Tag: Earth science

Unusual quake reported far below Earth’s crust

Strong earthquake at exceptional depth

Super-deep earthquake rattles Okhotsk Sea region.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Seismologists say yesterday’s powerful 8.2 earthquake beneath the Okhotsk Sea was unusual for its great depth. The quake occurred at about 605 kilometers below the surface, where the Pacific plate moves at a speed of about eight centimeters per year underneath the Okhotsk microplate.

The quake followed a highly unusual accumulation of eleven shallow earthquakes with magnitudes from 5.5 to 6.1 within two days. This swarm is, however, located over 650 kilometers in a direct line away from today’s earthquake, so a direct relationship cannot be confirmed.

Because of the depth of the epicenter, there were no reports of earthquake damage or tsunamis, according to researchers with the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. Continue reading “Unusual quake reported far below Earth’s crust”


Climate: Ocean temps rising especially fast along coasts

Venice is at-risk to rising sea level. Photo by Bob Berwyn.

Heat island effect may drive rising sea levels, creating extra risk for populated coastal areas

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Scientists with the UK’s University of Southampton say they may have documented another unanticipated global warming feedback loop, as sea surface temperatures in coastal regions appears to be rising up to 10 times faster than the global average.

Based on a study in the famed Venice Lagoon, the researchers said they think the warming is due at least in part to the urban heat island effect, with highly developed areas radiating extra heat to their surroundings. The findings suggest the sea surface temperature increases driven by the heat island effect may outpace other factors in coastal areas. Continue reading “Climate: Ocean temps rising especially fast along coasts”

Ancient raindrops help clarify geology of West

Mew research tracking isotopes left by raindrops offers clues about geologic history of western mountains. IMAGE COURTEST LANDSAT.

Isotope studies identify a wave of western mountain-building

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Ancient raindrops have helped shed light on how the mountains of the West were formed, showing that a wave of mountain building started in what is now British Columbia and swept south and east for 22 million years reaching all the way to Mexico and Nebraska.

The result of the new research by Stanford geochemists helps put to rest the theory that the mountains of the region developed from a vast, Tibet-like plateau that rose up across most of the western U.S. simultaneously, then subsequently collapsed and eroded to form the landscapes we see today.

The data for the study came from isotopic residue in raindrops, which left ancient fingerprints used to track precipitation that rained down on the region between 65 and 28 million years ago. Continue reading “Ancient raindrops help clarify geology of West”

Full-scale studies of ocean acidification planned

Corallium rubrum and other deep-sea corals are affected by ocean acidification.

National Science Foundation awards multiple grants to integrate various disciplines, including paleoecology, physics and marine chemistry

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — In addition to the most obvious effects of global warming — beetle kill, melting glaciers, more forest fires — oceans are feeling the effect of the changing climate in a much more subtle way. As atmospheric carbon dioxide increases, it’s making its way into marine ecosystems, and the water is growing increasingly acidic.

Animal species from pteropods–delicate, butterfly-like planktonic drifters–to hard corals are affected by ocean acidification; so, too, are unseen microbes that fuel ocean productivity and influence the chemical functioning of ocean waters.

As oceans become more acidic, the balance of molecules needed for shell-bearing organisms to manufacture shells and skeletons is altered. The physiology of many marine species, from microbes to fish, may be affected. A myriad of chemical reactions and cycles are influenced by the pH of the oceans. Continue reading “Full-scale studies of ocean acidification planned”