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Earth Science Current Events


Predicting Sea Level Rise for Miami
April 17, 2014 | National Science Foundation

A National Science Foundation press release gives a quick look at efforts to predict long-term sea level rise in Miami


Mineral Rights
April 17, 2014 | Geology.com

In most countries all mineral resources belong to the government. This includes all valuable rocks, minerals, oil or gas found on or within the Earth. In the United States ownership of mineral resources was originally granted to the individuals or organizations that owned the surface. These property owners had both “surface rights” and “mineral rights”. Since then the owners have enjoyed the freedom to sell, lease, gift or bequest these rights individually or entirely to others. Now a single plot of land on the surface can have several different subsurface owners!


$20,000 for a Canary Diamond Found in Arkansas
April 17, 2014 | Weather Channel

Tana Clymer, a 14-year-old from Oklahoma City found a nice canary-colored diamond at the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas last fall. She recently sold it for $20,000.

Related: Diamond Mines in the United States.


Eagle Ford Output Swamps the Corpus Christi Port
April 17, 2014 | Bloomberg

The oil production from Eagle Ford Shale has caused a large increase in volume at Corpus Christi port – so much that they have built a new petroleum dock and consider a plan to widen the shipping channel.


NASA image
Did Life Arise from Hydrothermal Vents?
April 17, 2014 | NASA

“Did life first arise on Earth in warm, gentle springs on the sea floor?

Researchers are putting together the chemical pieces of how this process might have occurred.” Quoted from the NASA press release.


Advocating Landslide Mapping in West Virginia
April 17, 2014 | WVU Today

Graduate students at West Virginia University are using LiDAR, a high resolution mapping technology, to detect and map historic and prehistoric landslides. The maps can then be used to avoid landslide areas prior to construction and identify areas where mitigation might be considered.


Lateritic Rare Earth Deposits
April 17, 2014 | Arizona Geological Survey

The Arizona Geological Survey has published Chapter 4 of the Proceedings of the 48th Annual Forum on the Geology of Industrial Minerals in their online archive. It is a paper by Mark Cocker: Lateritic, supergene rare earth element (REE) deposits.


An Onshore Fuel Shortage in Nigeria?
April 17, 2014 | National Geographic

The Niger Delta is one of the best-producing oil patches on our planet but the people of Nigeria are often scrounging for gasoline.


Earth Science Week April Newsletter
April 17, 2014 | Earth Science Week

The monthly newsletter for Earth Science Week is available. Don’t wait until fall to prepare for Earth Science Week 2014 (October 12-18)!


Oarfish Video on National Geographic
April 17, 2014 | National Geographic

National Geographic has a video of a rarely-seen oar fish swimming in shallow in the Mexican state of Baja California. Staff from the Shedd Aquarium filmed the video.


Oil By Rail into California
April 17, 2014 | NBC Bay Area

There are no pipelines delivering crude oil to California. The state with more cars than any other receives all of its oil by ship or from domestic production. Some analysts believe that 25% of the state’s crude oil will arrive by rail by 2016.


Real Estate Prices Near Fracking
April 17, 2014 | Forbes

Researchers at the University of Calgary and Duke University found that homes within 1 kilometer of a shale gas well on a private water supply fell by over 20 percent in value compared to those on public water supplies. This loss can offset gains made through mineral rights sales.

Related: What is Hydraulic Fracturing?


Observing the Milky Way from Arizona
April 17, 2014 | BLM

The Bureau of Land Management has a great image of the Milky Way from Sonoran Desert National Monument.


Higher Resolution image by Bob Wick, BLM


Rock and Mineral Identification
April 17, 2014 | Geology.com Store

The ability to identify rocks and minerals in the field is a very important skill. The Geology.com store has a selection of rock, mineral, fossil and gem mineral kits that can be used for learning and practice. Testing tools are also available.


What is Peanut Wood?
April 16, 2014 | Geology.com

This material is a petrified wood from Australia but it has nothing to do with peanuts. Most people are amazed when they learn how it forms.


Earthquake Swarm in Idaho
April 16, 2014 | Oregon Live

Numerous small earthquakes have occurred in central Idaho. Although no injuries or severe damage have been reported the events have caused concerns among the people who live there.


Another Advance in Drilling
April 16, 2014 | Reuters

“Schramm Inc [...] has designed a 500,000-pound rig for the oil and natural gas industry that can walk, rotate 360 degrees, be operated with a remote control, and load pipe automatically.”


Texas Oil Production Highest Since 1980
April 16, 2014 | Oil and Gas Journal

Oil production in Texas is rising to levels not seen since 1980. During February the state produced an average of 2.75 million barrels of crude oil per day.


Image © iStockphoto/IndrekV
Bear Attack!
April 15, 2014 | Geology.com

If you spend time in bear country knowing how to react to a bear encounter and what to do if you are attacked could save your life.

If you don’t know where bears live here is a map of the geographic ranges for black, grizzly and polar bears in North America.


Largest Natural Gas Storage Withdrawal
April 15, 2014 | Energy Information Administration

This winter’s natural gas withdrawal season saw the largest storage withdrawal on record. Historically, winter stock withdrawals average around 2 Tcf. However, this winter much of the country experienced sustained colder-than-normal temperatures, and almost 3 Tcf of gas has been withdrawn from storage as of the end of March.


Phillips Acquires a License to Export US Crude
April 15, 2014 | Reuters

Amid the debate about exporting United States crude oil, Phillips has obtained a license to export crude from the United States into Canada.


The Influence of Bedrock on Vegetation
April 15, 2014 | National Science Foundation

“Scientists investigated the factors that influence forest cover in California’s Sierra Nevada. Bedrock may be as important as temperature and moisture, they found, in regulating the distribution of trees and other vegetation across mountain slopes.” Quoted from the National Science Foundation press release.


More Large Ancient Slides in the USA
April 15, 2014 | The Bellingham Herald

An article in The Bellingham Herald gives details on several very large landslides that dwarf the Oso Slide and all involved sudden, unpredictable collapse.

Related: Landslide incidence map


A Record of Acid Rain in Greenland Ice
April 15, 2014 | University of Washington

“By analyzing samples from the Greenland ice sheet, University of Washington atmospheric scientists found clear evidence of the U.S. Clean Air Act. They also discovered a link between air acidity and how nitrogen is preserved in layers of snow.” Quoted from the University of Washington press release.


Report on California Geothermal
April 15, 2014 | Geothermal Energy Association

In their Report on the State of Geothermal Energy in California, the Geothermal Energy Association says…. “Geothermal power generated 4.4% of total system power in California in 2012, but could have generated substantially more [...] about half of California’s identified geothermal resources are still untapped, and significant resources may remain undiscovered.”


Carbon Absorption in Deserts
April 15, 2014 | Washington State University

“Researchers led by a Washington State University biologist have found that arid areas, among the biggest ecosystems on the planet, take up an unexpectedly large amount of carbon as levels of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere.” Quoted from the Washington State University press release.


Earliest Known Cardiovascular System
April 15, 2014 | University of Arizona

“A fossil creature buried in an “invertebrate version of Pompeii” more than half a billion years ago reveals the first-known cardiovascular system in exquisitely preserved detail.” Quoted from the University of Arizona News.


Hacking Big Oil from a Chinese Restaurant?
April 15, 2014 | New York Times

The New York Times has an article that explains how an unnamed major oil company was hacked by using the website of a nearby Chinese restaurant.


Premium Satellite Prints
April 15, 2014 | MyTopo.com

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We are affiliates of MyTopo and receive a commission on sales.


The Status of Landslide Mapping in the USA?
April 13, 2014 | CNBC

An article on CNBC website explores some of the challenges of producing landslide hazard maps for the United States.


Slow-Moving Landslide in Wyoming
April 13, 2014 | Jackson Hole News and Guide

A slow-moving landslide in Jackson, Wyoming has prompted the evacuation of numerous homes and shut down a Walgreens store.

Related: Landslide incidence map


Watching the Total Lunar Eclipse
April 13, 2014 | National Geographic

National Geographic has an article that explains how to watch the total lunar eclipse that will occur overnight on April 14-15.


Possible Exomoon Found
April 13, 2014 | NASA

NASA-funded researchers have spotted the first signs of an “exomoon,” and though they say it’s impossible to confirm its presence, the finding is a tantalizing first step toward locating others. The discovery was made by watching a chance encounter of objects in our galaxy, which can be witnessed only once.


LED Bulb Prices and Efficiency
April 13, 2014 | Energy Information Administration

The Energy Information Administration shows that the efficiency of LED light bulbs is increasing as prices are rapidly falling.


Bottled Water: A Geological Product?
April 13, 2014 | Geology.com

Although much of the bottled water sold in stores is nothing more than expensive tap water, some of it is actually a geological product such as: mineral water, ground water, artesian water, spring water, sparkling water…


South Korea Energy Report
April 13, 2014 | Energy Information Administration

“South Korea relies on imports to meet about 97% of its energy demand as a result of insufficient domestic resources, and the country is one of the world’s leading energy importers.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration report.


California Snow Pack is Low and Why That’s a Problem
April 13, 2014 | Slate.com

California already has drought problems, but mountain snowpacks in the state are really low this spring and that will prevent reservoirs from filling. Since melting snowpack is a major contributor to California’s water there will likely be more water shortages this summer unless more rail falls.


First Geothermal Plant in New Mexico
April 13, 2014 | KOB4

KOB4 has a short report on Lightning Dock Geothermal, the first geothermal plant to open in the state of New Mexico.


A Scientist’s Life
April 13, 2014 | Scripps

Scripps Institution of Oceanography features Lihini Aluwihare: “In my field I’m called an organic geochemist. In a very basic sense, I’m using molecules to tell a story about the processes on Earth that involve organisms. If you think about the number of different molecules that are on Earth most of them are organic, meaning they were made by organisms. My interest lies in trying to understand those molecules and what their structure tells us about the processes that have acted on them.”


Future of the Haynesville Shale?
April 13, 2014 | TheAdvertiser.com

Natural gas drilling activity in the Haynesville Shale was booming in 2010 but has fallen significantly since then. The fall occurred as natural gas prices fell from $12 down to $2. Companies started drilling there with a high income assumption. After the price fall, drillers could make more money drilling liquid and oil-rich plays because the revenue there was greater. They Haynesville still holds lots of gas and drilling will increase when prices increase.


Made to Outlast the Geologist
April 13, 2014 | Geology.com Store

Many people say that Gfeller leather field equipment is “made to outlast the geologist”. They make field belts, hammer carriers, field cases, field brief cases, lanyards, Brunton cases, acid bottle cases and more.


NASA image.
Monitoring Sacramento River Levees with Radar?
April 10, 2014 | NASA

“In the Sacramento River delta north of San Francisco Bay, islands, agricultural lands and communities below sea level are protected from surrounding water channels by more than 1,100 miles of dirt levees, many of which date back to the California Gold Rush.” NASA now has a method to monitor them using radar. Quote from the NASA press release.


Rare Earths in Seafloor Nodules Off Bermuda?
April 10, 2014 | Bermuda's The Royal Gazette

Some mineral experts say that Bermuda’s Exclusive Economic Zone has a rich resource of polymetallic nodules that are rich in rare earth elements.

Related: What are Rare Earth Elements?


Image by Sir Charles Lyell
Military Armor Inspired by Twinning in Mollusk Shells?
April 10, 2014 | MIT News

“The shells of a sea creature, the mollusk Placuna placenta, are not only exceptionally tough, but also clear enough to read through. Now, researchers at MIT have analyzed these shells to determine exactly why they are so resistant to penetration and damage — even though they are 99 percent calcite, a weak, brittle mineral.”


Burning Marcellus Gas in Ontario
April 10, 2014 | BizJournals

About 30 percent of the natural gas used in the Province of Ontario, Canada is produced from the Marcellus Shale.


New USGS Topo Maps of Utah
April 10, 2014 | United States Geological Survey

USGS announced that they have published new topographic maps and orthophoto images for the state of Utah in pdf format. A small sample of the Moab quad is shown below. If you want to see it full size in a pdf document click here (28 megabytes).


The Contraction of Mercury
April 10, 2014 | Carnegie Institution for Science

“Unlike Earth, with its numerous tectonic plates, Mercury has a single rigid, top rocky layer. [...] New global imaging and topographic data from MESSENGER show that the innermost planet has contracted far more than previous estimates.” Quoted from the Carnegie Institution for Science press release.


Will Yellowstone Erupt in Our Lifetime?
April 10, 2014 | National Science Foundation

“Yellowstone is like a conveyer belt of caldera clusters,” he says. “By investigating the patterns of behavior in two previously completed caldera cycles, we can suggest that the current activity of Yellowstone is on the dying cycle.”

Related: The Volcano Beneath Yellowstone


What is Causing the Oklahoma Earthquakes?
April 10, 2014 | ThinkProgress

During 2013 the state of Oklahoma experienced 109 earthquakes with a magnitude of 3 or higher. Already this year the state has equaled that number. Some people blame wastewater injection.

The Wichita Eagle reports that Kansas is also experiencing a number of earthquakes.


South Dakota Sand and Fracking Specs
April 10, 2014 | WashingtonTimes.com

The South Dakota Department of Environmental and Natural Resources conducted a study on 256 sand samples collected from the western part of the state to determine if they could be developed as frac sand sources for use in wells that use hydraulic fracturing in North Dakota’s Bakken formation.

Related: What is Frac Sand?


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Homeowners InsuranceHomeowners Insurance usually does not cover damage caused by floods, landslides, earthquakes and other geohazards.
frac sandFrac Sand is a high-purity silica sand used in hydraulic fracturing to enhance the flow of oil and gas from tight rock units.
Diamond formationDiamonds from Coal? Diamonds form under a variety of conditions that rarely involve coal as a source of carbon.
fluorescent mineralsFluorescent Minerals glow with spectacular colors when illuminated in the dark with an ultraviolet lamp.
Uses of heliumHelium is a byproduct of the natural gas industry. Its most important use is in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines.
Canada diamond minesCanada Diamond Mines: Canada is the third largest producer of gem-quality diamonds in the world.
Utica shaleUtica Shale: New wells in eastern Ohio prove that the Utica Shale will be a major source of natural gas and natural gas liquids.
Green River fossilsSpectacular Fossils of the Green River Formation. Some of the world's best-preserved fossil fish from an intermountain lake.
OpalOpals: Gem quality opal is one of the most spectacular gemstones. A single stone can flash with every color of the spectrum.
NovaruptaMost Powerful Eruption of the 20th Century: People in Juneau heard the volcanic blast - over one hour after it occurred.
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