In early 2017 scientists announced the discovery of possible desiccation cracks in Gale Crater, which was filled by lakes 3.5 billion years ago. Now, a new study has confirmed that these features are indeed desiccation cracks, and reveals fresh details about Mars’ ancient climate.
“We are now confident that these are mudcracks,” explains lead author Nathaniel Stein, a geologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Since desiccation mudcracks form only where wet sediment is exposed to air, their position closer to the center of the ancient lake bed rather than the edge also suggests that lake levels rose and fell dramatically over time.
by Arizona State University, April 17, 2018 in ScienceDaily
About 252 million years ago, more than 90 percent of all animal life on Earth went extinct. This event, called the “Permian-Triassic mass extinction,” represents the greatest catastrophe in the history of life on Earth. Ecosystems took nearly five million years to recover and many aspects of the event remain a mystery.
A research team, led by scientists from Arizona State University and funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation, is helping to understand why this extinction event happened and why it took life so long to recover. The study, published in Science Advances, was led by ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration graduate student Feifei Zhang, with direction from school faculty member Ariel Anbar.
by Michigan State University, April 3, 2018 in Sciencedaily
Scientists now have a clearer picture of the Earth’s mantle, thanks to Michigan State University research published in the current issue of Nature Communications (…)
by Simon Fraser University, March 29,2018 in ScienceDaily
A new 53 million-year-old insect fossil called a scorpionfly discovered at B.C.’s McAbee fossil bed site bears a striking resemblance to fossils of the same age from Pacific-coastal Russia, giving further evidence of an ancient Canada-Russia connection.
by U. of California – Santa Barbara, March 29, 2018 in SciencedDaily
To borrow from a philosophical thought experiment: If a volcano erupts in a remote part of the world and no one hears it, does it still make a sound?
Indeed, it does. And not only does the sound occur, but it also can tell scientists about the timing and duration of the eruption itself (…)
by D.C. McLaren et al., 2018 in PLOS.ONE
Little is known about the ice age human occupation of the Pacific Coast of Canada. Here we present the results of a targeted investigation of a late Pleistocene shoreline on Calvert Island, British Columbia. Drawing upon existing geomorphic information that sea level in the area was 2–3 m lower than present between 14,000 and 11,000 years ago, we began a systematic search for archaeological remains dating to this time period beneath intertidal beach sediments (…)
by F. Guldstrand et al., 2018 in Front.Earth.Sci.
• We quantitatively analyse pre-eruptive intrusion-induced surface deformation from 33 scaled laboratory experiments resulting in eruptions.
• A robust proxy extracted from surface deformation geometry enables systematic predictions of the locations of a subsurface intrusion and imminent eruption.
• Forecasting an eruption location is possible without geodetic modeling but requires volcano monitoring at high spatiotemporal resolution.
by University of California-Berkeley, March 19, 2018 in ScienceDaily
A new theory about how oceans and volcanoes interacted during the early history of Mars supports the idea that liquid water was once abundant and may still exist underground. Geophysicists propose that the oceans originated several hundred million years earlier than thought, as the volcanic province Tharsis formed, and that greenhouse gases enabled the oceans. The theory predicts smaller oceans, more in line with estimates of water underground and at the poles today.
by University of Cap Town, March 12, 2018 in ScienceDaily
Early modern humans living in South Africa around 74,000 years ago prospered through the cataclysmic eruption of the Toba supervolcano in Sumatra. The Toba eruption was one of the Earth’s most explosive volcanic events. The environmental effects of this event have been heavily debated, with some researchers having previously proposed that the eruption led to a worldwide volcanic winter that devastated contemporaneous human populations.
An eruption a hundred times smaller than Mount Toba — that of Mount Tambora, also in Indonesia, in 1815 — is thought to have been responsible for a year without summer in 1816. The impact on the human population was dire — crop failures in Eurasia and North America, famine and mass migrations. The effect of Mount Toba, a super-volcano that dwarfs even the massive Yellowstone eruptions of the deeper past, would have had a much larger, and longer-felt, impact on people around the globe (…)
by University of Nevada, March 9, 2018 in ScienceDaily
A UNLV scientist has discovered the first direct evidence that fluid water pockets may exist as far as 500 miles deep into the Earth’s mantle.
Groundbreaking research by UNLV geoscientist Oliver Tschauner and colleagues found diamonds pushed up from the Earth’s interior had traces of unique crystallized water called Ice-VII.
See alos here
by University of Liverpool, February 2, 2018 in ScienceDaily
Researchers have provided new insights into how molten rock (magma) moves through the Earth’s crust to feed volcanic eruptions. Using laboratory experiments involving water, jelly and laser imaging, researchers were able to demonstrate how magma magma flows through the Earth’s crust to the surface through magma-filled cracks called dykes.
by Bristol University, February 19, 2019 in ScienceDaily
A new study on the timescale of plant evolution has concluded that the first plants to colonize the Earth originated around 500 million years ago — 100 million years earlier than previously thought.
For the first four billion years of Earth’s history, our planet’s continents would have been devoid of all life except microbes.
by Georgia Institute of Technology, February 17, 2018 in ScienceDaily
In popular culture, asteroids play the role of apocalyptic threat, get blamed for wiping out the dinosaurs — and offer an extraterrestrial source for mineral mining. But for one researcher, asteroids play an entirely different role: that of time capsules showing what molecules originally existed in our solar system. Having that information gives scientists the starting point they need to reconstruct the complex pathway that got life started on Earth.
by Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR), February 13, 2018 in ScienceDaily
When the seabed loses its stability and starts to move, it often happens in much larger dimensions than landslides ashore — and at slopes with very low gradients. At the same time, discplacement of large amounts of sediment under water scan cause devastating tsunamis. However, why and when submarine landslides develop is hardly understood. Marine scientists have now published possible causes based on observations on submarine landslides off the coast of northwest Africa.
by T. Girona, C. Huber, C. Caudron, January 24, 2018 in Nature
A long-standing question in Earth Science is the extent to which seismic and volcanic activity can be regulated by tidal stresses, a repeatable and predictable external excitation induced by the Moon-Sun gravitational force. Fortnightly tides, a ~14-day amplitude modulation of the daily tidal stresses that is associated to lunar cycles, have been suggested to affect volcano dynamics. However, previous studies found contradictory results and remain mostly inconclusive. Here we study how fortnightly tides have affected Ruapehu volcano (New Zealand) from 2004 to 2016 by analysing the rolling correlation between lunar cycles and seismic amplitude recorded close to the crater. (…)