Gloriously colorful new geologic map of the moon

These images are from the new Unified Geologic Map of the Moon, the most detailed lunar map ever created. Just released by the U.S. Geological Survey, it melds data from last century's Apollo mission era with fresh information captured by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s SELENE lunar orbiter. From Science News:

Each splash of color identifies a discrete rock or sediment formation, including craters, basins and ancient lava fields. For instance, “the darker, more earth tones are these highland-type terrains, and the reds and the purples tend to be more of these volcanic and lava flow materials,” says geologist James Skinner, who oversees the production of standardized maps for solar system bodies at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Ariz. [...]

Detailed observations from the lunar orbiters were especially helpful for clearing up uncertainties in how different craters overlapped with each other, which revealed the craters’ relative ages. Hammering out crater formation timelines gives insight into the moon’s history.

The new map could also inform future human missions to the moon by revealing regions that may be rich in useful resources or areas that need more detailed mapping to land a spacecraft there safely.

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The scientific secrets inside a single grain of moon dust

While scientists have studied Moon rocks for 50 years, researchers have for the first time conducted deep analysis on a single grain of lunar dust, atom by atom. Using a common materials science technique called atom probe tomography that's not widely used by geologists, the Chicago Field Museum's Jennika Greer and colleagues probed the grain of soil -- about the width of a human hair -- and were able to learn about the Moon's surface its elemental composition. From the Field Museum:

In that tiny grain, she identified products of space weathering, pure iron, water and helium, that formed through the interactions of the lunar soil with the space environment. Extracting these precious resources from lunar soil could help future astronauts sustain their activities on the Moon...

Once the sample was inside the atom probe at Northwestern University, Greer zapped it with a laser to knock atoms off one by one. As the atoms flew off the sample, they struck a detector plate. Heavier elements, like iron, take longer to reach the detector than lighter elements, like hydrogen. By measuring the time between the laser firing and the atom striking the detector, the instrument is able to determine the type of atom at that position and its charge. Finally, Greer reconstructed the data in three dimensions, using a color-coded point for each atom and molecule to make a nanoscale 3D map of the Moon dust...

Studying soil from the moon's surface gives scientists insight into an important force within our Solar System: space weathering.

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Behold the glowing Yooperlite rocks of Lake Superior

Described by their finder as "Yoopalite" rocks, a cache of fluorescent sodalite-laced stones was found on a Michigan beach. The apparently bland, well-weathered pebbles light up under 365nm; agate-hunter Erik Rintamaki discovered them in 2017 while experimenting with ways to reveal the rare stones.

I actually sold a few to at Michigan Tech University, and they sent them out for testing and they contacted me through emails and told me I probably had something new that had never been found in Michigan before, and I ended up being published in the Mineral News in 2018 for that discovery," Rintamaki said.

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Cassini probe spots dust storm on Titan

Earth, Mars and now Titan form an exclusive club among the solar system's celestial bodies: dust storms.

Titan is an intriguing world – in a way quite similar to Earth. In fact, it is the only moon of the Solar System with a substantial atmosphere and the only celestial body other than our planet where stable bodies of surface liquid are known to still exist.

There is one big difference though: while on Earth such rivers, lakes and seas are filled with water, on Titan it is primarily methane and ethane that flows through these liquid reservoirs. In this unique methane cycle, the hydrocarbon molecules evaporate, condense into clouds and rain back onto the ground.

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Behold this glorious underwater waterfall off Mauritius

Le Morne Brabant on the southwest coast of Mauritius has a cool optical illusion offshore: water flowing between two reefs pulls sand out to sea, giving the appearance of an underwater waterfall.

YouTuber RubenMRU says:

So the day after my birthday this year saw one of my dreams come true... Vassen Kauppaymuthoo of Delphinium Ltd took me out on a boat trip to the south west coast of Mauritius and we've captured the now famous Underwater waterfall of Mauritius... Now it's not really a waterfall, it only appears to be one from above - this illusion is caused by the trails of sand on the sea floor, being dragged away by water going between the opening in the reefs

Earthporn has some other lovely images:

Some good ones on Instagram, too:

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discovered the underwater "waterfall" is real.. i still can't comprehend how places like this exist

A post shared by PARIS ༚ 𝚝𝚛𝚊𝚟𝚎𝚕 𝚠𝚒𝚝𝚑 𝚖𝚎 (@parisverra) on Sep 10, 2017 at 6:28pm PDT

2018-06-12 - Mauritius's Underwater Waterfall (YouTube / ReubenMRU) Read the rest

Cool satellite view of dozens of oxbow lakes formed when a river changed course

When a river changes course on its flood plain, it can leave an entire bend of the river cut off from the new flow, forming an oxbow lake. Seen in bright blue in this shot of the Songhua River in northeast China, they are usually narrow crescents. Read the rest

Here's how the Hawai'ian Islands formed

Scientific American created this helpful explainer of how the chain of Hawai'ian Islands formed. The tectonic plate is moving northwest over a magma hot spot in the earth's mantle. In fact, there's a new Hawai'ian island named Loihi forming underwater right now. Read the rest

Fire and brimstone: watch volcanoes emit psychedelic blue flames

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has been spewing hypnotic blue flames thanks to the burning brimstone (aka sulfur). Read the rest

Here's what this week's Mars space mission will observe

NASA successfully launched the InSight mission to Mars this week. This is a great overview of what scientists will be learning about Martian geology. Read the rest

Watch a terrific explainer on Hawaiian lava flows

Geologist Jerry Magloughlin made a lava video that's a real labor of love. It describes the marvelous complexity of Hawaiian lava flows, combined with lots of cool footage and interesting facts. Plan on learning many new things. Read the rest

Mysterious extraterrestrial minerals discovered in the Sahara

Libyan desert glass is a material of unknown origin scattered across a large swath of the Sahara. Among it, scientists found Hypatia stones, a strange phosphorous-nickel alloy recently determined to be extra-terrestrial. Read the rest

Gentleman drinks water trapped in a rock for 2 million years

The fine folks at Waterjet Channel found an enhydro agate, a type of metamorphic rock that formed with a pocket of liquid water inside. Naturally, they broke it open to get to the water and drank it. Read the rest

Track weekly lava changes at a volcano with this helicopter diary

Mick Kalber of Paradise Helicopters takes tourists and photographers up over Pu'u 'O'o's lava lake and other remarkable lava flows each week. For those of us who can go up each week with him, he shares a weekly diary of his favorite moments. Read the rest

This professor makes mini-volcanoes with real lava

Artist Bob Wysocki plays around with homemade lava to create cool experiments that mesh sculpture and geology. Here, he makes a mini shield volcano. Read the rest

Island forms off Cape Hatteras in North Carolina

A mile-long island emerged from the sea 100 yards out from Cape Hatteras.

Since being discovered, countless visitors and locals have made the trek to see if the weeks of rumors about the island’s existence – as well as the stories that it’s a haven for shells – are true.

The answer to both questions appears to be yes.

I superimposed the equivalent view from Google Earth, over Chad Koczera's photo, in the GIF above. Read the rest

Spherical-cut meteorite on ebay, yours for $18,000

Listed as a Seymchan Pallasite Olivine Meteorite, this beautiful item is priced $18,000 but they're accepting offers.

Mineral Origin: Magadan District, Russia, 1967 Diameter: 2.77" / 70.3 mm Weight: 2 lbs 4.3 oz / 1029 grams / 1.029 kilograms

...Seymchan is a Pallasite meteorite found in the dry bed of the Hekandue River in the Magadan District, Russia, near the settlement of Seymchan in June 1967 ...

Pallasites consist of a nickel-iron matrix packed with Olivine crystals and account for less than 2% of all known meteorites ... and unlike many meteorites, Seymchan is stable and rust resistant!

Due to the rarity of the Seymchan material and the large cut loss incurred to make a sphere, very few have been cut! ... and we can almost guarantee, another one this size is unlikely to be ever cut!

In April 2016, a Seymchan Pallasite sphere sold at Christie's Auction for over $10,000! ... and it was only 434 grams! ... less than half the size of this one! In October 2012, a 548 gram Seymchan Pallasite sphere sold for $13,000!

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Tourist kicks over annoying 10-million-year old stalagmite

An irritating and frankly dangerous hazard at the popular caves in Tongren City, China, was finally dealt with recently by an enterprising tourist. And they want to track him down and fine him! For getting rid of a useless piece of rock growing for millions of years one mineral-laden drop at a time! No good deed goes unpunished. Read the rest

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