Friday Headlines, April 22, 2016
THE LATEST IN THE GEOSCIENCES
Massive earthquake in Ecuador
Salt Lake City is in trouble
Migrating Marine Monkeys
On April 16, a Magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the coastal Manabi Province of Ecuador, causing widespread destruction. Over 480 people have been killed.
Earthquakes in this region are associated with a subduction zone (black line with teeth on the map above) where the Nazca Plate is being drawn below the South America Plate.
A group of 14 scientists from academia, state and federal government, and private industry conducted research on the likelihood of a large earthquake occurring in the valley containing Salt Lake City. Their results were startling:
“In the next 50 years there is a 43 percent chance, or nearly 1-out-of-2 odds, of at least one large earthquake of magnitude 6.75 or greater. For a moderate quake of magnitude 5 or greater the probability is 93 percent, or greater than 9-out-of-10 odds.” Source USGS here.
So be careful, Utahns. Your “big one” is coming.
North America and South America were not always connected across the narrow isthmus that includes Panama. Up until around four million years ago, Panama was nothing but a peninsula hanging off of the south end of North America.
When the isthmus formed, it has been thought that mammals migrated between the two continents in what is called the Great American Interchange. This was said to be the time when South American monkeys entered North America.
New research as discovered the teeth of South American monkeys in 21 million year old sediments in Panama. The question is, how did they get there? Scientists suspect that they may have rafted on mats of vegetation across the Central American Seaway that separated the two continents at that time. The distance they had to travel was about 100 miles, so feasible, but impressive nevertheless.