How Tall Are Eruptions on Io and Venus?

by Erik Klemetti

Earth does not hold the monopoly on active volcanism in the solar system. In fact, Earth isn’t even the most volcanically active body in the solar system. Although we have abundant volcanism, to the tune of hundreds to thousands of active and potentially active volcanoes, if you look at the amount of land surface covered by the deposits of recent volcanism, Earth’s volcanism is confined to fairly small areas.

Even so, volcanism likely played a vital role in getting life started on the Earth — and maybe it is the driving force in other parts of the solar system. The manifestation of volcanism on other planets is different than on Earth as well — some places produce giant eruption plumes (like on Io) and some might produce very small plumes (like at the newly-identified potentially active volcanoes on Venus), so why are they so different?

Look at a place like Jupiter’s moon, Io. This plucky little moon is covered almost wall-to-wall with geologically-recent volcanic deposits (see above) thanks to the tidal forces exerted on it by Jupiter’s gravity. When New Horizons passed by Io in 2007, the spacecraft (headed to Pluto-Charon) captured a sequence of frames that showed the giant volcanic plume from TvashtarPatera (along with some fainter plumes from Masubi and Zal; see below)…

(read more: Wired Science)

images: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

We’re bringing water back to the Colorado River! The U.S. and Mexican governments have approved a plan to carry out a historic and vital step in advancing cooperative management of the bi-national Colorado River. The two governments, acting through the U.S. and Mexican sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission, are moving forward with a pilot “pulse flow” of water into the long-depleted delta of the Colorado River, where water has not flowed regularly since 1960.
read more: The Nature Conservancyphoto: © Jean Calhoun

We’re bringing water back to the Colorado River!

The U.S. and Mexican governments have approved a plan to carry out a historic and vital step in advancing cooperative management of the bi-national Colorado River. The two governments, acting through the U.S. and Mexican sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission, are moving forward with a pilot “pulse flow” of water into the long-depleted delta of the Colorado River, where water has not flowed regularly since 1960.

read more: The Nature Conservancy

photo: © Jean Calhoun

A panorama of the east face of hills showing strata from the John Day Formation in the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, in the U.S. state of Oregon. The strata, which vary in age from 18 million to 39 million years, were formed mainly from ashfalls from volcanoes to the west. The sediment layers vary in their chemical composition and color owing to the ash and other debris falling during varied climatic and volcanic conditions. (click here to see large format)
Photograph: Finetooth                                                                    via: Wikipedia

A panorama of the east face of hills showing strata from the John Day Formation in the Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, in the U.S. state of Oregon. The strata, which vary in age from 18 million to 39 million years, were formed mainly from ashfalls from volcanoes to the west. The sediment layers vary in their chemical composition and color owing to the ash and other debris falling during varied climatic and volcanic conditions. (click here to see large format)

Photograph: Finetooth                                                                    via: Wikipedia

NASA’s Earth Observatory Captures Image of Remote Island
There is perhaps no better place to get away from it all than Norway’s Bouvet Island. Located in the South Atlantic Ocean between Africa, South America, and Antarctica, this uninhabited, 49-sq-km (19-sq-mi) shield volcano is one of the most remote islands in the world. The nearest large land mass is the Princess Astrid Coast of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica—1,700 km (1,100 mi) to the south. The nearest inhabited place is Tristan da Cunha, a remote island 2,260 km (1,400 mi) to the northwest that is home to a few hundred people.
On May 26, 2013, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired this natural-color image of Bouvet Island. Thick ice covers more than 90 percent of the island year round. Christensen glacier drains the north side; Posadowsky glacier drains the south side. A ring of volcanic black sand beaches encircles most of the island. (Download the large image to see them). In many areas, the thick layer of ice stops abruptly at the island’s edge, forming steep ice cliffs that plunge to the beaches and oceans below…
(read more: NASA Earth Observatory)
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon

NASA’s Earth Observatory Captures Image of Remote Island

There is perhaps no better place to get away from it all than Norway’s Bouvet Island. Located in the South Atlantic Ocean between Africa, South America, and Antarctica, this uninhabited, 49-sq-km (19-sq-mi) shield volcano is one of the most remote islands in the world. The nearest large land mass is the Princess Astrid Coast of Queen Maud Land, Antarctica—1,700 km (1,100 mi) to the south. The nearest inhabited place is Tristan da Cunha, a remote island 2,260 km (1,400 mi) to the northwest that is home to a few hundred people.

On May 26, 2013, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired this natural-color image of Bouvet Island. Thick ice covers more than 90 percent of the island year round. Christensen glacier drains the north side; Posadowsky glacier drains the south side. A ring of volcanic black sand beaches encircles most of the island. (Download the large image to see them). In many areas, the thick layer of ice stops abruptly at the island’s edge, forming steep ice cliffs that plunge to the beaches and oceans below…

(read more: NASA Earth Observatory)

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon

Behold the first geological map of Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon

by Lauren Davis

Four hundred years ago, Galileo Galilei observed Ganymede in orbit around Jupiter. This week, a team of planetary scientists unveiled the first global geological map of our solar system’s largest moon.

Using images obtained by NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft and the Galileo orbiter, a team led by Geoffrey Collins of Wheaton College pieced together a mosaic image of the planet, giving us our first complete image of the geological features of the satellite. Above, you can see the moon centered at 200 west longitude. The darker areas represent the very old and heavily cratered region of Ganymede, while the lighter areas are somewhat younger regions marked with grooves and ridges…

(read more: io9)   (… and a 2nd look.)

images: NASA-JPL

Can Volcanic Magma Power The Future?
Scientists in Iceland have figured out how to create geothermal energy from super-hot molten rock
by Tuan C. Nguyen
t’s not often that an idea that’s initially deemed a failed experiment ends up ultimately being hailed as a breakthrough. But that’s exactly what happened when, five years ago, a team of scientists in Iceland, drilling deep within the Earth’s crust, hit upon molten rock. Not only was it not what they were looking for at the time, but it also meant they had to abandon their quest to locate a reservoir that was rumored to contain a form of water so hot that it existed in a state somewhere between a normal liquid and a gas…
(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)
photograph by Dave Kent

Can Volcanic Magma Power The Future?

Scientists in Iceland have figured out how to create geothermal energy from super-hot molten rock

by Tuan C. Nguyen

t’s not often that an idea that’s initially deemed a failed experiment ends up ultimately being hailed as a breakthrough. But that’s exactly what happened when, five years ago, a team of scientists in Iceland, drilling deep within the Earth’s crust, hit upon molten rock. Not only was it not what they were looking for at the time, but it also meant they had to abandon their quest to locate a reservoir that was rumored to contain a form of water so hot that it existed in a state somewhere between a normal liquid and a gas…

(read more: Smithsonian Magazine)

photograph by Dave Kent

Yellowstone National Park: Heat, water, and cracks
These three things come together in the Upper Geyser Basin to form the incredible collection of geysers and hot springs. The heat source is the magma chamber not far below the surface. The Yellowstone Plateau receives ample precipitation to provide the water. Underground cracks provides the path for the heated water to make its way to the surface to create each unique hydrothermal feature. 
 
(via: Yellowstone NP)
Yellowstone National Park: Heat, water, and cracks
These three things come together in the Upper Geyser Basin to form the incredible collection of geysers and hot springs. The heat source is the magma chamber not far below the surface. The Yellowstone Plateau receives ample precipitation to provide the water. Underground cracks provides the path for the heated water to make its way to the surface to create each unique hydrothermal feature.
 
(via: Yellowstone NP)
The Grand Canyon as Frankenstein’s Monster
by Richard A. Kerr
It’s a debate that has vexed scientists for decades: Is the Grand Canyon young or old, geologically speaking? Both, a new study declares. A group of scientists reports that the famed formation is a hybrid of five different gorges of various ages that the Colorado River only tied into a single continuous canyon and deepened since 5 million or 6 million years ago.
The debate over the age of the Grand Canyon has been so drawn out largely because nature leaves so few clues as to the shape of the land tens of millions of years ago. Water must flow downhill to create canyons, but which way was down ages ago?
Over the past 100 million years—since before the death of the dinosaurs—the incessant jostling of plate tectonics has repeatedly reshaped the landscape of the U.S. Southwest. The Rocky Mountains and the Colorado Plateau rose to the east of the present-day canyon, the Sierra Nevada grew to the west, the Basin and Range of Nevada and Utah stretched the crust to the north, and the Gulf of California split the crust to the south…
(read more: Science News/AAAS)
image: Laura Crossey/UNM

The Grand Canyon as Frankenstein’s Monster

by Richard A. Kerr

It’s a debate that has vexed scientists for decades: Is the Grand Canyon young or old, geologically speaking? Both, a new study declares. A group of scientists reports that the famed formation is a hybrid of five different gorges of various ages that the Colorado River only tied into a single continuous canyon and deepened since 5 million or 6 million years ago.

The debate over the age of the Grand Canyon has been so drawn out largely because nature leaves so few clues as to the shape of the land tens of millions of years ago. Water must flow downhill to create canyons, but which way was down ages ago?

Over the past 100 million years—since before the death of the dinosaurs—the incessant jostling of plate tectonics has repeatedly reshaped the landscape of the U.S. Southwest. The Rocky Mountains and the Colorado Plateau rose to the east of the present-day canyon, the Sierra Nevada grew to the west, the Basin and Range of Nevada and Utah stretched the crust to the north, and the Gulf of California split the crust to the south…

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

image: Laura Crossey/UNM

Antarctica seen naked for the first time! 
What’s under all that ice?
by Michael Graham Richard
Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, along with collaborators from around the world, have created the most detailed map yet of what is hidden under Antarctica’s ice sheets. Using radio echo sounding measurements, seismic techniques, satellite readings and cartographic data, they have created the details composite views that you can see above and below, revealing previously hidden mountain ranges, plains, and valleys cut by deep gorges…
(read more: TreeHugger)
image: British Antarctic Survey

Antarctica seen naked for the first time!

What’s under all that ice?

by Michael Graham Richard

Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, along with collaborators from around the world, have created the most detailed map yet of what is hidden under Antarctica’s ice sheets. Using radio echo sounding measurements, seismic techniques, satellite readings and cartographic data, they have created the details composite views that you can see above and below, revealing previously hidden mountain ranges, plains, and valleys cut by deep gorges…

(read more: TreeHugger)

image: British Antarctic Survey