intro geology course could tell you that! However, this project was done with (gasp!) COMPUTER SIMULATIONS, so that must make it true. The paper is in PNAS, which makes you wonder. New York Times Download it now if you want it, before they start charging money for it.
December 4, 2006. Fluctuations over time in the Ross Ice Shelf on the coast of Antarctica. BBC News OnLine
December 4, 2006. The Bush administration is thinking of opening more offshore Alaskan waters to offshore drilling. New York Times. If you want it, download it now before they begin charging for it.
December 4, 2006. Ancient tsunami in the Mediterranean from a collapse on the side of Etna. After reading the paper (in Geophysical Research Letters), it seems to me to be a big stretch to relate this event to the submerged village off the coast of Israel.
November 30, 2006. A meteorite with organic molecules older than the Solar System. This is not surprising as long as organic molecules can form in interstellar space. It is surprising that we can identify them as such. The paper is in Science this week. National Geographic News
November 26, 2006. Satellite image of Galveston, Texas. NASA Use it as you discuss barrier islands, and why you shouldn't build on them, especially if they are subject to hurricanes.
November 26, 2006. Two coal mine disasters in one day in China. BBC News OnLine
November 24, 2006. Ash from Etna's ongoing eruption closes Catania airport in Sicily. AP story, Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Here are some great photos
November 24, 2006. More on the underwater eruption in Tonga: it formed a new, but likely temporary, volcanic island.
Background article from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, November 22, 2006.
Dedicated site on the island from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Last updated November 13, 2006
Satellite image of the volcano. Image taken October 4, 2006.
Matangi Tonga. November 8, 2006. Great images, too. Thanks to Mike Everhart for this one!
Agence-Presse France story from SEED magazine, November 2006.
Matangi Tonga, November 6, 2006.
And while I'm on this site, try this one: what not to do in an earthquake: Matangi Tonga, May 4, 2006.
November 24, 2006. The Javanese mud volcano breaks a gas pipe, which explodes, killing several people.
November 24, 2006. Retrofitting old houses in Seattle against earthquake. Washington Post . I don't know how long this article stays freely available.
November 22, 2006. Mount St. Helens has rhythmic earthquakes: why? The paper is in Nature, so it won't be generally available on the Web.
The low-level eruption of Mount St. Helens is slowing. The dome building is down to only 1 ton of lava extruded into it per second. ABC News, September 30, 2006.
Climbers allowed back on Mount St. Helens. US Geological Survey Volcano Watch, July 20, 2006
What is happening under Mount St. Helens?Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 18, 2006.
More collapse and more growth inside the crater of Mount St. Helens. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 12, 2006
National Geographic News, May 9, 2006
Oozing upward at about 5 tons/second. San Francisco Chronicle. December 30, 2005
Eruption, March 2005, with a terrific image. National Geographic News,
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 2005
BBC News OnLine, March 2005
November 22, 2006. Methane explosion in a Polish coal mine: 23 miners dead. ABC News
November 21, 2006. The Laki eruption of 1783 in Iceland may have led to record low levels of flow in the River Nile! That's called "telecommunication". Of course, if it's true it means that other mega-eruptions may have had analogous long-distance effects. The 1783 eruption was linked by Benjamin Franklin, then in Paris, to extreme weather and crop failure in Europe; but this study extends that range. We already know that the 1815 Tambora eruption directly caused world-wide damage in 1816. Watch for a lot more to follow, both good and bad science.. The paper is in Geophysical Research Letters.
November 21. 2006. Florida's water problems: even the Suwannee River may finally be seriously impacted. National Geographic News
November 21, 2006. The Montauk lighthouse and coastal erosion: guess who's winning? Feature by Cornelia Dean in the New York Times. If you want it, download it now before they begin charging for it.
November 20, 2006. Freeport-McMoRan has bought Phelps-Dodge, to form the world's largest publicly owned copper company. San Francisco Chronicle
November 19, 2006. Do you own the mineral rights that may lie beneath your home? Most people don't: and that may be REALLY bad... AP story on Topix
November 19, 2006. The Yellow River and China's water supply. New York Times. With a slide show. Background for environmental geology. But if you want it, DOWNLOAD IT NOW before they start charging money for it.
November 17, 2006. Large earthquake, small tsunami in the Kuril island chain north of Japan: but the tsunami hit Crescent City, California!
November 15, 2006. Daniel Yergin says that peak oil production won't be reached for another 25 years. Seattle Times. I can't decide whether that's good or bad. Probably bad, because the long-term is that we will HAVE to go with alternative energy sources, and the sooner we get inexpensive solar, wind, and wave energy equipment, the better.
November 15, 2006. Testing a California wood frame house for earthquake survivability. NPR . I wonder about the result, since they didn't test A home. They tested bits of a home, by the look of the photo. Those pieces would not behave like a complete home would. My computer won't open the video links.
November 14, 2006. Mega-tsunami from an Indian Ocean impact around 2800 BC (!!??!!). New York Times Download it now, because it won't last long. As for the idea, it's a real stretch. That doesn't mean it's wrong, but it means that it requires far more evidence than is available now. For example, there are plenty of low-lying islands in the tropical Indian Ocean that should have been wiped CLEAN of terrestrial creatures (tortoises, ground-dwelling birds, etc etc): were they? That would be one simple test, and it wouldn't cost anything except time to do a literature search. But no, what am I thinking about? The proponents would much rather have a multi-million dollar grant from NSF to do research that wouldn't really test their assertions.
November 10, 2006. A visit to Plymouth, the old capital of Montserrat. Pompeii with Dr. Who telephone boxes. Lahontan Valley News I don't know how long stories stay available on this site.
November 10, 2006. Oil and gas from the Barents Sea: a boon for Murmansk. BBC News
November 9, 2006. Massive flood and landslide damage in Rainier National Park after 18 inches of rain in 36 hours. Seattle Post-Intelligencer
November 8, 2006. Exploring the deep Gulf of Mexico floor for oil and gas. New York Times. This won't last long on open access. Download it now if you want it! GONE BY DECEMBER 4.
November 6, 2006. Britain's deepest limestone cave. BBC News OnLine
November 5, 2006. Water wars over aquifers in the McCloud River basin in Northern California. San Francisco Chronicle
November 2, 2006. The Arctic may hold less oil than once thought. Seattle Post-Intelligencer
November 1, 2006. The shrinking glaciers of Washington State. Seattle Times. For previous story, scroll down to September 18, 2006.
October 30, 2006. At the end of the rainbow... a gold mine in Northern Ireland. BBC OnLine
October 30, 2006. Cleveland Volcano, in Alaska, erupted an ash cloud, as it does now and again. It prompted a warning to pilots, but this ws not a big event. Alaska Report
October 29, 2006. An oil shale fire is a potentially long-lasting problem on the California coast near Santa Barbara. Santa Maria Times. I don;t know how long this will remain available, so download it now if you want it.
October 26, 2006. Huge landslide and tsunami once hammered Lake Tahoe (more than 7000 years ago). San Francisco Chronicle. The paper will be published in Geology, so it won't be generally available on the Web.
October 24, 2006. The biggest mining companies in the world. Quick: who are the top two? No, you're wrong. Number 1 is BHP Billiton (Anglo-Australian). And number 2 is CVRD (Brazilian). BBC News OnLine
October 24, 2006. The Amazon used to flow west, to the Pacific. BBC News OnLine
October 22, 2006. Rabbits, penguins, and landslides. ABC = Australian Broadcasting Company Science OnLine
October 21, 2006. Essay on ANWR and oil by Peter Matthiessen. Science News. The paper is in the October Geology, so is not generally available on the Web.
October 21, 2006. The largest man-made islands in the world: the Palm Islands, Dubai. NASA images
October 21, 2006. What's it like living in a Siberian gas field? BBC News OnLine
October 18, 2006. The Moon probably does not have significant quantities of ice. BBC News OnLine The paper is in Nature today.
October 17, 2006. Using radar to find a big meteorite in Kansas. AP story on Live Science
October 17, 2006. New risk maps for some cities in the San Francisco Bay area. San Francisco Chronicle
October 16, 2006. Earthquake on the Kona coast of Hawai'i. Interesting that I would not normally have posted about an earthquake of this size (M 6.7) with no fatalities. However, if you live in Kona there are consequences: the Community Hospital is damaged severely, and it's a long way to Hilo. So there may be "collateral damage" until full medical services are restored. CNN should have talked about that instead of whining because the toilets weren't flushing at Honolulu International Airport!
October 13, 2006. How fast can a big gold deposit form? If it's on an active volcano like the Lihir deposit in Papua New Guinea, very fast. (55,000 years?) Live Science site. The paper was in Science. The commentator in a companion piece said that it might be even faster than the paper claimed.
October 9, 2006. The Lesotho Promise, the largest diamond found in the 21st century, has sold for over $12 million.
BBC News OnLine. Previous story: BBC News OnLine, October 5, 2006.
October 8, 2006. Eruption of Tavurvur volcano in Papua New Guinea: the city of Rabaul is evacuated. This is much like the eruption 12 years ago. There is a volcano observatory in Rabaul. Either the volcano gave no warning, or some of the instrumentation was out of action. Last time the eruption came on a weekend, so everyone calmly left town without any official instruction. The Google Earth imagery is far too dark. unfortunately. For full background and lots of images of Rabaul and from the 1994 eruption, go here
October 3, 2006. Earthquake causes drop in water levels in wells : but in MAINE??? Live Science. This sort of thing happens quite often in earthquake-prone areas: but Maine is not known for earthquakes.
October 3, 2006. Modelling the effects of the Novarupta eruption of 1912. NASA science news. This is half a research project. The data are sitting there that will tell us whether this model works or not. Why didn't they check those data before they went public???
October 1, 2006. Living with Ecuadorean volcanoes: from peasants to pipelines. AP story on ABC News
September 26, 2006. Fourpeaked Volcano, Alaska, may erupt for the first time in 10,000 years. ABC News
September 24, 2006. New cave system discovered in Sequoia National Park.
September 21, 2006. Propane discovered in the seafloor off the Galapagos. Presumably it's being generated by microorganisms, in reactions we did not know about. PhysOrg site
September 20, 2006. Forget that scare stuff about Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary islands. It was supposed to fall into the ocean and blast the entire North Atlantic coast with a killer tsunami. Lots of geologists got on TV shows with that one, especially, I'm sorry to record, some British ones. Now a geotechnical survey has found that it is not going to happen.
PhysOrg.com site. Previous stories:
September 20, 2006. Two more mining disasters, and a list of some of the worst ever. AlertNet from Reuters
September 19, 2006. Time to move the Mississippi. New York Times. This will disappear from general viewing (even with the required free registration), so look at it now. It is a very good article by Cornelia Dean about a proposal to divert the Mississippi and its mud south of New Orleans back toward the coastline instead of letting it run uselessly into deep water.
September 18, 2006. Serious melting of glaciers in Washington State. National Parks Traveler
September 17, 2006. "Water Wars". Reuters story. Though the headline is touchy-feely happy, by the time you've read the article, you'll see that it depends what you mean by "war". Conflicts over water are everywhere, and people are damaged in the process, even if you don't have people in uniform firing guns. Think about the US-Mexico disputes over water along the California and Texas borders, and if you don't know about them, find out.
September 12, 2006. Migrating meanders on the Mississippi. NASA images
September 12, 2006. The Banks peninsula, a dissected volcanic structure near Christchurch, New Zealand. NASA image
September 11, 2006. Unusual 6.0 earthquake in the Gulf of Mexico shakes Florida slightly. National Geographic News
September 9, 2006. A tourist visit to Tambora. Hong Kong Standard
September 8, 2006. Subsidence and underground fires in a coalfield area in India are starting to kill people on the surface, while disasters underground kill dozens of miners. No survivors in Indian mine explosion. BBC News OnLine, September 8, 2006.
September 7, 2006. Computer simulations generate Earth-like planets. This specific study suggests that even stars that have close hot Jupiters could also have "habitable" planets maybe one-third of the time. The paper is in Science today, and will be generally available on the Web in a few months.
September 7, 2006. Coal mine disaster in India. BBC News OnLine
September 6, 2006. Big new oil field found deep under the Gulf of Mexico.
September 5, 2006. Future oil supplies? How much, and where are they? BBC News OnLine Lots of links on the page.
September 4, 2006. Oil shale in Colorado. San Francisco Chronicle
September 4, 2006. Carbon dioxide levels are now higher than they have been for 800,000 years. BBC News OnLine
September 3, 2006. When will they ever learn? Subdividing a steep. landslide-prone hillside in California. Contra Costa Times
August 31, 2006. A small eruption at the Soufriere Hills volcano on Montserrat, just to remind us that this is an on-going eruptive event, now longer than 10 years. The dome is still growing, too. ABC News. For more background, explore the Montserrat Volcano Observatory web site
August 30, 2006. Massive sub-glacial floods out of the Antarctic Peninsula, in the Miocene. Live Science. The paper was in Geology, so it won't be freely available on the Web.
August 29, 2006. Coal addiction: a Brit view of the US energy scene. BBC News OnLine. Have you noticed how the US is so obsessed by war, terrorism, and religion-based issues that its energy policy is non-existent. Meanwhile, the world is changing..... Related stories on energy:
Global energy guide BBC News, with many links.
Oil goes over $77 a barrel. BBC News OnLine, August 7, 2006, with many links.
The coal in Montana: a view from the BBC. BBC News OnLine, July 1, 2006.
Venezuela's oil bonanza, and how it is investing the proceeds. BBC News, February 17, 2006
Chinese energy demand BBC News, February 16, 2006.
Quarrying uranium for nuclear fuel in Australia BBC News, February 15, 2006.
Qatar and LNG (liquefied natural gas). BBC News, February 14, 2006.
Russia's energy weapon
Nigeria is making a mess of its huge oil industry BBC News, February 11, 2006
August 28, 2006. The Guarani Aquifer: read and remember. You'll hear more about this, US conspiracy or not. National Geographic News
August 27, 2006. The Thera/Santorini eruption was twice as big as we had thought.
August 28, 2006. It depends what you mean by "planet". The latest re-definition of a "planet" has all kinds of ramifications, including the demotion of Pluto. Don't forget, this is not about science but merely about definitions of words. Will our understanding be deepened by this change? No.
August 20, 2006. Geysers erupting around the South Pole of Mars, as frozen carbon dioxide flashes to gas. The paper was published in Nature last week, but it won't be freely available on the Web. The ASU press release tells you most of what you need to know, and has great imagery. Remember this is a model, but it does explain all the physical features seen on the surface. I would not think for a moment that the scene would look like the artist's rendition: too many geysers, too closely packed, and too simultaneous! Great image, though.
August 20, 2006. Alluvial gold panning in Sierra Leone: women's work! BBBC News OnLine
August 17, 2006. Latest news on Mount Mayon.
Sector of the volcano may collapse. ABS-CBN News, Manila, August 17, 2006
Living under the shadow of Mayon. BBC News OnLine, August 14, 2006.
ABC News, August 13, 2006
National Geographic News Photo of lava flow some days ago.
Of course, if the locals wouldn't steal the copper wire that sends data from the mountain, it might be easier to predict a big eruption! AP story in The Guardian, July 24, 2006.
Images from the BBC, July 20, 2006.
August 13, 2006. Oil exploration (and development) and cod fishing may not be able to co-exist in the Barents Sea. BBC News OnLine
August 11, 2006. Earthquake shakes Mexico City. AP story in San Francisco Chronicle
August 11, 2006. The Greenland ice sheet is melting even faster than we had feared.
August 10, 2006. The Vance Expedition, 2006. Monterey Bay Research Institution. MBARI recently completed an expedition to study the dee-sea volcanism along the Gorda Ridge in the Northeast Pacific offshore from oregon. This link gives you the daily journal of the expedition.
August 10, 2006. Geological CT scan for Mount Etna. National Geographic News
August 10, 2006. The sounds volcanoes make. BBC News OnLine
August 8, 2006. BP closes the Prudhoe Bay oilfield for pipeline repair. Higher gas prices are inevitable.
August 7, 2006. Peroxide snow on Mars. National Geographic News
August 6, 2006. Visiting Lassen Volcanic Park in California. Sacramento Bee. This site doesn't keep its stories generally available for more than a few days.
August 5, 2006. Gas kills 18 Chinese coal miners. BBC News OnLine. Previous background story: BBC News OnLine, April 5, 2006.
August 3, 2006. Questions about offshore drilling on the California coast. San Francisco Chronicle. For previous stories, see August 2, 2006.
August 2, 2006. Senate votes for offshore oil drilling off Florida. However, the House bill is far more sweeping, and who knows what will happen behind closed doors as the Republicans in both Houses work out a "compromise". Read all this story for the full implications.
San Francisco Chronicle. Previous stories:
July 31, 2006. Eruption of Kranagetang, a volcano on Sulawesi, in Indonesia: the locals are not leaving.
July 28, 2006. 30th anniversary of the great Tangshan earthquake. BBC News OnLine. See also:
July 27, 2006. "Petit spots": generating isolated volcanoes on the Pacific Ocean floor. The paper is not in Science, but it is on Science Express to be published in a forthcoming issue. It is a very fine paper, though not as paradigm-destroying as Marcia McNutt's accompanying comment implies. Here's what happens. As the Pacific Plate is bent to be subducted down the Japan Trench, it is stressed, and cracks. Small amounts of lava are extruded as small volcanoes along these cracks. The volcanoes are not hot-spot related, or related to mid-ocean rifting. The authors call them "petit spots", and their lava comes from the asthenosphere (just) below the crust. Now we have these, we may expect to find others in analogous situations. I'd bet we will recognise "petit spots" in the Mediterranean, where microplates are being stressed and subducted in strange geometries. Contrary to McNutt, I would also argue that once we re-interpret some little hotspots as "petit spots", our understanding of "real" hot spots will only strengthen the plate tectonic paradigm.
July 25, 2006. Hydrocarbon lakes on Titan? This is the best evidence yet for something that has been suggested on theoretical grounds. Thank goodness no-one had the gall to insert the word "life" into the press release.
July 25, 2006. Yukos, the Russian oil firm, goes bankrupt. This is the Russian equivalent of the Enron debacle in the United States. BBC News OnLine
July 21, 2006. Louisiana is sinking by dewatering delta sediments. Live Science. This is a natural and inevitable process. It has been difficult to tease out that process from all the others going on: pumping water, pumping oil, possibly tectonic action, and so on. The paper will be in Geology (August), so won't be generally accessible on the Web. Previous stories:
Live Science, May 2006
June 1, 2006. Subsidence under New Orleans tracked by satellite images: and the results are scary. The paper was in Nature, so it won't be freely available on the Web.
July 20, 2006. The Suncook River in New Hampshire changes course. In May, after very heavy rain, it cut off a long bend and carved a more direct course for itself. Just as the textbooks say!!! NASA satellite image
July 19, 2006. The Afar Rift continues to split.
July 19, 2006. Tsunami death toll rises to 500 on the south coast of Java.
July 18, 2006. Mining gold in Ghana, legally and illegally. BBC News OnLine
July 17, 2006. What are the chances of an eruption of Mount Fuji? I'd rather worry about Mounts Baker, Rainier, Lassen, and Hood. National Geographic News
July 17, 2006. Another big rockfall on the east face of the Eiger. More millions of tons of rock fall off! Superclimb magazine. Previous story: Live Science, July 14, 2006.
July 13, 2006. Galeras volcano in Colombia is threatening a significant eruption. BBC News OnLine
July 13, 2006. The Caspian pipeline between Baku and the Mediterranean is officially opened.
July 10, 2006. Increasing coal imports into the United States. Yes, you read that correctly: it is not a typo. Christian Science Monitor
July 8, 2006. Asbestos danger in the Sacramento region of California. Science News
July 7, 2007. How old is the Sierra Nevada of California? San Francisco ChronicleThe paper is in Science, so it will eventually be on the Web. The results not only contradict established wisdom, but are also at odds with paleovegetation evidence from Nevada and California.
July 5, 2006. Another record high price for oil: $75 a barrel. USA Today
July 5, 2006. Asteroid passed close to Earth on Monday. As predicted, it was about as far away as the Moon. BBC News OnLine
June 29, 2006. King Tut's necklace contains a scarab made from meteoritic impact glass. Discovery News
June 29, 2006. The earth's wobbles. Christian Science Monitor. Article by Robert Cowen (no relation).
June 27, 2006. Huge newly defined flood basalt field in Australia, the Kalkarindji Province, dates from about 505 Ma, coinciding with a large Cambrian extinction. The paper is in Geology, so it won't be freely available on the Web.
June 26, 2006. Article about the great Pleistocene floods in the State of Washington. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The context is the so-far-unsuccessful attempt to define an Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail: Ice Age Floods Institute
June 26, 2006. Huge new metal mining corporation formed. Phelps Dodge is buying Inco and Falconbridge. Seattle Post-Intelligencer
June 25, 2006. Supervolcanoes. Article by Ilya Bindeman, in Scientific American, June 2006 issue. Thanks for making it universally available on the Web! Well-written summary of new research in this field. Start from Scientific American, June 2006
June 23, 2006. Large underwater volcano discovered off the coast of Sicily. BBC News OnLine
June 23, 2006. Earth's temperature is at a 400-year high. This is from a report by the National Academy of Sciences.
June 21, 2006. The Big One is overdue on the San Andreas system in Southern California. There will be a flood of comment on this one. The paper is in Nature, so it won't be freely available on the Web. The actual paper is less apocalyptic than the hype, partly because in the paper the author is required to say how much of a margin of error there is in each component in the study. The data come from a belt across the fault zone around the Salton Sea. What I find interesting is that stress and/or displacement is building up both on the San Andreas Fault (on the "continental" side of the Salton Sea) and on the San Jacinto Fault (on the "Pacific side" of the Salton Sea). I suppose that might be why neither fault has gone catastrophically in such a long time. But if that's the case, then if/when one of them goes, its evil twin brother would also likely go within a few years.
June 21, 2006. More pyroclastic flows on Mount Merapi.
June 20, 2006. Huge, beautiful handaxes made by pre-humans (Homo heidelbergensis, probably) in Pleistocene England. BBC News OnLine
June 17, 2006. How is life on Montserrat, 11 years after Soufrière Hills Volcano began to erupt? AP story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. People are resilient and optimistic.
June 16, 2006. Much of the Arctic land surface contains a LOT of carbon. That means that global warming may release it, significantly increasing both methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In turn, that may mean more and faster global warming than we had thought. The authors are talking more about frozen loess ("yedoma") in this study than the usual Arctic bog that we think of with the term "permafrost". And old loess has a lot more carbon than typical permafrost. That's the news, and that's the scary part. The paper was in Science, so will be freely available on the Web later this year.
June 14, 2006. Barrick gets its Pascua Lama gold mine project approved in Chile. BBC News OnLine
June 12, 2006. Ancient trade in jadeite from Central America across the Caribbean. National Geographic News
June 9, 2006. Short perspective on the completion of the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze.
June 9, 2006. Plants predict volcanic eruption sites. New Scientist . The paper is due out in Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
June 9, 2006. Merapi continues to erupt: danger from pyroclastic flows increases.
June 1, 2006. Giant asteroid crater found under the Antarctic ice sheet: the rest is speculation. OK, what's this about? First, it's science by poster session and press release (this one's from Ohio State). The research group found in a gravity survey a giant crater in the rock floor a mile under the Antarctic ice sheet. It's 300 miles across, apparently, which puts it into the mega-impact category, larger than Chicxulub. The rest is speculation, because we have no data from the rocks. The researchers claim a connection with the Permo-Triassic impact. I wouldn't be surprised, but the evidence for the connection is just not there, even though a large part of the press release is devoted to it.
June 1, 2006. Great close-up image of an asteroid. National Geographic News
May 31, 2006. Sixty million years of Arctic climate history. This is a breakthrough study. Unfortunately, the three papers are in Nature, so they won't be freely available on the Web. The studies are based on drilling in the Arctic Ocean floor, a feat in itself. First, forget the idea that Antarctica froze before the Arctic: the two poles have had synchronized climate changes for 55 million years. This changes our whole approach to climate studies. The geographic factors I have used in my book over the years, for example: the opening of the Drake Passage, the rise of the Himalayas, the closing of Panama, are now seen as second-order components. The real drivers of climatic change are global, and that probably means atmospheric gases, changed by who knows what. Second, the warm episode at the Paleocene/Eocene boundary was bigger than anyone thought. The whole Arctic Ocean went up to perhaps 75° in summer, for example. The paleogeography of mammals now makes more sense: northern mammals could hop, gallop, and scurry around the northern continents as they pleased; and marsupials could cross Antarctica between South America and Australia. We knew about these movements, but now they become simpler to understand. Altogether, isn't it nice when new data change the previous picture, and make it simpler!!!
May 31, 2006. The Javan earthquake toll is over 5,000. BBC News OnLine, with links.
May 29, 2006. Small eruption in the Comoros Islands, off the South African coast. BBC News
May 28, 2006. The crater lake of Mount Manaro turns bright red: what does THAT mean? AP story, ABC News. Manaro is in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, and its crater lake is usually blue. Stay tuned...
May 26, 2006. The House of Representatives has (again) passed a bill to drill ANWR. The bill may very well not pass the Senate (though see previous story). San Francisco Chronicle. Previous stories:
March 17, 2006. The Senate votes to open ANWR for oil drilling. But only after they bought off Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana for $9 billion. Was that extortion or bribery? I can't decide. Whatever it is, it's a very shabby act to buy what you can't get by actual logic. So now it's up to the House, which defeated the idea last year. San Francisco Chronicle, March 17, 2006.
December 21, 2005. Another shameless attempt to get drilling in ANWR: but it failed in the Senate. As you know, the attempt to slide ANWR drilling into the budget bill failed. So Ted Stevens slid it into the Defense Bill, together with funding for Katrina victims. This administration is completely amoral, it seems. BBC News OnLine
December 20, 2005. Christian Science Monitor.
October 20, 2005. Grist Yes, I know this is a "muckraking" site, but there's a lot of muck to be raked in this affair.
May 24, 2006. Submarine eruption caught on video. The paper is in Nature, so won't be on public access.
May 23, 2006. Activity continues at Merapi.
May 23, 2006. Great satellite image of short-lived ash eruption, Cleveland volcano, Alaska. NASA Earth Observatory
May 22, 2006. Another tragedy at a Chinese coal mine. BBC News OnLine. Previous stories:
May 19, 2006. Gigantic landslide in the Rockies 50 million years ago. Live Science site. This is about a paper in the March Geology (which is not freely available on the Web). Apparently an entire mountain structure moved about 60 miles, probably on a volcano-generated bed of steam and hot water. A typical volcano would collapse into fragments in this process, but "Heart Mountain" did not.
May 17, 2006. Discovery of a distant solar system with three large "rocky" planets. The paper is in Nature, so won't be generally available on the Web. National Geographic News
May 16, 2006. Mount Merapi is in full eruption.
May 13, 2006. What would a Los Angeles earthquake be like? Live Science
May 10, 2006. Piece of the Morokweng asteroid identified. BBC News OnLine. The asteroid hit what is now the Kalahari Desert around the Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary. This fragment was about a foot across, and is remarkably unaltered. The paper is in Nature, so won't be generally available on the Web. Cute site at the Science Museum in London
May 10, 2006. How Neptune captured its moon Triton. National Geographic News. The paper is in Nature, so won't be generally available on the Web. What I really like about this story is not the computational skills that went into it (though they were considerable); it is the thinking-outside-the-box that gave the authors the idea of what to compute.
May 9, 2006. Gold hits $700 an ounce. This is the highest level since the crisis year of 1980. It means a lot of people are scared enough to buy something they can carry. Oh, and oil went back to $71 a barrel. San Francisco Chronicle
May 9, 2006. Plankton blooms occur before earthquakes. BBC News OnLine. There is no way this is cause and effect, even if the correlation is true in these four events.
May 5, 2006. New thoughts on the eruption of Krakatoa. Basically, the eruption may have been triggered by a massive avalanche/landslide, like that at Mount St. Helens. Warning: this is a teaser for a TV story, and is not yet published science. BBC News Online
May 4, 2006. The Dead Sea is still shrinking. This is not new news, but we need a reminder every so often. BBC News OnLine. Previous story: The Jordan River is drying up. BBC News, March 2005.
May 3, 2006. Very large earthquake near Tonga, but no tsunami. BBC News OnLine
April 27, 2006. Radiocarbon/ice core date confirmed for the eruption of Santorini/Thera. Live Science. For a long time, the ice cores in Greenland have been pointing to a 1628 BC date for the eruption that devastated the Santorini islands, buried the city of Akrotiri, no doubt brought mayhem to the Aegean and surrounding region, and inspired the Atlantis story written down much later by Plato. The opposition consisted of archaeologists and in particular experts on pottery and art. I naturally tend to accept hard scientific evidence rather than the gut feelings or authoritarian pronouncements of non-scientists, so the new confirmation doesn't surprise me; nor does it persuade many of the archaeologists. So we still have to wait and see. Till then, it's 1628 BC for me. Two papers and a comment are in this week's Science, so they will be freely available on the Web later this year.
April 27, 2006. Mount Nyiragongo threatens the city of Goma (as usual). The Telegraph (London). Previous stories:
CNN News, November 7, 2005. I don't see, in any of the recent stories, any evidence that the (real) threat is increasing. Is it just that there was a PBS special last week?
Places not to put on your vacation list: Goma. It's likely to be destroyed completely in the next eruption of Nyiragongo. Let's face it: it's already the armpit of the world. This latest story is a reminder rather than a news story. News24 from South Africa, October 21, 2005.
News24, August 2005
News 24, January 2002: lava engulfs Goma.
News 24, same day
The PBS movie "Volcano Under the City" This was about the volcanic threat to Goma from Nyiragongo. Those guys are lunatics, of course, in the tradition of the Kraffts. But great footage inside the crater of Nyiragongo. The surprise to me was the apparent threat that Lake Kivu could become a giant Lake Nyos. I'll have to look that up. November 2, 2005
April 23, 2006. Volcanic ash kills llamas in Southern Peru.
April 21, 2006. Large earthquake in a sparsely populated area of the Siberian coast: little damage, therefore. National Geographic News
April 21, 2006. For a 7th consecutive day, crude oil prices have reached a new record high. Have fun filling up your SUV this summer! Meanwhile, the Dow-Jones average has gone up because several of the companies in the index are oil and energy-related firms that will profit greatly from the price increase.
April 20, 2006. Mars was wet early on, but has been DRY for 3.5 billion years. Now that that's resolved, by the Europeans, maybe NASA will shut up and concentrate on science rather than wishful thinking. The paper was in Science: Bibring, J.-P., et al. 2006. Global mineralogical and aqueous Mars history derived from OMEGA/Mars Express data. Science 312: 400 - 404. That means it will be freely available on the Web later this year. Note the neat trick by John Mustard and Ray Arvidson, who managed to be named twice in the list of authors! Does that mean they get two citations for their CVs? National Geographic News.
April 20, 2006. British tourist dies after falling into a boiling volcanic hot spring. BBC News Warwickshire
April 19, 2006. The huge (and small) lakes deep under the Antarctic ice cap may be linked by chennels, with water sometimes passing along them. National Geographic News . The paper and a couple of comments were in Nature this week, so won't be freely available on the Web.
April 18, 2006. The 100th anniversary of the great San Francisco earthquake and fire. Stories today and in the last week:
Commemorative series in the San Francisco Chronicle
OnLine exhibit of thousands of images at the Bancroft Library site at UC Berkeley
Drilling the San Andreas Fault. National Geographic News, April 17, 2006.
Region at Risk (the San Francisco Bay area). . Science News, April 15, 2006.
What if a 1906-sized San Francisco quake hit today? National Geographic News, April 13, 2006.
And what are the chances of such an earthquake? National Geographic News, April 13, 2006.
Tremors recorded in the San Andreas fault zone. Nobody seems to know what it means. NSF press release, April 12, 2006.
April 17, 2006. Katanga's mineral wealth (again). Some of us remember the last episode of this story, in whch Katanga's mineral wealth tore the Congo apart, with Moise Tshombe leading a break-away movement of the province. It's beginning again (my prediction). Read the story, on BBC News OnLine. Previous stories:
April 14, 2006. Disappearing Lake Chad. BBC News OnLine
April 14, 2006. News from Vailulu'u seamount in the South Pacific. But don't worry about the "moat of death" stuff!! National Geographic News
April 12, 2006. Meteorite sold for $93,000. Fox News
April 10, 2006. The Great Quake, 1906-2006. Series published by the San Francisco Chronicle to commemorate the 1906 earthquake. Intro. page Also see an image gallery on the LiveScience Web site.
April 10, 2006. NASA will crash a lunar orbiter on the Moon's South Pole, hoping to kick up water vapor but not until 2008 or later. National Geographic News
April 7, 2006. Three ski patrol people killed by carbon dioxide emitting from a volcanic vent at Mammoth Mountain. AP story, San Francisco Chronicle
April 6, 2006. The Little Aral Sea is filling with water. The World Bank and the Kazakhs built a dam to try to save the Little Aral Sea, though the whole sea is probably doomed. The salvage project is working, so far, apparently. NASA Earth Observatory images
April 4, 2006. Oldonyo Lengai erupts in Tanzania. News 24 from South Africa
April 4, 2006. Why is Mercury so small? It was hammered by a giant asteroid! National Geographic News. This is computer-aided speculation, though what little evidence we have for Mercury is compatible with the idea.
April 2, 2006. Ultra-slow spreading ridges. Feature article in Science News
March 31, 2006. Earthquakes in Western Iran. BBC News OnLine
March 26, 2006. Drilling into Iceland's volcanoes for geothermal power. BBC News OnLine
March 25, 2006. The Hayward Fault in the San Francisco Bay Area. "Loaded and ready to fire" says a USGS geologist. Live Science Web site
March 23, 2006. Freeport runs into trouble over its Grasberg mine. This time it;s with the Indonesian authorities, not the local residents. BBC News OnLine
March 18, 2006. Libya's great water project nears completion. This is one of the craziest ideas ever put into opeation. This water is irreplaceable: when it's gone, it's gone, for ever. And so will the entire infrastructure based on it. They don't know how long it will last. And what are they doing with it? Growing grain, which they could easily import. In the end, the concrete will outlast the project, and will serve as a reminder of the folly of people.
March 18, 2006. Earth may have seeded Titan with life. Another no-hoper of a presentation. The crux is that the Earth rocks have to be "life-bearing", yet in this scenario they are the fragments blown out by the K-T impact. We actually know about such fragments, because some of them fell back to Earth and are there in the rock record. What were they? Molten. Give me a break. BBC News
March 18, 2006. Scientist killed in steam explosion at volcanic lake in the Kermadec chain. Live Science site
March 17, 2006. Impact crater discovered near Antarctica. BBC News OnLine It's about three million years old. Not a global event, but perhaps regional.
March 17, 2006. Living on a volcanic plug. Financial Times. Here's an image of the place, and here's a long background article
March 16, 2006. Water supply in Mexico City: or rather, lack of it. BBC News OnLine
March 15, 2006. Dome building at Mt. Augustine. ABC News
March 15, 2006. The 2002 Reventador eruption was unusual, and may have been a particularly dangerous explosion. National Geographic News. There's not much information, but it's a great photo.
March 15, 2006. Glacier front collapses in Argentina. Live Science site
March 11, 2006. Large oil spill in the tundra of the North Slope of Alaska. BBC News OnLine
March 6, 2006. Huge Bronze Age eruption of Vesuvius: new evidence from refugee footprints. National Geographic News. The work is going to be published in PNAS.
March 6, 2006. Large meteorite crater discovered in the Egyptian desert. No word about age (until a field crew visits it.)
March 2, 2006. Building for Pakistan's quake zone. Physics Today. This was in the January issue, but I've only just found it.
March 2, 2006. Update on California's glaciers. California Wild. This was in the Fall 2005 issue, but I've only just found it.
March 2, 2006. Antarctica is losing ice. Hardly surprising, but the evidence comes from a new satellite measuring technique.
March 1, 2006. Update on activity beneath Yellowstone. The paper is in Nature, which does not allow general Web access to its page.
February 28, 2006. The USGS refines danger zones for liquefaction in a San Francisco Bay area earthquake. USGS
February 28, 2006. Manam erupts in Papua New Guinea. The Age
February 27, 2006. Discovery of a village buried in the gigantic eruption of Tambora in 1815. Compare these stories. National Geographic quotes Sigurdsson's team as saying this IS "the Pompeii of the East". The BBC includes the whole quote, including Sigurdsson's caveat. You always knew that National Geographic would tart up its stories if it could: this is just one more egregious example of bad reporting. I'm surprised at the Christian Science Monitor. The reporter had it right, but the headline editor blew it.
February 27, 2006. Building on a hurricane coast: bad idea! (Well, duh!) National Geographic News
February 26, 2006. Montana's coal, and Montana's Governor. CBS News
February 26, 2006. Google map tour of Earth's major impact craters. I've just found this site: Geology.com site
February 20, 2006. Deadly explosion in Mexican coal mine. BBC News OnLine
February 17, 2006. Mudslide wipes out Philippine village. BBC News OnLine There are plenty of factors to blame. Natural causes are most likely: deeply weathered volcanic soil and torrential rainfall. NASA Earht Observatory image
February 16, 2006. Greenland's ice is being lost at an increasing rate. National Geographic News
February 10, 2006. Eruption at Mount Augustine.
February 10, 2006. Uganda is cheating on an international agreement, and draining Lake Victoria too far.
February 6, 2006. Pre- and post-Katrina images are now available through the Google Earth site. Press release. These are NASA and USGS images, so are copyright-free.
January 29, 2006. Russians resume gas supplies to Georgia. Interesting how fast the repair was done, after the Georgians cut off supplies to the Russian Embassy, BBC News OnLine. Previous stories:
January 26, 2005. The high price of oil makes the Alberta oil sands look better economically. BBC News OnLine
January 26, 2005. Overview of Chinese coal mine safety. Christian Science Monitor
January 24, 2006. Habitable conditions on the early Earth (says NASA). NASA Astrobiology Institute.
January 21, 2006. Another coal mine accident in West Virginia: two miners were killed. CNN
January 20, 2006. The most dangerous volcanoes in the United States. National Geographic News
January 20, 2006. Relict tropical glaciers on Mars. Press release
January 20, 2006. Personal participation in a volcanic-induced tsunami at Stromboli, December 2002. Stromboli site, posted January 2006. Other stories on the site are also gripping. Also see a virtual climb to the crater, no longer allowed in reality.
January 19, 2006. Kilauea is more explosive than we had thought. Volcano Watch, from the Hawaii Volcano Observatory. The URL will change as it is archived.
January 19, 2006. Wind power in a declining Texas oilfield. Christian Science Monitor
January 17, 2006. Twelfth anniversary of the Northridge earthquake. BBC News OnLine
January 17, 2006. Eleventh anniversary of the Kobe earthquake. BBC News OnLine
January 16, 2006. Huge meteorite discovered in Kansas. Geotimes. URL will change when it is archived.
January 16, 2006. The size of the Chesapeake crater. Geotimes. URL will change when it is archived.
January 12, 2006. The Bush administration opens more environmentally sensitive land to oil drilling in Alaska. MSNBC
January 12, 2006. The geology of the Sudbury impact crater, which was formed about 1.8 Ga. National Geographic News. No mention of a publication.
January 8, 2006. Scientific American article on the Sumatra tsunami. January 2006 issue
January 6, 2006. Powerful earthquake in the Mediterranean south of Greece: little damage. CBS News
January 4, 2006. Russia and Ukraine cut a deal on gas supplies. BBC News OnLine. Here is a background analysis from the BBC. Here is a global backgrounder on energy and power politics from the BBC. Previous stories: BBC News OnLine, December 31, and other links from that page. This is significant. Putin has always wanted to bring the former Soviet countries back under Russian control, and this is part of that process. Ukraine had been getting gas at a low price in return for allowing Russian gas bound for Europe to pass through Ukrainian pipelines. Putin wants to hike Ukrainian prices, by a lot. If we had any international credibility left, we could have worked with the Europeans to help the Ukraine. As it is, the Europeans worked it out without us. Putin likely feels that he has a lot of freedom to act the big bully: already he has gas-for-influence deals with Georgia, Belarus, and Armenia, while we are in over our heads in Iraq.
January 3, 2006. Thousands of unsafe dams across the United States. Christian Science Monitor
For news items archived from 2005, see Geology News from 2005.
[For news items archived from 2004, see Geology News from 2004.
[For news items archived from 2003, see Geology News from 2003.
[For news items archived from 2002, see Geology News from 2002.
[For news items archived from 2001, see Geology News from 2001.
[For news items archived from 2000, see Geology News from 2000.
[For news items archived from 1999, see Geology News from 1999.
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