Geology

The new disaster movie San Andreas draws on science fact - that earthquakes are a reality - and turns it into an action movie by creating a domino effect and pitting Duane "The Rock" Johnson against them.

Salt rock behaves as a fluid and can play a pivotal role in the large-scale, long-term collapse of the world's continental margins. However, the precise way in which this occurs is laced in controversy; nowhere is this controversy more apparent than along the Brazilian continental margin, where the origin of a feature called "the Albian Gap" has generated much heated debate over several decades.

Albian Gap is a zone in the Santos Basin, offshore Brazil, up to 75 kilometers wide and within which the Albian section is missing. 

The birth of a volcanic island is a potent and beautiful reminder of our dynamic planet’s ability to make new land. Given the destruction we’ve seen following natural events like earthquakes and tsunamis in the past few years, stunning images of two islands forming in the southern Red Sea are most welcome.

Anna Reusch, a doctoral student at ETH Zurich's Geological Institute, was making a routine research vessel run on Lake Neuchâtel when she noticed an unusual shape on the control panel screen.

At a depth of over 100 mettrs, she found something no one had ever detected before: a crater measuring 10 meters deep and 160 meters in diameter. 

Reusch investigates the sediment in the lakes on the western Swiss Plateau for traces of past earthquakes, which involves taking high-resolution measurements of the floor of Lake Neuchâtel to find evidence of tectonically active zones that could trigger major earthquakes. The period Reusch is looking at is geologically speaking very recent: sometime in the past 12,000 years. 


New natural gas extraction using hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has been the biggest reason American CO2 emissions have dropped but it is not without controversy. Environmentalists have taken to videos showing 'flaming tapwater' and seek to blame natural gas for it.

Thousands of years ago those same phenomena were similar religious belief - gas and oil seeps have been part of cultural practices for thousands of years. From the Oracle at Delphi to the Chimera fires, people from Indonesia and Iran to Italy and Azerbaijan have studied and been mystified by “eternal flames”.

In a new paper, researchers address the "uncomfortably close" occurrence of the Chicxulub impact in the Yucatán and the most voluminous phase of the Deccan Traps flood basalt eruptions in India.  Specifically, the researchers argue that the impact likely triggered most of the immense eruptions of lava in India -- that it was not a coincidence but was a cause-and-effect relationship.


A new analysis of water and other elements contained in olivine-rich basalt samples gathered from cinder cone volcanoes that surround Lassen Peak in Northern California, at the southern edge of the Cascade chain, shows water is key for how magma forms deep underground and produces explosive volcanoes in the Cascade Range.


Detecting an earthquake on Venus is no trivial task.

For one thing, it is not a surface like we think of surface. It is under crushing pressure and the temperate is almost 900 degrees. Ordinary seismic instruments aren't suited for that. But the upper atmosphere is not so bad by comparison and so researchers hope to deploy an array of balloons or satellites that could detect Venusian seismic activity.

And instead of using vibrations they will use sound.


Antarctica's Dry Valleys may not be so dry. A helicopter-borne sensor that penetrates below the surface of large swathes of terrain has found compelling evidence that ice-free McMurdo Dry Valleys may be hiding a salty aquifer.

Brines, or salty water, form extensive aquifers below glaciers, lakes and within permanently frozen soils. If they are present, it might provide answers about the biological adaptations of previously unknown ecosystems that persist in the extreme cold and dark of the Antarctic winter.


On April 25th, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, claiming over 5,000 lives and affecting millions more. Relief efforts are under way and satellite imagery is helping to visualize the damage but radar images from the ESA Sentinel-1A satellite showed why Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, experienced so much damage

The maximum land deformation, shown in before and after pictures, is 8 miles away. The two acquisition dates lead to rainbow-colored interference patterns in the combined image, known as an ‘interferogram’, enabling scientists to quantify the ground movement.