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Geology in the News

  • April 10, 2019 3:53 PM | Anonymous

    By: Elizabeth Landau

    Source: nasa.gov

    A black hole and its shadow have been captured in an image for the first time, a historic feat by an international network of radio telescopes called the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). EHT is an international collaboration whose support in the U.S. includes the National Science Foundation.

    A black hole is an extremely dense object from which no light can escape. Anything that comes within a black hole's "event horizon," its point of no return, will be consumed, never to re-emerge, because of the black hole's unimaginably strong gravity. By its very nature, a black hole cannot be seen, but the hot disk of material that encircles it shines bright. Against a bright backdrop, such as this disk, a black hole appears to cast a shadow.

    The stunning new image shows the shadow of the supermassive black hole in the center of Messier 87 (M87), an elliptical galaxy some 55 million light-years from Earth. This black hole is 6.5 billion times the mass of the Sun. Catching its shadow involved eight ground-based radio telescopes around the globe, operating together as if they were one telescope the size of our entire planet.

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  • April 08, 2019 4:58 PM | Anonymous

    By: Cheryl Dybas

    Source: National Science Foundation

    Since the late 1990s, Lake Erie has been plagued with blooms of toxic algae that turn its waters a bright blue-green. These harmful algae blooms are made up of cyanobacteria that produce the liver toxin microcystin.

    The blooms have led to public warnings to avoid water contact. In August 2014, for example, high microcystin concentrations were detected in drinking water from the lake. As a result, the water supply to 400,000 people in Toledo, Ohio, was shut down.

    "Algae blooms can be a mixture of toxic and non-toxic forms, and different species of microcystin-producing cyanobacteria can inhabit different parts of Lake Erie," says George Bullerjahn, director of the Great Lakes Center for Fresh Waters and Human Health. The center is headquartered at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

    Scientists at the center are conducting research to understand why harmful algae blooms happen in particular parts of Lake Erie. Their studies will help determine strategies to mitigate the blooms.

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  • April 08, 2019 3:39 PM | Anonymous

    By: N'dea Yancey-Bragg

    Source: USA Today

    Paleontologists have unearthed the largest Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever discovered, researchers say.

    The massive predator, nicknamed “Scotty,” was about 42 feet long and likely weighed more than 9.7 tons, according to the study published last week in the peer-reviewed journal The Anatomical Record. Not only is the massive specimen the biggest T. rex ever found, it’s also larger than all other carnivorous dinosaurs.

    “This is the rex of rexes,” said study author W. Scott Persons in a news release. “There is considerable size variability among Tyrannosaurus. Some individuals were lankier than others and some were more robust. Scotty exemplifies the robust.”

    The fossil was nicknamed after a celebratory bottle of scotch opened the night it was discovered in Canada. Although the bones were found in 1991, it took more than a decade to excavate them from the surrounding hard sandstone.

  • April 08, 2019 3:35 PM | Anonymous

    By: Mark O. Cuthbert, Kevin M. Befus and Tom Gleeson

    Source: blogs.agu.org

    Groundwater is the biggest store of accessible freshwater in the world, providing billions of people with water for drinking and crop irrigation. That’s all despite the fact that most will never see groundwater at its source – it’s stored naturally below ground within the Earth’s pores and cracks.

    While climate change makes dramatic changes to weather and ecosystems on the surface, the impact on the world’s groundwater is likely to be delayed, representing a challenge for future generations.

    Groundwater stores are replenished by rainfall at the surface in a process known as “recharge”. Unless intercepted by human-made pumps, this water eventually flows by gravity to “discharge” in streams, lakes, springs, wetlands and the ocean. A balance is naturally maintained between rates of groundwater recharge and discharge, and the amount of water stored underground.

    Groundwater discharge provides consistent flows of freshwater to ecosystems, providing a reliable water source which helped early human societies survive and evolve.

    When changes in climate or land use affect the rate of groundwater recharge, the depths of water tables and rates of groundwater discharge must also change to find a new balance.

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  • February 15, 2019 9:49 AM | Anonymous

    By: Evan Gough

    Source: universetoday.com

    A new study shows that Mars may very well be volcanically active. Nobody’s seen direct evidence of volcanism; no eruptions or magma or anything like that. Rather, the proof is in the water.

    In the past, Mars was a much warmer and wetter place. Now, Mars is still home to lots of water, mostly as vapor and ice. But in August 2018, a study published in Science showed a 20-km-wide lake of liquid water underneath solid ice at the Martian South Pole. The authors of that study suggested that the water was probably kept in liquid state by the pressure from above, and by dissolved salt content.

    But this new research shows that pressure and salt couldn’t have prevented that water from freezing. Only volcanic activity could have kept it warm enough. Specifically, a magma chamber formed in the last few hundred years is the only way that that water could’ve been prevented from freezing.

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  • February 07, 2019 4:41 PM | Anonymous

    By: T.J. Pignataro

    Source: The Buffalo News

    The footprint of the perpetually protected forest in Zoar Valley is growing.

    More than 600 acres – about a square mile in area – is being added to the already protected lands in southern Erie and northern Cattaraugus counties as part of a collaboration between a private landowner, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Nature Conservancy.

    Why is that important?

    It's one of the few remaining intact blocks of existing forest areas in the state's Great Lakes region, the Nature Conservancy said.

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  • February 07, 2019 9:05 AM | Anonymous

    By: Rodrigo Perez Ortega

    Source: eos.org

    Scientists have observed for some time that the level of sea ice concentration tends to increase shortly after an Arctic cyclone passes over. But in August of 2012, the powerful Great Arctic Cyclone traversed the entire Arctic. Shortly after its passage, scientists recorded the lowest sea ice levels ever, so they thought that the cyclone may have contributed to the sea ice loss. This conundrum sparked the interest of Erika A. P. Schreiber, a graduate student with the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder, and her supervisor, Mark Serreze.

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  • February 07, 2019 9:04 AM | Anonymous

    By: Allison Dunne

    Source: wamc.org

    The New York State Drinking Water Quality Council met Tuesday and recommended maximum contaminant levels for three chemicals that turned up a few years ago in drinking water in Hoosick Falls, Newburgh and other communities.

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  • February 07, 2019 8:59 AM | Anonymous

    By: Alexandra Witze

    Source: nature.com

    Something strange is going on at the top of the world. Earth’s north magnetic pole has been skittering away from Canada and towards Siberia, driven by liquid iron sloshing within the planet’s core. The magnetic pole is moving so quickly that it has forced the world’s geomagnetism experts into a rare move.

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