Earth Sciences

Some of the ocean's underwater volcanoes did not erupt from hot spots in the Earth's mantle but instead formed from cracks or fractures in the oceanic crust, which would help explain the spectacular bend in the famous underwater range known as the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain, where the bottom half kinks at a sixty degree angle to the east of its top half. 

It has long been accepted that as the Earth's plates move over fixed hot spots in its underlying mantle, resulting eruptions create chains of now extinct underwater volcanoes or 'seamounts'.


Climate change may have been be responsible for the abrupt collapse of civilization on the fringes of the Tibetan Plateau around 2,000 B.C. - but it wasn't the modern political connotation of climate change, with man-made carbon dioxide causing warming, it was global cooling.

Can earthquakes ever be predicted? This question is timely after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal recently. If authorities had more warning that the earthquake was coming, they may have been able to save more lives.

While Nepal is a documented area of previous seismic activity, at the moment there is no technique that provides predictions of sufficient clarity to allow for evacuations at short notice. So if we cannot predict these events now, are there avenues of research to provide useful predictions in the future?

In the ongoing conflict between science and young Earth creationism, evolution is usually a main point of contention. The idea that all life on Earth evolved from a common ancestor is a major problem for young Earth creationists. 

As a geologist, though, I think that the rocks beneath our feet offer even better arguments against young Earth creationism. For the young Earth creationist model doesn’t square with what you can see for yourself. And this has been known since before Darwin wrote a word about evolution.

The ocean sucks up heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) building up in our atmosphere with help from tiny plankton.

Like plants on land, plankton convert CO2 into organic carbon via photosynthesis and then can sink into the deep ocean, carrying carbon with them. They decompose when bacteria convert their remains back into CO2.

This "biological pump," if it operated 100 percent efficiently, would mean nearly every atom of carbon drawn into the ocean would be converted to organic carbon, sink into the deep ocean, and remain sequestered from the atmosphere for millennia. But like hail stones that melt before reaching the ground, some carbon never makes it to the deep ocean, allowing CO2 to leak back into the upper ocean and ultimately exchange with the atmosphere.


Seismologists have discovered a massive magma reservoir beneath the Yellowstone supervolcano in Wyoming, US, that suggests its volcanic system could be more than 5.6 times larger than was previously thought.

The Calbuco volcano, a 2,000 meter peak in southern Chile, sent a column of ash about 15 kilometers skywards twice on the night of April 22 and early the following morning. 

As the risk of deadly flows of ash and hot air was immediate, a 20 kilometer radius evacuation zone was declared.

The event was spectacularly visible from Puerto Montt, a city of nearly 200,000 inhabitants, only 30 km away. It seems to have begun within barely five hours of warning signs being first detected by local seismometers.

Renewable electricity has nearly trebled under this government.

said Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat energy and climate change minister, during an environment debate held by the Daily Politics show.

Amid the climate of mistrust about claims made by politicians that tends to accompany election campaigns, it is reassuring to report that the evidence supports the minister’s statement.

Everyone discusses ways to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere (or not) but less considered is that there is a massive storehouse of carbon that has the potential to significantly alter the climate change picture. 

Ancient carbon, locked away in Arctic permafrost for thousands of years, could transformed into carbon dioxide and released into the atmosphere by warmth. 


Higher elevations around the world may be warming much faster than previously thought, according to a paper which reviewed elevation-dependent warming mechanisms such as loss of snow and ice, increased latent heat release at high altitudes, low-elevation aerosol pollutants that increase the difference in warming rates between low and high elevations, plus other factors that enhance warming with elevation in different regions, and in different seasons.