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Mon, 25 Jan 2021
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Bizarro Earth

Historic volcanic activity and mass extinction of marine life explored

University of Alberta scientists discover volcanic eruptions on the ocean floor caused a drop in CO2 concentrations and a mass extinction of marine life

It sounds like a science fiction movie: a warm and watery North Pole, high carbon dioxide levels, giant clams trolling ocean floors, and volcanoes as large as a Canadian province. Then, a massive wipeout of ocean life.

This dystopia is not fiction, but an episode in Earth's long history, occurring 94 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. A geological mystery for years, recent discoveries have enabled two University of Alberta scientists to shed light on what caused this large-scale extinction.

Steven Turgeon, one of the leading researchers in the study that has garnered international attention and whose findings are now largely accepted, said he is "97 per cent" sure that it was volcanic activity in the ocean bed that triggered a chain reaction, ultimately resulting in the widespread extinction of marine life.

"Previously there was some speculation that it might have been caused by a meteorite," said Turgeon, who worked with Robert Creaser, also an Earth and Atmospheric Sciences professor. "Both volcanism and meteorites have the same isotopic signature. But we now know from our analysis of deposits that what caused the dinosaurs to die off did not cause this."

Bizarro Earth

India floods strand hundreds of thousands, displace millions

The deluge came and turned his world to water, so Umesh Kushyaha decided to build a boat.

Kushyaha squatted Saturday hammering nails into his rickety-looking wooden row boat on the side of the road, a lone strip of dry land that cuts across miles of water. He was preparing for what authorities say will be months more of life submerged under flood waters.

About 1.2 million people have been left homeless and scores have been killed in the impoverished state of Bihar in the two weeks since the monsoon-swollen Kosi river in neighboring Nepal burst its banks, dramatically changing course and spilling billions of gallons of water into the plains of northern India.

Bizarro Earth

Magnitude 6.3 quake rattles Papua New Guinea

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake rattled the island of Papua New Guinea on Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The epicenter of the quake was located about 42 miles (68 km) north-northeast of Lae, Papua New Guinea, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake was about 35 miles deep and struck about at 4:54 p.m. local time (10:54 a.m. EDT).

Cloud Lightning

New Orleans gets ready as Gustav strengthens

New Orleans - Spooked by predictions that Hurricane Gustav could grow into a Category 5 monster, an estimated 1 million residents fled the Gulf Coast Saturday - ahead of the official order to get out of the way of a storm taking dead aim at Louisiana.

Image
©AP Photo/Rob Carr
Jeffrey Vannor carries his belongings while evacuating from the approaching Hurricane Gustav at the Greyhound Bus and Amtrak station in New Orleans, on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2008. A million people took to Gulf Coast highways Saturday, boarding up homes and businesses and fleeing dangerous Hurricane Gustav by bus and automobile as the season's most powerful Atlantic storm took aim at Louisiana.

Residents took to buses, trains, planes and cars - clogging roadways leading away from New Orleans, still reeling three years after Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city and killed about 1,600 across the region.

Gustav had already killed more than 80 people in the Caribbean, and if current forecasts hold up, it would make landfall Monday afternoon somewhere between the northeast corner of Texas and western Mississippi.

Forecasters warned it was still too soon to say whether New Orleans would take another direct hit, but residents weren't taking any chances judging by the bumper-to-bumper traffic pouring from the city. Gas stations along interstate highways were running out of fuel, and phone circuits were jammed.

Bell

Eruption Gave Several Weeks' Notice; May Aid Forecasts

Scientists have determined that a 1925 volcanic eruption on Santorini island in Greece was preceded by an influx of hot magma into the volcano's lava chamber several weeks beforehand.

The insight may lead to better warnings of similar eruptions in the future, researchers say.

Image
©Photograph courtesy Science/AAAS
Scientists studying lavas taken from the crater seen above on the Greek island of Santorini may have found a way to better predict volcanic eruptions in general, according to an August 2008 study.

Evil Rays

Southwest China quake destroys homes, three dead

An earthquake hit southwest China's Sichuan province on Saturday, destroying homes and killing three people, China's state television reported.

The epicentre of the quake, which struck around 4:30 p.m. (0730 GMT), was about 20 miles (30 km) southeast of Panzhihua, near the border with Yunnan province, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake was about 6 miles (10 km) deep.

Magic Wand

Animals adapt their vocal signals to social situations

A special August issue of the Journal of Comparative Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association, presents a host of studies that investigate the way that animals adapt their calls, chirps, barks and whistles to their social situation.

Bug

UK: Spider forces family out of home



camel spider
©Unknown
A camel spider attacking a scorpion in the desert

A soldier's family have been frightened out of their home by a spider thought to have been brought to Essex from Afghanistan in a kitbag.

Lorraine Griffiths and her three children have moved out of their house in Colchester, the RSPCA said.

They are refusing to return until the large sandy-coloured creature, thought to be a camel spider, is captured.

Info

Unexpected Large Monkey Population Discovered In Cambodia: Tens Of Thousands Of Threatened Primates

A Wildlife Conservation Society report reveals surprisingly large populations of two globally threatened primates in a protected area in Cambodia.

Yellow-cheeked crested gibbon
©Matt Hunt
Yellow-cheeked crested gibbon.

The report counted 42,000 black-shanked douc langurs along with 2,500 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in Cambodia's Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, an estimate that represents the largest known populations for both species in the world.

WCS scientists conducted the surveys with the Royal Government of Cambodia's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries across an area of 300 square miles (789 square kilometers) within a wider landscape of 1,150 square miles (3,000 square kilometers), which is about the size of Yosemite National Park. The scientists believe total populations within the wider landscape may be considerably greater.

Phoenix

France: Firefighters tackle year's biggest fire

Hundreds of firefighters are battling to put out two fires in the south of France. Officials at Codis, the regional agency which co-ordinates firefighting, describe the blazes, which broke out on Thursday evening near each other, as "the biggest fire in the Mediterranean basin this year".

Officials say that 400 firefighters, 36 fire engines and nine water-carrying airplanes are trying to put out the flames which spread across an uninhabited and uncultivated area in mountains 15 kilometres from the southern city of Narbonne.