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Earth Science in the News

Geology and geologists play a big role in our everyday lives. Find out how in the following articles.

Also check for daily news updates by at Geology News and from the National Science Foundation at their NSF News page.


Sept. 8, 2010 National Science Foundation Press Release 10-163

Study Adds Clue to How Last Ice Age Ended

New Zealand glaciers melted as European glaciers briefly expanded


Geologists have found clues to past climate changes in New Zealand's melting glaciers.
Credit: Government of New Zealand

For additonal downloadable photos visit NSF.

As the last ice age was ending, about 13,000 years ago, a final blast of cold hit Europe, and for a thousand years or more, it felt like the ice age had returned.

But oddly, despite bitter cold winters in the north, Antarctica was heating up.

For the two decades since ice core records revealed simultaneous warming and cooling at opposite ends of the planet during this time period, scientists have looked for an explanation.

Results of a new study published this week in the journal Nature bring them a step closer by establishing that New Zealand was also warming.

"New advances in the use of cosmogenic isotopes [used in this research] allow dating with hundreds of years' resolution, and correlation of key deposits such as the moraines in New Zealand," said Enriqueta Barrera, program director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the research.

"Further application of this technique will reveal the details of climate change in different regions since the last glaciations."

The finding indicates that the deep freeze up north, called the Younger Dryas for the white flower that grows near glaciers, bypassed much of the southern hemisphere.

"Glaciers in New Zealand receded dramatically at this time, suggesting that much of the southern hemisphere was warming with Antarctica," said lead author Michael Kaplan, a geochemist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

"Knowing that the Younger Dryas cooling in the northern hemisphere was not a global event brings us closer to understanding how Earth finally came out of the ice age."

Ice core records show that warming of the southern hemisphere, starting 13,000 years ago, coincided with rising levels of the heat-trapping gas, carbon dioxide (CO2).

The study is the first to link this spike in CO2 to the impressive shrinking of glaciers in New Zealand.

The scientists estimate that glaciers lost more than half of their extent over a thousand years, and that their creep to higher elevations was a response to the local climate warming as much as 1 degree C.

To reconstruct New Zealand's past climate, the scientists tracked one glacier's retreat on South Island's Irishman Basin.

When glaciers advance, they drag mounds of rock and dirt with them. When they retreat, cosmic rays bombard these newly exposed ridges of rock and dirt, called moraines.

By crushing this material and measuring the build-up of the cosmogenic isotope beryllium-10, scientists can pinpoint when the glacier receded.

The beryllium-10 method allowed the researchers to track the glacier's retreat upslope through time and indirectly calculate how much the climate warmed.

The overall trigger for the end of the last ice age came as Earth's orientation toward the sun shifted, about 20,000 years ago, melting the northern hemisphere's large ice sheets.

As fresh meltwater flooded the North Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf Stream weakened, driving the north back into the ice age.

During this time, temperatures in Greenland dropped by about 15 degrees C.

For years, scientists have tried to explain how the so-called Younger Dryas cooling fit with the simultaneous warming of Antarctica that eventually spread across the globe.

The Nature paper discusses the two dominant explanations without taking sides.

In one, the weakening of the Gulf Stream reconfigures the planet's wind belts, pushing warm air and seawater south, and pulling carbon dioxide from the deep ocean into the air, causing further warming.

In the other, the weakened Gulf Stream triggers a global change in ocean currents, allowing warm water to pool in the south, heating up the climate.

Bob Anderson, a geochemist at Lamont-Doherty who argues that winds played the dominant role, says the Nature paper adds another piece to the puzzle.

"This is one of the most pressing problems in paleoclimatology because it tells us about the fundamental processes linking climate changes in the northern and southern hemispheres," he said.

"Understanding how regional changes influence global climate will allow scientists to more accurately predict regional variations in rain and snowfall."

Other researchers involved in the study were: Joerg Schaefer and Roseanne Schwartz, also of Lamont-Doherty; George Denton and Aaron Putnam, University of Maine; David Barrell, GNS Science, New Zealand; Trevor Chinn, Alpine and Polar Processes Consultancy, New Zealand; Bjørn Anderson, University of Oslo; Robert Finkel, University of California, Berkeley; and Alice Doughty, University of Wellington.


Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF (703) 292-7734
Kim Martineau, LDEO (845) 365-8708

Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
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Aug. 25, 2010 Geology News From


How Much Oil Remains in the Gulf?
August 25, 2010 |


Lots of people want to know how much oil is still in the Gulf of Mexico. The Pisces, a ship operated by NOAA is now on a three-week cruise through the Gulf to collect water samples and search for hydrocarbons.

Related stories.


August 25, 2010 | Reuters
A Growing Interest in Oil From Shale

oil shale

Oil production from the Bakken play in North Dakota has inspired many drillers to try their luck in other formations such as the Niobrara of Colorado.

Related stories.

For More from Geology News at Geology. com:

Geology News

Scientists: Why Haiti Should Move Its Capital

from via
for full story go to:,28804,1953379_1953494_1958231,00.html

By TIM PADGETT Monday, Feb. 01, 2010

time article

A man sits on rubble as a fire burns in Port-au-Prince. Image from

The laptop computer image preoccupying Falk Amelung and Tim Dixon looks like '60s psychedelia. But the so-called interferogram, a composite radar snapshot of Haiti captured by Japanese satellite just before and after the Jan. 12 earthquake, is a trove of geological information. And much of it has taken the University of Miami geologists by surprise. The kaleidoscopic color contours rippling from the quake's epicenter, west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, indicate not just lateral but also unexpected vertical movement along the fault line. What's more, the quake's rupture didn't reach the surface, unusual given its powerful 7.0 magnitude.

But there's a more important anomaly: despite the quake's force, the fault-line segment that ruptured is only half as long as Amelung and Dixon anticipated. That has left the other half, which lies only a few miles south of Port-au-Prince, subject to that much more stress, which may cause another quake to come sooner than later. "Even if the next earthquake is the same magnitude," says Amelung, "it will still be more damaging to Port-au-Prince" than last month's was. (See exclusive pictures from Haiti's devastating earthquake.)

As a result, geologists like Amelung and Dixon are now urging the Haitian government and its international donors to consider relocating the capital, which was largely reduced to rubble in the quake. The new site, they say, should be well away from a fault line they believe is poised to crash again within the next generation or two, but even closer to Port-au-Prince. "If this [had been] a typical earthquake, the risk of future incidents would decline over the next few months," says Dixon. "The stress would be relieved and we could all go back to sleep for another 250 years," which is about how long ago Haiti's Enriquillo Fault last convulsed. "But that's not the case here — our findings suggest another shoe has to drop."

Amelung and Dixon, working with two other geologists from Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, Sang Hoon Hong and Shimon Wdowinski, were taken aback when they realized that only the western half of the Enriquillo Fault segment that ruptured in 1751 fractured this time. (That half, about 25 miles in length, lies right under the city of Leogane, the Jan. 12 epicenter, which is about 20 miles west of Port-au-Prince.) The eastern half of the segment, far closer to Port-au-Prince, is the other shoe Dixon refers to — and if and when it drops, it stands to hit the capital that much harder.

That's made it all the more urgent for the geologists to solve why last month's earthquake behaved the way it did.

from via
for full story go to:,28804,1953379_1953494_1958231,00.html


Large Landslides in Brazil




Large Landslides in Brazil
January 3, 2010 | Dave's Landslide Blog

Dave Petley has been covering the recent large landslides in Brazil with several posts on his blog starting on December 31.


Hydrologist: A Top Career for 2010

From US News and World Report via

Hydrologist: A Top Career for 2010
Posted: 03 Jan 2010 10:26 PM PST
U.S. News and World Report has a short list of “best careers” on their website. Among the top ten are: hydrologist, environmental science technician, environmental engineering technician, civil engineer and meteorologist.usnews



From Andrill

Dear Andrillians and Friends of ANDRILL,

You have probably been hearing the "Climategate" flap and some of you have asked how to respond when confronted by "skeptics". It may seem hard to sort out myth from truth. Oregon State University put out this list of resources for answering the main arguments with evidence.  I found it very helpful, so I thought I'd pass it on to you.
Another good resource is Real Climate: which lists both raw data and processed data.
And if you want SCAR's (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research) latest science report on climate change research in Antarctica go to: (click on Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment).

Hope you find these sources helpful!


ANDRILL Coordinator of Education and Public Outreach


From the National Science Foundation

To What Degree: What Science Is Telling Us About Climate Change
Image of sun shining on leaves. What is science telling us about climate change? Leading climate change experts discuss one of the most complex scientific puzzles ever to confront humankind.
More at

This is an NSF News item.




Free U.S. Earth Imagery Sharpens Shared View of Global Challenges
USGS News Release: 11/16/2009

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Bruce Quirk
Phone: 703-648-5057

Jon Campbell
Phone: 703-648-4180

Free, easily accessible U.S. satellite data enables any citizen, scientist, or analyst who can use the information to contribute to a shared vision of the challenges facing our planet.

That's the message the newly-appointed director of the U.S. Geological Survey, Dr. Marcia McNutt, plans to deliver when representatives of 80 governments and over 50 participating organizations convene at the international Group on Earth Observations (GEO-VI) meeting, November 16-17, in Washington, D.C.

“Our policy of providing free Landsat data supports a central GEO goal: to promote global distribution of earth observation data,” said McNutt. "With a continuous record of earth observation since 1972, Landsat provides the most complete set of land surface information as well as a vital historical perspective for researchers, decision makers, and commercial users around the world.”

From over 400 miles above Earth, the scale of Landsat imagery makes it particularly useful in understanding natural and human-induced changes to the planet. The data enable a wide array of investigations — from supporting disaster relief efforts to making agricultural crop assessments to correlating environmental conditions with famine, biodiversity, and human health.

Beginning with the launch of Landsat 1 in 1972, Landsat, a joint operation of USGS and NASA, has produced over two million space-based, moderate-resolution, land remote sensing images. The massive data archive is maintained at the USGS-EROS facility in Sioux Falls, S.D. 

For the entire article:


NSF Press Release 09-111

Arctic Tundra May Contribute to Warmer World

A study published in the May 28 issue of the journal Nature has helped define the potentially significant contribution of permafrost thaw to atmospheric concentrations of carbon, which have already reached unprecedented levels.

For the full press release and additional photos and videos go to:


A lot of old carbon is stored deep in the tundra where it is locked in permafrost. As these areas start to thaw over about 15 years, large ice wedges in the soil get smaller causing pot-holing and soil depression. The newly available water prompts faster plant growth, and the carbon taken out of the atmosphere by the plants photosynthesizing is greater than the carbon released back into the atmosphere by plants respiring and microbes decomposing carbon. However, after about 50 years, as thawing continues and the soil settles even more, plants are growing faster yet, however the rate of plant respiration and old carbon release through microbes grows even bigger netting more carbon out into the atmosphere than into the soil.

Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation


NSF Press Release 09-203
Diverting Sediment-rich Water Below New Orleans Could Lead to Extensive New Land

Openings in Mississippi levees could build new land in sinking delta


As the Mississippi River enters the Gulf of Mexico, it deposits its load of sediment in a delta.
Credit and Larger Version

October 20, 2009

Diverting sediment-rich water from the Mississippi River below New Orleans could generate new land in the river's delta in the next century.

The land would equal almost half the acreage otherwise expected to disappear during that period, a new study shows.

For decades, sea-level rise, land subsidence, and a decrease in river sediment have caused vast swaths of the Mississippi Delta to vanish into the sea.

The anticipated build-up of new land in a portion of the delta, as simulated by a computer model, could compensate for a large fraction of the expected future loss, protect upriver areas from storm surges, and create fresh-water habitat, the researchers say.

"What this model shows is that we can, to a large degree, match future land loss by making these diversions," says David Mohrig, a geologist at the University of Texas (UT)-Austin who is also affiliated with the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics at the University of Minnesota.

He and Wonsuck Kim, also a geologist at UT-Austin, led the study. Its results are reported in today's issue of Eos, the weekly newspaper of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

"These authors present the possibility that through numerical modeling, coordinated with river channel diversions on the Mississippi Delta, we can begin to restore wetlands and build new land," says H. Richard Lane, program director in NSF's division of earth sciences, which funded the research.

The delta of the Mississippi River has been losing land to the sea at an average rate of about 44 square kilometers (17 square miles) per year since around 1940.

The natural equilibrium between soil loss and sediment deposition has been altered by the levees the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built below New Orleans to prevent the Mississippi from flooding.

The confined waters at the end of the river's course flow faster and drop their sediments over the continental platform, draining into the Gulf of Mexico.

History recorded in the river deposits shows that the main channel of the Mississippi moved roughly every 1,000 years to a new lowland area, Kim and Mohrig say. The engineering of the levees, they believe, has kept the river from entering lowland areas and depositing sedimentation.

The model looks at potential effects of an existing proposal to divert Mississippi River water through a pair of cuts made opposite each other in the levees 150 kilometers (93 miles) downstream from New Orleans.

Nearly half of the river's flow would spill out through the cuts, taking sediment with it and depositing it to each side of the river channel.

Despite sea level rise, increased land sinking rates, and a drop in the river's sediment supply, the diversions would create an amount of new land equal to up to 45 percent of the area that would otherwise be lost to the sea in the coming century, the model predicts.

For full story see:


Glaciers in Motion: Extreme Ice Survey Videos On-line

Teachers and students: Take a look at the awesome narrated videos showing time-lapse changes of glaciers in Alaska, Greenland and Iceland from the Extreme Ice Survey:

Many of you probably saw the NOVA PBS program last spring on the making of these time-lapse movies:


NASA Earth Science Opportunity

Dear Earth Science Teachers,

NASA is preparing to embark on a major airborne science mission addressing Earth science themes, specifically, climate change.  We would like to give your students the opportunity to be a part of this mission by interacting with mission scientists via the internet during this mission.

The mission is called Operation ICEBridge ( and addresses many of the science issues within current global climate change research.  Data will be taken on board NASA's premier flying laboratory, the DC-8.  This data will be collected using instruments that measure sea ice, glaciers, and ice and snow thickness.  Mission scientists, who are experts in the field of polar climate research, will be on board the DC-8 and available for discussion with your students during the mission via internet applications.  Your students can also track the DC-8 in real-time using Google Earth as it flies over the Antarctic collecting data.

If you are interested in being a part of this major NASA Earth science research effort, please email me back.  We are available to provide simple instructions to allow you and your students the opportunity to interact with mission scientists on board the DC-8 during science flights.  This opportunity will be available multiple days and times during mid-October to mid-November.  A more detailed schedule of when exactly mission scientists will be available for classroom interaction will be sent out soon.  A DVD of this mission will also be produced and will be available for distribution to Earth science educators for use in the classroom.  Please contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you,

Alexandra Novak

M. Alexandra Matiella Novak, Ph.D.
Education and Public Outreach Director
National Suborbital Education and Research Center
University of North Dakota


National Science Foundation Press Release 09-166: 9/2/09
The Arctic Offers More Evidence of Human Influences on Climate Change

Arctic Lake Climate Change


Recent, sudden and dramatic Arctic warming was preceded by almost 2,000 years of natural cooling

arctic warming

Photo: Researchers take a sediment core from a lake in Alaska.

September 2, 2009

View a video interview (clip1, clip2, clip3, clip4, clip5) with Darrell Kaufman of Northern Arizona University.

A new study indicates that Arctic temperatures suddenly increased during the last 50 years of the period from A.D. 1 to the year 2000. Because this warming occurred abruptly during the 20th century while atmospheric greenhouse gases were accumulating, these findings provide additional evidence that humans are influencing climate.

Incorporating geologic records, biologic records and computer simulations, the study reconstructed Arctic summer temperatures at a resolution down to decades, and thereby extends the climate record a full 1,600 years beyond the 400 year-long record that was previously available at that resolution. This newly lengthened record shows that recent warming was preceded by a cooling trend that lasted at least 1,900 years and should have continued throughout the 20th century. These results indicate that recent warming is more anomalous than previously documented, says Darrell Kaufman of Northern Arizona University--the lead author of the study.

Conducted by an international team of scientists and primarily funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the study is described in the September 4, 2009, issue of Science

Kaufman says that the results of his team's study are significant not only because of their implications for our understanding of human influences on climate change, but also because they agree with the National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) climate model, which is used for predicting future climate change; this agreement increases confidence in the model's simulations of future climate change.

Recent warming reversed long-term cooling

Specifically, the Kaufman et al. study is the first to quantify at a decadal resolution a pervasive cooling across the Arctic from the early part of the first millennium AD to the industrial revolution, according to Kaufman. During this period, summer temperatures in the Arctic cooled at a rate of about 0.2 degrees Celsius per millennium, leading to the 'Little Ice Age', a period of sustained cold that ended around 1850.

"Scientists have known for a while that the current period of warming was preceded by a long-term cooling trend," says Kaufman. "But our reconstruction quantifies the cooling with greater certainty than before."

The researchers believe that the long cooling trend was caused by a previously recognized wobble in the Earth's axis of rotation that slowly increased the distance between the Earth and the Sun during the Arctic summer, and thereby reduced summer sunshine in the Arctic. (See figure.) But even though this cooling wobble persisted throughout the 20th century, by the middle of the 20th century, summer temperatures in the Arctic were about 0.7 degrees Celsius higher than would have been expected if the cooling trend had continued. This incongruity provides evidence of human influences on climate change, says Kaufman.

What's more, the results of the Kaufman et al. study together with recent records of thermometer readings indicate that the last decade was the warmest of the last two millennia--with Arctic temperatures averaging about 1.4 degrees Celsius higher than would have been expected if the cooling trend had continued, according to Kaufman.

Arctic sensitivity to climate change

Kaufman says that his team's study agrees with previous studies that have shown that Arctic temperatures increased during the 20th century almost three times faster than temperatures increased throughout the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. Called arctic amplification, this phenomenon is caused by increases in the Arctic's absorption of the sun's heat by dark land and exposed ocean as Arctic ice and snow melt away. "The ability of such a slight wobble in the Earth's axis to cause a significant temperature change over the 1,900 year period preceding the onset of recent warming provides further evidence of the sensitivity of the Arctic's climate system," says Kaufman.

"Because we know that the processes responsible for past arctic amplification are still operating, we can anticipate that it will continue into the next century," says Gifford Miller of the University of Colorado, Boulder, a member of the study team. "Consequently, Arctic warming will continue to exceed temperature increases in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, resulting in accelerated loss of land ice and an increased rate of sea-level rise, with global consequences."

Real-world records of climate change

The 2000-year reconstruction of Arctic temperatures provided by the Kaufman et al. study incorporated three types of field-based data--each of which captured the response of a different component of the Arctic's climate system to changes in temperature.

These field-based data included temperature reconstructions that were published by the Kaufman et al. team earlier this year. These reconstructions were based on evidence provided by sediments from Arctic lakes, including algal abundance, which reflects the length of the growing season, and the thickness of annually deposited sediment layers, which increases during warmer summers when deposits from glacial melt-water increase. The Kaufman et al. study also incorporated previously published data from glacial ice and tree rings that was calibrated against the instrumental temperature record.

Computer models of climate change

The Kaufman et al. study also included a 2,000 year-long computer simulation of climate change that incorporated the Earth's slow rotational wobble and resulting reduction in seasonal sunlight in the Arctic. Because the model's estimate of the amount of cooling resulting from the wobble effect matched the cooling reflected in the long record of climate change provided by lake sediments and other natural archives, this analysis increased confidence in the model's ability to accurately predict temperature responses in the Arctic to factors that influence climate change.  "This result is particularly important because the Arctic is perhaps the most sensitive area of the Earth to the human factors that influence climate change," says David Schneider of NCAR, who is a member of the research team.

"As we are confronted with evidence of global warming, it is extremely helpful to be able to use paleoclimate data to provide context for today's climate relative to the range and trajectory of recent climate regimes," says Neil Swanberg, director of NSF's Arctic System Science Program. "This reconstruction uses a variety of data sources to extend high resolution records back in time sufficiently long to compare reconstructed temperatures to those from models that include changes in insolation due to changes in the Earth's orbital patterns. That the results appear to match so well increases our confidence in our understanding of the processes that are impacting the global Earth system."


For the full article and other news from NSF go to:


Media Contacts
Dana Cruikshank, National Science Foundation (703) 292-7738
Lily Whiteman, National Science Foundation (703) 292-8310
Diane Rechel, Northern Arizona University (928) 523-0611

Program Contacts
Neil Swanberg, National Science Foundation (703) 292-8029

Principal Investigators
Darrell Kaufman, Northern Arizona University (928) 523-7192

Related Websites
2000 Years of Climate Variability from Arctic Lakes:


The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2009, its budget is $9.5 billion, which includes $3.0 billion provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to over 1,900 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 44,400 competitive requests for funding, and makes over 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.


National Science Foundation News Item, June 29, 2009

Desert Dust Alters Ecology of Colorado Alpine Meadows
desert dust

Accelerated snowmelt--precipitated by desert dust blowing into the mountains--changes how alpine plants respond to seasonal climate cues that regulate their life cycles, according to results of a new study reported this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). These results indicate that global warming may have a greater influence on plants' annual growth cycles than previously thought.
Current mountain dust levels are five times ...
More at

This is an NSF News item.


June 12, 2009 Eruption of Sarychev Volcano


Sarychev Volcano

A fortuitous orbit of the International Space Station allowed the astronauts this striking view of Sarychev volcano (Russia’s Kuril Islands, northeast of Japan) in an early stage of eruption on June 12, 2009. Sarychev Peak is one of the most active volcanoes in the Kuril Island chain and is located on the northwestern end of Matua Island.

Prior to June 12, the last explosive eruption had occurred in 1989 with eruptions in 1986, 1976, 1954 and 1946 also producing lava flows. Commercial airline flights were diverted from the region to minimize the danger of engine failures from ash intake. This detailed photograph is exciting to volcanologists because it captures several phenomena that occur during the earliest stages of an explosive volcanic eruption.

The main column is one of a series of plumes that rose above Matua Island (48.1 degrees north latitude and 153.2 degrees east longitude) on June 12. The plume appears to be a combination of brown ash and white steam. The vigorously rising plume gives the steam a bubble-like appearance; the surrounding atmosphere has been shoved up by the shock wave of the eruption. The smooth white cloud on top may be water condensation that resulted from rapid rising and cooling of the air mass above the ash column, and is probably a transient feature (the eruption plume is starting to punch through). The structure also indicates that little to no shearing winds were present at the time to disrupt the plume. By contrast, a cloud of denser, gray ash -- most probably a pyroclastic flow -- appears to be hugging the ground, descending from the volcano summit. The rising eruption plume casts a shadow to the northwest of the island (bottom center). Brown ash at a lower altitude of the atmosphere spreads out above the ground at upper right. Low-level stratus clouds approach Matua Island from the east, wrapping around the lower slopes of the volcano. Only about 1.5 kilometers of the coastline of Matua Island (upper center) can be seen beneath the clouds and ash.
Image Credit: NASA


June 1, 2009 NSF Announces a New Online Magazine That's All About Science for the People

Science Nation!

Science is never out of style--and there's never a "final frontier."

In the National Science Foundation's Science Nation online magazine, we examine the breakthroughs, and the possibilities for new discoveries about our planet, our universe and ourselves: An artifical retina that can help the blind to see; new materials to build things bigger, better, lighter, and stronger; new ways to make our lives better without making the environment worse; and what we can learn from organisms that can live and thrive in frozen deserts or steaming-hot volcanic vents. Each week, Science Nation takes a dynamic, entertaining look at the research--and the researchers-- that will change our lives.

This week's video: Extremophile Hunter
The search is on for extremophiles that may provide insights about life elsewhere in the cosmos

Astrobiologist Richard Hoover really goes to extremes to find living things that thrive where life would seem to be impossible--from the glaciers of the Alaskan Arctic to the ice sheets of Antarctica.


May 1, 2009 - Sea-floor Sediments Illumiate 53 Million Years of Climate History - NSF News Release

Sea-floor Sediments Illuminate 53 Million Years of Climate History
Map showing locations of ocean drilling expeditions in the equatorial Pacific ocean. The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) drillship JOIDES Resolution is returning to port in Honolulu this week after a two-month voyage to chart detailed climate history in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. The expedition was the first of two back-to-back voyages of a scientific project called Pacific Equatorial Age Transect (PEAT). It was the first international scientific drilling expedition after the JOIDES Resolution underwent a multi-year transformation into ...
More at

This is an NSF News item.


April 14, 2009 - Decline in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Would Reduce Sea-Level Rise, Save Arctic Sea Ice.

Press Release from National Science Foundation on National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) study to be published this week.


Population centers at low elevations like Florida's Key West are vulnerable to sea-level rise.
Credit and Larger Version

April 14, 2009

The threat of global warming can still be greatly diminished if nations cut emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by 70 percent this century, according to a new analysis.

While global temperatures would rise, the most dangerous potential aspects of climate change, including massive losses of Arctic sea ice and permafrost and significant sea-level rise, could be partially avoided.

The study, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), will be published next week in the American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters.

For copy of complete press release

March 27, 2009 - Mt. Redoubt Photos and Interview

Listen to Dr. John Eichelberger, Volcano Hazards Program Coordinator for the US Geological Survey, talk about this most recent eruption. Great photos from the 1989 eruption.

March 27, 2009 - USGS Press Release

Water Quality of Potential Concern in US Private Wells
Released: 3/27/2009 9:32:18 AM

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Leslie DeSimone 1-click interview
Phone: 508-490-5023

Jessica Robertson 1-click interview
Phone: 703-648-6624

More than 20 percent of private domestic wells sampled nationwide contain at least one contaminant at levels of potential health concern, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).   

About 43 million people - or 15 percent of the Nation's population - use drinking water from private wells, which are not regulated by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. 

Related Podcasts

Contaminants in 20 Percent of U.S. Private Wells

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USGS scientists sampled about 2,100 private wells in 48 states and found that the contaminants most frequently measured at concentrations of potential health concern were inorganic contaminants, including radon and arsenic. These contaminants are mostly derived from the natural geologic materials that make up the aquifers from which well water is drawn. Complete findings are available online

The rest of the article can be found at

March 18, 2009 - National Science Foundation Press Release

Press Release 09-046
Earth's Crust Melts Easier Than Thought


Mt. Rushmore granite crystallized from magma that formed 1.7 billion years ago.
Credit: Peter Nabelek, University of Missouri

Earth's crust melts easier than previously thought, scientists have discovered.

In a paper published in this week's issue of the journal Nature, geologists report results of a study of how well rocks conduct heat at different temperatures. They found that as rocks get hotter in Earth's crust, they become better insulators and poorer conductors.

The findings provide insights into how magmas are formed, the scientists say, and will lead to better models of continental collision and the formation of mountain belts.

"These results shed important light on a geologic question: how large bodies of granite magma can be formed in Earth's crust," said Sonia Esperanca, a program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the research.

"In the presence of external heat sources, rocks heat up more efficiently than previously thought," said geologist Alan Whittington of the University of Missouri. "We applied our findings to computer models that predict what happens to rocks when they get buried and heat up in mountain belts, such as the Himalayas today or the Black Hills in South Dakota in the geologic past.

"We found that strain heating, caused by tectonic movements during mountain belt formation, easily triggers crustal melting."

In the study, the researchers used a laser-based technique to determine how long it took heat to conduct through different rock samples. In all their samples, thermal diffusivity, or how well a material conducts heat, decreased rapidly with increasing temperatures.

The thermal diffusivity of hot rocks and magmas was half that of what had been previously assumed.

"Most crustal melting on Earth comes from intrusions of hot basaltic magma from the Earth's mantle," said Peter Nabelek, also a geologist at the University of Missouri. "The problem is that during continental collisions, we don't see intrusions of basaltic magma into continental crust."

These experiments suggest that because of low thermal diffusivity, strain heating is much faster and more efficient. Once rocks get heated, they stay hotter for much longer, Nabelek said.

The processes take millions of years to happen, and scientists can only simulate them on a computer. The new data will allow them to create computer models that more accurately represent processes that occur during continental collisions.

The Nature paper, "Temperature-dependent thermal diffusivity of the Earth's crust and implications for magmatism," was co-authored by Whittington, Nabelek and Anne Hofmeister, ascientist at Washington University.



Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF (703) 292-7734
Kelsey Jackson, University of Missouri (573) 882-8353



January 29, 2009 - USGS:

Mount Redoubt Volcano in Alaska Likely to Erupt

- Scientists Monitoring it 24/7-

The level of seismic activity at Mount Redoubt Volcano, 106 miles southwest of Anchorage, Alaska, has increased and an eruption is possible within days to weeks.

Scientists from the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) are monitoring events round-the-clock. Redoubt Volcano has been assessed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as one of the nation's highest-threat volcanoes.

Redoubt last erupted explosively nearly 20 years ago, sending ash plumes 40,000 feet into the air and causing engine failure in a 747 jet, which eventually landed safely. Ash also interrupted commercial air traffic into and out of Anchorage, and mudflows from the volcano threatened an oil storage facility near Cook Inlet.

The latest information about Mount Redoubt can be found at:

Listen to a podcast interview with Dr. John Eichelberger, USGS Volcano Hazards Program Coordinator, at, Episode 81. You can learn about the USGS Volcano Hazards Program at

The AVO is a partnership of the USGS, University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys. Information about all of the current volcanic eruptions in Alaska including activity statements, images, background materials and related hazards can be found at the AVO home page:

For the press release go to:


January 22, 2009 Yahoo! News by Jon Gambrell

Scientist: New fault could mean major Ark. temblor. LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A previously unknown fault in eastern Arkansas could trigger a magnitude 7 earthquake with an epicenter near a major natural gas pipeline, a scientist said Wednesday. Haydar Al-Shukri, the director of the Arkansas Earthquake Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, said the fault is separate from the New Madrid fault responsible for a series of quakes in 1811-12 that caused the Mississippi River to flow backward.
To read the story go to:


Coming April 12-18,2009 - National Environmental Education Week

National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) is the largest organized environmental education event in the United States. Made possible by Canon, it increases the educational impact of Earth Day by creating a full week of educational preparation, learning, and activities in K-12 classrooms, nature centers, zoos, museums, and aquariums. By participating in EE Week, you encourage your students to make a difference in their schools, homes, and communities!



Dec. 10, 2008 - USGS

American Geophysical Union Conference: Climate Change, Floods, Volcanoes, Ground Water and More!

USGS scientists will discuss climate change, floods, northern forests, soils, coral reefs, earthquakes, volcanoes, methylmercury, ground water, and more at the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, Calif., from December 15–19. Press conferences scheduled at the conference include USGS science for the revitalization of Afghanistan and the release of a new U.S. Climate Change Science Program report on Abrupt Climate Change. USGS scientists are also leading a day-long field trip for journalists and reporters around the San Francisco Bay area to investigate the varied instrumentation used to measure movement of the Earth’s crust. For more information on USGS presentations at the conference, you can view our tip sheet at or contact Leslie Gordon at 650-329-4006 or For meeting information, visit

A Kiss is Just a Kiss — Mistletoe is So Much More

This Christmas when you pucker up under the mistletoe, consider this: while festive and fun, mistletoe also provides essential food, cover and nesting sites for an amazing number of birds, butterflies and mammals in the United States. There are more than 1300 types of mistletoe around the world, and more than 20 of them are endangered. But don’t be fooled; mistletoe can be downright deceiving, as one USGS scientist learned on a recent collaborative expedition to quantify perennial plant diversity in Baja Norte and Baja Sur, Mexico, where he first encountered a “tree with two kinds of flowers.” To find out more, check out “Not Just for Kissing: Mistletoe and Birds, Bees, and Other Beasts” at or contact Todd Esque at (702) 564-4506 or

Deck the Halls with Boughs of … Minerals?

Is your home all decked out for the holidays? As you gaze at your glowing trimmings, you might pause to wonder what gives your delightful décor some of its traditional seasonal color: cobalt oxide, cadmium sulfide and sulfur. According to USGS scientists who collect worldwide data on almost all mineral resources, holiday lights are made with these and other minerals from around the world. The world’s supply of minerals — such as salt, manganese and lime — lights up the holiday season, helping many nations and cultures to celebrate their long-time traditions. In 2007, the mineral materials processed domestically accounted for more than $575 billion in the U.S. economy. To learn more about how minerals make the holidays bright and the economy roll, visit For more information about other mineral related topics, visit the USGS Mineral Resources Program Web site at or contact Dennis Kostick at (703) 648-7715 or

Prehistoric Climate Provides Clues to Future Changes

The USGS led research has resulted in the first comprehensive reconstruction of an extreme warm period. This reconstruction shows the sensitivity of the climate system to changes in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. It also shows the strong influence that ocean temperatures, heat transport from equatorial regions, and greenhouse gases have on Earth’s temperature. Past warm periods provide real data on climate change and are natural laboratories for understanding the global climate system. New data allow scientists to better understand today's warming and to more accurately predict future climate conditions. For this study, scientists examined fossils from 3.3 to 3.0 million years ago, known as the mid-Pliocene warm period. Research was conducted by the Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping group, led by the USGS. For a podcast interview about this research, listen to Episode 77 of USGS CoreCast at For more information and to view the compiled data, visit You can also contact Jessica Robertson at 703-648-6624 or

Gas Hydrates on Alaska’s North Slope: Large Deposit of Natural Gas

The USGS estimates that there are 85.4 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas from natural gas hydrates on the Alaskan North Slope. The USGS assessment is the first-ever resource estimate of technically recoverable natural gas hydrates, which are a clean-burning resource and are naturally occurring, ice-like solids in which water molecules trap natural gas molecules in a cage-like structure known as a clathrate. “Technically recoverable” means the resource can be discovered, developed, and produced using current technology and industry practices. Further research is still needed to demonstrate gas hydrates as an economically producible resource, but this research shows the significant potential for natural gas hydrates to contribute to the U.S. and world energy mix. For more information about this assessment, visit or listen to a podcast interview with USGS scientists at You can also contact Jessica Robertson at 703-648-6624 or

Reversing Coral Reef Decline in Hawaii — A New Look at a Critical Problem

New discoveries about how even small amounts of sediment can severely impact fragile ocean coral and suggestions about solutions are illustrated and described in a new book written by a team of USGS scientists and their colleagues. Coral reefs are in decline worldwide, and a leading cause is the runoff of sediment and pollutants from nearby land surfaces. Scientists conducted a multiyear study of the long fringing coral reef off south Molokai. In the new book, they explain the geologic evolution and natural processes that shape the reef, outline impacts to the reef that are a result of human activity on the land, and explore alternatives for the future. To view the publication, “The Coral Reef of South Moloka'i, Hawai'i — Portrait of a Sediment-Threatened Fringing Reef,” visit For more information about USGS coral reef studies, please visit Or you can contact Michael Field at 831-427-4737 or

Dec. 5, 2008 - USGS

News Release

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

For release:  December 5, 2008

Greg Delzer, 605-394-3230, Jennifer LaVista, 202-380-6052,

Man-Made Chemicals Found in Drinking Water at Low Levels

Low levels of certain man-made chemicals remain in public water supplies after being treated in selected community water facilities.

Water from nine selected rivers, used as a source for public water systems, was analyzed in a study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Most of the man-made chemicals assessed in the USGS study are unregulated in drinking water and not required to be monitored or removed, says Tom Jacobus, General Manager of the Washington Aqueduct. These findings are not surprising and they will be important in helping regulators and assisting water utility managers arrive at decisions about future water treatment processes.

Scientists tested water samples for about 260 commonly used chemicals, including pesticides, solvents, gasoline hydrocarbons, personal care and household-use products, disinfection by-products, and manufacturing additives. This study did not look at pharmaceuticals or hormones.

Low levels of about 130 of the man-made chemicals were detected in streams and rivers before treatment at the public water facilities (source water).
Nearly two-thirds of those chemicals were also detected after treatment.
Most of the chemicals found were at levels equivalent to one thimble of water in an Olympic-sized pool.

Low level detection does not necessarily indicate a concern to human health, but rather indicates what types of chemicals we can expect to find in different areas of the country, said USGS lead scientist, Gregory Delzer. Recent scientific advances have given USGS scientists the analytical tools to detect a variety of contaminants in the environment at low concentrations; often 100 to 1,000 times lower than drinking-water standards and other human-health benchmarks.

Testing sites include the White River in Indiana; Elm Fork Trinity River in Texas; Potomac River in Maryland; Neuse River in North Carolina; Chattahoochee River in Georgia; Running Gutter Brook in Massachusetts; Clackamas River in Oregon; Truckee River in Nevada; and Cache La Poudre in Colorado. The populations in communities served by these water treatment plants vary from 3,000 to over a million.

This study is among the first by the USGS to report on a wide range of chemicals found before and after treatment. The full source-water quality assessment ( ) and listing of chemicals are available online.

Chemicals included in this study serve as indicators of the possible presence of a larger number of commonly used chemicals in rivers, streams, and drinking water. The most commonly detected chemicals in the source water were herbicides, disinfection by-products, and fragrances. Many of these chemicals are among those often found in ambient waters of 186 rivers and streams sampled by USGS since the early 1990s, and are highly correlated with the presence of upstream wastewater sources or upstream agricultural and urban land use. About 120 chemicals were not detected at all.

Measured concentrations of chemicals detected in both source and treated water were generally less than 0.1 part per billion. Although potential human-health effects and risk were not assessed in this study, adverse effects to human health are expected to be negligible based on comparisons of measured concentrations and available human-health benchmarks.

More than 75 percent of source- and treated-water samples in this study contained 5 or more chemicals. The common occurrence of chemical mixtures means that the total combined toxicity may be greater than that of any single contaminant present. The USGS report identifies the need for continued research because the additive or synergistic effects on human health of mixtures of man-made chemicals at low levels are not well understood. The study also did not look at implications to ecosystems or aquatic health.

USGS findings are used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the States, utilities and many nongovernmental agencies to help protect streams and watersheds that serve as water supplies and to guide those involved in decisions on treatment processes in the future.

The USGS is a non-regulatory agency which often monitors the quality of available, untreated water resources. These studies begin to relate the quality of these resources to drinking water. USGS studies are intended to complement drinking-water monitoring required by Federal, State, and local programs, which focus primarily on post-treatment compliance monitoring.

The USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program is planning to complete as many as 21 additional surface-water assessments through 2013 ( ). A companion study is scheduled for release in 2009 that summarizes the occurrence of the same chemicals in high-production wells and the associated treated water in 13 states.

USGS provides science for a changing world. For more information, visit

Subscribe to USGS News Releases via our electronic mailing list at or our RSS feed at

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November 10, 2008 - USGS

Media Advisory: NOW ON THE WEB! USGS 3-D Animations of Dramatic Ground Shaking

New 3-D animations of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake scenario are now available to the public at


November/December 2008

IYPE logo

desert mountains

November / December 2008  

Celebrating the
International Year of Planet Earth
Events & Activities


Sign-up to Stay Informed
About IYPE!

To stay informed of International Year of Planet Earth events in the U.S. and around the globe, you must sign up to receive these e-updates which will be sent every other month (6 times per year).

Horseshoe Bend

Official IYPE Global Website:


Introducing the
International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE)

Following a global launch event at the United Nations office in Paris, February 2008, geoscientists around the world are joining together to celebrate the earth sciences during the International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE).  This global initiative of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) aims to ensure wider use of the knowledge accumulated by the world's earth scientists.

The goal of IYPE is to draw attention to the benefits of the earth sciences for society. Helping to build safer, healthier, and more prosperous societies around the globe is a major theme. Science and outreach activities in 74 participating countries will continue through December 2009.

Goals of the International Year of Planet Earth:

  • Reduce risks to society caused by natural and human-induced hazards
  • Reduce health problems by improving the understanding of the medical aspects of earth science
  • Discover new natural resources and make available in a sustainable manner
  • Build safer structures and expand urban areas utilizing natural subsurface conditions
  • Determine the non-human factors in climatic change
  • Enhance the understanding of occurrences of natural resources in order to contribute to efforts to reduce political tension
  • Detect deep and poorly accessible ground-water resources              
  • Improve the understanding of the evolution of life
  • Increase interest in the earth sciences in society at large
  • Encourage more young people to study the earth sciences at universities
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© 2008, The Geological Society of America, 3300 Penrose Place, Boulder, CO 80301 USA. All rights reserved.

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To subscribe, simply send a blank e-mail to If you'd rather receive this newletter at an alternate e-mail address, visit Either way you will be asked to confirm your e-mail address to validate your subscription.



November 7, 2008

USGS Animations Show Intense Ground Shaking From 7.8 Great ShakeOut Scenario Quake

New 3-D animations showing the way ground in the Southern California would move and shake during the very strong 7.8 earthquake scenario planned for the Great Southern California ShakeOut will be shown and available to the media on November 12.  See the press release at:

More details on the ShakeOut:

USGS and The Great Southern California ShakeOut!

The ShakeOut science scenario depicts a magnitude 7.8 earthquake striking the Southern San Andreas Fault, starting at the Salton Sea and rupturing northward 190 miles. In the scenario, the earthquake would kill 1800 people, injure 50,000, cause $200 billion in damage, and have long-lasting social and economic consequences. This is the most comprehensive analysis ever of what a major Southern California earthquake would mean and is being used as the basis for The Great Southern California Shakeout, November 12-18, 2008, which includes the largest earthquake preparedness drill in United States history. Register to participate, and find out what you can do, at


October 27, 2008

U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Department of the Interior

News Release

Jennifer LaVista, 703-648-4432,

Science Picks — Leads, Feeds and Story Seeds
October 2008 Edition

Most Alaskan Glaciers Retreating, Thinning, and Stagnating
Most glaciers in every mountain range and island group in Alaska are experiencing significant retreat, thinning or stagnation, especially glaciers at lower elevations, according to a new book published by the USGS. In places, these changes began as early as the middle of the 18th century. Although more than 99 percent of Alaska's large glaciers are retreating, a handful, surprisingly, are advancing. The Glaciers of Alaska, authored by USGS research geologist Bruce Molnia, represents a comprehensive overview of the state of the glaciers of Alaska at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century. The report uses a combination of satellite images, aerial photographs and maps to document the distribution and behavior of glaciers throughout Alaska. Access the paper at Fore more information, contact Bruce Molnia at (703) 863-8653 or

Don't be Left Out! Two Weeks to ShakeOut--Thousands Join Each Day, You Can Too: At 10 a.m. on November 13, millions of southern Californians will drop to the ground, take cover under a table or desk, and hold on. An earthquake prediction? No. But it is certain that the Great Southern California ShakeOut is on track to being the largest earthquake drill in United States history. More than 4.3 million people have signed-up to participate in the drill and you can too at ShakeOut is based on a potential magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the southern San Andreas Fault. Dr. Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey led a group of over 300 scientists, engineers, and others to study the likely consequences of this potential earthquake in great detail. A copy of the full technical report, The ShakeOut Scenario, is available online at A non-technical summary narrative of the Scenario is online at For more information, contact Clarice Ransom at (703) 648-4299 or


Discover Deep-Sea Corals in the Gulf of Mexico!

Join a voyage of discovery with USGS scientists on the Research Vessel Nancy Foster as they examine the ecology of deep-sea corals in the Gulf of Mexico. Expect to see remarkable photos of deep-sea animals (and maybe even a shipwreck) on the ship’s blog, available at As the cruise progresses, you can follow the journey of government, academic and international marine scientists as they work together to learn more about an area where little is known about deep-sea habitats. For more information, contact Gary Brewer at 304-724-4507 or

FEEDS: (USGS tools and resources)
Let’s Heat Things Up!
Geothermal power production could significantly add to the United State’s capacity to generate electric power. A new USGS assessment is the first national geothermal-resource estimate in more than 30 years. The results of this assessment show that the United States has an estimated 556,890 megawatts-electric (MWe) of power generation potential from a combination of identified geothermal systems (9,057 MWe), undiscovered geothermal resources (30,033 MWe) and unconventional Enhanced Geothermal Systems resources (517,800 MWe). Full development of just the conventional, identified systems could expand geothermal power production by approximately 260 percent of the currently installed geothermal total of more than 2500 MWe. Geothermal energy is an extremely important but underutilized domestic, renewable energy resource. To view results of the assessment, visit For more information, contact Brenda Pierce at (703) 648-6421 or

A Scientific Crystal Ball: Tiny Bubbles Reveal Earth's History

Scientists with the USGS are peering deep into crystals to learn about Earth’s history. Inside the crystals are small samples of Earth's ancient environment, which can be millions to billions of years old. These samples are giving scientists clues about, for example, the temperatures and salinity of ancient seawater, and in turn, the nature of past climates. This has been preserved for millennia because mineral crystals form from fluids, and microscopic bubbles of this parent liquid and gas become trapped as the crystals form. These bubbles serve as environmental time capsules — snapshots of ancient environmental conditions — that give us clues as to how certain rocks (even the Earth's crust itself) originated. Scientists have studied these “fluid inclusions” to unravel the history of ore mineral formation, to find ways to reduce the effects of climate change, and to assure safe disposal of radioactive waste. Some inclusions even contain ancient bacteria, aiding in DNA studies. For more information, contact Nora Foley at (703) 648-6179 or


October 24, 2008

From the USGS Newsroom

The complete release can be found in the USGS Newsroom at:

Where is Snæfellsjökull?
Where is Snæfellsjökull?
... and what does it look like? Now you can find out. You can also learn where Eyjafjallajökull, Breiðamerkurjökull, and Þórisjökull are and what they look like. Just maybe, for our non-Icelandic audience, we need to explain. These are not typos. They are just four of the geographic names, gleaned from literature dating back to 13th century Icelandic sagas, for Iceland’s 269 modern named glaciers.  Science fiction readers (and movie goers) will quickly identify Snæfellsjökull as the glacier-capped volcano whose summit crater was the entry point in Jules Verne´s Journey to the Center of the Earth. The ice-margin glacial lake, Jökulsárlón, in front of the Breiðamerkurjökull outlet glacier from Iceland´s largest ice cap, was the setting for sequences in two of the James Bond movies.

Geographic Names of Iceland’s Glaciers: Historic and Modern provides a wealth of information about all the named glaciers in
Iceland. It includes descriptions, a striking array of aerial and ground photographs, satellite images, maps, geographic coordinates, and bibliographic citations for the use of all glacier place-names on published maps and in the literature to document each of the 269 modern-named glaciers of Iceland.





see caption

Oblique aerial photograph of the Lambatungnajökull outlet glacier on 1 October 1990. View looking to the northwest toward the eastern margin of the VATNAJÖKULL ice cap. Photograph no. 12045v by O.S., NEA.

For more information on Geographic Names of Iceland's Glaciers: Historic and Modern see the complete news release at

The full book (PDF) as well as JPEG files of the figures are available at:

The suggested citation when using these documents is: Sigurðsson, Oddur, and Williams, R.S., Jr., 2008, Geographic names of Iceland's glaciers: Historic and modern: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1746, 225 p., plus app.


October 7, 2008

Media Advisory

October 7, 2008

Stephanie Hanna


Rock Fractures on Mars Reveal Paths of Ancient Groundwater

Local planetary geologist Chris Okubo is on a mission to understand the past roles
of groundwater and faulting on Mars by studying similar locations on Earth.  Okubo
works in the Astrogeology Research Program for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
in Flagstaff.

“The presence of liquid water on Mars, whether past or present, is a key clue to
whether Mars ever harbored life,” Okubo said, explaining his work with NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), a spacecraft currently orbiting the red planet.  “My
research interests are split equally between understanding deformation on Earth
and then applying this knowledge to other planets.”

To read the complete release, please see the online version here.




October 2008: Opportunity for Teachers

The Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy Expands Opportunities for Teachers to Attend the 2009 Program
The Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy recently announced a new way for elementary school teachers to get a chance to attend the 2009 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy and improve their math and science teaching skills.


October 6, 2008: From the USGS Newsroom

Extreme Coastal Changes and Storm Surge Measurements from Hurricanes Ike and Gustav
Released: 10/6/2008 2:11:17 PM
Reporters are invited to attend a special presentation about the impacts of Hurricanes Ike and Gustav on the Texas and Louisiana coast. Compelling before-and-after photographs of the storms will be Bolivar Peninsula before and two days after Ike presented during an earth-science conference in Houston, October 6.

Most Alaskan Glaciers Retreating, Thinning, and Stagnating, Says Major USGS Report
Released: 10/6/2008 11:44:25 AM
Most glaciers in every mountain range and island group in Alaska are experiencing significant retreat, thinning or stagnation, especially glaciers at lower elevations, according to a new book published by the U.S. Geological Survey. In places, these changes began as early as the middle of the 18th century.

"Rock Stars" to Present Geologic Findings at Houston Conference
Released: 10/6/2008 8:58:30 AM
Top scientists from across the world, including 192 earth science experts from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), will be gathering this week to share their latest findings and most innovative research.

Go to USGS Newsroom at for more articles


September 2008

See the MESTA Calendar of Events for some important dates for rock hounds and star gazers.


August 2008

August 18: Geological Carbon Dioxide Sequestration in Michigan in the news

The Holland, MI City Council considers whether the Board of Public Works should submit a proposal with Praxair to the Department of Energy to study the possibility of constructing a "carbon free" coal burning power plant to produce power for the city of Holland. WMU's Dr. Dave Barnes is interviewed about the geology of the subsurface under Holland where carbon emitted from the plant would be injected and stored. Community members learned about the science behind carbon dioxide sequestration using the same demonstrations Core Kids uses during school visits.

August 13: Are we science-savvy enough to make informed decisions?

By G. Jeffrey MacDonald, Special for USA TODAY
For decades, educators and employers have worried that too few Americans are preparing for careers in science. But there's evidence to support a new, broader concern in this election year: Ordinary Americans may not know enough about science to make informed decisions on key questions. See entire article at:



August 9, 2008: Utah's famous Wall Arch collapses; no visitor injuries

Article By Tom Wharton
The Salt Lake Tribune

Photo from article Courtesy of Arches NP


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