Friday Headlines: 5-1-15

Friday Headlines, May 1, 2015

THE LATEST IN THE GEOSCIENCES

 

Today’s round-up:

Nepal

Chilean volcano

It’s a bird! It’s a bat! It’s a… dinosaur?

M7.8 – 34km ESE of Lamjung, Nepal

A massive earthquake struck Nepal, killing thousands of people. Though the earthquake hit six days ago, it is still all over the news, as the death toll rises and survivors are found.

Map of aftershocks and primary shocks from the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Credit: USGS

The cause of the earthquake is one that is familiar to any person who has had an introductory geology course, as the Himalayas are the textbook example of what happens when two continents collide.

India and Asia were not always connected as they are today. India started out along the East coast of Africa, then moved North over millions of years until its path was finally blocked by Asia. This collision started several 10’s of millions of years ago (70 to 50 million years ago – though the exact age is still a point of argument in the sciences) and continues today.

The motion of India into Asia. Credit: USGS

Neither continent could slide over the other, so the Himalayas grew as India and Asia rumpled up against each other.

Continent-continent collision. Credit: USGS

Massive faults and folds were created, and the modern Himalaya range as well as the entire Tibet Plateau rose to heights of 4 km or more.

Cartoon cross-section of the faults associated with the rise of the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. Credit: USGS

And they’re still growing!

Hence, the earthquake. They don’t happen often, but when they do, they’re big.

 

 A Volcano Just Erupted in Chile, Spewing Ash For Miles

Chile is notable for its mountains and volcanoes. Not so long ago, there was also a massive earthquake there. This is because of the subduction zone that lies along the western edge of South America.

A subduction zone, like that along the western margin of South America. Note the associated volcanoes. Credit: USGS

So a volcano erupted (no surprise) and there has been some spectacular footage of it. Like this:

How cool is that?

 

New bat-like dinosaur had wings. Scientists don’t know why.

The mantra for dinosaurs is that dinosaurs are terrestrial vertebrates. They don’t swim. They don’t fly. So marine reptiles like plesiosaurs aren’t dinosaurs. Nor are the pterosaurs dinosaurs.

Enter Spinosaurus, a semi-aquatic dinosaur – only revealed to be as such last fall.

And now, Yi qi, or “strange wing,” recently discovered in China.

It’s definitely a dinosaur, but it has an elongated finger that appears have supported a membrane much like that of bats’ wings. However, the rest of what’s know about Yi qi‘s body doesn’t match with anything that looks like it should fly.

As always, more research is needed.

Published by paleololigo

Scientist (Paleontology, Geochemistry, Geology); Writer (Speculative and Science Fiction, plus technical and non-technical Science); Mom to great boy on the Autism spectrum; possessor of too many hobbies.

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