Friday, August 8, 2014

Methane Hydrate (2)

Here is a similar story, this time about frozen methane hydrate thawing and bubbling up from the sea: If the link doesn't work, please try copying and pasting into the browser search window. Here is a summary of the article: Vast methane plumes have been discovered boiling up from the seafloor of the Arctic ocean on the continental slope of the Laptev Sea by a dream team of international scientists. Over the last decade a warming tongue of Atlantic ocean water has been flowing along the Siberian Arctic ocean's continental slope destabilizing methane ice, hypothesize the team of Swedish, Russian and American scientists. The research team will take a series of measurements across the Siberian seas to attempt to understand and quantify the methane release and predict the effect of this powerful greenhouse gas on global and Arctic warming. Because the Siberian Arctic contains vast stores of methane ices and organic carbon that may be perturbed by the warming waters and Arctic climate, Arctic ocean and Siberian sea methane release could accelerate and intensify Arctic and global warming.

Is This the Answer?

There was a time when the island chain that includes Okinawa was part of the east coast of China. There was another time when most of the islands in the chain were submerged, and only the highest points kept their heads above water. Since there is no evidence of crustal movement that would send an island crashing to the bottom of the sea, the most likely cause of the changes in sea level is changes to the artctic/antarctic ice caps. It seems that another change is in the works. It is more than the simple melting of the ice. The melting of frozen strata of methane hydrate seems also to be involved. Here is news about methane hydrate from The Washington Post. (If the link doesn't work, please try copying and pasting into the browser search window) The article is about huge craters opening in the ground in Siberia, and the theory that the craters are the result of methane morphing out of its frozen state into a powerful gas--the kind of greenhouse gas that can accelerate global warming.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Bringing the Jomon Era to Life

Jomon Era artifacts are easy to find but not always easy to appreciate. This photography brings them to life. Here is what The Japan Times online edition reports about Jomon Era artifact photographer Tadahiro Ogawa: Camera artist casts new light on Jomon millennia by Edan Corkill Staff Writer Sep 28, 2013 The Jomon Period of Japanese history is so shrouded in the mists of time that any bid to fathom its secrets stretches even the usual astonishing bounds of prehistoric archeology. Yet as amateurs and experts alike have continued unearthing and studying 2,000- to 10,000-year-old examples of Jomon pottery and stone tools for more than a century, the pieces of the puzzle are gradually coming together. It is only six years ago, for instance, that the discovery of unusually large beans — or the holes where they had been encased in the clay of Jomon Period pots — provided concrete evidence that people living in these islands so very long ago had been able to domesticate certain plant species. Such new understandings, of course, normally come courtesy of archeology and science. But there has been another endeavor that has helped bring into focus those mysterious times: photography. Indeed, for the last 30 years Tadahiro Ogawa is one who has dedicated himself to photographing Jomon Period artifacts — and to date he has around 30,000 of them in his picture archive. In fact the Tokyo resident has photographed at pretty much every one of the more than 500 museums nationwide that stocks objects from the Jomon Period — which is conventionally dated at from around 12,000 B.C. to 300 B.C. And due to his policy of granting free use of his photographs to the institutions with which he collaborates, Ogawa’s work has become ubiquitous in the field, adorning the covers of countless books, posters, bags and academic studies — and, in one case at least, even a local phone book. Judging from the evidence to hand, it seems that few of those museums are fastidious about crediting their unpaid photographer, but it is nevertheless easy to identify his handiwork. For starters, Ogawa’s photographs of ancient Jomon clay objects depict vivid and dramatic topographies of shade, shadow, highlights and depth. Where archeological documentation of such finds tends to prioritize even, flat lighting, Ogawa manages to capture in his shots such texture and physicality that it’s as if they are there in the room with you — objects you could reach out and touch and feel. Effortlessly, his images transport you back to a time when such objects were an everyday presence — when they were real rather than being revered antiquities.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Earthquakes=Space Music?

Apparently the waves that travel through the Earth and cause the ground to roll and buildings to rattle are not the only ones produced by earthquakes: Megaquake felt in space AFP-JIJI Mar 12, 2013 WASHINGTON – A European Space Agency satellite circling the Earth was able to detect the massive 2011 quake that ravaged Japan, resulting in the loss of some 19,000 lives and causing massive destruction, a new study said Sunday. “The atmospheric infrasounds following the great Tohoku earthquake . . . induced variations of air density and vertical acceleration of the GOCE platform,” said a report published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The Gravity Ocean Circulation Explorer is the European Space Agency super-sensitive satellite that acts like an orbital seismologist. Scientists argue that earthquakes not only create seismic waves that travel through Earth’s interior, but large tremors also cause the surface of the planet to vibrate like a drum. This produces sound waves that travel upward through the atmosphere.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Carved in Stone The above link is to an artifact left by Native Americans in Rhode Island, USA. There is a similar (probable) artifact etched into a cliff on Yonaguni, an island in Okinawa. The Native American one looks like a cougar in profile; the Yonaguni one looks like an outline of a sea eagle.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Meanwhile, on Mars...

These days, more and more extreme environments are becoming accessible to sampling. Here are some results from a mission to Mars.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wish List: A Practical and Accurate Way to Predict Earthquakes

Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 Geoelectric changes may help 'predict' quakes: researchers Kyodo Researchers claim to have found a correlation between the occurrence of earthquakes in the Izu Island chain and subtle changes in subterranean geoelectricity, a finding that one day might help develop techniques for predicting temblors. The team, consisting of researchers from institutions including Tokai University and Tokyo Gakugei University, analyzed the relation between small changes in geoelectricity around Kozu Island, located 170 km southwest of Tokyo, and quakes in the vicinity with a magnitude of at least 3.0, based on data gathered between May 1997 and June 2000. The geoelectric data were collected during this period through about 20 electrodes buried at intervals of between 100 and as much as 3,000 meters around Kozu. The team studied temblors that struck within 20 km of the island, according to a study published online by a prestigious U.S. science journal. The researchers observed 19 anomalous changes in the strength and movement of geoelectric currents, 11 of which were proceeded by 3.0-magnitude or stronger quakes within 30 days — a 58 percent rate of occurrence, they reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. "This rate of probability is statistically significant," said Toshiyasu Nagao, a Tokai University professor who coauthored the study. "There is debate over the existence of precursors to earthquakes, but (this study) indicates that some may exist." The researchers said they excluded geoelectric anomalies caused by factors such as lightning strikes and the sun when determining this rate of occurrence, and reported that a total of 23 temblors with a minimum magnitude of 3.0 struck during the period they examined. They selected Kozu because of its remoteness and distance from any urban environments, which generate a variety of noises that can effect geoelectricity levels. Their technique is similar to the so-called VAN method, which was developed in Greece to predict earthquakes based on seismic electric signals. However, scientists have mixed views on the VAN method's effectiveness and purported 60 percent success rate for forecasting temblors.