Are the planets growing?

Beyond the boundaries of established science an avalanche of exotic ideas compete for our attention. Experts tell us that these ideas should not be permitted to take up the time of working scientists, and for the most part they are surely correct. But what about the gems in the rubble pile? By what ground-rules might we bring extraordinary new possibilities to light?

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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Wed Apr 15, 2015 1:03 pm

This Is the Most Complete 'Terror Bird' Ever Discovered
http://motherboard.vice.com/read/this-i ... discovered
For tens of millions of years, South American ecosystems were dominated by an extraordinary family of predators known as phorusrhacids—or terror birds, as they are aptly nicknamed.

These formidable flightless carnivores bore a striking resemblance to meat-eating dinosaurs and ultimately, shared the same fate. About two million years ago, terror birds vanished from the planet, and only fragmentary skeletons from this exotic group have been recovered.

That’s what makes the discovery of a new species of terror bird—dubbed Llallawavis scagliai—so exciting. Over 90 percent of this animal’s remains were recovered from a beach near the Argentinian resort town of Mar del Plata, making it by far the most complete skeleton of a terror bird ever found. The specimen is described in a comprehensive study published in the most recent Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
one.jpg

Llallawavis scagliai specimen. Credit: M. Taglioretti and F. Scaglia

"The discovery of this species reveals that terror birds were more diverse in the Pliocene than previously thought,” said paleontologist Federico Degrange, the lead author of the study, in a statement. “It will allow us to review the hypothesis about the decline and extinction of this fascinating group of birds.”

Not only was the majority of the bird’s 1.2-meter-tall frame recovered, but several subtle features were also exquisitely preserved in the fossilization process. For example, though the animal died some 3.5 million years ago, much of its vocal anatomy remains intact, including “the first complete palate” ever found, Degrange told me over Skype.

“It’s beautifully preserved for a terror bird,” he said. “The complete trachea was found completely ossified—that’s also one of the most outstanding discoveries.”

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean paleontologists can reconstruct the song of the terror bird per se (if only). But by studying the bird’s vocal and auditory anatomy, Degrange and his team concluded that the bird had a mean hearing sensitivity of around 2,300 Hz, suggesting that they may have sung at more baritone pitches than extant birds.

“We cannot know for sure how they sound, but we are able to estimate how precise their hearing was,” he told me. “We can say that if a pitch or a tone produced the low frequency that terror birds were capable of hearing, they probably heard it.”

“But we will be never sure that that tone corresponds to the song of the Llallawavis because we also need a structure that was not preserved—the syrinx, the singing structure that birds have,” Degrange continued. “It seems that in Llallawavis, it was made of soft tissue, and was not preserved.”

The most metal digital reconstruction of an extinct animal ever. Credit: Eloy Manzanero/YouTube

While this individual Llallawavis can’t sing to us from the Pliocene, other details of its life can be reconstructed from the impeccably preserved fossils. “We have CT scans of [the skull], so we are studying the brain, blood vessels, and nerves of Llallawavis and other phorusrhacids,” Degrange told me.

“Another thing we are trying to work with is the flight capabilities of smaller terror birds,” he continued. “There is a group of terror birds that weighed ten kilograms at the most, and they have larger wings, proportionally speaking. We want to know if they were able of doing small flights, similar to modern seriemas, the closest [living] relative of the terror birds.”

A seriema throwing shade. Credit: Stevenj

On a broader scale, Degrange hopes that the new species will challenge the prevailing consensus that invading mammals were responsible for ending the great reign of the terror birds.

“The previous idea was that they kind of lost the competition against placental mammals when placental mammals arrived in South America,” he said. “But that was based mainly on the low diversity of [terror bird] species that were known at the time.”

“But Llallawavis is showing the opposite, that there was high diversity,” he added, “so we have to start looking at new hypotheses to evaluate the causes of their extinction.”

It’s hard to imagine what could be capable of edging out these magnificent avian predators, some of which weighed over 450 pounds and stood ten feet tall. But whatever the cause of their ultimate demise, it’s undeniable that terror birds, like dinosaurs, had an incredibly successful run on the planet—and one that paleontologists have only just begun to decipher.

This is the link to the Journal article. You can download it as pdf from the site.

A new Mesembriornithinae (Aves, Phorusrhacidae) provides new insights into the phylogeny and sensory capabilities of terror birds
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02724634.2014.912656
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Sat Apr 25, 2015 10:01 am

What you have here is an example of how earthquakes are lightning in the crust.

The wastewater injected into deep disposal is causing short-circuits, accelerating the normal rate of discharges. The danger with increasing earthquakes in the Colorado area is that it may accelerate the collapse of the Colorado Plateau, which would upset my life greatly. HA!

Induced Earthquakes
http://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/induced/
photo of tanker trucks
Oilfield waste arrives by tanker truck at a wastewater disposal facility near Platteville, Colo. After removal of solids and oil, the wastewater is injected into a deep well for permanent storage underground. Photo by Bill Ellsworth, USGS.
Within the central and eastern United States, the number of earthquakes has increased dramatically over the past few years. Between the years 1973–2008, there was an average of 21 earthquakes of magnitude three and larger in the central and eastern United States. This rate jumped to an average of 99 M3+ earthquakes per year in 2009–2013, and the rate continues to rise. In 2014, alone, there were 659 M3 and larger earthquakes . Most of these earthquakes are in the magnitude 3–4 range, large enough to have been felt by many people, yet small enough to rarely cause damage. There were reports of damage from some of the larger events, including the M5.6 Prague, Oklahoma earthquake and the M5.3 Trinidad, Colorado earthquake.

This increase in earthquakes prompts two important questions:

Are they natural, or man-made?
What should be done in the future as we address the causes and consequences of these events to reduce associated risks?
Preliminary Findings

graph depicting increase in earthquake rate
Cumulative number of earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or larger in the central and eastern United States, 1970–2014. The dashed line corresponds to the long-term rate of 29 earthquakes per year, with an increase in the rate of earthquakes starting around 2009.
A team of USGS scientists led by Bill Ellsworth analyzed changes in the rate of earthquake occurrence using large USGS databases of earthquakes recorded since 1970. The increase in seismicity has been found to coincide with the injection of wastewater in deep disposal wells in several locations, including Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Ohio. Much of this wastewater is a byproduct of oil and gas production and is routinely disposed of by injection into wells specifically designed and approved for this purpose.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” does not appear to be linked to the increased rate of magnitude 3 and larger earthquakes.

Although wastewater injection has not yet been linked to large earthquakes (M6+), scientists cannot eliminate the possibility. It does appear that wastewater disposal induced the M5.3 Raton Basin, Colorado earthquake in 2011 as well as the M5.6 quake that struck Prague, Oklahoma in 2011, leading to a few injuries and damage to more than a dozen homes.

Science or Soundbite?
youtube video
USGS scientists Doug Duncan, Dennis Risser, and Bill Leith discuss the opportunities and impact associated with Shale Gas, Hydraulic Fracturing, and Induced Earthquakes.
Injection-Induced Seismicity
youtube video
USGS scientist Bill Ellsworth discusses the science behind induced earthquakes.
Current and Future Research

The USGS is coordinating with other federal agencies, including the EPA and Department of Energy, to better understand the occurrence of induced seismicity through both internal research and by funding university-based research with a focus on injection-induced earthquakes from wastewater disposal technologies. For instance, USGS and its university partners have deployed seismometers at sites of known or possible injection-induced earthquakes in Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. The USGS is also monitoring seismicity associated with a geologic carbon dioxide sequestration pilot project at Decatur, Illinois, and is working with industry, academia and other government agencies to study seismicity associated with geothermal energy development and production in California and Nevada.

Evidence from some case histories suggests that the magnitude of the largest earthquake tends to increase as the total volume of injected wastewater increases. Injection pressure and rate of injection may also be factors. More research is needed to determine answers to these important questions.

See Also

USGS Science Features: Man-Made Earthquakes Update
FAQs: Earthquakes Induced by Fluid Injection
Department of Energy: About Induced Seismicity
Department of Interior: Is the Recent Increase in Felt Earthquakes in the Central US Natural or Man-made?
USGS Energy Program: Geologic Carbon Sequestration
Reference List
Scientific Staff

Bill Ellsworth
Joern (Ole) Kaven
Andrea Llenos
Art McGarr
Justin Rubinstein
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby pavlink » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:08 am

At least Earth is growing.

4/25/2015 — Land rising out of the sea in Hokkaido Japan — Rose 50 feet (over 1,000 feet long) OVERNIGHT
http://dutchsinse.com/4252015-land-risi ... overnight/
We live in a double star system.
We need to study double star systems.

Solar System as 4D energy vortex
http://files.kostovi.com/8835e.pdf
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby moonkoon » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:02 pm

Hi pavlink.
The land rising out of the water appears to be the accumulation zone or toe of a landslide, with the curved scarp at the top of the slide being visible in some of the photos of the area.
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby moonkoon » Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:58 am

This just in from the, "I can think of another explanation" dept. :-)

... Scientists studying Europa often reconstruct the moon’s surface blocks into their original configuration — as with a jigsaw puzzle — to get a picture of what the surface looked like before the disruption occurred. When Kattenhorn and Prockter rearranged the icy terrain in the images, they discovered that about 7,700 square miles (about 20,000 square kilometers) of the surface were missing in the moon’s high northern latitudes.

Further evidence suggested the missing terrain moved under a second surface plate — a scenario commonly seen on Earth at plate-tectonic boundaries. ...
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:27 am

This is how Neal Adams looks at Europa.

Neal Adams - Science: 05 - Conspiracy: Europa is Growing!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy3_sWF7tv4

Thanks, moonkoon, for the Europa link.

Europa’s Shifting Surface
http://www.jhuapl.edu/newscenter/pressr ... 140908.asp
APL Scientist Finds Evidence of ‘Diving’ Tectonic Plates on Jupiter’s Large, Icy Moon
01.jpg
01.jpg (41.21 KiB) Viewed 6547 times

Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa. This false-color image of the trailing northern hemisphere on Jupiter’s moon Europa — the hemisphere that faces away from Jupiter — shows numerous ridges (red) and band (light-colored) features. Subduction zones — regions where two tectonic plates converge and one is forced beneath the other — may also be present in the study area and are identified by arrows.
Image credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
02.jpg
02.jpg (25.47 KiB) Viewed 6547 times

Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa. This conceptual illustration of the subduction process (where one plate is forced under another) shows how a cold, brittle, outer portion of Europa’s 20–30 kilometer (roughly 10–20 mile) thick ice shell moved into the warmer shell interior and was ultimately subsumed. A low-relief subsumption band was created at the surface in the overriding plate, alongside which cryolavas may have erupted.
Image credit: Noah Kroese, I.NK

Scientists have found evidence of plate tectonics on Jupiter’s moon Europa. This indicates the first sign of this type of surface-shifting geological activity on a world other than Earth.

Researchers have clear visual evidence of Europa’s icy crust expanding. However, they could not find areas where the old crust was destroyed to make room for the new. While examining Europa images taken by NASA’s Galileo orbiter in the early 2000s, planetary geologists Simon Kattenhorn, of the University of Idaho, Moscow, and Louise Prockter, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, discovered some unusual geological boundaries.

“We have been puzzled for years as to how all this new terrain could be formed, but we couldn’t figure out how it was accommodated,” said Prockter. “We finally think we’ve found the answer.”

Plate tectonics is the scientific theory that Earth’s outer layer is made up of plates or blocks that move, which accounts for why mountains and volcanoes form and earthquakes happen.

The surface of Europa — one of Jupiter’s four largest moons and slightly smaller than Earth’s moon — is riddled with cracks and ridges. Surface blocks are known to have shifted in the same way blocks of Earth’s outer ground layer on either side of the San Andreas fault move past each other in California. Many parts of Europa’s surface show evidence of extension, where wide bands miles wide formed as the surface ripped apart and fresh icy material from the underlying shell moved into the newly created gap — a process akin to seafloor spreading on Earth.

On Earth, as new surface material forms at mid-ocean ridges, old material is destroyed at subduction zones, which are regions where two tectonic plates converge and overlap as one is forced under the other. However, despite the degree of extension evident on Europa’s surface, researchers had not been able to determine how the surface could accommodate all the new material.

Scientists studying Europa often reconstruct the moon’s surface blocks into their original configuration — as with a jigsaw puzzle — to get a picture of what the surface looked like before the disruption occurred. When Kattenhorn and Prockter rearranged the icy terrain in the images, they discovered that about 7,700 square miles (about 20,000 square kilometers) of the surface were missing in the moon’s high northern latitudes.

Further evidence suggested the missing terrain moved under a second surface plate — a scenario commonly seen on Earth at plate-tectonic boundaries. Kattenhorn and Prockter saw ice volcanoes on the overriding plate, possibly formed through melting and absorption of the slab as it dove below the surface, and a lack of mountains at the subduction zone, implying material was pushed into the interior rather than crumpled up as the two plates mashed against each other.

The scientists believe the subducted area was absorbed into Europa’s ice shell, which may be up to 20 miles (about 30 kilometers) thick, rather than breaking through it into Europa’s underlying ocean. On Europa’s relatively young surface — about 40–90 million years old, on average — scientists have seen evidence of material moving up from under the shell but, until now, no mechanism had been found for moving material back into the shell, and possibly into the large ocean below the ice.

“Europa may be more Earth-like than we imagined, if it has a global plate tectonic system,” Kattenhorn says. “Not only does this discovery make it one of the most geologically interesting bodies in the solar system, it also implies two-way communication between the exterior and interior — a way to move material from the surface into the ocean — a process which has significant implications for Europa’s potential as a habitable world.”

The team’s results appear in the Sunday online edition of the journal Nature Geoscience.

In July, NASA issued an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for proposals for science instruments that could be carried aboard a future mission to Europa.

“Europa continues to reveal itself as a dynamic world with compelling similarities to our own planet Earth,” said Curt Niebur, Outer Planets program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Studying Europa addresses fundamental questions about this potentially habitable icy moon and the search for life beyond Earth.”

Previous scientific findings point to the existence of a liquid water ocean located under the moon’s icy crust. This ocean covers Europa entirely and contains more liquid water than all of Earth’s oceans combined.

NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, launched in 1989, was the only space mission to make repeated visits to Europa, passing close by the moon about a dozen times.

Galileo’s many firsts include discovering evidence for the existence of a saltwater ocean beneath Europa’s icy surface. The mission officially was ended when Galileo plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere in September 2003 to prevent an impact with Europa. The mission was managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about Europa and images of the plate tectonics, visit http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/europa. Information is available online about the Galileo Mission at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/galileo/.
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Wed Apr 29, 2015 11:06 am

I finally found a comment that discusses the Land rising a little better. Thanks, pavlink, for the link.

Mysterious Land Mass Appears Overnight Off Japan’s Coast
http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/04/m ... ans-coast/
01.jpg

A depiction of what may have created the land mass

You would normally expect news of an unusual event off the coast of Japan to be about land disappearing, either because of a tsunami or earthquake or both. That’s not what happened on the northern island of Hokkaido on April 24th when residents of Rausu on the island’s east coast saw a huge land mass rise 10 meters (33 feet) out of the water in less than 24 hours. At the time of this writing, the land mass is an estimated 30 meters (66 feet) wide, 500 meters (1640 feet) long and 15 meters (50 feet) above sea level. Where is it from and what could have caused it?
02.jpg

The circled area shows the new land mass that appeared overnight off the coast of Hokkaido

One of the first witnesses of this mysterious rising land mass was a woman harvesting seaweed along the Rausu shore on April 24th. In the time it took to fill her basket, she said the mass had risen to above her head. Before the area was sealed off, other witnesses reported it to be covered with seaweed and sea urchins. According to Katsuhiro Tanaka, the president of the Rausu Fisheries Cooperative Association, no one saw or heard it rising.

The local residents said they didn’t hear any sounds and there were no tremors.

It’s been only four years since the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami so Rausu residents are naturally worried about the cause of their new addition. Is it an undersea volcanic eruption like the one in November 2013 which created an island off the coast of Nishinoshima that grew so large it eventually joined with the coast? Is it the return of a previously unknown island like Buyan, the land of Russian mythology that could appear and disappear and was believed to the source of all weather?

Geologists flying over the area believe the land mass was lifted out of the water by the weight of a nearby landslide which created a pivot or seesaw effect. That sounds logical … except they can’t say exactly where or when the landslide occurred. Despite that, an official at the central government’s Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau assured the public it won’t happen again.
03.jpg

A depiction of what may have created the land mass

Really? Until some better information is available, I wouldn’t go seaweed-picking in Rausu anytime soon.

TAGS: earthquake, geology, Island, Japan, natural world, Science, tsunami, volcano
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby ElecGeekMom » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:20 pm

allynh wrote:What you have here is an example of how earthquakes are lightning in the crust.

The wastewater injected into deep disposal is causing short-circuits, accelerating the normal rate of discharges.


That's what I've been saying.

I also believe that areas of concentrated EM emissions are part of the puzzle, especially at times when they are turned on or off.
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby seasmith » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:46 pm

I also believe that areas of concentrated EM emissions are part of the puzzle, especially at times when they are turned on or off.


Hi ElectGeekM, i''ve probably missed a few posts along the on-off "emissions" line, so would you be a bit more specific for a moment here please ?
thanks, s
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby ElecGeekMom » Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:35 am

Hi Seasmith,

You haven't missed anything (from me, at least) because I have been pondering this aspect without posting anywhere about it yet. But since you've asked... ;) I guess I'm ready to try to articulate it.

As I have been tracking the Oklahoma earthquakes for 6 years and gathering data about them for about 13 months (along with contemporaneous data from spaceweather.com and noaa) in a series of spreadsheets, I have been noticing that the "hot spots" in Oklahoma tend to be locations where there is a major source of EM emissions nearby. The source of emissions might be a thing like a power plant, a major radar installation, or even a substation or radio/cell tower. Either that, or they tend to occur at a boundary between a high-energy "bubble" of electrofog (such as surrounds a metropolitan area) and an area of less energy. The concept that charge-equalization is what is happening is a fundamental assumption.

The timing of an event could be closely related to the turning on/off of the source of energy, or the crossing of a boundary by an energetic system. I'm thinking it's similar to what happens when an unprotected electrical surge hits your computer monitor. The thing you want to prevent is the drop, because after that drop is a recovery surge that actually does the damage. You want to keep the power steady.

I'm thinking of a situation in a building I used to do deskside support for. The building had industrial-strength freezers. The computer users in that building used to have their monitors die frequently. When we finally got the electricians to put a monitoring device on the line, they discovered that whenever the freezers' compressors kicked in, that was when the computer CRTs would die. Solution: Put them on different circuits. It took a very long time for that to finally get resolved, because no one was considering the effect of the "elephant" (freezers) in the building. :oops:

It almost seems like the earthquakes occur whenever a connection can be made across levels of both the atmosphere and the ground-level and below-surface energies. When I think of the saying that earthquakes are like "underground lightning", it's not hard to visualize a dark-mode lightning bolt crossing levels and shorting out energies that encompass those within the planet, on the surface, and above the surface, with water/brine at the various levels enabling the transmission of the energies. In the case of injection wells (which formerly held not-very-conductive petroleum but now contain highly-conductive brine), I visualize something like a 3D integrated circuit underground. All it takes is a passing plasmoid to goose the levels of energies at that time and at that location.

Not only that, but tornadoes seem behave similarly, although they usually are more random--with the exception of the several F5 tornadoes that have been taking place at Moore, OK, in recent years! I have a theory about that location, too.

I'm thinking that with tornadoes, there's not just a single-shot shorting out, but a sustained circuit that gets established and nourished by moisture/temp/extraordinary EM energies present at that time/location. Once they get to a location where there are fewer mismatched factors (high moisture/low moisture, high temp/low temp, high energy/low energy), then they fizzle out.

Without making this note too long, that's the gist of what I'm talking about.

Thanks for asking, by the way!
EGM
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby seasmith » Thu Apr 30, 2015 9:07 am

hmmm...

You make the processes sound almost biotic. Sort of like how one's body can experience nerve/muscle twitches, tremors and sometimes even spasms; via electric stimuli/electric neural pathways, etc.
Interesting

Thank you for the reply
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Fri May 01, 2015 9:10 am

This is from the latest Thunderbolt e-mail.
DEVASTATING NEPAL EARTHQUAKE WAS NO SURPRISE

When Ben Davidson issued a public warning of enhanced earthquake potential on Friday, April 24, 2015, he did so on the basis of several years of research into the Sun-Earth connection.

The following day the devastating earthquake in Nepal occurred.

In our latest EU2015 Preview, Ben offers glimpses of his talk, based on more than 35-years of data released by the Wilcox Solar Observatory at Stanford and the U.S. Geological Survey. His research suggests an extraordinary pattern: solar ejections, particularly when combined with planetary alignments, stand in a statistically significant relationship to earthquakes. This relationship invites closer investigation of the role of charged particles from the Sun as possible triggers of seismic activity on Earth.

Please join Ben Davidson and over 30 other exceptional speakers at the EU2015 Conference: Paths of Discovery, June 25-29, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

~David Talbott

A Coronal Mass Ejection(CME) is like clouds in the sky.

The clouds do not generate the lighting, the cloud is gathered by the electric current that is already in the sky. The CME is not carrying a charge to the Earth, the CME is a charged cloud being carried by the electric current that increased enough to draw it from the Sun.

The CME is a visible sign that the electric current has spiked.

When that electric current spikes, the Earth grows a bit more, causing the electric current in the crust to shift, change, short out as underground lightning bolts, which we describe as "earthquakes."

Once they start using the GPS system to track the Earth as a whole, they will begin to see the correlations between the visible signs like a CME and the Earth growing.

Someday, they will GET it. HA!
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby ElecGeekMom » Fri May 01, 2015 12:52 pm

Not wanting to be the bearer of unnecessarily flakey tidings, but has anyone else seen this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN6fDP9lHK8

Also, somewhere a long time ago I saw an article that said that when Tesla did his Colorado test, it coincided with the San Francisco earthquake.

I'm not sure how credible either of these items are, but I'm just throwing them out there for folks to chew on. Cheers!
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Sat May 02, 2015 12:06 pm

ElecGeekMom, you always find the most fun earthquake videos. Scary! HA!

Thanks...
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Re: Are the planets growing?

Unread postby allynh » Tue May 19, 2015 10:10 am

Scientists see deeper Yellowstone magma
http://phys.org/news/2015-04-scientists ... magma.html
6-scientistsse.jpg

A new University of Utah study in the journal Science provides the first complete view of the plumbing system that supplies hot and partly molten rock from the Yellowstone hotspot to the Yellowstone supervolcano. The study revealed a gigantic magma reservoir beneath the previously known magma chamber. This cross-section illustration cutting southwest-northeast under Yelowstone depicts the view revealed by seismic imaging. Seismologists say new techniques have provided a better view of Yellowstone's plumbing system, and that it hasn't grown larger or closer to erupting. They estimate the annual chance of a Yellowstone supervolcano eruption is 1 in 700,000. Credit: Hsin-Hua Huang, University of Utah

University of Utah seismologists discovered and made images of a reservoir of hot, partly molten rock 12 to 28 miles beneath the Yellowstone supervolcano, and it is 4.4 times larger than the shallower, long-known magma chamber.

The hot rock in the newly discovered, deeper magma reservoir would fill the 1,000-cubic-mile Grand Canyon 11.2 times, while the previously known magma chamber would fill the Grand Canyon 2.5 times, says postdoctoral researcher Jamie Farrell, a co-author of the study published online today in the journal Science.

"For the first time, we have imaged the continuous volcanic plumbing system under Yellowstone," says first author Hsin-Hua Huang, also a postdoctoral researcher in geology and geophysics. "That includes the upper crustal magma chamber we have seen previously plus a lower crustal magma reservoir that has never been imaged before and that connects the upper chamber to the Yellowstone hotspot plume below."

Contrary to popular perception, the magma chamber and magma reservoir are not full of molten rock. Instead, the rock is hot, mostly solid and spongelike, with pockets of molten rock within it. Huang says the new study indicates the upper magma chamber averages about 9 percent molten rock - consistent with earlier estimates of 5 percent to 15 percent melt - and the lower magma reservoir is about 2 percent melt.

So there is about one-quarter of a Grand Canyon worth of molten rock within the much larger volumes of either the magma chamber or the magma reservoir, Farrell says.

No increase in the danger

The researchers emphasize that Yellowstone's plumbing system is no larger - nor closer to erupting - than before, only that they now have used advanced techniques to make a complete image of the system that carries hot and partly molten rock upward from the top of the Yellowstone hotspot plume - about 40 miles beneath the surface - to the magma reservoir and the magma chamber above it.

"The magma chamber and reservoir are not getting any bigger than they have been, it's just that we can see them better now using new techniques," Farrell says.

Study co-author Fan-Chi Lin, an assistant professor of geology and geophysics, says: "It gives us a better understanding the Yellowstone magmatic system. We can now use these new models to better estimate the potential seismic and volcanic hazards."


The researchers point out that the previously known upper magma chamber was the immediate source of three cataclysmic eruptions of the Yellowstone caldera 2 million, 1.2 million and 640,000 years ago, and that isn't changed by discovery of the underlying magma reservoir that supplies the magma chamber.

"The actual hazard is the same, but now we have a much better understanding of the complete crustal magma system," says study co-author Robert B. Smith, a research and emeritus professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah.

Scientists see deeper Yellowstone magma
The gorgeous colors of Yellowstone National Park's Grand Prismatic hot spring are among the park's myriad hydrothermal features created by the fact Yellowstone is a supervolcano - the largest type of volcano on Earth. A new University of Utah …more
The three supervolcano eruptions at Yellowstone - on the Wyoming-Idaho-Montana border - covered much of North America in volcanic ash. A supervolcano eruption today would be cataclysmic, but Smith says the annual chance is 1 in 700,000.

Before the new discovery, researchers had envisioned partly molten rock moving upward from the Yellowstone hotspot plume via a series of vertical and horizontal cracks, known as dikes and sills, or as blobs. They still believe such cracks move hot rock from the plume head to the magma reservoir and from there to the shallow magma chamber.

Anatomy of a supervolcano

The study in Science is titled, "The Yellowstone magmatic system from the mantle plume to the upper crust." Huang, Lin, Farrell and Smith conducted the research with Brandon Schmandt at the University of New Mexico and Victor Tsai at the California Institute of Technology. Funding came from the University of Utah, National Science Foundation, Brinson Foundation and William Carrico.

Yellowstone is among the world's largest supervolcanoes, with frequent earthquakes and Earth's most vigorous continental geothermal system.

The three ancient Yellowstone supervolcano eruptions were only the latest in a series of more than 140 as the North American plate of Earth's crust and upper mantle moved southwest over the Yellowstone hotspot, starting 17 million years ago at the Oregon-Idaho-Nevada border. The hotspot eruptions progressed northeast before reaching Yellowstone 2 million years ago.

Here is how the new study depicts the Yellowstone system, from bottom to top:

— Previous research has shown the Yellowstone hotspot plume rises from a depth of at least 440 miles in Earth's mantle. Some researchers suspect it originates 1,800 miles deep at Earth's core. The plume rises from the depths northwest of Yellowstone. The plume conduit is roughly 50 miles wide as it rises through Earth's mantle and then spreads out like a pancake as it hits the uppermost mantle about 40 miles deep. Earlier Utah studies indicated the plume head was 300 miles wide. The new study suggests it may be smaller, but the data aren't good enough to know for sure.

— Hot and partly molten rock rises in dikes from the top of the plume at 40 miles depth up to the bottom of the 11,200-cubic mile magma reservoir, about 28 miles deep. The top of this newly discovered blob-shaped magma reservoir is about 12 miles deep, Huang says. The reservoir measures 30 miles northwest to southeast and 44 miles southwest to northeast. "Having this lower magma body resolved the missing link of how the plume connects to the magma chamber in the upper crust," Lin says.

— The 2,500-cubic mile upper magma chamber sits beneath Yellowstone's 40-by-25-mile caldera, or giant crater. Farrell says it is shaped like a gigantic frying pan about 3 to 9 miles beneath the surface, with a "handle" rising to the northeast. The chamber is about 19 miles from northwest to southeast and 55 miles southwest to northeast. The handle is the shallowest, long part of the chamber that extends 10 miles northeast of the caldera.

Scientists once thought the shallow magma chamber was 1,000 cubic miles. But at science meetings and in a published paper this past year, Farrell and Smith showed the chamber was 2.5 times bigger than once thought. That has not changed in the new study.

Discovery of the magma reservoir below the magma chamber solves a longstanding mystery: Why Yellowstone's soil and geothermal features emit more carbon dioxide than can be explained by gases from the magma chamber, Huang says. Farrell says a deeper magma reservoir had been hypothesized because of the excess carbon dioxide, which comes from molten and partly molten rock.

A better, deeper look at Yellowstone

As with past studies that made images of Yellowstone's volcanic plumbing, the new study used seismic imaging, which is somewhat like a medical CT scan but uses earthquake waves instead of X-rays to distinguish rock of various densities. Quake waves go faster through cold rock, and slower through hot and molten rock.

For the new study, Huang developed a technique to combine two kinds of seismic information: Data from local quakes detected in Utah, Idaho, the Teton Range and Yellowstone by the University of Utah Seismograph Stations and data from more distant quakes detected by the National Science Foundation-funded EarthScope array of seismometers, which was used to map the underground structure of the lower 48 states.

The Utah seismic network has closely spaced seismometers that are better at making images of the shallower crust beneath Yellowstone, while EarthScope's seismometers are better at making images of deeper structures.

"It's a technique combining local and distant earthquake data better to look at this lower crustal magma reservoir," Huang says.
Explore further: How much magma is hiding beneath our feet?

More information: The Yellowstone magmatic system from the mantle plume to the upper crust, Science, http://www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/10 ... ce.aaa5648

Journal reference: Science
Provided by University of Utah
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