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, some newspapers take off their stories within DAYS and then charge for access to them.

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Geology in the News

  • December 31, 2010. Copper prices reach an all-time record high (in $US) as the global economic outlook improves. BBC News

  • December 26, 2010. The last hours of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Unfortunately, a story of hesitation, indecision, and disaster. New York Times

  • December 23, 2010. Another potential landslide disaster in the Pamir region. Pamir Times

  • December 22, 2010. Follow-up to the recent eruption of Merapi. There is still a lahar problem. Here are two photo-galleries

  • December 20, 2010. Methane production and disappearance on Mars: a mystery. AGU meeting blog

  • December 15, 2010. Grim prospects for water supply in the American Southwest. There are several papers in this week's PNAS, which I haven't read yet. These are news stories:

  • December 15, 2010. Life during a Precambrian glaciation. The headline says this paper shows how life survived Snowball Earth. In fact, it has been clear for several years that there was no late Precambrian "snowball earth", and that what we had was a Slushball Earth. The new paper significantly improves the documentation of Slushball Earth: it is in Geology. BBC News

  • December 14, 2010. There may be water pools just under the surface of Mars. Or there may not be. If you have time on your hands, count how many times words like "may", "might", "hint", "could be", "perhaps" occur in this brief news story. It's not clear how much new data there are: it reads as if the new work is thermal modelling of the surface sediments. There is a paper in Icarus. National Geographic News

  • December 14, 2010. The End-Permian Siberian Traps volcanism was not just massive, it was contaminated with chlorine and fluorine. No paper yet.... Wired Science

  • December 10, 2010. Print a stunning lidar poster of Mount St. Helens. USGS

  • December 8, 2010. Fantastic night-time photographs inside the crater of Kawah Ijen, the Indonesian volcano where pure sulfur is mined. Boston Globe. The same photographer published an equally impressive daytime set last year: Boston Globe, June 2009.

  • December 8, 2010. New data suggest that we don't understand planetary formation as well as we thought. Nature news, about two new papers published on-line at Nature.

  • December 6, 2010. Almost surreal image of several volcanoes in Kamchatka, from the International Space Station. NASA Earth Observatory

  • December 5, 2010. A journalist visits White Island, an active volcano off the coast of North Island, New Zealand. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • December 4, 2010. Continuing eruption at Tungurahua, in Ecuador.

  • December 3, 2010. Lahars from Merapi follow the Code river valley into the major city of Yogyakarta. These are lahars, not a continuation of the recent eruptions. The lahar threat will continue at times of heavy rain, just as it did in the much larger eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines.

  • December 2, 2010. The British find a second oil prospect offshore from the Falklands. And, by the way, these islands have been British much longer than Alaska has been American. BBC News

  • November 30, 2010. A lava breakout from the Pu'u O'o lava tube system has consumed one of the few houses left in the Royal Gardens subdivision on Hawai'i. The breakout also interrupted the flow to the sea coast.

  • November 27, 2010. 29 coal miners cannot have survived four underground explosions in New Zealand.

  • November 24, 2010. A new model suggests that the effects of the huge Toba eruption were not as catastrophic as has been claimed. The paper is in Geophysical Research Letters. Press release

  • November 23, 2010. Anak Krakatau, gently erupting, satellite view. NASA Earth Observatory

  • November 21, 2010. Beautiful image of Cape Cod from satellite. Precisely 380 years after the Pilgrim Fathers landed there. NASA Earth Observatory

  • November 19, 2010. The warning signs from Eyjafjallajokull were more subtle than we find in a more continuously active volcano. The paper was in Nature this week. Erik Klemmetti's Eruptions blog

  • November 19, 2010. The Great Game continues in the Caspian Basin for its oil and gas resources. Now Turkmenistan has signed up to supply gas for an EU-backed pipeline that would NOT go across Russian territory. BBC News

  • November 17, 2010. Beautiful image of folds in a mountain belt: the Belcher Islands of northern Canada. AGU blog site

  • November 17, 2010. World record for any gem anywhere: a pink diamond sells for $40 million or so. (The model isn't included.)

  • November 17, 2010. Merapi eruption in Indonesia. Continued eruptions, killing people (usually inside the evacuation zone!). Pyroclastic flows, and ash blasted high enough to interrupt airline traffic. Over 300 people are dead, including the volcano's spiritual guardian, whose job it was to intercede with the spirits and prevent eruptions. He didn't heed the evacuation orders, either. The usual chaos, in other words.

  • November 12, 2010. The earth's gravitational pull had a significant effect on the Moon's topography. So trumpets the science news. Well, we've known that for DECADES, ever since we got a good fix on the shape of the Moon, and we've suspected it for as long as scientists have though about the fact that the Moon always has the same side facing the Earth. And. by the way, the best example of tidal flexing and heating in the Solar System is Io, Jupiter's volcanic moon. So what's new here? The paper carefully throws out other rival explanations, and is more explicit about timing and mechanism (tides). The paper is in Science this week. BBC News

  • November 2, 2010. Follow-up to the New Zealand earthquake stories. Here is a stunning picture of deformation of railroad tracks as tehy crossed the fault line! Dave Petley's landslide blog. For previous stories and images, scroll down to September 18, 2010.

  • November 2, 2010. Big sinkhole opens in a German town. Canadian National Post photogallery

  • November 2, 2010. The victims at Pompeii were not suffocated by ash, but died instantly from heat shock. (This would not necessarily include the victims on the other side of the volcano at Herculaneum.) National Geographic News

  • November 2, 2010. Potential for a major glacial flood (jokulhlaup) and a minor eruption from Grimsvotn in Iceland. Water flow has increased nearly five-fold in Gigja, the river that drains the Vatnajokull ice field to the sea. This implies that Grimsvotn, a volcano under the Vatnajokull ice field, is heating up. An eruption may be imminent. Daily News from Iceland. Previous stories:

  • October 29, 2010. The Gulf Oil spill: claims that Halliburton used bad cement are strengthened in new evidence. The inquiry is still in process, however, and we will know more in a month or more. BBC News

  • October 28, 2010. Tsunami strikes the west coast of Sumatra after an M 7.7 earthquake. The current death toll is 340, but hundreds of people are still missing.

  • October 25, 2010. Flow of new lava spotted on Venus. Not a surprise, but a technical achievement since it has to be detected by infra-red through the cloud cover. Wired Science

  • October 25, 2010. Large asteroid crater found in the Australian outback. It's 80 km across, which is regionally significant but not globally. No firm data on age yet. Geology.com site

  • October 24, 2010. Sarez Lake, in Tajikistan. Maybe you've been following the travails of the Hunzakuts after the huge landslide that blocked their valley last January (see story immediately below). This is a retrospective by a Hunza writer who visited the Sarez Lake, just over the Pamirs from the Hunza Valley. In 1911 a massive earthquake and landslide blocked a valley there, forming Sarez Lake, which is still the largest landslide lake on the planet. Pamir Times

  • October 15, 2010. Karakoram diary: a journey along the Karakoram Highway as far as the landslide lake. The Economist. Sets into perspective the local independent Hunzakut tradition, and their increasing debt to the Chinese rather than the ineffective Pakistani government. For previous stories on the landslide lake, scroll down to October 8 and September 8, 2010.

  • October 15, 2010. Spectacular eruption at Piton de la Fournaise, on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean (and the present site of the Reunion Hot Spot). Thanks to Erik Klemetti for the link.

  • October 14, 2010. Mount St. Helens: images from 1980 to 2010. NASA Earth Observatory Among other things (like vegetation recovery), watch Spirit Lake change, with water level and sedimentation.

  • October 14, 2010. All the trapped Chilean miners are safe.

  • October 13, 2010. New record price for gold: $1370 an ounce. But at least some of that is the drop in the $US, which isn't worth as much against other major currencies as it used to be. CNN

  • October 8, 2010. The deepest canyon in the Universe (so far!). Melas Chasma on Mars is 3.1 miles below the average Martian surface, but 5.6 miles below the plateaus that border it. These numbers come from new data gathered by Europe's Mars Express spacecraft. Wired.com
  • October 8, 2010. The Spill: National Geographic feature on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. October National Geographic, with a photogallery and other links.

  • October 8, 2010. Underground coal fires. Feature article. Earth magazine

  • October 7, 2010. Another hole in the ground: this one is a sinkhole at Charlotte Motor Speedway. NASCAR fans will be glad to know it's not under the track itself. Autoweek

  • October 7, 2010. One hole in the ground = 27 Megawatts, as long as you are drilling into really hot rock. The latest on geothermal power around the Icelandic volcano Krafla. Iceland Review Daily News

  • October 5, 2010. New photographs of lava building a delta on the south coast of Hawai'i. NASA Earth Observatory and HVO

  • September 29, 2010. China's great South-North water project. Los Angeles Times

  • September 28, 2010. New evidence of subsidence in the Houston area. As before, it's due to massive pumping of ground water. UPI

  • September 26, 2010. A New Zealand milk train hits a landslide: great teaching image!! Stuff.co

  • September 24, 2010. Humans "terraforming: the Earth, Part 1. This is Part I of a sardonic series. Wired Science

  • September 24, 2010. Gold and silver rise to a new record highs. CNN

  • September 23, 2010. The desperate state of Lake Mead. Two images of the upper end of the lake, one in 1985 and one last month. The caption says that the lake has reached its lowest level since 1956, but the graph says it's the lowest level since 1941, and maybe earlier. NASA Earth Observatory.

  • September 23, 2010. China holds a strong card: it is the major miner of rare-earth metals. OK, facts are facts: but there's nothing magic about opening up new mines elsewhere: all it takes is time and money. So the Chinese can only play that card once. Wall Street Journal

  • September 23, 2010. Why is Kamchatka so active volcanically? Nice summary by Erik Klemetti.

  • September 22, 2010. Devil's Lake in North Dakota: a slow disaster in the making. AP story on Google News

  • September 21, 2010. The Chilean volcano Planchón-Peteroa has been erupting at low level since September 6, 2010, but is increasing its activity. An ash cloud is drifting east over Argentine territory. NASA Earth Observatory image

  • September 20, 2010. The little Martian moon Phobos was likely formed from the debris of a major asteroid impact on Mars. This is not a novelty of an idea: we know that Earth's moon was formed the same way. There's no paper yet (a manuscript has been submitted to Planetary and Space Science). BBC News

  • September 19, 2010. BP has finally sealed its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico. BBC News. For previous stories, see September 4, 2010.

  • September 18, 2010. Long thorough looks at the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand, and its relation to the Alpine transform fault. The photos are taken along the actual surface break, southwest of the city of Christchurch. Naturally, the financial damage was centered in the city.

  • September 15, 2010. Peruvian aquifers and asparagus farming. The Guardian's headline actually said, "How Peru's wells are being sucked dry by the British love of asparagus". That's a crock of baloney. Peru's wells are being sucked dry in a desert highland valley because Peruvian agrobusiness, financed by the World Bank, is mining ground water to make a nice fat profit by growing the wrong crop in the wrong region. Rather like the cotton farmers around Bakersfield in California, except that their water is provided by a huge fat subsidy from taxpayers like me so they can salinate the soil. Both are examples of reckless exploitation of a scarce resource to make money NOW with no thought for the future. The Guardian.

  • September 15, 2010. Feature article and retrospective on Eyjafjallajokull. With slide show. Science News.

  • September 13, 2010. Update on the giant ice island off Greenland. It hit a rock in Nares Strait and broke into two.The two pieces, each still huge, will survive as enormous icebergs for at least two years, and before it melts it may drift into sea-lanes off Labrador and Newfoundland. And this event is a powerful reminder of the loss of Greenland ice: the numbers are staggering. Terra Daily. Previous stories:

  • September 13, 2010. Mount Sinabung on Sumatra in Indonesia erupts: first time for over 400 years.

  • September 8, 2010. The sliding stones of the floor of Death Valley. National Geographic photogallery

  • September 5, 2010. Update on the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand: assessing damage. Usually quakes are over on the west coast of the island. M7 means damage, but apparently no-one was killed.

  • September 4, 2010. The US Coast Guard has declared that the BP well poses no further threat to the environment. BBC News. For previous stories, scroll down to August 13, 2010.

  • September 3, 2010. New very high resolution images of the surface of Mars. For your teaching slides. 236 of them! HIRISE from University of Arizona

  • September 2, 2010. The Peruvian guano mining industry, 2010! BBC News

  • September 1, 2010. A submerged relict reef around Lord Howe Island (between Australia and New Zealand) is much larger than its modern equivalent. That means lots of questions, but no firm answers yet. The paper is said to be in Geophysical Research Letters (that means I haven't looked for it yet). BBC News

  • August 30, 2010. Galeras, Sinabung and Etna are erupting.

  • August 30, 2010. Rockfalls in Yosemite National Park: a fine video. YouTube

  • August 27, 2010. A second meteorite impact at the KT boundary? The crater is in the Ukraine. It is relatively small, but the date is VERY close to Chicxulub. So the question becomes whether is it coincidence: the authors think not. BBC News

  • August 26, 2010. Great summary of recent work on the Yellowstone plume, by Chris Rowan. HighlyAllochthonous blog

  • August 25, 2010. The Great Oxidation Event revisited. This is a really nice paper in Nature Geoscience. It documents substantial production of oxygen surface waters at 2.5 to 2.6 Ga, enough to diffuse downwards into shallow water, but not to oxygenate the deep sea or the atmosphere in sufficient volume to be easily setectable. Therefore the Great Oxidation Event is 2.45 Ga or so. Given this, it seems increasingly likely to me that there were indeed small oxygen "oases" long before this, in which significant microbial action could have occurred "under the radar". These are called stromatolites! I hasten to add that this latter is my own (eminently reasonable) speculation: the authors of the paper properly confine themselves to data and inference from rock sequences they have studied. Terra Daily

  • August 25, 2010. If your river city floods, protect it by sending the water downstream. (If you can get away with it!). Case study: Fargo, North Dakota. What's downstream: Canada. No worries. New York Times blog

  • August 25, 2010. Proactive geology: trying to drain a potentially dangerous glacial lake in the French Alps. BBC News

  • August 22, 2010. Daring Mount Yasur to incinerate them: tourists go for Darwin Awards. Terra Daily

  • August 23, 2010. The geology of Edinburgh Castle! Chris Rowan's Highly Allochtnonous blog

  • August 22, 2010. The latest on the huge block of ice that broke off the Petermann glacier in Greenland. glacier. It will survive as an enormous iceberg for at least two years, and before it melts it may drift into sea-lanes off Labrador and Newfoundland. And it is a powerful reminder of the loss of Greenland ice: the numbers are staggering.

  • August 20, 2010. Excellent series of three essays on volcanic activity of Etna. They were written by Boris Behncke, guest blogger on the Eruptions blog site.

  • August 19, 2010. Building an oil pipeline across the United States from north to south. CNN

  • August 19, 2010. Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan: a mineral resource with 6,000 years of history. CNN

  • August 18, 2010. Strange double earthquake caused the deadly 2009 tsunami in Tonga and Samoa. The paper is in Nature this week.

  • August 18, 2010. The latest on California's State Rock.

  • August 18, 2010. Billiton tries to take over the world's largest fertiliser company, Potash Corporation. The idea seems to be that demand for fertiliser may rise faster than demand for other of Billiton's mining products. BBC News, August 18, 2010.

  • August 13, 2010. BP has completed the "top kill" in its effort to seal off its crippled well. The question now arises

  • August 14, 2010. The sinkhole that keeps on giving... This is in Tampa, Florida.

  • August 10, 2010. Asteroid crater hunting from your home. Wired Science, August 10, 2010.

  • August 10, 2010. Huge block of ice breaks off a Greenland glacier. It will survive as an enormous iceberg for at least two years, and before it melts it may drift into sea-lanes off Labrador and Newfoundland.

  • August 9, 2010. More on mountain-top mining and the second Battle of Blair Mountain.

  • August 9, 2010. Massive landslide near Pemberton, British Columbia. Longer-term hazards remain after the initial crisis.

  • August 6, 2010. Karangetang erupts in Indonesia.

  • August 5, 2010. The Moon is DRY DRY DRY. Forget NASA's wishful thinking! Wired Science

  • August 2, 2010. Submarine canyon on the floor of the Black Sea. It was formed, and is still being formed, as salt water from the Mediterranean flows into the Black Sea beneath the surface. The dense salt water cuts down int the canyon as it sinks under gravity to the floor of the Black Sea (which has much fresher and lighter water). The paper is said to be in press in Geology. AOL News

  • August 1, 2010. Update on the proposal to delete serpentine as California's State Rock. California is in deep financial crisis, and the State budget is late. Its legislators are taking a vacation, while the Governor is trying to reduce state workers' salaries to the Federal minimum wage. But Gloria Romero, a termed-out State Senator, is working hard. She is trying to push through a Bill that will remove serpentine as California's State Rock, on the grounds that it contains asbestos. Romero, by the way, spent most of the past few months running for election as California's Superintendent of Public Instruction, but voters for once got it right and elected someone else! If Romero was really keen on the health of California, she would be going after bigger taxes on tobacco, off-road vehicles, skidoos, hard liquor, and bullets.

  • July 30, 2010. An earthquake warning masquerading as a forecast. This may be junk reporting,or junk forecasting. A group of seismologists has pointed out that northern Chile is ripe for a big earthquake. But, of course they can't, and don't, forecast it. The article is written in a strangely breathless tone, as if it was slanted to get attention rather than to report a simple scientific assessment that could apply to 30 or 40 situations round the world. But judging from the remarks attributed to Dr. Melnick, it is he and his team that are guilty of this scientific posturing. BBC News

  • July 29, 2010. The root cause of the 1811 New Madrid earthquakes. The headline says that it was erosion by the Mississippi. But the river was only responding to the retreat of the ice sheets, which caused the crust to flex slightly (isostasy at work). The paper and commentary are in Nature this week. MSNBC

  • July 28, 2010. New US Geological Survey Fact Sheet with a revised standard geological column and time scale. This will likely become an American standard (until the next revision). USGS

  • July 28, 2010. Saving the Leaning Tower of Pisa. (London) Telegraph

  • July 27, 2010. Deadly landslide in China. BBC News

  • July 26, 2010. Underground coal fires. TIME magazine

  • July 22, 2010. Strange new types of deep-sea hydrothermal vents in the Cayman Trough, on the plate boundary between the North American Plate and the Caribbean Plate. Terra Daily

  • July 22, 2010. Huge new gold project in the northeast Congo. Good luck on this one: there is persistent and ugly fighting in the region. The gold project will be a prime target for extortion. (The analogy is with a huge copper project in Bougainville that became a focus for an undeclared civil war.) BBC News Online

  • July 21, 2010. Nigerian oil spills: a slow, continuing, out-of-sight disaster. And it is multi-faceted. Nigerian Government incompetence and corruption; mindless sabotage by disenfranchised locals; and oil company behavior which shows why advanced countries have environmental laws and oversight. Terra Daily

  • July 18, 2010. The life of a Bolivian salt miner. BBC News

  • July 15, 2010. Volcano Picture of the Week: the crater of Poas, in Costa Rica. After a week or so, you can find this image in the archive. VPOW

  • July 12, 2010. Incoherent news story about a fault under or near the Lake Isabella Dam upstream of Bakersfield, California. I suppose we have to wait until September for the paper! (it is supposed to appear in the Bulletin of GSA). KGET

  • July 10, 2010. Another update on the Indonesian mud volcano. Los Angeles Times. For previous story scroll down to May 29, 2010.

  • July 10, 2010. The surface of the asteroid Lutetia. Photogallery on Wired Science

  • July 10, 2010. 2.7 square miles of the Jakobshavn Isbrae Glacier in Greenland break off in less than 24 hours. Satellite images on Wired Science

  • July 10, 2010. Concern about Southern California's fault zones. Increased stress was traneferred to them by the Mexican earthquake earlier this year. Los Angeles Times

  • July 9, 2010. A large plume of steam is coming from Eyjafjallajökull, but it is pure white, which means no ash. This is not an eruption, just water and hot rock. Iceland Review

  • July 8, 2010. Political bromide from Ethiopia about the dispute over Nile water. Doesn't do anything to hide the reality that there'n not enough water to fulfil the wants of the countries involved. An exact parallel is the Colorado River. Terra Daily

  • July 6, 2010. THE GULF OIL SPILL SO FAR.

  • June 30, 2010. Volcano Picture of the Week: lava lake at Nyiragongo. After a week has gone, you can find this image in the archive. VPOW

  • June 25, 2010. Fracking: hydraulic fracturing to release natural gas from wells. It affects aquifers, which affects people. A horror story from the Appalachians. Vanity Fair

  • June 25, 2010. Real-time opening of a rift in the Afar Region of Ethiopia. BBC News

  • June 25, 2010. The entire surface of Mars was once affected by water. But in the very last sentence, you get a realistic assessment of what than means. BBC News.

  • June 25, 2010. Working in an Afghan coal mine. Growing poppies seems a lot easier! BBC News

  • June 23, 2010. Magnitude 5 earthquake just north of Ottawa, Canada. The region is know to have such earthquakes, but they are infrequent. Terra Daily

  • June 22, 2010. Volcano Picture of the Week: Anak Krakatau in Indonesia. After a week has gone, you can find this image in the archive. VPOW

  • June 22, 2010. The restless volcano Sakurajima in Japan sets a new record for its number of eruptions. Eruptions blog

  • June 22, 2010. Flood from an overtopped dam creates a large canyon in three days. This may shed much better light on ancient megaflood processes. The canyon is in Texas, and the paper is in press in Nature Geoscience. Terra Daily

  • June 21, 2010. A major new diamond field is discovered in Zimbabwe. This is likely to be more benefit to the brutal corrupt dictatorship of Robert Mugabe than to the people of Zimbabwe. New York Times

  • June 20, 2010. Tens of millions of people in Bangadesh have been exposed to arsenic-laced water supplies. Terra Daily

  • June 18, 2010. Gold reaches $1258 an ounce, a new record. The Telegraph

  • June 18, 2010. Mud and debris flow at Oliver, British Columbia. Mostly from Dave Petley's landslide blog site. Note the great heuristic value of Google Earth in assessing the event!

  • June 18, 2010. Collapse of a steep iron-ore mine wall in Tasmania. Thanks to Dave Petley's blog for the link. ABC

  • June 17, 2010. Volcano Picture of the Week: Kelud in Indonesia. After a week has gone, you can find this image in the archive. VPOW

  • June 17, 2010. Seismic unrest and official alert at Taal volcano in the Philippines.

  • June 16, 2010. Landslide near Darjeeling, India. Probably caused by monsoon rains. Narrative and spectacular short movie. Thanks to Dave Petley's blog for the link. SaveThe Hills blogspot

  • June 15, 2010. Geologists may be charged with negligent manslaughter for not predicting a major earthquake!!! This is in Italy, not that that's any excuse for such a dim-witted proposal. EARTH magazine, June 15, 2010. But while we're on the topic of prediction, lay your bets now on all kinds of earth-related events: EARTH magazine, 21 April 2010. And to save you time, here is the site for Paddy Power batting: Paddy Power. Specifically on Earth-science topics, you can bet for or against your favorite airport being closed by volcanic ash on any particular day, and on the time that BP's Tony Hayward will lose his job, and on who will replace him (Tony Blair at 100-1).

  • June 14, 2010. Mars once had an ocean, episode N. The evidence this time comes from the altitude of dry deltas on the Martian surface that date from the early Archaean (in Earth chronology). If most of the deltas are at the same elevation, they might all have been formed along one shoreline. And the authors are quoted as saying cheerfully that most of them are (17 out of 52, that is!). You have to love the quality of reality check in that attitude! Furthermore, knowing what we do about changes in the Martian climate on timescales of millions of years makes it highly likely that any early ocean would have a wildly variable depth. Another flaw in the argument is that deltas in one Martian lowland would form at the same level as those in another, because the global water-table would equalize the shorelines between one isolated basin and the next (I'm paraphrasing, but that's the argument). That's a wonderful claim, but it certainly doesn't apply on Earth; the Dead Sea isn't maintained by seepage from the Mediterranean, and the Mediterranean basin wasn't forced to be at global sea-level when it was cut off from the Atlantic Ocean in the Messinian. And finally, it's a huge step into fantasy to call that alleged ocean "chock-full of microbes"! It's not clear who said that. The journalist, Ker Than, writes that "scientists say" that, but it's not a direct quote, and it doesn't appear in the paper. The paper is in Nature Geoscience. National Geographic News

  • June 14, 2010. The Moon had more water inside it as it formed than we had expected. Is that a "game-changer"? Only if you are a planetary geochemist. It has no relevance to the availability of water on the Moon's surface today. National Geographic News

  • June 13, 2010. There is still a danger of a glacial outburst of flood water from the Eyjafjallajökull ice-cap. Part of the Markarfljot valley has been closed to traffic. Iceland Review

  • June 13, 2010. The mineral riches of Afghanistan may be immense. Just what the world needed: another layer of complexity in the region! New York Times

  • June 10, 2010. Massive slow-moving landslides at Lanckorona in Poland. Dave Petley's website points to this without any narrative. Poland has had huge amounts of rainfall in recent week, with catastrophic floods ending up in the Vistula. Saturation of the soil is largely responsible for these dramatic images.

  • June 9, 2010. Volcano Picture of the Week: Strokkur Geyser in Iceland. After a week has gone, you can find this image in the archive. VPOW

  • June 9, 2010. A Death Valley oasis fed by spring water from the Nevada atomic Test Site! Terra Daily

  • June 8, 2010. Evidence that the giant crater Hellas on Mars once held a lot of water. (But sometime in the Archean, or even Hadean.) And we cannot tell whether that water was as toxic as other early water sources on Mars. BBC News

  • June 8, 2010. Iron Age meteorite impact in Estonia. Not new news, but a fascinating story. Derived from a post on geology.com. The 2001 paper in Meteoritics and Space Sciences, .pdf on open access.

  • June 6, 2010. Don't be a sulfur miner at Kawah Ijen. This story comes round every few years, and nothing changes. Terra Daily. Previous story: Reuters, July 21, 2008.

  • June 4, 2010. A giant sinkhole appears in Guatemala City after heavy rain.

  • June 3, 2010. A Stone-Age center for mining and processing ochre is discovered in South Africa. Its age is estimated at 58,000 years ago. Discovery News

  • May 31, 2010. Undersea eruption near Saipan. Pacific News Center, thanks to Eruptions blog

  • May 31, 2010. Volcano Picture of the Week. This week it is White Island, New Zealand. VPOW

  • May 29, 2010. The Indonesian mud volcano is still flowing. I've assembled here my entries in this sad business over the past four years.

  • May 29, 2010. Eruptions of Pacaya in Guatemala and Tungurahua in Ecuador.

  • May 27, 2010. Volcano chasers: the amateur fanatics. USA Today

  • May 27, 2010. The Iceland geologists will wait until after the weekend before declaring the Eyjafjallajökull euption over.

  • May 24, 2010. A new site: Volcano Picture of the Week. Bookmark me!

  • May 24, 2010. Eruption of Arenal in Costa Rica. Arenal erupts frequently, but this one seems more sudden and more speactacular than most. Terra Daily

  • May 24, 2010. The Iceland eruption has stopped. Wait and see whether it is a pause or really the end: but there is only background seismicity, and the Icelandic geologists are calling it "dormant".

  • May 21, 2010. Greenland is rising as its ice cap melts. This, of course, is classic isostasy in action! Terra Daily

  • May 19, 2010. Earth had water early. This comes from a paper said to be in Science (tomorrow). I'll comment when I see the paper.

  • May 19, 2010. Risks in being a volcanologist. Blog by Jessica Ball

  • May 18, 2010. Thirtieth anniversary of the Mount St. Helens explosion.

  • May 13, 2010. Now it's a Venezuelan offshore drilling rig that sinks. BBC News OnLine

  • May 13, 2010. African nations bickering over water rights to the River Nile. This has been brewing for 30 years. Historical agreements give most water to Sudan and Egypt, and one could argue that Egypt, as the most populous and most militarily powerful nation, and the one nation that depends absolutely on Nile water, should retain its historical large allocation. (I have read that Egypt maintains an Army brigade trained for action in the Upper Nile drainage, but I don't know whether that's true or not.) Stay tuned!

  • May 12, 2010. Gold hits a new record price of $1243 an ounce. CNN

  • May 12, 2010. A family dies as their home falls 30 feet in a landslide near Montréal, in Quebec. The area has "quick clay" deposits which can easily and suddenly liquefy. There have been bigger and more horrific landslides in the region, not that that's any consolation. Toronto Globe and Mail

  • May 11, 2010. In Estonia, it's limestone mining versus the local witches. I'm rooting for the witches! Terra Daily

  • May 11, 2010. Salt the parking lot, cause a landslide? Pittsburgh Tribune

  • May 9, 2010. The Indus River cuts off a meander: satellite imagery. It's interesting that this was not necessarily a dramatic event: the meander could have been slowly sealed off by deposition at the critical point. Great imagery for Geology 1! NASA Earth Observatory

  • May 7, 2010. The renewed lava flow in Hawaii not only reached the sea, but spread out and covered the tourist viewing area as well.

  • May 6, 2010. The problems of mining aquifers for "fossil water". National Geographic News

  • May 4, 2010. Glacial megaflood identified in Alaska, analogous to the Lake Missoula megaflood but smaller. The paper is in Quaternary Science. Terra Daily

  • April 30, 2010. Updates on Eyjafjallajökull.

  • April 30, 2010. Hints of wrong-doing between Massey Energy Co. and the Federal regulators overseeing the coal mine where 29 miners were killed. Reuters. See previous story on April 8, 2010.

  • April 29, 2010. California's beautiful tectonic jigsaw. Discovery News

  • April 29, 2010. Another mining disaster in the US, this time in Kentucky. The mine has had a history of safety violations. AP story on Huffington Post

  • April 28, 2010. Huge landslide in Taiwan buries a freeway, including three cars. MSNBC

  • April 27, 2010. Selling Acasta Gneiss: the oldest (known) rock on the planet. Great piece of journalism! You don't know whether to laugh or cry! Toronto Globe and Mail

  • April 27, 2010. Massive fires from gas flaring pollute the Nigerian environment and waste enormous eneregy resources. Independent (of London)

  • April 27, 2010. Continuing activity at Gaua Volcano in the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. Volcanism blog, with links to NASA imagery

  • April 27, 2010. Eruption at Santiaguito volcano in Guatemala. Eruptions blog

  • April 27, 2010. "Asphalt volcanoes" found on the sea floor off Santa Barbara. These structures are what you'd get if something like the Rancho La Brea tar seeps were extruded on the sea floor, instead of on land in the Los Angeles Basin. The paper is in press in Nature Geoscience.

  • April 26, 2010. Iceland eruption update. Lava is now flowing under the ice-cap to the north, causing lots of steam.

  • April 22, 2010. The death of the Colorado River. Salt Lake Tribune opinion column

  • April 22, 2010. European airspace largely clear of ash. Airlines are trying to second-guess the flight ban: but read these:

  • April 21, 2010. Iceland eruption update: Flights resume over Europe.

  • April 20, 2010. Iceland eruption update.

  • April 20, 2010. The connection between immodest dress and earthquakes. The scary part is that he really means it! BBC News

  • April 19, 2010. The ash cloud is spreading west across the Atlantic, as well as over Europe. Northern Scandinavia may clear tomorrow, Tuesday. Spain is becoming the air hub for Western Europe. There is increased earthquake activity under the volcano today, and whatever that really means, it does make it plain that activity is not slowing down. The best hope is that it will change character.

  • April 18, 2010. Some European airlines have begun "test flights", and are pressuring governments to allow them to fly. This is pushing the envelope (in my view), given what we know about ash and jet engines, and in face of the damage to the engine of a Finnish aircraft earlier this week (see link below).

  • April 17, 2010. The Iceland eruption continues under the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. Airline flights over Northern Europe will likely be cancelled through the weekend. Some rivers have already flooded in dramatic fashion. A steam and ash cloud rises to 30,000 feet. The ring road round Iceland has been closed. And thousands of flights across the North Atlantic and within Europe have been cancelled.

  • April 15, 2010. Over 2,000 people killed in an earthquake in southwestern China.

  • April 14, 2010. China buys into Canadian oil sands. Terra Daily

  • April 12, 2010. Wonderful new photographs of the Iceland eruption. Discovery News

  • April 10, 2010. Worst US coal mining disaster in 25 years. A methane explosion in an underground coal mine in West Virginia killed 29 miners.

  • April 9, 2010. The Nord Stream gas pipeline, under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, is officially begun. BBC News

  • April 8, 2010. A flawless blue diamond sells for over $6 million in a Hong Kong auction. Bloomberg

  • April 8, 2010. Venus orbiter finds fresh lava flows (still hot). Wired Science

  • April 8, 2010. China and Nepal agree on the height of Mount Everest. 8848 meters. Now I suppose they will have to argue about its name. BBC News

  • April 8, 2010. Update on, and assessment of, the Iceland eruption.

  • April 8, 2010. Etna is showing signs of building toward a new eruption. Eruptions blog site

  • April 8, 2010. Large earthquake (M 7.2) just south of the US border in Baja California province, on April 4, 2010. Hundreds of aftershocks continue along a northwest trending line that crosses the US border. The main shock was on the plate boundary between the Pacific and American plates, north of the northern end of the Gulf of California (that plate boundary is a northwest-trending transform fault, with steps across small pull-apart basins). Oh, and by the way, do not run OUT of your home in an earthquake! The hazards outside include falling bricks and roof tiles, and passing cars.

  • April 7, 2010. Glacier National Park has lost two more glaciers. ANd still there are people who deny global warming!. Discovery news

  • April 6, 2010. New satellite image of the growing dome at Chaiten. NASA Earth Observatory. image taken April 3, 2010.

  • April 5, 2010. A new exhibit of some of the victims of the eruption of Vesuvius that buried Pompeii. BBC News

  • April 2, 2010. The EPA is finally trying to do something to reduce the water pollution caused by the practice of mountain-top removal for coal mining. The Atlantic

  • April 1, 2010. New fissure opens in the Icelandic eruption. See the webcams for spectacular shots against a brilliant blue sky (this afternoon local time).

  • March 31, 2010. The glacial-lake flood that started the Younger Dryas cold spell about 13,000 years ago. This has been a leading hypothesis for some time, calling on a blast of ice-water from glacial Lake Agassiz, held behind the Canadian Laurentide ice sheet, into the North Atlantic. Yet there was no evidence that it had come down the obvious route, the St. Lawrence. Now the route has been found: the flood went down the Mackenzie River into the Arctic Ocean. The paper is inNature this week. Science Daily

  • March 31, 2010. Italian toads predict earthquake? I'm listing this, not because I believe it, but because it is published in a leading journal (Journal of Zoology). BBC News

  • March 25, 2010. Spectacular photo of the dome collapse on Montserrat in February this year, taken out of the window of an airplane. Daily Mail

  • March 25, 2010. Remember the asteroid on course to hit or pass very close to Earth on April 13, 2036? The National Science Foundation threatens to cut off funding to map its orbit more precisely.

  • March 25, 2010. Rapid retreat of glaciers in Kashmir. National Geographic News

  • March 24, 2010. The "dormant" volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupts in southern Iceland. "This is a small eruption", says Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson.

  • March 23, 2010. The proposed Rogun Dam in Tajikistan. The main issue apart from politics is seismicity. There seems no question that this "green" power will pay off economically. Tajikistan does have large earthquakes, but I have no idea of the specific of the site. BBC News

  • March 23, 2010. Rise of dinosaurs linked to the CAMP basalt flows (Central Atlantic Magma Province). These were immense flows that occurred as Pangaea split apart along much of the Atlantic toward the end of the Triassic. "The largest known basalt flows in the Solar System"! (He could equally correctly have said "the Universe".) Now coincidence doesn't mean cause, and it doesn't explain how the dinosaurs were blessed with survival when many other "stem" archosaurs and dinosauriforms became extinct. See a recent review in Biological Reviews on early dinosaurs. The paper is said to be in PNAS. BBC News

  • March 22, 2010. A San Andreas Fault Web site: Open it here. Thanks to geology.com for the link.

  • March 20, 2010. The Puente Hills Fault in the Los Angeles basin. Los Angeles Times

  • March 19, 2010. China, Australia, and iron ore. Australia already is one of China's main sources of iron ore, and China is the largest customer for Australian iron ore. Now the two countries are doing a joint-venture iron-ore project in West Africa, wth the Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto company as major shareholder. All this in spite of the fact that the Chinese are putting four Rio Tinto employees on trial for unspecified offences in Shanghai. There are huge amounts of money at stake, of course. BBC News

  • March 13, 2010. A blue spinel cut to resemble the Hope Diamond! Stauer Company

  • March 12, 2010. Assessing earthquake danger for the city of Istanbul. EARTH magazine

  • March 11, 2010. A satellite image from March 3 shows that the new dome at Chaiten has almost filled the old crater left after the 2008 eruptions.

  • March 10, 2010. A probable impact crater about 40 km wide is discovered in the Congo. Unfortunately it was found because the natural forest hiding it was cut down. We don't have an age until field work on the ground is done. That's a big crater, though... BBC News

  • March 9, 2010. Another Mars "water channel" turns out to have been made by a lava flow. National Geographic News

  • March 8, 2010. Large earthquake in Turkey: at least 50 people killed.

  • March 8, 2010. Large flawless blue diamond may bring $6 million when it is auctioned next month. Call now to have your credit limit increased. Press Association on Google News

  • March 4, 2010. New confirmation that the Sturtian glaciation was global, a little before 700 Ma. However, that only confirms that there were continental glaciers in equatorial lattiudes. It does NOT confirm "Snowball Earth", which is the hypothesis that the oceans were frozen too. The National Geographic headline comes from Christine dell'Amore, who mixed up Latin and Greek the other day (February 25, in "Paleo in the News.") You'd never guess it to read her story, but the authors of the paper did not address the question of "Snowball Earth". In an interview, Macdonald must have said that "Snowball Earth" was unlikely, and Christine quotes that and still writes the misleading headline! National Geographic News. Readers of my History of Life already know that the "Snowball Earth" idea is unlikely (I wrote a web note in 2000 about it, and the 4th edition has a 3-page mini-essay.) Slushball Earth

  • March 3, 2010. 25 years of mountain-top coal mining seen from space. This is a small watershed in West Virginia, but of course the practice spreads over a huge area. NASA Earth Observatory

    March 3, 2010. Huge earthquake just off the coast of Chile: about 500 people killed. Many people were killed when roads and bridges failed (see the BBC video), and in a tsunami that followed.

  • February 26, 2010. Huge flawless diamond sells for $35 million. (London) Times OnLine

  • February 24, 2010. Everything you wanted to know about seamounts. This is a special issue of the journal Oceanography, and is available on open access on the Web. Right now the URL is "current issue", so it willchange as the next issue comes out. Oceanography

  • February 24, 2010. The increasing area of Montserrat devastated by the Soufriere Hills volcano. Satellite images from 2007 and 2010. If you look carefully at the north end where "Trant's Bay" used to be, you will see the coastline has been extended out to sea since 2007: the greatest extension was 650 meters in the pyroclastic flow of February 11, 2010. NASA Earth Observatory, February 24, 2010. Previous stories:

  • February 23, 2010. Kilauea lava flow heads toward the ocean again. The lava tubes feeding the shoreline flows clogged up early this year. Lava broke out to the surface into the old Royal Gardens subdivision, covered some more of it, and is now slowly heading downhill toward the ocean on the western edge of the older flows. Map of flow, February 23

  • February 21, 2010. "Super Pit", a giant gold mine in Kalgoorlie, Australia. NASA Earth Observatory

  • February 17, 2010. Satellite image of Klyuchevskaya, a volcano in Kamchatka that is currently erupting. NASA Earth Observatory

  • February 17, 2010. Mine subsidence wrecks a (small) dam on the surface. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • February 17, 2010. More dysfunction in Zimbabwe: this time it's about alleged human rights abuses in their diamond fields. BBC News

  • February 16, 2010. Darwin Award candidate at Mount St. Helens. MSNBC

  • February 10, 2010. Underwater volcano erupts close to Iwo Jima.

  • February 8, 2010. The Lorton meteorite story continues: greed rears its ugly head.

  • February 8, 2010. Satellite image of copper mines in southern Arizona. NASA Earth Observatory

  • February 8, 2010. The end of the town of Centralia, which has been sitting on top of a burning coal seam since 1962. Ironically, they did it to themselves: they dumped garbage down an old abandoned coal mine shaft, and set fire to it... This was a favorite lecture on mine in my "Geology, History, and People" course!

  • February 6, 2009. Australia gets huge contract to aupply coal to China. BBC News

  • February 4, 2010. An eruption at Tungurahua in Ecuador features explosions, ash falls, and occasional lahars. Story with spectacular images from the Volcanism site. Volcanism Blog

  • February 4, 2010. The Lusi mud volcano in Indonesia: still flowing after more than three years. NASA Earth Observatory

  • February 4, 2010. Potential water conflict in Central Asia: Uzbekistan versus Tajikistan over a mega-dam project. The dam would generate hydroelectric power in Tajikistan, but might impact water supplies for Uzbekistan's cotton fields. It would certainly give Tajikistan leverage in any negotiations with Uzbekistan. Now, Uzbekistan has no business growing cotton in a desert: it's a stupid crop to grow there because it is very water-hungry. It's like California growing cotton in the south of the Central Valley: an ecological disaster. But Uzbekistan inherited the cotton-growing from Soviet days, and hasn't had the sense to phase it down and grow something else. The situation might deteriorate to the impasse beteen Iraq and Turkey over Turkey's dam projects. It makes you wonder where cash-strapped Tajikistan is getting the funding to build the dam... Watch and wait.... Terra Daily

  • February 3, 2010. Possible asteroid impact in the Gulf of Carpinteria (Northern Australia) around 535 AD, and possible link with climate disturbance. Lots of caveats. This is a talk at AGU: presumably there may be a paper eventually. There does not seem to be any dating on the possible craters, which makes one worry about the correlation with the (documentd) crop failures in the Northern Hemisphere around 535 AD. National Geographic News

  • February 3, 2010. New data on the San Andreas Fault (central section at least). It probably makes forecasting more difficult than ever. Terra Daily

  • February 2, 2010. The ocean entry of the Kilauea eruption has been quiet for a month now. The eruption is still going strong, so the lava must be backfilling the lava tubes, as well as feeding surface flows hgh on the slope. Eventually the surface flows will rebuild lava drainage to the coast, but one cannot predict when.

  • February 2, 2010. The fate of the first rains after a summer drought. The process is likely global, but the study was done in Oregon. The paper is online in Nature Geoscience. Terra Daily

  • January 30, 2010. The Wittelsbach diamond, now the Wittelsbach-Graff diamond, goes on display at the Smithsonian. The news story contains an outline history of the gem. BBC News

  • January 26, 2010. The deepest hole in the history of scientific drilling of the ocean crust. This is a hole drilled off the east coast of New Zealand that hoped to sample 35 million years of climatic history. National Geographic News

  • January 23, 2010. Severe cliff erosion at Pacifica, California, this winter. This is a perennial problem that waxes and wanes with storm-driven waves. For an excellent "before" picture, open Google Maps and ask for 330 Esplanade Drive, Pacifica, California. Buildings at 310, 320, and 330 have been completely or partly evacuated as of January 23rd. Sphere.

  • January 21, 2009. Paleoclimate from stalagmites. The latest offering fro this sub-discipline of paleoclimatology comes from the University of Arizona: Press release. Another recent study came from the University of California, Davis: press relase via Geology.com site

  • January 21, 2010. New photogallery from Sakurajima. Photovolcanica See also alphabetical list of other volcanoes featured on this great site.

  • January 19, 2010. Mexico's crystal cave. BBC News

  • January 18, 2010. Why is Exxon Valdez oil still polluting Alaskan beaches, 20 years on? Oil is trapped in gravel. The paper is in Nature Geocience, so is not generally available on the Web. BBC News

  • January 17, 2010. Large earthquake in Haiti, one of the world's countries least prepared to deal with it. Tens of thousands of people have been killed.

  • January 15, 2010. It is now 27 years since the current eruption of Kilauea began. Volcano Watch, from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. This is now the "current issue", and the URL will change after the next issue, but it will still be on the HVO site. Associated URL: Halema'uma'u crater featured on the Eruptions blog site, January 15, 2010.

  • January 14, 2010. Coal from the Permo-Triassic boundary in China is likely responsible for high rates of lung cancer. EARTH magazine

  • January 8, 2010. Eruption of Mount Nyamulagira, in the eastern Congo. Terra Daily

  • January 7, 2010. Ash from Soufriere Hills volcano, Montserrat, interferes with air travel to and from Puerto Rico.

    For current news items, see Geology in the News

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