Archive for the GEOLOGY Category

New Seafloor Map Reveals Secrets of Ancient Continents’ Shoving Match

Posted in GEOLOGY with tags on January 21, 2016 by 2eyeswatching

Post 5036

New Seafloor Map Reveals Secrets of Ancient Continents’ Shoving Match

El Morro: Stunning Photos of New Mexico’s Sandstone Bluff

Posted in GEOLOGY with tags on January 21, 2016 by 2eyeswatching

Post 5034

El Morro: Stunning Photos of New Mexico’s Sandstone Bluff

Here’s the Most Complete Ocean Floor Map Ever Made

Posted in GEOLOGY with tags on December 30, 2015 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4994

Here’s the Most Complete Ocean Floor Map Ever Made

Here's the Most Complete Ocean Floor Map Ever Made

What lies beneath the deep blue sea? So much more than you might think.

The results that let this new, marvelously-detailed map of the seafloor fromNASA’s Earth Observatory be made were actually first published last year as part of a paper in Science from researchers at NOAA and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They were also made available in a series of area maps and even as a Google Earth interactive. This latest incarnation, though, offers—in a single glance—perhaps the most complete unified view of the Earth’s seafloor to date, showing not just the mountains beneath the water, but also the crevices cracking the watery ground.

The detail of the map is particularly impressive. Not only does it show features that had previously not been seen, it’s also capable of catching any feature larger than 5 kilometers, which has been especially good for capturing some of the smaller ridge features.

It’s not just the map itself that’s interesting, though—it’s how they finally managed to make it.

Here's the Most Complete Ocean Floor Map Ever Made

So, how do you map what you can’t see?

Typically, finely-wrought ocean maps have been the result of extensive sonar. This is expensive and time-consuming, so sonar maps are mostly only made of places where ships spend the most time. The problem with that approach is that our oceans are vast and ships are small—meaning only a tiny percentage of the ocean floor (between 5 – 15 percent, NASA estimates) was mapped.

So, instead of depending on sonar, researchers looked to something else: Gravity. Using existing satellite data of the ocean, researchers searched for gravity anomalies as measured by sea surface heights. Where gravity was slightly stronger (those red/orange areas), they found mountains rising upwards, in the weaker areas (those blue patches) they were deep cracks.

This isn’t the first time researchers have made use of gravity as a measurement tool. A similar method has been used in the past to measure changes to ice cover in the Antarctic (yes, ice cover is changing so rapidly that you can even read the results in Earth’s gravitational field).

What’s exceptional about this effort is really the scale of it. Instead of just looking at changes to one area, the technique was used to chart the single largest unexplored area on our own planet. You often hear that Earth has already been extensively mapped, and certainly for inhabited areas that’s true. But for the remote regions, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of our planet—and this map is a tantalizing clue to just what the future of earth exploration may look like.

Maps: Joshua Stevens / NASA Earth Observatory

What the Hell Caused This California Road to Suddenly Rise Up and Crumble?

Posted in GEOLOGY with tags on November 25, 2015 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4912

George Dvorsky

http://gizmodo.com/what-the-hell-caused-this-california-road-to-suddenly-r-1744393718?utm_expid=66866090-67.e9PWeE2DSnKObFD7vNEoqg.0&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fgizmodo.com%2Fwhat-the-hell-caused-this-california-road-to-suddenly-r-1744393718

What the Hell Caused This California Road to Suddenly Rise Up and Crumble?

What the Hell Caused This California Road to Suddenly Rise Up and Crumble?

A stretch of Vasquez Canyon Road in Santa Clarita has inexplicably lifted upwards over the course of just a few hours. Geologists are stumped.

As CBS Los Angeles reports, it all started last Thursday, November 19, when motorists starting calling the California Highway Patrol about the road lifting and warping. Over the course of the next three days, the road kept rising along a 200-foot (60 meter) stretch. In some places the road lifted as much as 15 feet (4.6 meters), and some sections were practically vertical.

As noted in the Santa Clarita Valley News, some people thought it was triggered by an earthquake, while others joked that it was caused by the worm-like creatures featured in the Tremors movies.

But what’s particularly strange about this event is that it wasn’t precipitated by any obvious geological phenomenon (or mythical subterranean creature, for that matter), be it an earthquake or rainstorm. Even weirder is the fact that it happened over the span of a few hours.

What the Hell Caused This California Road to Suddenly Rise Up and Crumble?

(Credit: CBS LA)

UCLA professor Jeremy Boyce recently visited the site with his students. Here’s what he told CBS News:

When we think about geology, we think about processes that happen over millions and billions of years, so the opportunity to bring students out and see something happening over a scale of hours gives them the idea that not only does geology take forever, it can also happen almost instantaneously.

Over at the AGU Landslide Blog, geologist Dave Petley makes the case that it was caused by a progressive landslide, though one without an obvious trigger. This photo, taken from the Santa Clarita Valley Signal, offers a revealing perspective:

What the Hell Caused This California Road to Suddenly Rise Up and Crumble?

(Credit: Santa Clarita Valley Signal)

Petley admits that media reports of the road rising up appear to be accurate.

A spokesperson for the LA County Department of Public Works described it as some “really extraordinary soil movement” that turned the road into “essentially catastrophic failure.” Indeed, it appears as though the soil moved underneath the road, and then lifted it up. Which is quite odd. Normally, a landslide would just wipe the road away.

Before-and-after pics of the site show that the road is situated on a box cut, and that the unloading of material from the slope likely contributed to the landslide.

What the Hell Caused This California Road to Suddenly Rise Up and Crumble?

(Credit: YouTube via AGU Landslide Blog)

Footage of the road from a few years back show signs of extensive cracking, though nothing quite on the current scale.

A geology professor at College of the Canyons referred to it as a “massive wasting event,” adding that “some sort of water event saturated the rock” causing it to act as a lubricant, thus facilitating the layers above it to move along a curved surface.

Here’s some drone footage of the site:

http://gizmodo.com/ajax/inset/iframe?id=youtube-video-Ef4e6eybLmk&start=0

Needless to say, the stretch of Vasquez Canyon Road between Lost Creek Road and Vasquez Way is closed until further notice. Geologists will continue to investigate.

[CBS News | CBS Los Angeles | AGU Landslide Blog | Santa Clarita Valley Signal]


Email the author at george@gizmodo.com and follow him at @dvorsky. Top image by KTLA5

Giant Bling: World’s Second-Largest Diamond Unearthed

Posted in GEOLOGY with tags on November 21, 2015 by 2eyeswatching

Post 7222

Giant Bling: World’s Second-Largest Diamond Unearthed

Spectacular Geology: Amazing Photos of the American Southwest

Posted in GEOLOGY with tags on October 6, 2015 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4844

Spectacular Geology: Amazing Photos of the American Southwest

What Caused This Gaping Hole to Appear On an Australian Beach?

Posted in GEOLOGY with tags on October 1, 2015 by 2eyeswatching

Post 4840

George Dvorsky

http://io9.com/what-caused-this-gaping-hole-to-appear-on-an-australian-1733553802

What Caused This Gaping Hole to Appear On an Australian Beach?

What Caused This Gaping Hole to Appear On an Australian Beach?

This past weekend, a large portion of an Australian beach suddenly collapsed into the ocean. Initial reports indicated it was a sinkhole, but geologists say it’s more likely to be the result of a unique near-shore landslide.

The Inskip Sinkhole, as it was first described, appeared on Saturday September 26 at the Inskip Peninsular at MV Beagle Point, north of Rainbow Beach. Thankfully, there was no loss of life, but witnesses say a caravan, a car, and some tents were flushed into the sea. Check out some first-hand accounts of the incident here and an image gallery here.

The cavity measures about 655 feet long (200 meters), 164 feet wide (50 meters), and up to 30 feet deep (9 meters). That’s bigger than a football field. Around 300 campers were evacuated from Inskip Point after the incident. The hole now appears to be stable, but there is still concern that more trees may fall down, and that other sections of the beach may soon collapse.

What Caused This Gaping Hole to Appear On an Australian Beach?

Image credit: Leonie Mellor/ABC News

At first, experts said the phenomenon was caused by a sinkhole, which is essentially a collapsed cave. Over the last few days, however, realization has set in that the hole was probably caused by a submarine landslide, or what’s also known as a near-shore landslide. A report from the Sunshine Coast Dailyexplains:

A Queensland Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman said the event was unlikely to be related to or caused by earthquake activity.

“Rather, it’s most likely a natural phenomenon caused by the undermining of part of the shoreline by rapid tidal flow, waves and currents,” she said. “When this occurs below the waterline, the shoreline loses support and a section slides seaward, leaving a hole, the edges of which retrogress back towards the shore.’’

Peter Davies, a geologist at the University of the Sunshine Coast, added that the liquefaction visible at the site might be similar to processes seen at events triggered by earthquakes, where buildings fall into soft, loose, wet dirt that was once firm.

According to geologist Ted Griffin, a large channel between Inskip Pt and Fraser Island builds up a “shoulder” of sand, and then falls away, describing it as “a very unstable cliff of sand,” reports the Sunshine Coast Daily.

Geologist Dave Petley from the University of East Anglia in the UK says that it “would be fascinating to see some high resolution bathymetry data for this area as these slope failure events should leave a very distinctive deposit on the seabed,” adding that “the exact mechanism of failure, and its causes, are not clear to me and would be worthy of further investigation.”

Via AGU Blogosphere’s Landslide Blog!