Midnight In The Desert — geology

Scientists still don't know what caused the 'Eye of the Sahara'

Posted by K R on

Scientists still don't know what caused the 'Eye of the Sahara'

For millennia, the Eye of the Sahara was hiding in plain sight. That's because this huge and mysterious geologic formation is hard to spot from ground level, walking around on Earth. It turns out we only really discovered this incredible bullseye in the sand when we began sending humans into space, but even now we've found it, scientists still don't fully understand it. The Eye of the Sahara, which is more formally known as the Richat structure, is located in the western Sahara Desert in Mauritania. On the ground, it's about 25 miles (40 km) across. When the Gemini IV...

Read more →

Six Signs That We've Entered a New Geologic Age

Posted by K R on

Six Signs That We've Entered a New Geologic Age

We’ve heard a lot of buzz recently about the Anthropocene, the geologic epoch of man and machine. Does it exist? Are we in it right now? Later this summer, the International Stratigraphic Union will convene and attempt to answer these weighty questions. Deciding whether or not we’ve entered a new chapter in geologic history isn’t going to be easy. Normally, scientists use shifting rock layers, fossils, and geochemical evidence to place new ticks on the geologic scale. But the fingerprints of industrial society are not yet buried within sedimentary strata—they’re all around us. We’re creating them right now. To figure...

Read more →

How alien can a planet be and still support life?

Posted by K R on

How alien can a planet be and still support life?

Just how fantastical a planet can be and still support recognizable life isn’t just a question for science fiction. Astronomers are searching the stars for otherworldly inhabitants, and they need a road map. Which planets are most likely to harbor life? That’s where geoscientists’ imaginations come in. Applying their knowledge of how our world works and what allows life to flourish, they are envisioning what kind of other planetary configurations could sustain thriving biospheres. You don’t necessarily need an Earth-like planet to support Earth-like life, new research suggests. For decades, thinking about the best way to search for extraterrestrials has...

Read more →

Human-Caused Earthquakes Are So Common That US Geologists Had to Change Their Maps

Posted by K R on

Human-Caused Earthquakes Are So Common That US Geologists Had to Change Their Maps

For the first time ever, the United States Geological Survey has published earthquake hazard maps that includes both human-induced as well as naturally occurring earthquakes. USGS maps had previously only featured natural earthquake hazards, but thanks to the alarming rise of man-made quakes, the scientific body has now started to track both kinds. Published on Monday, the maps identify potential activity in the central and eastern parts of the country and are accompanied by a detailed report. The writeup includes a number of eye-popping figures, including the conclusion that roughly seven million Americans live in places that are at risk...

Read more →

The Rumbling Below: Strange Sounds of “Engine Noise” From Underground

Posted by K R on

The Rumbling Below: Strange Sounds of “Engine Noise” From Underground

For many years, seismologists and geophysicists have studied various locations where unexplained “humming” is reported. Taos, New Mexico is among the most famous locations where locals have reported a strange, low-level humming, although areas in western Britain, as well as locales that include Sausalito, have reported similar humming noises of unknown origin. Last year, a study featured in Geophysical Research Letters suggested that the underlying cause of mystery “hums” as microseismic activity caused by ocean waves, resulting from deep ocean waves moving across ridges and other geological formations along the ocean floor. This process, along with collisions between deep ocean...

Read more →