Science: geological processes in the Himalaya, how iron deposits form, otters help to protect Aleutian limestone reefs, the release of carbon dioxide from desert soils

In a north-south rift above a tear in the Indian plate, boiling springs bring fluids up 50 miles from the upwelling hot mantle, and the wide area of baked ground shows the high temperatures due to rifting. Credit: Courtesy Simon Klemperer

Recent discoveries about our planet, its rocks and other “stone” topics

The Himalaya region is a prime location for understanding geological processes. Now, new seismic data gathered by scientists from Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences provides the first west-to-east view of the subsurface where India and Asia collide. The research contributes to an ongoing debate over the structure of the Himalaya collision zone, the only place on Earth where continental plates continue crashing today – and the source of catastrophes like the 2015 Gorkha earthquake that killed about 9,000 people and injured thousands more.

Iron oxide-apatite ore from one of the study areas at Iron Springs, Utah. Credit: Wyatt M. Bain.University of Alberta scientists have uncovered the formation mechanism behind a class of mineral deposits that have been hotly contested until now. The findings shed new light on how iron deposits, among others, form – and this new understanding can aid geologists in the hunt for more ore.

Sea otters are the „keystone predator“ of Aleutian kelp forests. Photo: J. TomoleoniThe loss of sea otters at the Aleutian Islands may accelerate the destruction of massive limestone reefs built by algae. Sea urchins are now boring through the alga’s tough protective layer to eat them – a process that has become still much easier due to climate change.
A funny video about those animals: it remains a secret of nature why otters like to juggle one or even some stones. Recent research by scientists from the University of Exeter in England could only prove that the behavior has nothing to do with training for foraging (video, 1).

Students Rosalia Tshikesho (L) and Etuna Iyambo (R) simulate a rain shower prior to making measurements of soil carbon dioxide release in the Namib Desert. Credit: Throop/ASUIn an effort to understand what controls the release of carbon dioxide from soils in deserts, Scientists from the Arizona State University (ASU) and students from Namibia conducted field work in the Namib Desert, one of the world’s driest regions that stretches more than 1,200 miles along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa. To conduct their analyses, the research team chose six locations that differed in yearly rainfall.

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(03.10.2020, USA: 10.03.2020)