Grand Canyon Volcanoes

When most of us think about the impressive geology of the Grand Canyon, our focus is on the ancient rocks. Within the past 1 million years, however, volcanoes have created striking displays in the canyon. Hot lava often flowed down the Colorado River channel for tens of miles; other times, it dammed the river, impounding water behind dams that eventually breached, sometimes releasing catastrophic floods.

By |2022-06-16T13:32:49-07:00June 16th, 2022|Our Amazing Earth|9 Comments

Buildings That Last

In the earthquake-prone central Andes Mountains, there archaeological sites with monumental adobe and stone block structures standing that were built by ancient people hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Clearly, the ancient builders planned to have their important structures last–-and they had the knowledge to build appropriately for their environment. Buildings that promise to last a long time are also being constructed today.

Food, Fertilizer, and the World’s Richest Soils

Ukraine has a vast area covered with extremely rich soils that are well suited for growing grains and other agricultural products. In past years, the country has exported enormous quantities of crops to countries throughout the European Union, as well as in Asia and Africa. In 2019, almost half of Ukraine was cultivated land, feeding millions of people.  Now, things are changing fast.  

By |2022-03-31T08:26:03-07:00March 31st, 2022|Our Amazing Earth|6 Comments

Food, Fertilizer, and Inca Empire Conservation

In the past century, manufacturing nitrogen fertilizers with ammonia has been explosive (even literally...). Increases in crop production from manufactured fertilizers have benefited tens of millions of people. Unfortunately, this fertilizer produces tremendous waste in an inefficient process that is highly polluting; we could lower global use with alternative methods. Over 500 years ago, the Incas implemented laws to conserve their valuable guano fertilizer.

Security, Stability, and Soil

Food security is a growing concern for our global population of close to 8 billion people. The essential natural resource that controls food production is soil, which is being eroded away and degraded worldwide. Without healthy soils, our capability to provide adequate food for billions is seriously in question. Methods for improving degraded soils are available.

By |2022-02-23T06:39:11-07:00February 23rd, 2022|Our Amazing Earth|4 Comments

Three Ways To Survive a Tsunami

The tsunami associated with Hunga Tonga eruption has sparked renewed interest in hazards associated with earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis. A recent article about geologic hazards and preparedness especially caught my attention: “A Tsunami Could Kill Thousands. Is Escape Possible?” in the New York Times. The focus is on the Pacific Northwest- –specifically coastal communities along the states of Washington, Oregon, and northernmost California.

By |2022-02-10T09:31:05-07:00February 10th, 2022|Our Amazing Earth|2 Comments

Something Important We Know About Volcanoes

Our planet has a high level of tectonic activity. In the past few decades, disastrous earthquakes have captured our attention. A careful look at historical records, however, demonstrates that a major volcanic eruption would cause immensely more devastation that any natural event our world has experienced recently.

By |2022-02-06T11:59:39-07:00February 2nd, 2022|Our Amazing Earth|0 Comments

Chiles and Chocolate – Exchanges and Extinctions

What would Italian food be without tomatoes or Indian food without chiles? Both plants were first cultivated and used for thousands of years in the Americas before being transported across the world to join the cultures where they are appreciated today. Plant and animal exchanges have shaped our societies and our environments -- especially the two major migrations and exchanges that have taken place in just the past few millions of years.

By |2022-01-27T07:48:08-07:00January 27th, 2022|Our Amazing Earth|2 Comments

Tsunami Troubles

Large earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis can create shock waves felt around the world – literally. The blast from the volcanic eruption on January 15, 2022, near Tonga caused spikes in air pressure recorded around the planet. We can add this eruption in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean to our knowledge of pandemics, climate change, and numerous other interconnections that tie our planet and our societies together.

By |2022-01-19T10:05:21-07:00January 19th, 2022|Our Amazing Earth|2 Comments
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