Geology


Published in 1815, Smith’s Geological Map of England and Wales and Part of Scotland was the first geologic map to cover such a large area in such fine detail. William Smith, British Geological Survey

By John Howell, Professor, Chair in Geology and Petroleum Geology at University of Aberdeen.

NWA 7034 - Black Beauty - is a meteorite found a few years ago in the Moroccan desert. Now it has been shown to be a 4.4 billion-year-old chunk of the Martian crust, and according to a new analysis, rocks just like it may cover vast swaths of Mars.

In a new paper, scientists report that spectroscopic measurements of the meteorite are a spot-on match with orbital measurements of the Martian dark plains, areas where the planet's coating of red dust is thin and the rocks beneath are exposed. The findings suggest that the meteorite, nicknamed Black Beauty, is representative of the "bulk background" of rocks on the Martian surface, says Kevin Cannon, a Brown University graduate student and lead author of the new paper.
The two hemispheres of Mars are dramatically different - more distinct from each other than any other planet in our solar system.

The northern hemisphere is non-volcanic, flat lowlands while highlands punctuated by countless volcanoes extend across the southern hemisphere. Although theories and assumptions about the origin of this so-called and often-discussed Mars dichotomy abound, there are very few definitive answers. 
The Permian was a geologic period that ended more than 250 million years ago. The Earth consisted of one forested super-continent called Pangea and a large ocean called Panthalassa teemed with life.

It wasn't going to last, we know the largest mass extinction ever recorded was om the horizon. Why did it happen? The favorite hypothesis is that a series of massive volcanic eruptions deposited rocks now known as the Siberian Traps, released gases causing planet-wide acid rain showers that damaged the biosphere.
From the beginning of time, uranium has been part of the Earth and, thanks to its long-lived radioactivity, it has proven ideal to date geological processes and figuring out Earth’s evolution. 

Natural uranium consists of two long-lived isotopes uranium-238 and the lighter uranium-235 and  uranium isotopes leave a distinct ‘fingerprint’ in the sources of volcanic rocks, making it possible to gauge their age and origin.   
 On November 23rd, 2014, a new volcano eruption commenced on Fogo, one of the Cape Verde Islands, and it continues even now, making it the largest and most damaging eruption - and the biggest natural disaster no one in the western world was reading about it - on the archipelago for over 60 years. 

Most of the damage was caused by lava flows advancing into populated regions and numerous buildings, homes and roads were destroyed. In total, three villages have been abandoned and thousands of residents were evacuated.

Chemical analysis of some of the world’s oldest rocks has provided the earliest record yet of Earth's atmosphere and shows that the air 4 billion years ago was very similar a billion years later, when the atmosphere, though it likely would have been lethal to oxygen-dependent humans, supported a thriving microbial biosphere that ultimately gave rise to the diversity of life on Earth today.

Until now, researchers have had to rely on widely varying computer models of the earliest atmosphere's characteristics.
The number of large earthquakes fell considerably in 2014, down to 12 from 19 in 2013. The trend was similar worldwide. Only 11 earthquakes reached magnitude 7.0-7.9 and one registered magnitude 8.2, in Iquique, Chile on April 1st. That was the lowest annual total of earthquakes magnitude 7.0 or greater since 2008, which also had 12. On average, since 1900 there have been 18 large earthquakes each year.

Millions of earthquakes occur throughout the world each year but most go undetected because they have very small magnitudes or hit remote areas.  In the United States, the US Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) publishes the locations for about 40 earthquakes per day. 

If you hit the ground with a hammer, it creates a micro-earthquake, but it is obviously too small to be detected. The ancient Chinese used to use a drum in the ground to listen for enemy sappers mining underneath their fortifications.

The process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, extracts gas and oil from shale rock by injecting a high-pressure water mixture directed at the rock to release the oil and gas trapped inside. Like any geological event, that results in micro-earthquakes much smaller than humans can feel.