Underwater volcano might be erupting off of Oregon coast

Almost every day for the last five months, hundreds of small earthquakes have rattled Axial Seamount, an underwater volcano located three hundred miles off of the Oregon coast. At the same time, underwater pressure sensors have revealed that the surrounding seafloor had been slowly rising. Then, on April 24, almost eight thousand earthquakes rumbled Axial and the seafloor dropped almost eight feet! Read more

Geologic map reveals US basement rock origins

By combining data about surface mineral resources, national-scale gravity and aeromagnetic surveys, and the age and origins of basement rocks, the USGS has developed a map of the basement rocks underlying the United States. Basement rocks sit above the mantle but beneath all other rocks and sediments. The full report is available here. Read more

Yellowstone magma: a new chamber, bigger and deeper

Will the Yellowstone magma chamber--make that chambers--ever stop growing? Well, they're not actually growing per se; rather, scientists are discovering that Yellowstone's magma chambers are bigger--and more numerous--than previously believed. In 2013, the upper magma chamber was revealed to be more than double its previously estimated volume. Then, this month, geophysicists announced the existence of an additional, deeper, larger magma reservoir sitting between the upper chamber and the mantle plume feeding the legendary volcano. Check out the video below, by the University of Utah, to see a 3D animation of the setup. You can read more about Yellowstone eruptions in my previous post, which has been updated. Read more

The Neanderthal in the karst: hapless skeleton dated at 150,000 years old

During the age of the mammoth, a hominin roaming southern Italy stumbled into a hole in the karst landscape. Out of reach of sun and predator, he starved to death, his body decaying and his bones slumping into a pile, mineral-rich waters ultimately calcifying and fusing them into the surrounding limestone. Locked in the limestone, his skeleton would remain there until 1993, when cave explorers found his face--upside down--staring back at them. Read more

Eruptions on the moon as recently as 20 mya

Long viewed as a cold dead rock devoid of lava for a billion years, new evidence suggests that the moon could have seen small surface flows as recently as 20 million years ago. Twenty million years might not seem recent, but considering the moon and earth both date around 4.5 billion years old, 20 million years represents 0.4% of its age, or what 5 months is to a 100-year human lifespan. In that sense, the new findings are like discovering the moon was alive 5 months ago! Read more