Unlocking Magma’s Mysteries

Understanding magma’s behavior may predict eruptions and reveal historic landscapes

By: Ellen Beshuk

Sometimes magma calmly flows; other times, it explodes. Ph.D. candidate Ivana Torres-Ewert is figuring out why with her magma-making machine at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). Her discoveries could help people know where to go when a volcano explodes and provide a foundation for further volcanic research.

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How sediments can save drowning river deltas

Featured image: A satellite image of the Ganges – Brahmaputra delta along the Bangladesh coastline.captured by the Envisat satellite of the European Space Agency (ESA). The image also shows sediment plumes in the coastal area. (Image credit: ESA CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

Paper: Sediment delivery to sustain the Ganges- Brahmaputra delta under climate change and anthropogenic impacts

Authors: Jessica L. Raff, Steven L. Goodbred Jr., Jennifer L. Pickering, Ryan S. Sincavage, John C. Ayers, Md. Saddam Hossain, Carol A. Wilson, Chris Paola, Michael S. Steckler, Dhiman R. Mondal, Jean-Louis Grimaud, Celine Jo Grall, Kimberly G. Rogers, Kazi Matin Ahmed, Syed Humayun Akhter, Brandee N. Carlson, Elizabeth L. Chamberlain, Meagan Dejter, Jonathan M. Gilligan, Richard P. Hale, Mahfuzur R. Khan, Md. Golam Muktadir, Md. Munsur Rahman, Lauren A. Williams

The Ganges – Brahmaputra delta is the largest river delta in the world, covering an area of 1,00,000 sq. km. About two-thirds of the delta lies in Bangladesh, and the rest in the Indian state of West Bengal. Today, sea level rise due to climate change poses a massive challenge to the delta region which more than 200 million people call home!

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Unravelling the secrets of brine pools

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!

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What can a delta’s history tell us about groundwater’s future?

Feature image: Mosiac of the the Ganges Delta in false color created with imagery from the Sentinal 2 satilite. CC-By Annamaria Luongo, via Wikimedia Commons


Article: Linking the Surface and Subsurface in River Deltas—Part 2: Relating Subsurface Geometry to Groundwater Flow Behavior
Authors: Xu, Z., Hariharan, J., Passalacqua, P., Steel, E., Paola, C., & Michael, H. A.

Deltas are striking features on Earth’s surface, where rivers meet large water bodies. Their flow spreads out into many channels, depositing the sediment they have been carrying, potentially since their headwaters. This sediment creates and sustains the delta, which can be hundreds of miles across. Beyond being mesmerizing, deltas are essential to human civilization, past and present. Nearly half a billion people live on deltas around the world, where the deposited sediment hosts some of the most fertile agricultural land available.

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What do deep-sea sediment cores tell us about past fish populations?

Black background with fish teeth of different heights and widths

Featured Image: Ichthyoliths (microfossil fish teeth) from deep-sea sediment cores displaying the variety of tooth morphology. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Sibert, lead author of the paper.

Paper: No state change in pelagic fish production and biodiversity during the Eocene–Oligocene transition

Authors: Elizabeth C. Sibert, Michelle E. Zill, Ella T Frigyik, Richard D. Norris

The seafloor at the bottom of the ocean records what is happening in the water above. Sediments capture silica from diatoms and phytoplankton, carbon from zooplankton poop and detrital marine snow, and teeth after dead fish sink. This last piece of evidence is particularly important: fossilized fish teeth or icthyoliths can help estimate past fish abundance and can show shifts in fish species or biodiversity in the ocean over time.

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