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 warning notice to each item which is likely to be short-lived.

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Geology in the News, 2008

  • December 31, 2008. The tsunami that hit New York (about 1800 years ago). It's not clear (to me) whether it was caused by a distant earthquake (perhaps on the edge of the continental shelf), or volcanic collapse (say in the Canary Islands), or a meteorite strike, but some evidence indicates a meteorite impact. No publication is cited: the news item comes from a talk at a meeting. National Geographic News

  • December 30, 2008. Swarm of small earthquakes in Yellowstone: no big deal. National Geographic News

  • December 23, 2008. Being a Ukrainian coal miner is not the best job. BBC News

  • December 17, 2008. Geothermal exploration team accidentally drills into molten magma.

  • December 17, 2008. Updates for the town and volcano of Chaiten: town being degraded, volcano threatening major lahars, mudslides, or pyroclastic flows.

  • December 11, 2008. Reconstructing the death of a family in the Pompeii eruption. Discovery

  • December 3, 2008. Small explosive eruption on Montserrat. Ap on Google

  • December 3, 2008. Oil prices reach a 3-year low. Don't go out and buy a Hummer, it's temporary! Bloomberg

  • December 2, 2008. Early plate tectonics and conditions on the early Earth. The conclusions are inferred from very old zircons. The paper is in Nature.

  • December 2, 2008. Fragments of an 10-ton asteroid are collected in Saskatchewan. It created a huge fireball as it broke up in the atmosphere on November 20, 2008. Press release on Science Daily

  • December 1, 2008. Radar sees through forest to reveal an undiscovered (small, not huge) meteorite crater in Canada. It's not about the size of the crater, though, it's about the power of the technique.

  • November 26, 2008. Jordan's plan to run water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, desalinating it along the way: complex and expensive. Terra Daily

  • November 26, 2008. Hot-water cave directly under the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Globe and Mail

  • November 26, 2008. The landslide book: new publication from the USGS. USGS

  • November 26, 2008. Water vapor geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus. I don't see why it's not called "steam", but never mind. If it's water droplets, it's not steam, but it isn't water vapor either. The paper is in Nature, but I haven't read it yet. National Geographic News

  • Airport cameras You can play too. You need Chaiten NORTE, in the menu Aeródromos Zona Sur. Chaiten time is US Eastern time.
  • Chaiten image gallery from Werner Luis in Argentina. Images and notes updated frequently.
  • Previous stories, scroll down to November 12, 2008

  • November 25, 2008. BHP Billiton is no longer interested in buying Rio Tinto. These two mining companies are looking at the downturn in mining profits as the economy declines. Frankly, if BHP was looking 5, or 10, or 20 years ahead, it would go ahead. The long-term trends are only on temporary hold. BBC News

  • November 25, 2008. Nevado del Huila eruption in Colombia. The eruptions don't have to be big to trigger landslides and/or lahars.

  • November 22, 2008. Great images of a new lava flow from the summit crater of Klyuchevsky, in Kamchatka. What a classic volcano! This page also has a gallery of photographs taken at Klyuchevsky over the past two years. Russian volcanology site

  • November 20, 2008. Water on Mars: lots of it buried below the surface in ancient ice sheets. We've known since before spacecraft visited Mars that there was ice at the poles. These ice layers lie beneath a sediment cover in lower latitudes, and presumably date back to times of different climate on Mars. It doesn't alter anything we think about life on Mars, but it clearly is encouraging the space-station-on-Mars crazies. National Geographic News

  • November 17, 2008. Drill for natural gas, pollute the groundwater... REQUIRED READING! Scientific American

  • November 17, 2008. The rockslide danger in Yosemite National Park. MSNBC

  • November 17, 2008. Hell's Half Acre lava field in Idaho. NASA satellite image

  • November 15, 2008. Adventure and science on Mount Etna. BBC News OnLine

  • November 14, 2008. The US Geological Survey estimates that there are very large reserves of methane hydrates on the North Slope of Alaska. This is NOT natural gas: it's the frozen methane hydrate that is technically recoverable though we don't have the commercial technology on line yet. Geology.com site

  • November 13, 2008. Minerals evolved in parallel with life. The paper is in American Mineralogist.

  • November 13, 2008. Direct images of two stars with planets orbiting them. Two associated points: only planets about the size of Jupiter and larger can be imaged with current technlogy; and no-one is thinking that these planets could have life.

  • November 13, 2008. Anniversary of the Nevado del Ruiz disaster in Colombia in 1985. Eruptions Web site

  • November 13, 2008. Warning signs at Machin volcano in Colombia. Brief mention on the Eruptions web site. . But it's OK: the locals are taking care of it. EarthTimes site

  • November 12, 2008. Update on the Chaiten eruption. Summary: Dome slowly growing; lahars into town continue.

  • November 12, 2008. Update on recent eruption of Reventador in Ecuador. Volcanicm blog

  • November 11, 2008. Some future glaciologist is going to get a shock: the US Air Force lost a nuclear missile in the Greenland ice sheet forty years ago! SpaceWar site

  • November 5, 2008. Astonishing eruption in the Afar area of Ethiopia. I'm not sure I'd have liked to try to outrun that lava flow!

  • November 3, 2008. The financial risk of an earthquake on the Hayward Fault in California. Yes, and homeowners do not take out earthquake insurance because it is prohibitively expensive, and there is a huge deductible. I am a geologist and a California home-owner in an earthquake-prone area, and I do not have earthquake insurance. I don't like the situation, but I have no other realistic choice. Strategic Risk site

  • November 3, 2008. The Indonesian mud volcano was set off by a company drilling for gas. It's too bad for the victims that the company has major political allies in the Indonesian government! The Guardian. Previous stories: July 29, 2008; May 30, 2008; April 9, 2008; January 4, 2008.

  • October 31, 2008. Soufriere Hills in Montserrat may be near some new significant activity. Eruptions blog

  • October 30, 2008. More certainty that humans are causing global warming: this time the new evidence comes from Arctic and Antarctic ice. However, the writing is so obtuse that I can't properly understand what they are saying. The paper is in Nature Geoscience, so it won't be freely available on the Web. BBC News

  • October 29, 2008. Large earthquake in southwest Pakistan near the city of Quetta. Quetta has had catastrophic earthquakes in the past, so this one is not a surprise. AFP on Google

  • October 29, 2008. Opal discovered on Mars in areas where the surface is relatively young. Opal requires water molecules to form. This is the first good news in a long tim for Mars-water enthusiasts. The paper is in Geology, so won;t be generally available on the Web. BBC News

  • October 29, 2008. Beautiful images of the ongoing small eruption at Villarica in Chile.

  • October 28, 2008. Small-scale activity at Colima volcano in Mexico. Pretty image. Volcanism blog

  • October 28, 2008. A Russia-to-China oil pipeline. I don't see any sinister geopolitics here: this is just mutual economic benefit, rather like Canada-to USA pipelines. Terra Daily

  • October 28, 2008. Mud volcano erupts in Trinidad. This is no big deal, but it's fun.

  • October 28, 2008. King Solomon's Mines? No, not the ones in Rider Haggard's novel: copper mines in ancient Jordan.

  • October 27, 2008. The star Epsilon Eridani has a solar system with interesting parallels to our own. To say anything more than this would be speculative, but this system deserves our close attention! by Ron Cowen (no relation) on Science News

  • October 21, 2008. The most dangerous fault in America: the Hayward Fault, in the east San Francisco Bay area. BBC News
  • October 20, 2008. Update on Kilauea.

  • October 16, 2008. More fallout from the Russian invasion of Georgia: it increases Iran's potential leverage on oil and gas exports from the Caspian Basin. Would you rather have an Iranian hand, or a Russian hand, on the valve? Or, like Kazakhstan, would you bet tens of millions of dollars on tankers to ship Kazakh crude across the Caspian to Azerbaijan and into the Georgian route? This route essentially has a Turkish hand on the valve. I suppose a prudent person would go for all three. I don't think there's a moment in history when Turkey, Russia, and Iran agreed on anything!

  • October 14, 2008. Erosion promises to doom an Alaskan village.

  • October 13, 2008. Review of the recent eruption of Kasatochi, in the Aleutian islands. Eruptions blog site. Previous story: September 5, 2008.

  • October 7, 2008. Eruption at Mount Soputan, in Indonesia. AFP on Terra Daily

  • October 6, 2008. Earthquake kills dozens of people in the mountains of Kyrgystan. Terra Daily

  • October 12, 2008. Dating earthquakes by stalactites. Economist

  • September 25, 2008. The oldest rocks on Earth? From Québec, on the Canadian Shield close to Hudson's Bay. The analysis is pushing the limits of geochemical interpretation and age determination, so there are some doubts about the age of 4280 Ma. These rocks could give clues about Earth's oldest crust on Earth. The paper and a commntary by Richard Kerr are in Science.

  • September 23, 2008. Rubber duckies to help glaciology. Discovery

  • September 23, 2008. Hawaiian farm crops suffer from vog (volcanic fog). Honolulu Star-Bulletin

  • September 23, 2008. Nice diamond from Murfreesboro, Arkansas. AP on Google News

  • September 22, 2008. Huge flawless diamond found in Lesotho. Reuters on MSNBC

  • September 22, 2008. Geology and speculation at Stonehenge. I'm sure it will mke a great TV program. But is it good science? We won't know until they take time off from the camera to actually write it up. It will certainly generate a flood of "Lost Secrets of Stonehenge" books. And why do they call the bluestones "dolomite" when they are not? I expect some fool wrote "dolerite" and everyone in the world just copied it without thinking or checking.

  • September 22, 2008. Ground subsidence as a result of pumping ground water. The phenomenon is nothing new: it's documented from California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, etc. This example is from Iran, and it has been detected by satellite imagery. The paper is in Geophysical Research Letters. National Geographic News

  • September 21, 2008. Small eruption on the hot-spot island of Réunion. AFP

  • September 21, 2008. Summary blog on the volcanoes of Io. Dave Schumaker

  • September 18, 2008. Iran, Turkey, oil supplies, and choke points like the Straits of Hormuz and the Bosporus. John Daly on Terra Daily. Previous story: September 17, 2008

  • September 18, 2008. Don't live on a barrier island... But if you do, leave before the hurricane hits!

  • September 17, 2008. Russia, Georgia, and oil pipelines. An expert analyst has confirmed my speculations about the Russian invasion of Georgia: it's all about oil.