Category archives for Weather and Geology
An 8.6-magnitude earthquake, and a strong aftershock, struck off the coast of Indonesia yesterday. The earthquake was followed by a small tsunami, unlike the December 2004 earthquake, which was followed by a major tsunami. “The waves were just below 1 meter [3.3 feet],” said Emile Okal, a geophysicist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. “That is significant, but it’s not going to do much damage.”
The major earthquake that devastated Japan last year had a magnitude of 8.9 and triggered a deadly tsunami.
Photograph by Heri Juanda, AP
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Winter is officially over. Today is the first day of spring! This day is also known as the vernal equinox. Many people believe that this is the day when daylight and nighttime hours are equally long, but is that really true? According to Geoff Chester, a public affairs specialist with Washington, D.C.’s U.S. Naval Observatory, the hours are equal before the equinox, although “exactly when it happens depends on where you are located on the surface of the Earth,” he said.
Photograph by Mario Guzmán, European Pressphoto Agency
Scientists studying rock samples have evidence that gold was delivered to Earth’s surface by meteors! The evidence indicates that about 3.9 billion years ago, a huge “firestorm” of meteors brought gold and other precious metals to the planet.
Photograph by Wally Pacholka, TWAN
This past weekend, Hurricane Irene swept up the East Coast of the U.S. The Category 1 hurricane first touched land in North Carolina. People living in Virginia to New York experienced flooding and downed trees. By the time it reached New York City and New England, Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm.
Hurricanes get weaker after they pass over land. Irene did slow down, but it remained large and destructive much longer than most hurricanes as it moved north through Vermont.
Photograph by Hyunsoo Leo Kim, The Virginian-Pilot/AP
Things got a little shaky at National Geographic headquarters yesterday! A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck the U.S. East Coast, shaking Washington D.C., New York City, and beyond. The earthquake’s epicenter was in Mineral, Virginia, which is near Richmond. Earthquakes are rare in this part of the country, but their effects can be felt farther away than ones that strike the West Coast.
Humans weren’t the only ones shaken up by the quake. Animals at the National Zoo exhibited unusual behavior before and after the earthquake.
Photograph by Justin Lane, European Pressphoto Agency
Mount Etna, the most active volcano in Europe, has been erupting off and on since early July. Although the volcano erupts often, the lava moves slowly, so there almost never any danger. The volcano has become more active during the last 50 years.
Photograph by Marcello Paternostro, AFP/Getty Images
On May 21 Iceland’s most active volcano, Grímsvötn began erupting, spewing a 12-mile-high (19-kilometer-high) cloud of ash. The eruption has also generated volcanic lightning. Grímsvötn volcano is one of seven volcanoes located under the Vatnajökull ice cap.
Icelandic airports have canceled flights because of the ash, and London’s Heathrow Airport may be affected by the end of the week. In 2010, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted, disrupting air traffic across Europe for several days.
Photograph from AFP/Getty Images
A massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake–the strongest in Japan in 140 years–struck 81 miles
(130 kilometers) off the coast of Sendai at 2:46 p.m. The number of casualties has not been confirmed.
Sendai, a city of about a million residents, was hit by tsunami
waves up to 33 feet (10 meters) high. Tsunami warnings were quickly
issued for many Pacific Coast regions, including Hawaii, the Philippines, and Mexico.
The earthquake and its aftershocks were felt as far away asTokyo, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) from the epicenter.
Learn more about Japan .
Photograph by Keichi Nakane, Yomiuri Shimbun/AP
A destructive 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the city of Christchurch, New Zealand yesterday. At least 65 people were killed, and people remain trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings. This quake is the latest aftershock to follow a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Christchurch in the fall of 2010.
Photograph by Mark Mitchell, New Zealand Herald/AP
A giant sinkhole appeared in downtown Guatemala City, Guatemala on May 30. It’s about 60 feet (18 meters) wide, and appears to be 30 stories deep! Scientists think that tropical storm Agatha caused the sinkhole to form, although one geologist believes that it may have been because of leaky pipes.
Guatemala City is built on ground known as pumice fill that came from many past volcanic eruptions. Water soaked the loose, gravelly ground particles under the topsoil and the particles shifted causing the top layer to collapse.
See pictures and learn more about the giant sinkhole on National Geographic News.
Get facts about Guatemala on National Geographic Kids.
What’s it like to live in Guatemala? Read Keli’s blog and find out.
Photograph by Daniel LeClair, Reuters
The residents of the tiny Australian town of Lajamanu were surprised to see fish falling from the sky in late February, reports Australia’s Northern Territory News. Surprisingly, the fish were still alive when they landed. The falling fish may have been sucked up along with water during a tornado and dropped back to earth hundreds of miles away.
Read more about the falling fish on Northern Territory News.
Learn about other strange weather on National Geographic Kids.
On February 27, a magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck off of the shore of Chile, which is on the western side of South America. The quake damaged buildings, bridges, and power lines. It also caused tsunamis that battered Chile’s coast and even reached as far away as Hawaii.
This quake was stronger than the one that occurred in Haiti in January. It was even strong enough to change the Earth’s axis and shorten the length of a day by 1.26 millionths of a second.
Find out more about the Chile earthquake on National Geographic News.
Read about the January earthquake in Haiti on News Bites.
Learn more about earthquakes on nationalgeographic.com.
Photograph by Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images
An underwater volcano 745 miles south of Tokyo, Japan, erupted earlier this month. The volcano, Fukutoku-Okanoba, last erupted in July 2005. Past Fukutoku-Okanoba eruptions have caused miniature islands to form, but the ocean’s waves have washed them away. The eruption of underwater volcanoes can also form very large islands, like those that make up the Hawaiian Islands.
Will this eruption create a new island? “We have seen no evidence of an island being created yet, but it is possible, and we will continue to monitor the situation,” said Keiji Doi of the Japan Meteorological Agency.
See pictures of the eruption on National Geographic News.
Visit a gallery of erupting volcano pictures on National Geographic Kids.
How much do you know about volcanoes? Quiz Your Noodle and find out!
Alaska’s Mount Redoubt erupted six times between Sunday night and Saturday morning, sending an ash cloud 9.5 miles (15 kilometers) into the air! The eruptions also caused small earthquakes and mudflows. The volcano could keep erupting for days… weeks… or even months!
Mount Redoubt wasn’t the only recent volcano eruption. An undersea volcano in Tonga also erupted last week. Tonga is an archipelago (group of islands) in the Pacific Ocean. The eruption has sent up ash, smoke, and steam. Underwater volcanoes can build islands as the magma builds up–that’s how the Hawaiian Islands were formed.
Read more about the Mount Redoubt eruptions and see pictures on National Geographic News.
Read about the Tonga eruption on National Geographic News.
See photos of volcanoes in the Photo Gallery!