Scientists Find Evidence for Tectonic Plates on Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa. This indicates the first sign of this type of surface-shifting geological activity on a world other than Earth.

Researchers have clear visual evidence of Europa’s icy crust expanding. However, they could not find areas where the old crust was destroyed to make room for the new. While examining Europa images taken by NASA’s Galileo orbiter in the early 2000s, planetary geologists Simon Kattenhorn, of the University of Idaho, Moscow, and Louise Prockter, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, discovered some unusual geological boundaries.

"We have been puzzled for years as to how all this new terrain could be formed, but we couldn’t figure out how it was accommodated," said Prockter. "We finally think we’ve found the answer."

Plate tectonics is the scientific theory that Earth’s outer layer is made up of plates or blocks that move, which accounts for why mountain and volcanoes form and earthquakes happen…

(read more: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Image: Noah Kroese, I.NK

libutron
libutron:

San Rafael - Condor Agate | ©Uwe Reier
Discovered in 1992 by the former Argentinean actor, Luis de los Santos, the Condor Agate comes from a difficult-to-reach 7,000-foot elevated plateau near San Rafael, in Mendoza Province, Argentina. The site can only be reached by horse back.
The agate’s bright reds and yellows are made even more vivid by their contrasting bands of cooler, more-subtle hues. This agate was named after the large Condor birds that were flying over Luis de los Santos during the trip that he discovered the agate.
Locality: San Rafael, Argentina.
Reference: [1]

libutron:

San Rafael - Condor Agate | ©Uwe Reier

Discovered in 1992 by the former Argentinean actor, Luis de los Santos, the Condor Agate comes from a difficult-to-reach 7,000-foot elevated plateau near San Rafael, in Mendoza Province, Argentina. The site can only be reached by horse back.

The agate’s bright reds and yellows are made even more vivid by their contrasting bands of cooler, more-subtle hues. This agate was named after the large Condor birds that were flying over Luis de los Santos during the trip that he discovered the agate.

Locality: San Rafael, Argentina.

Reference: [1]

Natural methane leakage from the seafloor is far more widespread on the U.S. Atlantic margin than previously thought. 
A new joint study identified methane plumes in the water column between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and Georges Bank, Massachusetts. The methane plumes are emanating from at least 570 seafloor cold seeps, mostly on the upper continental slope. For more info see our news release: U.S. Geological Survey

Natural methane leakage from the seafloor is far more widespread on the U.S. Atlantic margin than previously thought.

A new joint study identified methane plumes in the water column between Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and Georges Bank, Massachusetts. The methane plumes are emanating from at least 570 seafloor cold seeps, mostly on the upper continental slope.

For more info see our news release: U.S. Geological Survey

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI)
By studying deep-sea lava formations, MBARI’s submarine volcanism lab hopes to gain insight into potentially destructive eruptions on land or in shallow water. This image was taken with ROV Doc Ricketts’ video camera on the 2011 lava flow at Axial Volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. It is the collapsed roof over a drained channel on the flow. There are living bacterial mat and hydrothermal clays on the lava flow surface.  For more information about MBARI’s Submarine Volcanism Project:
MBARI - Vulcanism

By studying deep-sea lava formations, MBARI’s submarine volcanism lab hopes to gain insight into potentially destructive eruptions on land or in shallow water. This image was taken with ROV Doc Ricketts’ video camera on the 2011 lava flow at Axial Volcano on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. It is the collapsed roof over a drained channel on the flow. There are living bacterial mat and hydrothermal clays on the lava flow surface.

For more information about MBARI’s Submarine Volcanism Project:

MBARI - Vulcanism

Japan’s cherry blossom stone is a natural wonder
Meet the cherry blossom stone from Japan - one of the most striking natural rock formations in the world.
by Bec Crew
So-called because when you crack them open, their internal cross-sections look like tiny golden-pink flowers, cherry blossom stones (sakura ishi in Japanese) get their beautiful patterns from mica, which is a commonly found silicate mineral known for its shiny, light-reflecting surface. 
These flower patterns weren’t always made of mica. They started their existence as a complex matrix of six prism-shaped crystal deposits of a magnesium-iron-aluminium composite called cordierite, radiating out from a single dumbbell-shaped crystal made from a magnesium-aluminium-silicate composite called indialite in the centre. 
Hosted inside a fine-grained type of rock called a hornfels - formed underground around 100 million years ago by the intense heat of molten lava - cherry blossom stones underwent a second significant metamorphosis in their geological lifespan when they were exposed to a type of hot water called hydrothermal fluids…
(read more: ScienceAlert! - Australia/NZ)
images: John Rakovan et al.

Japan’s cherry blossom stone is a natural wonder

Meet the cherry blossom stone from Japan - one of the most striking natural rock formations in the world.

by Bec Crew

So-called because when you crack them open, their internal cross-sections look like tiny golden-pink flowers, cherry blossom stones (sakura ishi in Japanese) get their beautiful patterns from mica, which is a commonly found silicate mineral known for its shiny, light-reflecting surface. 

These flower patterns weren’t always made of mica. They started their existence as a complex matrix of six prism-shaped crystal deposits of a magnesium-iron-aluminium composite called cordierite, radiating out from a single dumbbell-shaped crystal made from a magnesium-aluminium-silicate composite called indialite in the centre. 

Hosted inside a fine-grained type of rock called a hornfels - formed underground around 100 million years ago by the intense heat of molten lava - cherry blossom stones underwent a second significant metamorphosis in their geological lifespan when they were exposed to a type of hot water called hydrothermal fluids

(read more: ScienceAlert! - Australia/NZ)

images: John Rakovan et al.

If Not for Plants, Could Rivers Bend?
Geologists strengthen the case that early rooted plants engineered the look of modern rivers
by Catherine Clabby
For decades, the Canadian geologist Martin Gibling has been intrigued by the tough-to-prove hypothesis that land plants created the shape of modern rivers hundreds of millions of years ago.
Plant roots reinforced the ground, the thinking goes, creating stable banks that funneled what once were wide, shallow water flows into narrower and deeper channels. By extension, that set the stage for lots of significant Earth history events, including the rise of human civilizations in modern river basins so many millennia later.
Now Gibling and postdoctoral scientist Neil Davies, both at Dalhousie University, have strengthened this case. When the pair compared a much-improved plant fossil record with evidence of how rivers changed very long ago, the transitions matched up…
(read more: American Scientist)
photograph: Lee Photography/Alamy

If Not for Plants, Could Rivers Bend?

Geologists strengthen the case that early rooted plants engineered the look of modern rivers

by Catherine Clabby

For decades, the Canadian geologist Martin Gibling has been intrigued by the tough-to-prove hypothesis that land plants created the shape of modern rivers hundreds of millions of years ago.

Plant roots reinforced the ground, the thinking goes, creating stable banks that funneled what once were wide, shallow water flows into narrower and deeper channels. By extension, that set the stage for lots of significant Earth history events, including the rise of human civilizations in modern river basins so many millennia later.

Now Gibling and postdoctoral scientist Neil Davies, both at Dalhousie University, have strengthened this case. When the pair compared a much-improved plant fossil record with evidence of how rivers changed very long ago, the transitions matched up…

(read more: American Scientist)

photograph: Lee Photography/Alamy

NOAA:  Close encounters of the crabby kind! 
Squat lobster, seen in 2011 during the Okeanos Explorer Galápagos Rift Expedition.  In 1977, scientists discovered deep-sea hydrothermal vents and associated organisms on the Galápagos Rift, profoundly changing our view of the deep sea and revolutionizing the biological and Earth sciences. Our 2011 expedition provided scientists, engineers, and the public with an opportunity to explore unseen areas and revisit the rift sites that changed our view of life on Earth. Here’s a summary of all that was accomplished: 
NOAA Ocean Explorer

NOAA:  Close encounters of the crabby kind!

Squat lobster, seen in 2011 during the Okeanos Explorer Galápagos Rift Expedition.

In 1977, scientists discovered deep-sea hydrothermal vents and associated organisms on the Galápagos Rift, profoundly changing our view of the deep sea and revolutionizing the biological and Earth sciences. Our 2011 expedition provided scientists, engineers, and the public with an opportunity to explore unseen areas and revisit the rift sites that changed our view of life on Earth.

Here’s a summary of all that was accomplished:

NOAA Ocean Explorer

Yellowstone’s Volcano Bigger Than Thought
by Becky Oskin
Yellowstone’s underground volcanic plumbing is bigger and better connected than scientists thought, researchers reported here today (April 17) at the Seismological Society of America’s annual meeting.
"We are getting a much better understanding of the volcanic system of Yellowstone,” said Jamie Farrell, a seismology graduate student at the University of Utah. “The magma reservoir is at least 50 percent larger than previously imaged.”
Knowing the volume of molten magma beneath Yellowstone is important for estimating the size of future eruptions, Farrell told Our Amazing Planet…
(via: Live Science)
illustration via: National Park Service

Yellowstone’s Volcano Bigger Than Thought

by Becky Oskin

Yellowstone’s underground volcanic plumbing is bigger and better connected than scientists thought, researchers reported here today (April 17) at the Seismological Society of America’s annual meeting.

"We are getting a much better understanding of the volcanic system of Yellowstone,” said Jamie Farrell, a seismology graduate student at the University of Utah. “The magma reservoir is at least 50 percent larger than previously imaged.”

Knowing the volume of molten magma beneath Yellowstone is important for estimating the size of future eruptions, Farrell told Our Amazing Planet…

(via: Live Science)

illustration via: National Park Service