Earth Sciences


Photo Essay: Land, Lava, People

On Hawaii, lava is a way of life. The whole island is made of the stuff. Eruptions from Kilauea volcano have been adding new land and wiping out old for all of human time, and far before. In recent decades, lava flows have wiped out communities and major roads. The latest eruption, which began in June 2014, now… read more

by |November 24, 2015

In Hawaii, Living With Lava

When the most recent eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano started last June, Melvin Sugimoto at first did not think much of it. Hawaii, where he has lived all his life, is made entirely of hardened lava, and Kilauea, perhaps the world’s most active volcano, has been adding more off and on for the last 300,000 years. “Lava is… read more

by |November 24, 2015
Artistic impression of latitudinally more widespread auroras under a geomagnetic field much weaker than today's. (Huapei Wang, with source files courtesy of NASA's Earth Observatory/NOAA/DOD)

Earth’s Magnetic Field: Just Returning to Normal?

Earth’s magnetic field is getting weaker, but it may simply be coming down from an abnormally high intensity rather than being a sign of an impending geomagnetic reversal.

by |November 23, 2015
ROSETTA's temporary home in Antarctica. (credit Matt Siegfried)

In One Simple Line of Data You Can Read a Full Story

The lines of data are slowly creeping across our Ross Ice Shelf GIS map and with each new line comes an improved understanding of Ross Ice Shelf. What can you learn from a ‘snapshot’ of data? A radar contains a nice story.

by |November 19, 2015
Subduction zone mechanics

Ancient Faults & Water Are Sparking Earthquakes Off Alaska

Ancient faults that formed in the ocean floor millions of years ago are feeding earthquakes today along stretches of the Alaska Peninsula, and likely elsewhere, a new study suggests.

by |November 16, 2015
As the project sets out to explore the Ross Ice Shelf it seems appropriate to include a photo of Minna Bluff,  a prominent volcanic promontory that sticks out close to McMurdo. The bluff was first identified by Capt. Scott in 1902 and is mentioned often in Antarctic exploration history. (Photo Nigel Brady)

Unlocking the Secrets of the Ross Ice Shelf

The Ross Ice Shelf is much like the Rosetta Stone. The historic stone inscribed in three scripts told the same story but in different tongues, so when matched together scholars could decode an ancient language. The Antarctic Rosetta Project also brings together three different “scripts,” each written by an Earth system; the ice, the ocean and the underlying bed each have a story to tell.

by |November 13, 2015
The drillers insert the larger diameter 4" PVC pipe into the well.  Handling the 10 meter pipe is challenging.

Last Sample and Home

We finished our work at the river transect. Now we had one more sample to collect. Alamgir had arranged for drillers at this new site, but they were delayed because of a knife fight between two villages over some property.

by |October 20, 2015
Hammering the OSL sampler, which is at the end of many auger extension rods.  The sampler fits inside the 3" PVC pipe that had been installed.

OSL Samples at Last

The success of the tube wells for drilling and obtaining samples was a great boon to our field program. We drilled three additional tube wells to complete a five-well transect across the abandoned river valley. When we date the samples, we will find out if the river switched position suddenly, possibly from an earthquake.

by |October 20, 2015
Deploying a CTD and LADCP to explore the ocean floor. (Photo: S. Whelan)

Exploring Rugged Hills & Turbulent Waters 4,500 Meters Down

Aboard a ship at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, scientists are studying how the deepest and coldest waters mix with shallower waters, gaining heat in the process.

by |October 20, 2015
Standing ankle deep in mud by the resistivity meter.  The smokestack of the brick factory can be seen in the distance.

Tubewells to the Rescue

The resistivity testing was hampered by bad roads and flooded fields. The augering was proving similarly difficult in the thick muds of the abandoned channel. It was time to change to our alternative plan: drilling with tube wells. That worked better and we had turned a corner.

by |October 17, 2015