Hawaii Dumped 1.5 Billion Gallons Of Lava Into Pacific As Volcano Wall Collapses

A rare volcano wall collapse was captured recently on Kīlauea volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The collapse occurred on February 10th, at 8:21 a.m. local time when a massive chunk of the volcano collapsed.

The sudden collapse was on Kīlauea volcano’s active East Rift Zone, specifically on the northeast rim of the west pit in Pu’u O’o. This collapse was coincident with subsidence as the adjacent ground fell. Kīlauea volcano is actively monitored by the USGS on the island, looking for evidence of new eruptions and danger to local communities.

While there have been several new lava channels and points where lava has breached the surface of the island, there are no active threats to the local communities. This is, in part, due to the protected Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which protects some of the most active volcanic areas of the island from development and tourists.

The Kīlauea East Rift Zone, known locally as Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō, has been erupting practically continuously for the past 34 years. However, the island of Hawaii has seen an uptick in activity in recent months, with hundreds of millions of gallons of lava flowing into the Pacific Ocean. While the volcano is constantly delivered a new supply of lava from the underlying hot spot, it’s not typical for the lava to flow unabatedly into the ocean for such a long period of time.

The source of this constant lava flow is a massive lava tube running from the volcano to the Pacific Ocean, which lasted over a month, an incredibly long period of time for a lava tube. It eventually collapsed, exposing the cavity of the lava tube as lava flow slowed down.

The USGS estimates that 1-2 cubic meters of lava flowed into the ocean per second, totaling up to 1.576 billion gallons of lava during the lava tube’s month-long lifespan.

How Does Water Change The Moon’s Origin Story?

The Moon formed between about 4.4 and 4.5 billion years ago when an object collided with the still-forming proto-Earth. This impact created a hot and partially vaporized disk of material that rotated around the baby planet, eventually cooling and accreting into the Moon.

For years, scientists thought that in the aftermath of the collision hydrogen dissociated from water molecules and it and other elements that have low boiling temperatures, so-called “volatile elements,” escaped from the disk and were lost to space. This would lead to a dry and volatile element-depleted Moon, which seemed to be consistent with previous analyses of lunar samples.

But ongoing research about the Moon’s chemistry is revealing that it may be wetter than initially thought, which raises questions about some aspects of this origin story.

“This is still very much an area of active research, so there is much that scientists, including our Department of Terrestrial Magnetism staff scientist Erik Hauri, as well as many other Carnegie colleagues and alumni, are figuring out about how much water exists in the Moon. This is a highly important and challenging question to answer given that we have limited knowledge on the history and distribution of lunar water,” explained Carnegie’s Miki Nakajima who, together with Caltech’s Dave Stevenson, set out to determine whether prevailing Moon-formation theories needed to be adjusted to account for the more recent higher estimates of lunar water content.

The work is published by Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

They created detailed models to determine whether existing theories about the Moon-forming collision could explain a wet Moon that’s still depleted in other volatile elements like potassium and sodium.

They modeled different temperature conditions and water abundances of the Moon-forming disk. At higher temperatures, their disk was dominated by silicate vapor, which came from evaporation of the mantles of both the proto-Earth and the impactor, with a relatively small abundance of hydrogen dissociated from water. At lower temperatures, their disk was dominated by water, from which hydrogen did not disassociate under this temperature range, making its escape mechanism very inefficient.

“The good news is that our models show that observations of a wet Moon are not incompatible with a giant impact origin,” Nakajima explained.

However, it also means that scientists need to come up with other explanations for why the Moon is depleted of potassium, sodium, and other volatile elements. Other possibilities exist, such as the volatile elements in the disk falling onto Earth rather than escaping or being part of the Moon’s formation. Or potentially they were part of the Moon when it first accreted from the post-collision disk but were later lost.

Stars Around The Milky Way: Cosmic Space Invaders Or Victims Of Galactic Eviction?

An international team of astronomers led by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) has made a surprising discovery about the birthplace of groups of stars located in the halo of our Milky Way galaxy.

These halo stars are grouped together in giant structures that orbit the center of our galaxy, above and below the flat disk of the Milky Way. Researchers thought they may have formed from debris left behind by smaller galaxies that invaded the Milky Way in the past.

But in a study published today in the journal Nature, astronomers now have compelling evidence showing that some of these halo structures actually originate from the Milky Way’s disk itself, but were kicked out.

“This phenomenon is called galactic eviction,” said co-author Judy Cohen, Kate Van Nuys Page Professor of Astronomy at Caltech. “These structures are pushed off the plane of the Milky Way when a massive dwarf galaxy passes through the galactic disk. This passage causes oscillations, or waves, that eject stars from the disk, either above or below it depending on the direction that the perturbing mass is moving.”

“The oscillations can be compared to sound waves in a musical instrument,” said lead author Maria Bergemann of MPIA. “We call this ‘ringing’ in the Milky Way galaxy ‘galactoseismology,’ which has been predicted theoretically decades ago. We now have the clearest evidence for these oscillations in our galaxy’s disk obtained so far!”

For the first time, Bergemann’s team presented detailed chemical abundance patterns of these halo stars using the W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii.

“The analysis of chemical abundances is a very powerful test, which allows, in a way similar to the DNA matching, to identify the parent population of the star. Different parent populations, such as the Milky Way disk or halo, dwarf satellite galaxies or globular clusters, are known to have radically different chemical compositions. So once we know what the stars are made of, we can immediately link them to their parent populations,” said Bergemann.

The scientists investigated 14 stars located in two different halo structures — the Triangulum-Andromeda (Tri-And) and the A13 stellar overdensities. These two structures lie on opposite sides of the Milky Way disk; about 14,000 light years above and below the Galactic plane.

The team obtained spectra of the halo stars using Keck Observatory’s High-Resolution Echelle Spectrometer (HIRES).

“The high throughput and high spectral resolution of HIRES were crucial to the success of the observations of the stars in the outer part of the Milky Way,” said Cohen. “Another key factor was the smooth operation of Keck Observatory; good pointing and smooth operation allows one to get spectra of more stars in only a few nights of observation. The spectra in this study were obtained in only one night of Keck time, which shows how valuable even a single night can be.”

The team also obtained a spectrum of one additional star taken with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.

When comparing the chemical compositions of these stars with the ones found in other cosmic structures, the scientists were surprised to find that the chemical compositions are almost identical, both within and between these groups, and closely match the abundance patterns of the Milky Way outer disk stars.

This provides compelling evidence that the halo stars most likely originate from the Galactic thin disk (the younger part of Milky Way, strongly concentrated towards the Galactic plane) itself.

These findings are very exciting because they indicate the Milky Way’s disk and its dynamics are significantly more complex than previously thought.

“We showed that it may be fairly common for groups of stars in the disk to be relocated to more distant realms within the Milky Way — having been ‘kicked out’ by an invading satellite galaxy. Similar chemical patterns may also be found in other galaxies, indicating a potential galactic universality of this dynamic process,” said co-author Allyson Sheffield of LaGuardia Community College/CUNY.

As a next step, the astronomers plan to analyse the spectra of additional stars in the Tri-And and A13 overdensities, as well as stars in other stellar structures further away from the disk. They also plan to determine masses and ages of these stars so they can constrain the time limits of when this galactic eviction took place.

BREAKING NEWS: Large Mag. 7.5 Hits Papua New Guinea

A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck Papua New Guinea early on today, but no tsunami warning had been issued.

The quake’s epicenter was around 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of Porgera in Enga province, according to USGS, and hit at a depth of 35 kilometers.

USGS said some casualties and damage were possible and recent earthquakes in the area had caused tsunamis and landslides.

It said homes in the region were “a mix of vulnerable and earthquake resistant construction and that the impact should be relatively localized.


Magnitude 5.5 Earthquake Hit Honshu, Japan;
Also Near Fukushima

The earthquake struck off the eastern coast of the island of Honshu, the main and most populated island of Japan.

It occurred some 78 miles from Honshu but was felt in several cities including Tokyo and Fukushima.

Tokyo and Fukushima are some 176 miles apart – equivalent to a three-and-a-half hour drive away.

But while the earthquake’s center was closer to Fukushima, where the nuclear disaster took place in 2011, the tremor was still felt further south in the island in the city of Tokyo.

It is currently unknown as to whether there was any damage to buildings or injuries caused by the event.


 Yellowstone Volcanic Region Continues Earthquake Swarm

Over the past several days, an earthquake swarm has been ongoing at Yellowstone. As of the night of February 18, over 200 earthquakes have been located in an area 13 km (8 mi) NE of West Yellowstone, Montana. Many more earthquakes have occurred, but are too small to be located.

This is approximately the same place as last summer’s Maple Creek swarm, which included about 2400 earthquakes during June-September 2017. In fact, the current swarm may be just a continuation of the Maple Creek swarm, given the ongoing but sporadic seismicity in the area over the past several months.

The present swarm started on February 8, with a few events occurring per day. On February 15, seismicity rates and magnitudes increased markedly. As of the night of February 18, the largest earthquake in the swarm is M2.9, and none of the events had been felt. All are occurring about 8 km (5 mi) beneath the surface.

Take Note of Cause: (USGS) “This explanation from the USGS defines what I have termed “Fluid Displacement” in my articles. Swarms reflect changes in stress along small faults beneath the surface, and generally are caused by two processes: large-scale tectonic forces, and pressure changes beneath the surface due to accumulation and/or withdrawal of fluids (magma, water, and/or gas).”


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NASA’s SDO Reveals How Magnetic Cage on the Sun Stopped Solar Eruption

A dramatic magnetic power struggle at the Sun’s surface lies at the heart of solar eruptions, new research using NASA data shows. The work highlights the role of the Sun’s magnetic landscape, or topology, in the development of solar eruptions that can trigger space weather events around Earth.

The scientists, led by Tahar Amari, an astrophysicist at the Center for Theoretical Physics at the École Polytechnique in Palaiseau Cedex, France, considered solar flares, which are intense bursts of radiation and light. Many strong solar flares are followed by a coronal mass ejection, or CME, a massive, bubble-shaped eruption of solar material and magnetic field, but some are not — what differentiates the two situations is not clearly understood.

Using data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, the scientists examined an October 2014 Jupiter-sized sunspot group, an area of complex magnetic fields, often the site of solar activity. This was the biggest group in the past two solar cycles and a highly active region. Though conditions seemed ripe for an eruption, the region never produced a major CME on its journey across the Sun. It did, however, emit a powerful X-class flare, the most intense class of flares. What determines, the scientists wondered, whether a flare is associated with a CME?

The team of scientists included SDO’s observations of magnetic fields at the Sun’s surface in powerful models that calculate the magnetic field of the Sun’s corona, or upper atmosphere, and examined how it evolved in the time just before the flare. The model reveals a battle between two key magnetic structures: a twisted magnetic rope — known to be associated with the onset of CMEs — and a dense cage of magnetic fields overlying the rope.

The scientists found that this magnetic cage physically prevented a CME from erupting that day. Just hours before the flare, the sunspot’s natural rotation contorted the magnetic rope and it grew increasingly twisted and unstable, like a tightly coiled rubber band. But the rope never erupted from the surface: Their model demonstrates it didn’t have enough energy to break through the cage. It was, however, volatile enough that it lashed through part of the cage, triggering the strong solar flare.

By changing the conditions of the cage in their model, the scientists found that if the cage were weaker that day, a major CME would have erupted on Oct. 24, 2014. The group is interested in further developing their model to study how the conflict between the magnetic cage and rope plays out in other eruptions. Their findings are summarized in a paper published in Nature on Feb. 8, 2018.

“We were able to follow the evolution of an active region, predict how likely it was to erupt, and calculate the maximum amount of energy the eruption can release,” Amari said. “This is a practical method that could become important in space weather forecasting as computational capabilities increase.”

South Atlantic Anomaly and Magnetic Field Reversal

Geophysicists has recently taken an increased interest in the present rate of Earth’s weakening magnetic field. The current rate of decreases corresponds to approximately a 10% – 12% decline over the last 150 years.

This rate has accelerated over the last couple of decades. What could be described as the epicenter of Earth’s weakening magnetic field, is known as the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAS).

The region of the SAS is the result of a decaying dipole geomagnetic field which is now so pronounced, that it allows the close approach of Earth’s radiation streams known as the Van Allen belt. The magnetic field strength is so weak in this region – it is a hazard for airplanes and satellites that orbit above due to radiation which affects electronics.

Earth’s magnetic field is created by convecting iron in our planet’s liquid inner core. In the zone of SAS where Earth’s liquid inner core meets the more viscous outer core, the polarity of the field is opposite to the average global magnetic field. If we were able to use a compass deep under southern Africa, we would see that in this area – north actually points south.

In archaeo-magnetic studies, geophysicists team with archaeologists to learn about the past magnetic field. Clay used to make pottery contains small amounts of magnetic minerals, such as magnetite. Regarding the Southern Hemisphere, data was collected from ancestral tribes in southern Africa which had lived in huts built of clay. Just as in the case of the firing and cooling of a pot, the clay in these structures recorded Earth’s magnetic field as they cooled.

Over the last decade, researchers have accumulated images from the analyses of earthquakes’ seismic waves. As seismic shear waves move through the Earth’s layers, the speed with which they travel is an indication of the density of the layer. Now we know that a large area of slow seismic shear waves characterizes the core mantle boundary beneath southern Africa.

More Coming…………..





NASA Mission Launched; Will Revolutionize Our Understanding Of Space Weather

NASA’s first mission to provide unprecedented measurements of, and changes in, the temperature and composition of Earth’s upper atmosphere launched at 5:20 p.m. EST Thursday, Jan. 25, from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana.

Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk, or GOLD, is also NASA’s first mission to fly as a hosted payload aboard a commercial satellite, and will reach its designated geostationary orbit, 22,000 miles above the Western Hemisphere, in summer 2018.

The instrument launched on an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket and flies aboard SES-14, a communication satellite built by Airbus for Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES. Despite a launch anomaly, there is minimal impact on the SES-14 satellite. The satellite will reach geostationary orbit four weeks later than originally planned, but no impact on the quality of GOLD science is expected.

“This mission ushers in a new and innovative approach for NASA to do high-value science while maximizing commercial partnerships,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “As a result of this unique collaboration, observations of this vital region will help us better protect our space assets and improve forecasting models of space weather events that can impact our technological society.”

GOLD studies the little-understood region where Earth’s uppermost atmosphere meets the space that surrounds us—a critical boundary layer that responds both to terrestrial weather below and space weather above.

Understanding this region of space is crucial as it is increasingly part of the human domain—home not only to satellites and astronauts living and working aboard the International Space Station, but also the region where global positioning system and radio signals travel. Sudden changes there can have significant impacts here at Earth on the systems we’ve come to rely upon daily, including features available on our mobile devices such as GPS-dependent apps.

“Just as the first meteorological satellites revolutionized our ability to better understand and forecast terrestrial weather, GOLD will revolutionize how we understand space weather,” said Elsayed Talaat, the GOLD program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

GOLD will be able to scan the entire Western Hemisphere every 30 minutes, making this the first time we can track day-to-day changes in the upper atmosphere, rather than its long-term climate.

Approximately the size of a mini refrigerator, the 80-pound instrument is an imaging spectrograph—an instrument that breaks light down into its component wavelengths and measures their intensities. Similar to an infrared camera that allows you to see how temperatures change with different colors, GOLD will image ultraviolet light to provide a map of Earth that reveals how temperature and atmospheric composition change over the hemisphere. GOLD data will help scientists better understand the forces responsible for the day-to-day changes in this critical region.

“The upper atmosphere is far more variable than previously imagined, but we don’t understand the interactions between all factors,” said Richard Eastes, GOLD principal investigator at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, or LASP, in Boulder. “That’s where GOLD comes in. For decades, scientists, including myself, have dreamed of having the capabilities this mission provides.”

SES Government Solutions oversaw the integration of the payload on SES-14, procured the launch of the satellite with Arianespace, will facilitate command and control of the payload, and will deliver science data to LASP for initial processing and study. The mission is led by the University of Central Florida, or UCF, in Orlando.

“It has been a long journey of hard work and team spirit from GOLD’s conception to launch, but definitely worth it,” said UCF computer engineering professor Hassan Foroosh, who serves as the GOLD Science Data Center lead. “More fun will start soon when we get our first look at the data, and hopefully learn more about our planet in the years to come.”

GOLD is the newest in NASA’s fleet of heliophysics missions, which study a vast interconnected system—from the Sun to the space surrounding Earth and other planets, to the farthest limits of the Sun’s constantly flowing stream of solar wind. GOLD will provide key information about how Earth’s upper atmosphere is connected to this dynamic and complex system.

Also scheduled to launch this year is NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, which will study the ionosphere and neutral upper atmosphere. ICON will fly just 350 miles above Earth, where it can gather close-up images of this region. Together, GOLD and ICON will provide the most comprehensive ionosphere observations gathered to date, enabling a deeper understanding of how our planet interacts with space.