Featured image: ROV Deep Discoverer approaching a brine pool in the Gulf of Mexico (2018). NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research (Public domain)
Paper: Discovery of the deep-sea NEOM Brine Pools in the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea
Authors: Sam J. Purkis, Hannah Shernisky, Peter K. Swart, Arash Sharifi, Amanda Oehlert, Fabio Marchese, Francesca Benzoni, Giovanni Chimienti, Gaëlle Duchâtellier, James Klaus, Gregor P. Eberli, Larry Peterson, Andrew Craig, Mattie Rodrigue, Jürgen Titschack, Graham Kolodziej, Ameer Abdulla
Today, scientists are turning to extreme ecosystems on Earth to understand how life evolved on Earth and how life might be on other planets. One such alien place exists in the darkness of the ocean. It’s an extreme ecosystem where even fish think twice before entering. Brine pools are well known for being ‘death traps’ – extremely toxic, and any organism (with a few exceptions) that swims into them dies instantly. They are lakes of hypersaline water present on the ocean floor that are so dense that Remotely Operated Submersible Vehicles (ROVs) float on them!
Continue reading “Unravelling the secrets of brine pools”
Featured image: A fissure cone of Kīlauea (Hawaii) erupting during the 2018 eruptive episode. via Wikimedia commons (Public domain)
Paper: Role of volatiles in highly explosive basaltic eruptions.
Authors: Giuseppe La Spina, Fabio Arzilli, Mike R. Burton, Margherita Polacci, Amanda B. Clarke
When we think of Hawaii or Iceland, the first thing that comes to mind is volcanoes. Lava fountains spew out basaltic lava, which silently meanders its way to the ocean. The notion that basaltic eruptions are always less explosive compared to other types like rhyolitic and andesitic eruptions is not entirely true. For example, Mount Etna in Italy has produced highly explosive basaltic eruptions such as the 122 BCE Plinian Eruption and another in 1669. Because highly explosive basaltic eruptions are not very common, they’re not fully understood leaving scientists wondering “What could be the reason behind this erratic behaviour?”
Continue reading “Understanding highly explosive basaltic eruptions using simulations”
Featured image: Steam rising from Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station in Iceland via Wikimedia commons. Public Domain.
Article: Geothermal energy as a means to decarbonize the energy mix of megacities
Authors: Carlos A. Vargas, Luca Caracciolo, Philip Ball
As the world grapples with climate change, the transition to renewable energy has become a necessity. Governments are investing heavily in solar and wind power to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. Another non-conventional source of energy that’s still understudied is geothermal energy. But what is geothermal energy? Geo means earth, thermal means heat. The internal heat of Earth is harnessed to heat water and produce power. An advantage of using geothermal energy over solar and wind is that, it doesn’t rely on weather to produce electricity. It provides clean, constant, stable and predictable supply of power. The question is, can geothermal energy cater to the demand of megacities where a large chunk of the world’s population resides?
Continue reading “Is geothermal energy fit for megacities?”
Featured image: This is a Trilobite fossil from Volkhov river, Russia. Trilobites were marine arthropods which went extinct at the end of Permian period. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia commons
Paper: Bioindicators of severe ocean acidification are absent from the end-Permian mass extinction.
Authors: William J. Foster, J.A. Hirtz, C. Farrell, M. Reistrofer, R. J.Twitchett, R. C. Martindale
What if I told you that an extinction event occurred In Earth’s history that dwarfs the demise of dinosaurs? This turbulent period dawned 252 million years ago, during the Late Permian period. The largest volcanic eruptions in the history of our planet began in now what is known as Siberia. The eruptions spewed out millions of cubic kilometers of lava, enough to bury an area the size of United States under a mile thick layer of rock!
Continue reading “Earth’s darkest hour”
Featured image: The terminus of the debris-covered Gangotri glacier. CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia commons
Article : Accelerated mass loss of Himalayan glaciers since the Little Ice Age
Authors : Ethan Lee, Jonathan L. Carrivick, Duncan J.Quincey, Simon J. Cook, William H. M. James, Lee H. Brown
The health of Himalayan glaciers is deteriorating at an alarming rate. These Himalayan ‘water towers’ are on the brink of undergoing irreversible changes due to climate change, which in turn will have an adverse effect on the water and food security of South Asia. Getting a good idea of what might happen to these glaciers is imperative, but until now, glaciologists have focused on recent fluctuation patterns of these glaciers spanning the past few decades. In a new study, Lee and colleagues tried to reconstruct the glacial surface of some 14,798 Himalayan glaciers during the Little Ice Age and found that compared to other non-polar regions, Himalayan glaciers might be even more sensitive to fluctuations in the climate.
Continue reading “The third pole is in peril !”