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Fri, 22 Jan 2021
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Bizarro Earth

Earthquake Zone Off Oregon Coast Surprisingly Active

Oregon State University scientists have completed a new analysis of an earthquake fault line that extends some 200 miles off the southern and central Oregon coast that they say is more active than the San Andreas Fault in California.

The Blanco Transform Fault Zone likely won't produce the huge earthquake many have predicted for the Pacific Northwest because it isn't a subduction zone fault. But the scientists say an earthquake of magnitude 6.5 to 7.0 is possible, if not probable in the near future, and their analysis suggests that the region may be under some tectonic stress that potentially could affect the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Results of the study were just published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

During the past 40 years, there have been some 1,500 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater along the Blanco Transform Fault Zone, and many thousands of smaller quakes. The Blanco fault is the boundary between the Juan de Fuca and the Pacific plates. As the Juan de Fuca plate moves to the east, it is subducted beneath the North American plate at the rate of about 1.5 inches per year. But as it moves, it must break free of the adjacent Pacific plate.

Fish

Is Extinction Or Diversity On The Rise? Study Of Islands Reveals Surprising Results

It's no secret that humans are having a huge impact on the life cycles of plants and animals. UC Santa Barbara's Steven D. Gaines and fellow researcher Dov Sax decided to test that theory by studying the world's far-flung islands.

Image
©iStockphoto/Richard Goerg
In New Zealand, there were about 2,000 native species of plants, the researchers noted. Since colonization, about 2,000 new plant species have become naturalized. Over the same period, there have been few plant extinctions, so the net effect is that humans have transformed New Zealand's landscape by bringing in many new species.

Their research, published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sheds surprising light on the subject of extinction rates of species on islands. The paper, "Species Invasions and Extinction: The Future of Native Biodiversity on Islands," is one in a series of reports by this team studying how humans have altered the ecosystems of the planet.

Gaines and Sax started the project with a question: What effect are humans really having on biological diversity? "The presumption at the time was that we are driving biodiversity to lower levels," said Gaines, who directs UCSB's Marine Science Institute. "Certainly, if you think about it at the global level, this is true because humans have done a lot of things that have driven species extinct."

Info

Hot And Cold: Circulation Of Atmosphere Affected Mediterranean Climate During Last Ice Age

A new study published in the scientific journal Science reveals the circulation of the atmosphere over the Mediterranean during the last ice age, 23,000 to 19,000 years ago, and how this affected the local climate.

ice age
©National Oceanography Centre, Southampton
Cold polar air often invaded the Mediterranean region during the last ice age, causing more rain and snow to fall on Mediterranean mountains.

This innovative study paves the way for future interdisciplinary efforts to understand and predict regional climate change, and is co-authored by Professor Eelco Rohling of the University of Southampton School of Ocean and Earth Science, based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has identified the Mediterranean as a "future climate hot spot" likely to suffer increasingly from severe droughts, heat waves and wildfires, due to global climate change. This is potentially bad news for the many people who now live in the region.

The new work gives important clues about regional rainfall patterns in the past. This will help scientists check computer simulations of the Mediterranean climate, which is essential for predicting and planning for future climate in the region.

Bizarro Earth

10,000 Indian flood victims have entered Nepal for relief: Report

Kathmandu: Around 10,000 flood victims from India have entered Nepal to seek relief material, being distributed in the Himalayan nation, according to a report. Over 60,000 people have been displaced and 500 industries face closure in Nepal due to spilling of river Saptakoshi.

Nuke

US: NY state says nuke plant kills too many fish

White Plains, N.Y. - The huge numbers of fish sucked to their death by the cooling system at the Indian Point nuclear plant prove that the system harms the Hudson River environment, a state official has ruled.

The finding by J. Jared Snyder, assistant commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, is a victory for plant critics who claim that up to 1.2 billion fish and eggs are killed each year as the plant continuously draws in river water for use as a coolant.

Red Flag

South Africa: Experts probe 'mini tsunami'

Cape Town - A mini tsunami may be the reason for the sudden rise and fall of the sea level along the West Coast over the last few days.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) received reports that the sea level in Hout Bay, St Helena Bay, Saldanha Bay and Lambert's Bay changed suddenly three times on Thursday.

In Hout Bay, the water level first fell by a metre and then rose again by the same amount in the space of 20 minutes.

Info

Amazon Trip Yields A Treasure Trove Of Diversity

A group of Yale undergraduates have discovered dozens of potentially beneficial bioactive microorganisms within plants they collected in the Amazon rain forest, including several so genetically distinct that they may be the first members of new taxonomical genera.

The analysis of 135 endophytes - fungal and bacterial microorganisms living within the inner tissue of plants - by members of the Rain Forest Expedition and Laboratory course at Yale will be published August 25 in the journal PLoS One.

Image
©Yale University
Yale undergraduate Sun Jin Lee discovered that an extract from a second fungal endophtye reduces inflammation in human tissue. A subsequent analysis of the molecule revealed it to be an inhibitor of apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

The endophytes were collected during a 2007 trip to Peru organized by Scott Strobel, chair of the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale, with a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Attention

Why Wind Turbines Can Mean Death For Bats

Power-generating wind turbines have long been recognized as a potentially life-threatening hazard for birds. But at most wind facilities, bats actually die in much greater numbers. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology, a Cell Press journal, on August 26th think they know why.

wind turbines
©Grady Semmens, University of Calgary
The majority of bats killed at wind turbines are the migratory bats that roost in trees, according to PhD candidate and project leader Erin Baerwald.

Ninety percent of the bats they examined after death showed signs of internal hemorrhaging consistent with trauma from the sudden drop in air pressure (a condition known as barotrauma) at turbine blades. Only about half of the bats showed any evidence of direct contact with the blades.

"Because bats can detect objects with echolocation, they seldom collide with man-made structures," said Erin Baerwald of the University of Calgary in Canada. "An atmospheric-pressure drop at wind-turbine blades is an undetectable - and potentially unforeseeable - hazard for bats, thus partially explaining the large number of bat fatalities at these specific structures.

"Given that bats are more susceptible to barotrauma than birds, and that bat fatalities at wind turbines far outnumber bird fatalities at most sites, wildlife fatalities at wind turbines are now a bat issue, not a bird issue."

Cloud Lightning

Hurricane Gustav takes aim at Haiti

Miami - Hurricane Gustav barreled toward vulnerable Haiti on Tuesday and appeared set to become a "major" storm later in the week as it neared the Gulf of Mexico where the United States produces a large amount of oil and gas.

Hurricane Gustav
©REUTERS/NOAA/Handout
Hurricane Gustav is seen in a satellite image taken August 26, 2008.

The 7th storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season had top sustained winds of 85 miles per hour (140 km per hour) by 5 a.m. EDT, making it a Category 1 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of storm intensity, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Gustav was likely to become a Category 2 storm before striking the southwestern peninsula of impoverished Haiti later on Tuesday and then move westward south of Cuba over deep warm waters that provide tropical cyclones with fuel.

Info

Monkeys Enjoy Giving To Others

Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have shown capuchin monkeys, just like humans, find giving to be a satisfying experience. This finding comes on the coattails of a recent imaging study in humans that documented activity in reward centers of the brain after humans gave to charity.

Image
©iStockphoto/Robert Deal
Capuchin monkeys, just like humans, find giving to be a satisfying experience, new evidence suggests.

Empathy in seeing the pleasure of another's fortune is thought to be the impetus for sharing, a trait this study shows transcends primate species.

Frans de Waal, PhD, director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes Research Center, and Kristi Leimgruber, research specialist, led a team of researchers who exchanged tokens for food with eight adult female capuchins. Each capuchin was paired with a relative, an unrelated familiar female from her own social group or a stranger (a female from a different group).

The capuchins then were given the choice of two tokens: the selfish option, which rewarded that capuchin alone with an apple slice; or the prosocial option, which rewarded both capuchins with an apple slice. The monkeys predominantly selected the prosocial token when paired with a relative or familiar individual but not when paired with a stranger.