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Tue, 05 Dec 2023
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Earth Changes

Bizarro Earth

231 hurt as 5.8 magnitude earthquake hits China

BEIJING -- A 5.8-magnitude earthquake hit southwest China on Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, close to the area devastated by a massive tremor in May that left nearly 70,000 dead.

Chinese state media quoted local officials as saying that 231 people were hurt in the quake, which struck 65 km north of Mianyang, which was severely hit by the 8.0-magnitude quake on May 12.

Bizarro Earth

5.0 earthquake rattles Kingdom of Fiji

A moderate earthquake shook the ocean floor near Fiji about 5:35 a.m. today Hawaii time, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The 5.0 magnitude quake was centered about 85 miles west of Lambasa, Vanua Levu, Fiji and 21.7 miles beneath the earth's surface, the USGS reported.


Cold And Ice, Not Heat, Episodically Gripped Tropical Regions 300 Million Years Ago

Unaweep Canyon in the Rocky Mountains
©Gerilyn Soreghan, courtesy NSF
Unaweep Canyon in the Rocky Mountains is the site of a deep gorge that reveals ancient landscapes and sediments. The inset image is of a "dropstone" from an eons-old glacier.

Geoscientists have long presumed that, like today, the tropics remained warm throughout Earth's last major glaciation 300 million years ago. New evidence, however, indicates that cold temperatures in fact episodically gripped these equatorial latitudes at that time.

Geologist Gerilyn Soreghan of Oklahoma University found evidence for this conclusion in the preservation of an ancient glacial landscape in the Rocky Mountains of western Colorado. Three hundred million years ago, the region was part of the tropics. The continents then were assembled into the supercontinent Pangaea.

Soreghan and colleagues published their results in the August 2008, issue of the journal Geology.

Cow Skull

Ivory Poaching At Critical Levels: Elephants On Path To Extinction By 2020?

African elephants are being slaughtered for their ivory at a pace unseen since an international ban on the ivory trade took effect in 1989. But the public outcry that resulted in that ban is absent today, and a University of Washington conservation biologist contends it is because the public seems to be unaware of the giant mammals' plight.

Elephant tusks
©William Clark
Elephant tusks seized by authorities lie next to weapons used by poachers, including rocket-propelled grenades used against rangers who protect the elephants.

But the poaching death rate in the late 1980s was based on a population that numbered more than 1 million. Today the total African elephant population is less than 470,000.

"If the trend continues, there won't be any elephants except in fenced areas with a lot of enforcement to protect them," said Wasser.


Mima Mounds: Mystery hides in vast prairie

Unlike many Washington state attractions, the word "majestic" does not apply to the slopes and swales of the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve. But walk amid the mounds, and you will be struck by how their subtle uniformity adds up to an otherworldly power.

The swath of grassy humps known as the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve spins a mystery as yet without an ending. And with any good story, context is critical.

©Chris Joseph Taylor / The Seattle Times
Summertime visitors who stroll along the Mima Mounds' interpretive trail will find themselves amid humps covered in lichen and moss, along with other vegetation, butterflies and bees. The color palette of the landscape, which is south of Olympia, changes with the seasons.


'Dead Zone' in The Gulf of Mexico Near Record Size

The "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico, an area on the seabed with too little oxygen to support fish, shrimp, crabs and other forms of marine life, is nearly the largest on record this year, about 8,000 square miles, researchers said this week.

Only the churning effects of Hurricane Dolly last week, they said, prevented the dead zone from being the largest ever.


U.K. stranded whale to be put to sleep

U.K. firemen and ecologists have failed to save the life of a northern bottlenose whale stuck on mudflats in Langstone, Hampshire, the British Divers Marine Life Rescue organization said on Friday.

Over 30 people battled to save the six-ton whale for about 12 hours, until tests revealed the creature was suffering from irreversible renal failure, caused by dehydration and hunger. Its condition was also aggravated by the compression of its organs under its own body weight.

Although the whale was successfully refloated, it was too late to save its life.


Public not being told the whole truth about global warming

In 2006, there were predictions in the media that global warming would cause 2007 to be the hottest year on record. Now think about it, what have you read in the media in 2008 about this? Well, nothing actually. Why?

Well, the answer is simple - because 2007 turned out to be the coolest year recorded for the last 30 years. This, the public was not told.

The public was also not told that, since the warm year of 1998, there has been continuous cooling. What the public is told is that, during the twentieth century, there was a global temperature increase of 0,6 oC.

This is true, but what is left out is that most of the warming took place from 1920 to 1940 and that global temperature fell from 1940 to 1970, prompting announcements in the mid 1970s that a global ice age was about to pounce on us.


Minnesota, US: Bear with jar on head shot dead

A hungry bear was shot dead by wildlife officials after getting its head stuck in a plastic jar and wandering into a busy town.

A wild black bear whose head got stuck inside a 2-gallon clear plastic jug

The wild black bear is thought to have been foraging for food when its head became stuck inside a 2.5 gallon (9.5 litre) clear plastic jar that usually holds sweets or popcorn.

The two-year-old animal could breathe but could not eat or drink and was probably suffering from dehydration and hunger.


Mud Pots Signal Possible Extension Of San Andreas Fault

mud pots
©Seismological Society of America
Researchers have conducted a comprehensive survey of mud pots (like the one shown above) in the area immediately east of the southeastern-most portion of the Salton Sea in Imperial County, Calif.

A linear string of mud pots and mud volcanoes suggest surface evidence for a southern extension of the San Andreas Fault that runs through the Salton Sea, according to a paper published in the August issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (BSSA).

Researchers David K. Lynch and Kenneth W. Hudnut of USGS report the results of a comprehensive survey of mud pots in the area immediately east of the southeastern-most portion of the Salton Sea in Imperial County, Calif. Using satellite imagery, followed by a physical examination of the land, they identified a cluster of 33 mud pots, mud volcanoes and sink holes which, when plotted, form a clear linear pattern.

Mud pots and mud volcanoes are geothermal features produced when water or gas is forced upward through soil and sediments. Mud pots can assume a variety of forms, typically being depressions or enclosed basins containing gas seeps, bubbling water or viscous mud. Mud pots can also be water-laden and appear as bubbling muddy water. Mud volcanoes, on the other hand, are elevated conical structures composed of accumulations of viscous mud extruded from a central vent. They range from finger-sized to several kilometers across, though the largest in the Salton Sea area are about 2 meters high. Small mud volcanoes on land, ranging from one to 10 feet in height, are usually called mud cones or gryphons and are usually associated with volcanic and seismic activity.