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Earth Happenings Archive
July, 1998
Catch a falling star (CNN/DR Online 7/31)
"A team of scientists has begun looking for a giant meteorite that landed in Greenland last December. You can follow their progress as they update their diary from the impact zone."
Growth of Mt. Everest tracked with new technology (Yahoo/Reuters 7/31)
"While still too early for researchers to say with certainty, preliminary numbers point to a growth rate of one to two centimeters a year -- though the height of the mountain might stay constant due to soil erosion."
Studies point to space as origin of life's seeds (CNN/Reuters 7/30)
"Three studies published Thursday cast more light on how life originated on Earth, painting a picture in which space dust provided the seeds, and a warm, volcanic environment supplied the incubator."
Cooking Up LifeÕs Origins (ABCNews 7/30)
"Gunter Wachtershauser has a recipe for life: Boil water. Stir in the minerals iron sulfide and nickel sulfide. Bubble in carbon monoxide and the odor of rotten eggs. Wait for proteins to form."
Shifting ground in California (Nature Science Updates 7/30)
"This week sees the publication of the latest earthquake models for the Los Angeles metropolitan region of southern California. The news for the residents is mixed Š previous predictions seem to have overestimated the likely frequency of larger magnitude earthquakes, but the current quiescent period along some of the smaller faults may be hiding a greater risk of lower magnitude earthquakes than has previously been supposed."
Pacific States Vulnerable to Waves (Washington Post/AP 7/29)
"Giant waves like the one that devastated coastal Papua New Guinea have struck the United States in the past, and the Pacific states face the greatest threat."
Surprise oil discovery in wake of quake (Yahoo/Reuters 7/29)
"Villagers drilling for water near the town of Ceyhan, hit by a quake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale a month ago, found brown liquid coming out of the well when they returned to the site a week after abandoning work when the earthquake, which killed some 140 people, first hit. "
Boulder Scientists Involved In Effort To Study Arctic Warming (Sciecne Daily 7/29)
"CU-Boulder researchers are participating in a major international field experiment to understand climate change trends in the Arctic and whether the Arctic Ocean ice pack is thinning as fast as climate models are predicting."
Limiting Tsunami Damage Is Possible With Coastal Management And Zoning Policies (Science Daily 7/28)
Tsunami damage can be limited (CNN/ENN 7/31)
"A Cornell University engineer believes it is possible to limit the destruction from the type of tsunami that slammed into the coast of Papua New Guinea on July 17 with proper coastal management, such as building structures like sea walls, and creating zoning policies banning building in high-risk areas."
Magma's Makeup Yields New Clues To Catastrophic Eruptions (Science Daily 7/26)
"Researchers at the University of Rochester and Harvard University have now gained the clearest picture yet of the underpinnings of these most catastrophic of eruptions by analyzing the chemical composition of lava disgorged in one such massive period of volcanism in Siberia 250 million years ago."
A SmokinÕ Ecosystem (ABCNews 7/18)
"Pulled up from more than 7,000 feet below, chunks of sulfide chimneys may contain clues to early life on Earth."
Ocean drifters bring science to the classroom (CNN/ENN 7/23)
"The National Oceanographic Partnership Program is celebrating the International Year of the Ocean by putting together a program called Project YOTO Drifters, which will bring not only the sounds of the ocean but also real-time ocean science data into classrooms this fall."
Galileo spacecraft hits snag, but mission headed back on track (CNN 7/23)
"The spacecraft Galileo has hiccuped again. A computer subsystem aboard the unmanned craft turned itself off this week during a flyby of Jupiter's frozen moon Europa. Engineers, however, said they were confident of getting the mission back on track."
Irrigation Along Front Range Cooling Mountains And Plains; Extremes In Weather, More Severe Storms, Fire Danger Could Result (Science Daily 7/23)
"Human activities such as agriculture and landscaping along Colorado's northern Front Range are changing temperatures, river runoff and tree-distribution patterns in Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding region, according to a Colorado State University study."
New Technique For Analyzing DNA In Fossil Dung Could Help Scientists Sort The Details Of Megafauna Extinction (Science Daily 7/21)
"Scientists have extracted and amplified DNA from 19,000-year-old sloth dung from Gypsum Cave in Utah, 18 miles east of Las Vegas, Nev. The DNA comes from plants the animal ate and from cells that lined its digestive tract."
Antarctic waters breathe life into world's oceans (CNN/ENN 7/21)
"Dr. Steve Rintoul, a Southern Ocean specialist at CSIRO Marine Research and the Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart, has identified a section of the Antarctic coast directly south of Tasmania as the source of one quarter of the Antarctic Bottom Water formed."
Groundwater Injection Process Filters Out Contaminants (Science Daily 7/21)
"Pacific Northwest researchers have created In-Situ Redox Manipulation, or ISRM, to remediate contaminated groundwater at up to 60 percent savings over 10 years when compared to current remediation methods."
Undersea Chimneys Could Hold Clues (Washington Post/AP 7/20)
"One-and-a-half miles under the Pacific Ocean, scientists have recovered chimneys of the sea -- specimens oozing with exotic life forms that could hold clues to life on other planets."
NASA Satellite Sheds New Light On The La Nina Phenomenon (Science Daily 7/20)
"Research scientists using data from the recently launched Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite, a joint U.S/Japanese mission, are shedding new light on the phenomenon known as La Ni–a. TRMM research team members have successfully retrieved sea-surface temperature data from the TRMM Microwave Imager (TMI) instrument onboard the spacecraft."
Return to Mars (National Geographic July 98)
"Now you can be part of this historic adventure. - Watch PathfinderÕs fiery plunge and beachball landing.- Peer across the dusty Martian surface.- Take a virtual ride on the Sojourner rover.- Spin the Sojourner around for a 360-degree look."
Flatlands (New Scientist 7/18)
"Between the rock-strewn mountains of Mars lie vast plains that hold a surprising message from the planet's last."
Geologists: LA Quake Danger Higher (Yahoo/AP 7/17)
Ancient quakes point to 'big one' inL.A. (CNN/Reuters 7/17)
"For years, Californians have obsessed about ``The Big One,'' a devastating earthquake along the San Andreas Fault. Now scientists say at least two powerful quakes struck only 12 miles from what is now downtown Los Angeles within the past 15,000 years, suggesting that the region may be vulnerable for more temblors. Both quakes ranged in strength from magnitude 7.2 to 7.6, the researchers said."
World use of solar power reportedly growing fast (CNN/Reuters 7/17)
"Solar energy has surpassed wind power generation to become the world's fastest-growing energy source, a new report released Thursday said. The report shows that sales of solar cells increased more than 40 percent last year, compared to wind power's growth of 25 percent. Wind power, however, still supplies more energy than solar power."
Ancient dung yields up DNA secrets (CNN/Reuters 7/17)
"A pile of dung from an ancient sloth has yielded up secrets from the creature that left it 19,000 years ago, in the form of DNA, researchers said Thursday. It shows the long-dead animal ate plants such as capers, mustard, mint and lilies."
Pacific Ocean stabilizes in El Nino's wake (CNN/ENN 7/17)
"El Nino really is just about over according to the latest Topex/Poseidon satellite image that suggests the location of a pool of cold water in the central Pacific Ocean has changed very little since mid-June."
Test Holes Drilled in Mt. Rushmore (Washington Post/AP 7/16)
"Drilling teams at Mount Rushmore National Park sank 15-foot holes behind the heads of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on Tuesday to determine how well the 57-year-old granite sculpture is holding up. Crews that mapped the mountain in the early 1990s found that four of the 21 granite blocks that make up the enormous carving had a greater potential to fail."
Images of Jupiter's Moon Released (Washington Post/AP 7/15)
"The latest photos released Wednesday of Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system, suggest an early ocean beneath its surface from which water was shot through volcanoes. The photos also show a crater chain created when the Jupiter moon was smacked by 13 comet fragments, which may have helped supply the essential ingredients for life." (See them at Galileo's New Images Page.)
Indonesian Capital City Sinking (Yahoo/AP 7/15)
"Hasanuddin Abidan of the Bandung Technology Institute said some areas in Jakarta had sunk more than 19 inches in the last several years because residents had been tapping too much underground water. Many of the coastal city's 10 million people use pumps and wells to supplement their daily water needs."
Minuscule Ocean Plants Help Stabilize Earth's Atmosphere, Climate (Science Daily 7/15)
"Evolving into diverse forms over billions of years, tiny one-celled marine plants and bacteria have, up to now, successfully interacted with the changeable physics and chemistry of the land and sea to stabilize to a surprising extent the relative concentrations of Earth's atmospheric gases, according to a report in the July 10 issue of the journal Science."
Extreme Conditions Ahead For Antarctic Voyagers (Science Daily 7/13)
"A major mid-winter scientific expedition into the Southern Ocean will endure extreme conditions when it leaves Hobart on Wednesday. The expedition will investigate why vast sections of ocean adjoining the Antarctic coast remain ice-free during the winter months. "
Cosmic Rays Could Destroy--And Create--Life (Science Daily 7/13)
"Jets of cosmic rays from colliding stars can produce lethal amounts of muons in the earth's atmosphere, destroy the ozone layer and radioactivate the environment. The three astrophysicists who first proposed that some of the earth's great extinctions were caused by such events now propose that the radiation produced would also cause mutations that create new species in surviving life."
Earth: Under the ice (Nature Science Updates 7/9)
"The West Antarctic Ice Sheet contains 3.8 million cubic kilometres of ice. If it ever disintegrated, releasing this volume into the ocean, the rise in sea level could be as much as six metres. But will global warming ever make this happen?"
Citing Growth Patterns, Researchers Dispute Claims Of 'Nanofossils' In Martian Meteorite (Science Daily 7/8)
"In a paper to be published in the July issue of the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science, the researchers report evidence that crystals found in the meteorite were formed by epitaxial processes at temperatures that were likely too high for biological organisms to exist"
New Dinosaur Species Discovered (Washington Post/AP 7/7)
"A cat-like, flesh-eating dinosaur discovered in fossils on an island off the south coast of England is from a previously unknown species, a paleontologist said Tuesday."
Pleased at Pathfinder's punch (CNN 7/5)
"NASA's Pathfinder Mission to Mars did something for NASA that no mission seemed able to accomplish since the days of Apollo: It wowed the public. Last July, for the first time since man last walked on the moon, people were able to pause and marvel at activity taking place on the surface of something in outer space."
African skull may be key link in human development (CNN 7/5)
"A human skull believed to be between 100,000 to 200,000 years old is being hailed as an important discovery in the evolution of humankind. Scientists believe it may be a link between the transition from Homo erectus, sometimes described as the hand-axe culture, to the earliest modern humans."
`Armageddon' Has Nothing on Iowa (Washington Post/AP 7/4)
Residents of Manson, Iowa "already have their own extraterrestrial claim to fame: a 24-mile wide crater formed some 74 million years ago when a huge meteorite slammed into north-central Iowa and turned the region into a giant killing field. Geologists say it's the second-largest crater in the continental United States and 15th-largest in the world."
Siberia believed to be site of largest meteor impact on Earth (CNN 7/3)
"On June 30, 1908, an enormous fireball crashed to the ground in the remote Siberian region of Tunguska, destroying a huge swath of ancient growth forest. Russian scientists believe this was the largest meteorite to fall to Earth in the past 2,000 years."
Galileo images reveal super-hot lava on Jupiter's moon Io (CNN 7/2)
Galileo spacecraft sees volcanic fireworks on jupiter's moon Io (JPL/NASA Press Release 7/2)
"New analysis of the photos from the spacecraft Galileo reveals that Io's lava reaches temperatures of 2,600 to 3,140 degrees Fahrenheit. Molten lava comes out of the Earth's volcanoes at about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit."
Birds and Dinosaurs: The debate is over (Nature Science Updates 6/2)
"The fossils of two new species of dinosaur have been discovered in China Š dinosaurs with feathers. These creatures effectively close the debate on whether or not birds and dinosaurs share a close evolutionary heritage. The answer is a resounding 'yes'. Yet these fossils make it clear that feathers appeared in evolution long before flight, and long before the appearance of birds in anything like their modern form."
Scientists Find 'Lagoon' Fossils (Washington Post/AP 7/1)
"Fossil-hunters have found remains of the Creature From the Black Lagoon. Not the fish-human hybrid from the 1954 horror flick. No, this one was a lot smaller and looked like a salamander with a big head and feet when it lived by a lake near what is now Edinburgh, Scotland, some 333 million years ago."
Officials simplify plans for 2001 robot lander on Mars (CNN/AP 7/1)
"A cash-strapped NASA says it is having to scuttle plans to send a robot rover to search for life on Mars in 2001, but hopes to launch it a few years later."
Arid Calif. Valley Reborn as Lake (Washington Post/AP 7/1)
"In the rolling hills south of Brentwood, a valley so arid it was compared to an African savannah is being reborn as a new lake. Delta water freshened by the rushing streams of an El Nino winter is inundating the dammed-off empty bowl carved out for the Los Vaqueros Reservoir, where last year lizards sunned themselves on the baking rocks."
Navy sub mapping Arctic Ocean seafloor (CNN/ENN 7/1)
"A U.S. Navy nuclear-powered submarine has embarked on a 75-day cruise to map the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. The sub has been fitted with a civilian sonar system that will provide scientists with three-dimensional images of the unmapped region."

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