Plate Tectonics

Earthquake Prediction Remains a Moving Target

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 14, 2004   View Article

According to Max Wyss, when the Beatles first shook the world with hits like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You,” in the early 1960s, scientists were clueless as to why the Earth literally rattles and trembles on occasion.

“What I’m trying to say is this is a very young, recent advance to know why this planet has earthquakes,” said Wyss, who is the director of the World Agency of Planetary Monitoring and Earthquake Risk Reduction in Geneva, Switzerland.

Andes’ Height Due to Climate, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 22, 2003   View Article

Not all mountain ranges are created equally. Consider the central Andes of South America: A pair of Earth scientists reports today that the second highest mountains in the world reached their lofty height thanks to frigid ocean waters and parched soils.

Only the Himalaya are taller, which have formed as the Indian and Asian landmasses have slowly plowed into each other over the last 50 million years. The Andes, by contrast, have formed as the floor of the Pacific Ocean slips uneasily beneath South America, ruffling the land along the west coast of the continent.

Hot Spot That Spawned Hawaii Was on the Move, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 14, 2003   View Article

A recent discovery that the so-called “fixed” hot spot, which created the Hawaiian Islands, actually drifted southward between 81 and 47 million years ago is causing geologists to revise their descriptions of the interior workings of the Earth.

The findings stem from analysis of ancient lava flows found on four seamounts, or undersea mountains, in the Pacific Ocean. Rock samples from the seamounts were gathered during a two-month expedition to the Pacific Ocean in 2001. The project was co-led by John Tarduno, a researcher at the University of Rochester in New York.

Hawaiian Coral Reef Ecosystem a Unique Treasure

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 14, 2003   View Article

For the past 50 million years the Pacific Plate has slowly crept over a stationary plume of magma deep in the Earth’s mantle, allowing the formation of a chain of islands that today comprise the most remote, large scale coral reef ecosystem on the planet.

The region, known as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, stretches 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers) towards Asia from the main Hawaiian Islands and is home to a thriving marine ecosystem full of unique, or endemic, species. Many of the corals, fishes, sea birds, and mammals that are found there are found nowhere else in the world.

Delphic Oracle’s Lips May Have Been Loosened by Gas Vapors

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 14, 2001   View Article

The oracle of Delphi in Greece was the telephone psychic of ancient times: People came from all over Europe to call on the Pythia at Mount Parnassus to have their questions about the future answered. Her answers could determine when farmers planted their fields or when an empire declared war.

The Pythia, a role filled by different women from about 1400 B.C. to A.D. 381, was the medium through which the god Apollo spoke.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach