Science: ancient Maya used zeolite and quartz for water filters, rediscovery of the “Resurrection“ tectonic plate, raindrops shape mountains, switch of Earth’s magnetic fields

Photo: A temple rises above the rainforest in the ancient Maya city of Tikal. Photo/David Lentz

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

Ancient Maya in the once-bustling city of Tikal used the Corriental reservoir, an important source of drinking water. Researchers found now that they built sophisticated filters using zeolite and quartz imported from miles away.

The image shows plate tectonic reconstruction of western North America 60 million years ago showing subduction of three key tectonic plates, Kula, Farallon and Resurrection. Source: University of HoustonThe existence of a tectonic plate called Resurrection has long been a topic of debate among geologists, with some arguing it was never real. Others say it subducted – moved sideways and downward – into the Earth’s mantle somewhere in the Pacific Margin between 40 and 60 million years ago. A team of geologists at the University of Houston College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics believes they have found the lost plate in northern Canada by using existing mantle tomography images

The Bhutan Himalaya is a land of extremes with rugged topography, dissecting low-relief uplands, rainfall that ranges from 0.7 to 6 m/year and erosion rates that vary by more than 2 orders of magnitude. Source: A. Heimsath/ASUFor a long time it has been common knowledge that rainfall has a dramatic effect on the evolution of mountainous landscapes, but the reasons for how and why have been elusive. These questions have no been answered quantitatively thanks to a new technique that captures precisely how even the mightiest of mountain ranges – the Himalaya mountains – bend to the will of raindrops.

Yoro River section, one of Chiba composite section. It is the upper part of the stratum. Source: NIPR/AIST/Ibaraki UniversityEarth’s magnetic fields typically switch every 200 to 300 millennia. Yet, the planet has remained steady for more than twice that now, with the last magnetic reversal occurring about 773,000 years ago. A team of researchers now has a better understanding of the geophysical events leading up to the switch and how the planet has responded since then.

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07.11.2020, USA: 11.07.2020)