New evidence continues to arise of the San Andreas fault continuing a period of "after slip" after the 6.0 Parkfield earthquake in 2004. The fault is found to continue slipping, with evidence of it moving as much as 5cm in one day. This raises more questions about the extent of damage to buildings along the fault line, even 12 years after the damaging earthquake. Such a degree of slipping is a problem for California residents as many buildings and cities are built right on top of fault lines. Continued slipping will only cause more damage and run up expenses. There does not have to be an earthquake for damage to occur.
50 year's have passed since the continental drift theory first began to gain acceptance. This is an important time period because the geologic community was completely split between those who found evidence of drift "formidable" and those who did not. As we now know, continental drift is found to be the cause of many of our environmental occurrences such as earth quakes and volcanoes. This is important because it shows how far we have come in knowledge about our world in just fifty years. It shows that even when people laugh at an idea, it may be so important that it could radically change a field of study. Never give up on your dream.
Two recent independent studies may explain the rise in Methane levels in the atmosphere. Levels of the molecule Hydroxyl, have dropped about 8 percent since 2007. This molecule is known to destroy Methane, which might explain why Methane levels have steadily risen while emissions have dropped slightly. The two studies propose that the Hydroxyl decline slowed the breakdown of atmospheric methane, boosting levels of the greenhouse gas.
This information is useful because one resolution to our Methane level problem in the atmosphere may be to increase Hydroxyl levels. Of course any tampering with chemical levels in the atmosphere will have unseen consequences so we must continue research and be vigilant in our search for an impossible solution.
In a newly published paper scientists from Oxford University have described the oldest and best preserved fossil from date. The fossil is roughly 120 million years old from the early Cretaceous period. During this period old species of birds were the first to have an avian beak. These are some of the oldest birds ever to be discovered and studied. Future research of the fossils can lead to a boatload of new discoveries about the evolution of our winged companions. This is important because birds are some of the most prevalent species on Earth today. With their delicate ecosystems and migration needs, they are also some of the most endangered types of animals. Knowing more about the evolution of these creatures can possibly help us understand where some of our modern day species came from and how certain aspects and attributes came to fruition.
Astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Insitute have discovered a distant galaxy that appears to be losing it's supermassive black hole from the galactic core. An image from NASA's Hubble Telescope show's heat signals from a black hole fleeing away from the adjoining galaxy. There are multiple theories as to what may have caused this dramatic movement, as it's not too easy to move a black hole. Some researchers believe that a galactic wave collided with the black hole as it was orbiting the center of the galaxy. This awesome power could have caused the shifting from the black hole, but in reality we know very little about what truly goes on out there in space.
One of the biggest medical challenges facing us today is how to treat damaged nerves on a human. There are many theories and ideas as to what we could do to regulate damaged nerves, but nothing substantial has yet to be found for human use. In a new study at Tufts University, researches took blind tadpoles and gave them a small molecule nerotransmitter drug. This drug caused the tadpoles to be able to process visual information, which otherwise would not have been possible. This is exciting because it can possibly be a first step towards similar types of treatment for humans. If we could fix broken nerves we could annihilate many of our modern medical dilemmas.
It's no question that climate change and it's many side affects have affected life here on Earth. Most of the time these things affect life badly, but new research may show otherwise in one scenario. Researchers from University of Southern Denmark have published a new study that suggests that the melting sea ice in the Arctic circle may be part of a chain reaction that leads to increased algae production. This increased algae production can then branch off and lead to many other things such as decreased Carbon in the atmosphere, shelter for certain fish and sea life, and food for other sea life. Humans should be aware of this because while climate change is our fault and irreversibly damaging the Earth, we must also study any positives that may come of it and try and find ways to potentially manage the harm we do to the Earth.
Desert songbirds, such as the goldfinch face increased danger of dehydration, which is expected to increase dramatically in the future. Due to climate change, higher temperatures, and increased heat waves, these birds require more water to avoid heat stroke than previously. These birds have long adapted to live in the dry climate of the Southwestern United States but due to the sudden change in climate due to human caused climate change, they now face an uphill battle for survival. If humans do not act now to reverse the effects of climate change, these "hot zones" will only spread and more and more species will be affected and eventually die out.
Oysters are the figurehead of the Oceanic ecosystem, and in recent years they have been struggling to survive. Oyster numbers are dwindling due to a variety of causes, such as: climate change, ocean acidification, and over harvesting. New studies show that oysters are also harmed by atmospheric rivers that bring in large storms such as those that brought the large storms to California in early 2017. Scientists working at the San Francisco Bay China Camp found that oyster numbers drop significantly after a huge storm. The direct cause is still unknown but the most probable reason is that these large storms dumped huge amounts of freshwater into the Bay, which diluted the saltwater present. This dilution dropped salinity levels enough to kill off the oysters. This is important because it serves to remind us just how fragile our ecosystem is and how very small and temporary changes in the ecosystem can have huge impacts.
New reserach suggests that not one, but two magma plumes fueled the volcanic eruptions that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. The eruptions happened roughly 66 million years ago in what is now the Indian subcontinent. Scientists have found that magma levels peaked 68 million years ago, around the same time as the extinction. This data is more evidence to the argument that the Deccan eruptions are what caused the death of the dinosaurs, not aliens.