Friday Headlines: 2-21-14

Friday Headlines, February 21, 2014



Today’s round-up:

Mars’ mystery rock no longer a mystery

An earthquake in Bristol. (Wonder if it shook with a cool accent?)

Storms expose a fossil forest


Scientists now know why this mysterious rock suddenly appeared on Mars

I reported this one on January 24. A rock had seemingly appeared out of nowhere next to the Mars Opportunity rover.

Photos taken on the same patch of ground on Mars. On the left, the photo was taken on December 26, 2013. The photo on the right was taken on January 8, 2014. The rock that mysteriously appeared was dubbed Pinnacle Island. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ

Now scientists have figured out where it came from. It was a simple matter of driving the rover a little ways further, then looking back.

Looking back. Pinnacle Island is shown in the lower left corner of this photo. In the center, Opportunity’s tracks are visible. The center arrow shows the rock from which Pinnacle Island broke away. Image taken Feb. 4, 2014. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.

The image clearly shows a freshly broken rock right along Opportunity’s tracks. The broken rock and Pinnacle Island both have the same overall appearance.

So far as NASA scientists are concerned, this mystery is solved.


Earthquake confirmed in Bristol Channel

I don’t usually think of England as being a particularly tectonically active place. But here it stands as proof that earthquakes can happen anywhere.

Location of earthquake north of Devon (home of the Devonian), UK. Credit: BBC Graphic.

Here’s the US Geological Survey’s description of the quake. The British Geological Survey also provides this description.

There are no major tectonic boundaries in England. Such earthquakes tend to be small and occur on faults that have been reactivated to release tiny amounts of stress that have built up over millions of years due to more distant activity.

It doesn’t mean that parts of England are going to suddenly slip into the ocean.


Prehistoric forest uncovered by storms in Cardigan Bay – in pictures

This is just cool. Sea level rise some 4500 years ago blanketed a forest off the coast of Wales. This petrified forest is the basis for the legent of Cantre’r Gwaelod , a supposed lost kingdom. Recent storms have uncovered some new features of this petrified forest and the pictures are pretty cool.

1 Comment

  1. John says:

    You mean, aliens didn’t put the rock there? (kidding) You work in an interesting field. I was always fascinated by earth science – it was one of the last college courses I took. I purposely saved all of my “fun” classes for last, getting all of my core courses out of the way first.


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