From EARTH Magazine -- Hydraulic fracturing, the natural gas extraction method known popularly as fracking, has been controversial in large part to the concern about groundwater contamination by the fluids used in the process, especially the so-called flowback fluids that re-emerge at the surface from fracking wells and are usually disposed of by waste water fluid injection into other formations. Now, researchers have developed a geochemical method of identifying fracking fluids in the environment.
AGI press release
From EARTH Magazine, 01/29/2015 -- In 2011, geologists at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, began discovering asbestos where none should be — in granite rocks with a geologic history not previously known to produce asbestos.
The discoveries, in Clark County in southern Nevada and across the border in northwestern Arizona, suggest that asbestos may be more widespread than previously thought; they also raise questions about the potential health hazards of naturally occurring asbestos (NOA).
From EARTH Magazine, 01/26/2015 -- At times last year, 100 percent of California experienced moderate to exceptional drought conditions; even after massive storms in December, almost 80 percent of the state was still under extreme drought, the second-worst category. The drought has been ongoing for a few years now, and last year, state and local officials created new drought restrictions designed to mitigate the effects. But whether these restrictions will make a dent in California’s water shortage amid the ongoing and historic drought remains to be seen.
From EARTH Magazine, 01/21/15 -- In 2003, scientists visited the Stornes Peninsula in Antarctica’s Larsemann Hills to study the rocks — especially those containing boron and phosphorus minerals. What they found set them on a decade-long path to protect the geology, culminating in 2014 with the naming of the site as an Antarctic Specially Protected Area. Stornes Peninsula became only the fifth location in Antarctica with geologic features deemed sufficiently precious to the geologic community to receive this high level of protection.
From EARTH Magazine -- You have probably heard of “100-year floods” and “500-year droughts,” and perhaps you’ve seen signposts near rivers showing when the last big flood was or statements about when the last severe drought occurred. But do you really know what those terms mean, or what your likelihood is of experiencing such a hazard in any given year? Probably not, according to Richard Vogel of Tufts University, because although such terms have long helped policymakers and the public try to make sense of severe weather, they may confuse the issue more than clarify it.
From AGI -- The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is pleased to announce that the theme of Earth Science Week 2015 will be "Visualizing Earth
Systems." This year's event will promote awareness of the many ways scientists monitor and represent information about Earth systems including land, water, air, and living things.
From EARTH Magazine -- Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest countries, with an economy largely based on subsistence agriculture. Working in an arid climate on thin margins of profitability and sustenance, Afghan farmers depend on reliable, year-round sources of surface water and groundwater to irrigate their crops and water their livestock. Seasonal flows of streams and rivers fed by melting snowpack high in Afghanistan's mountains also recharge alluvial aquifers located in populated valleys and provide city dwellers with drinking water. But the arid
From EARTH Magazine -- The vaguely familiar, yet primeval landscape of New Zealand served as the backdrop for the blockbuster film adaptations of the entire "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "The Hobbit" trilogy, the third and final installment of which opens widely this week. The geology that created this landscape is front and center in EARTH's February cover story, "The Geology of Middle-earth."
From EARTH Magazine -- Methane is often found naturally leaking from the seafloor, particularly in petroleum basins like the Gulf of Mexico or along tectonically active continental margins like the U.S. West Coast, but such plumes were not expected along passive margins, like the East Coast of North America. Now, however, the discovery of hundreds of methane seeps on the seafloor along the U.S. East Coast suggests that such reservoirs may be more common along passive margins than previously thought.
From EARTH Magazine -- Hurricane Sandy struck the U.S. East Coast in October 2012, leaving about $65 billion of damage in its wake and raising the question of how to mitigate the damage from future storms. It's a question that arises in the wake of most natural disasters: What steps can society take to protect itself from storms, floods, landslides, earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions? But the question itself illustrates the complexity of preparing for natural disasters.