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Earth Happenings Archive
October,1997
Plant Growth Surges After Global Temperature Spikes, Scientists Report (Science Daily 10/31)
"El Nino events or volcanic eruptions can boost or depress global temperatures within months, but their strongest impacts on the earth's biosphere may not occur until one to three years later, according to a paper published in the October 31st issue of Science. Regional analyses show that a global warm spell's initial boost in plant activity is clustered in polar and temperate areas. On the other hand, heat-stressed tropical and semiarid regions may show an initial drop in plant production."
El Nino Rules (The Why Files 10/30)
"Fires. Hurricanes. A 'hot zone' in the Pacific drives weather around the globe."
Jason Project Back to Ocean Bottom (Washington Post/AP 10/30)
"It's back to the ocean bottom for the Jason Project's doughty child `argonauts,' who this year walked among Yellowstone's bubbling geyers and watched scientists crawl into an ice cave above a volcano in Iceland."
Roots reveal massive quake here 300 years ago (Seattle Times 10/29)
"University of Washington scientists are reporting that they have confirmed through examination of tree rings that a magnitude 9 quake occurred in 1700. The findings, to be published tomorrow in the journal Nature, suggest the Pacific Northwest is vulnerable to some of the world's most devastating quakes."
Critics fail to shake NASA scientists' belief in Mars life (CNN 10/29)
"More than a year of criticism from other scientists has not deterred NASA researchers from their belief that billions of years ago Martian microbes may have thrived inside a rock from the Red Planet. 'We feel stronger about it now than when we wrote the first paper,' Everett Gibson, co-leader of NASA's Mars meteorite team, said."
Giant China Dam Rises from Yangtze (Washington Post/AP 10/30)
China's Yellow River Diverted (Washington Post/AP 10/28)
"The Yellow River, nurturer of China's ancient civilization and a source of especially disastrous floods, was diverted Tuesday to make way for the nation's second largest dam."
Network Of Underwater Sensors To Measure Dangerous Tsunamis In Real Time (Science Daily 10/27)
"In last week's journal Science, university researchers report that a network of instruments will soon be deployed and placed on the ocean floor, giving humanity a precious tool to predict and track tsunamis in real time."
Embryo Studies Show Dinosaurs Could Not Have Given Rise To Modern Birds (Science Daily 10/27)
"Careful study of bird, alligator and turtle embryos at early stages offer convincing evidence that the "fingers" of bird wings correspond to the index, middle and ring fingers of humans, while the little finger and "thumb" have been lost. Such developmental evidence of digit identity conflicts with the theory that modern birds arose from dinosaurs as some paleontologists have claimed since the 1970s."
Arctic Ozone May Recover Slowly (Washington Post/AP 10/26)
"Ozone recovery over the Northern Hemisphere may take longer than expected if recent winters are any indication, an analysis by European scientists concludes. Arctic ozone reached record lows that year [1995-96], dipping at some points to 64 percent of normal levels."
Scientists Conduct First Large-Scale Study Of Lake Superior (Science Daily 10/25)
"When the ice creaks, groans, and finally breaks up on Lake Superior next spring, a team of limnologists and oceanographers will launch a five-year study of a dramatic near-shore current in the lake. The current, called the Keweenaw Current, is considered the strongest current of its kind in the world."
Southern Africa Braces for El Nino (CNN/AP 10/24)
"Below normal rains are forecast for southern Africa because of the weather-altering phenomenon called El Nino, but preventive measures should make the impact less severe than five years ago, U.S. officials said Friday. "
Museum readies to assemble its T-Rex (CNN 10/23)
"The remains of Sue, a 65-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex, have arrived at their final destination, Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History. But her considerable collection of bones arrived in a semi-truck, unassembled. Now, the task for scientists at Field, which bought the massive skeleton at auction for $8.4 million, is to try to reassemble the bones to show what Sue may have looked like in her heyday."
Geologist Looks At Mystery Of Ancient Sea: Did The Iapetus Ocean Ever Exist? (Science Daily 10/23)
"Evidence from ancient volcanic ash beds demonstrates a narrow Iapetus Ocean did exist during the Ordovician but closed off and disappeared by the Silurian 420 million years ago."
Tiny fossils give clues to new Bay Bridge (Reuters/UPI 10/22)
"Geologists report that the microscopic skeletons of ancient marine organisms are helping engineers redesign San Francisco's Bay Bridge. The variety of fossils buried in the bay floor help engineers know what kind of sediment is in a particular layer. Some sediments are older or more stable than others, and would thus better support bridge pilings."
El Nino common feature in ancient oceans (Reuters/UPI 10/22)
"An expert in ancient oceans says he believes the weather event El Nino was common during the dinosaur age, and could have lasted a thousand to a million years at a time."
Mammoths discovered in Mexican lava (Reuters 10/21)
"Geologists with the National University of Mexico report they have discovered the 12,000-year-old bones of at least seven mammoths buried in volcanic ash near Mexico City. Team leader Claus Siebe told United Press International that finding so many mammoths within only 300 square feet (28 square meters) makes the site the densest known on the North American continent. What makes the site unique in the world, however, is that the mammoths' remains were inundated by a mud slide following a catastrophic eruption of a volcano, called Popocatepetl."
Bees sealed nests 220 million years ago (Reuters 10/21)
"A team of bee experts report the first evidence that ancient ancestors of bees waterproofed their egg cells 220 million years ago, just like modern bees do to protect their young today. Paleontologist Stephen Hasiotis told United Press International that the bee sealant is "a lot like the water sealant you use on basement walls. If your basement floods, everything inside would be ruined by bacteria and fungi.''
Dinosaur Footprints Trek Across The Southwest (Science Daily 10/21)
"The ghosts of dinosaurs still wander the vast open spaces of the American Southwest, as suggested by their fossilized footprints, a Penn State paleontologist said today (Oct. 20) at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Salt Lake City. The elusive, giant beasts left a legacy 180 million years ago that can now be seen at Pipe Spring National Monument near Moccasin, Ariz., along the Utah border. This monument preserves an historic fort and structures built by Mormon pioneers during their settlement of the Southwest."
Scientist details more evidence of 'life' on Mars (Nando Times 10/21)
"NASA scientist David McKay electrified the world last year when he claimed a meteorite contained signs of ancient life on Mars. On Monday in Utah, McKay said he has found more evidence: Film-like material in the meteorite resembles slime secreted onto underground rocks by microbes on Earth. "We don't have a smoking gun yet, but we're increasing the probability" that Mars once harbored primitive life, the Johnson Space Center geologist said in Salt Lake City during the Geological Society of America's annual meeting."
Clues To Horse Extinction Point To Gritty Grass, Climate Change (Science Daily 10/20)
"Johns Hopkins paleobiologist Steven Stanley has sleuthed out clues to the evolution of horses, coming up with a new solution for an enduring mystery: What caused the extinction of many equine species and other mammals 6 million years ago? Like the protagonist in an evolutionary detective thriller, Stanley pursued a hunch that apparently had never occurred to other scientists. His long shot hit a bull's-eye, enabling Stanley to learn how shifting climate and changing vegetation likely altered the fate of horses in North America millions of years ago."
Giant Comet Hit Nevada 370M Yrs Ago (Washington Post/AP 10/20)
Comet hit Nevada 370 million years ago (Reuters)
"New evidence suggests a comet slammed into Earth 370 million years ago, blasting a huge crater into the sea floor and triggering 1,000-foot waves that led to the extinction of many species, scientists said Monday. The crash may have been the first in a series of comet strikes that forever changed life on Earth, including the extinction of dinosaurs millions of years later."
Spadework to get to bottom of Antarctica's ice age (Nando Times 10/20)
"An international team of researchers is about to start digging into Antarctica's frozen ground to determine how long the continent has been clad in ice, a German polar and maritime research institute here said Monday. The excavations may eventually go as deep as 2,300 feet under the land-mass' surface, which will allow researchers to determine Antarctica's development over the last 100 million years."
Human fossil 2.5 million years old unearthed in Malawi (CNN/Reuters 10/18)
"Malawian and German archaeologists have unearthed a 2.5 million year old human jaw fossil, part of the oldest known ancestor of man found in eastern or southern Africa, Malawian newspapers reported on Saturday. The human jaw with 10 teeth was discovered in 1991 and subjected to intensive scientific tests before the findings were announced."
Limits Of Life On Earth: Are They The Key To Life On Other Planets? (Science Daily 10/17)
"From scalding hot places that rival Dante's Inferno to frigid locations colder than the dark side of the moon, scientists taking part in a $6 million National Science Foundation (NSF) research initiative are searching for life forms on Earth that may provide insight about possible life on other planets."
Keys To Predicting Climate: Monsoons, Hippos And A Wet Stone Age Sahel (Science Daily 10/17)
"Writing in the Oct. 17 edition of the journal Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers John E. Kutzbach and Zhengyu Liu describe a Neolithic Sahel that was watered to a significant extent by shifting tropical Atlantic monsoons, seasonal winds and rain that strongly influence climate over large regions of the Earth."
Memory of '89 quake brings little fear (Reuters 10/17)
"Bay Area residents are remembering the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake on the eighth anniversary of the temblor, which killed 63 people and ruined 16,000 homes."
Singapore fights to contain oil slick (CNN/AP 10/17)
"Nearly three dozen boats battled Friday to contain a 7 million-gallon oil spill, caused when two ships collided just off Singapore."
El Niņo Special Report (CNN October 1997)
This year's El Niņo threatens to be the worst on record. Are you unclear about what its all about? See CNN's special section with a description of El Niņo, recent news articles (such as one on today's El Niņo Summit), and an interactive map showing how El Niņo will affect different regions of the world. Other sources for El Niņo information include NOAA's El Niņo Theme Page and COAPS's El Niņo Resources Page.
New findings help fill missing links in dinosaur history (CNN/AP 10/14)
"Long-necked dinosaurs may have eaten themselves into oblivion by helping to destroy primitive forests, allowing new plants and animals to evolve 100 million years ago, according to an analysis of fossils uncovered in Utah."
Move over El Niņo, a major new climate cycle has been discovered, and it lasts for decades (Science Daily 10/13)
"Researchers at the University of Washington are describing in two recent research papers what they call a decades-long climate shift in the Pacific Ocean that seems to explain many of the changing environmental patterns seen across North America, and particularly in the Pacific Northwest, since the late 1970s."
In a flash, dry Mexican canyon becomes a raging river of death (CNN/AP 10/11)
"With little official warning, thousands of residents were unprepared for the rebirth of the Camarones River, a dry gulch that for years had been built upon before Pauline dumped 16 inches of rain." (Geologylink Note: This article contains a very good description of flash flooding.)
Researchers: Jupiter moon has 'ingredients' for life (CNN/AP 10/10)
"The possibility that a moon of Jupiter may have the chemical basis for life has increased sharply with the discovery of organic compounds on two other moons of the giant planet, researchers reported Friday. The finding, from instruments on the Galileo spacecraft orbiting Jupiter, suggests that the moon Europa may have all three of the materials scientists consider essential for life: an energy source, liquid water and organic molecules."
Amazon burning worst in memory, another casualty of El Niņo (CNN 10/10)
"While fires burning out of control in Indonesia have captured world attention in recent weeks, the Amazon rain forest also is burning, suffering unusually dry conditions due to the disruptive El Niņo weather phenomenon."
One skull does not a species make (Nature Science Updates 10/9)
"Three species, East African boisei and aethiopicus, and South African robustus have been seen as distinct. But can that view be justified? Researchers point to the mixture of features apparent from the Konso skull, and advise caution."
Japan quake team warns on nuke plants (UPI 10/8)
"A group of Japanese government seismologists has warned today seven nuclear plants sit unprotected near two active faults that triggered a massive earthquake on the Sea of Japan coast 670 years ago."
Pathfinder data shows Mars may have crust, core (CNN 10/8)
Mars Gives Up More Earthlike Secrets (Reuters 10/9)
"Data collected by Mars Pathfinder shows that the red planet, like Earth, may have a crust, a mantle and an iron core -- evidence that the planet may have once been warm."
Astronomers claim 'most massive' star ever seen (CNN 10/7)
"The Hubble Space Telescope has captured a glimpse of what is believed to be most powerful star ever detected -- a colossus that pumps out 10 million times more energy than the sun and yet can't be seen with the naked eye."
Tyrannosaurus Rex Sells for $8.4M (Washington Post/AP)
"After just eight minutes of intense bidding, Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History -- with a little help from its corporate friends at McDonald's and Disney -- paid a staggering $8.4 million Saturday for a one-of-a-kind Tyrannosaurus rex fossil."
Debate heats up about global warming (CNN 10/3)
"The debate over limiting pollutants that cause global warming is intensifying as the Clinton administration prepares to propose emission standards for developed and underdeveloped countries alike. The results could be a treaty with binding limits that could dramatically affect some of the world's smallest nations."
Antarctica Drilling Project Begins (Washington Post/AP 10/2)
"A major deep drilling project has begun in Antarctica to unlock the secrets of global climate change going back millions of years."
New clues to moon origins (Nature Science Updates 10/2)
"Dr Shigeru Ida of the Tokyo Institute of Technology and colleagues provide strong evidence to suggest that the Moon was created out of a cloud of silicate vapour, the result of a collision between Earth and a planetary object twice the size of Mars."
Velociraptor wishbone discovery supports link to birds (CNN/AP 10/1)
"Scientists have identified a wishbone in a skeleton of a velociraptor, bolstering the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs. Wishbones had already been found in some other meat-eating dinosaurs. Velociraptor, a 6-foot-long hunter that ran on its hind legs, is a member of a dinosaur group thought to be the most closely related to living birds."
Fossils Give Surprise (Washington Post/AP 10/1)
"In the new finding, researchers report on two mammal species they call early placentals, based on features of the teeth, eye sockets and feet. But the scientists found that these creatures also have splint-like bones reaching forward from the pelvis, seen in marsupials but not previously in placentals, that suggest they reproduced like marsupials."
Ancient skull casts doubt on 'new' species (CNN 10/1)
"A freshly unearthed skull and jawbone have provided scientists with new details about a human ancestor called 'Nutcracker Man,' while also raising'some questions about the discovery of 'new' species."


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