tectonic plates

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Giant Crack in Africa Suggests an 8th Continent Is Coming

Rift in Kenya means Africa might split in 2, but it will take millions of years

(Newser) - Some 250 million years ago, Earth had one continent—Pangaea. Today, there are seven, and in another 50 million years or so, there could be eight. That's according to geologists studying a massive crack that recently appeared in southwestern Kenya, taking out homes and a section of highway, after... More »

In Search of Lobsters, Scientists Find Volcanoes

New research boat spots 4 calderas off Australia's east coast

(Newser) - Researchers on the last night of a voyage to find lobster larvae instead uncovered four extinct, undiscovered volcanoes some 155 miles off Australia's east coast. "My jaw just dropped," voyage leader Iain Suthers tells the Guardian . Though he says researchers believed the ocean floor in the area... More »

A Strange, Remarkable Quake Hit Wyoming

Wind River Earthquake stands out for its size and power

(Newser) - An earthquake struck Wyoming two years ago that made little sense, scientifically speaking—but experts seem closer to solving the mystery, the BBC reports. Called the Wind River Earthquake, it hit with 4.7 magnitude in an area that rarely sees such seismic power. Hardly surprising, since the Wind River... More »

'Thousands' of Hidden Mountains Found in the Sea

Satellite images show seamounts at least a mile high rising from ocean floor

(Newser) - Underscoring how much of the Earth remains mysterious, scientists have located "thousands" of previously unknown underwater mountains, known as "seamounts," reports LiveScience . The discovery, announced in this month's Science journal, was a joint effort between a European Space Agency satellite and one from NASA that used... More »

'Lost Continent' Detected Under Indian Ocean

'Mauritia' believed to have sunk millions of years ago

(Newser) - The remains of an ancient continent ripped apart by plate tectonics tens of millions of years ago may lie under the Indian Ocean, researchers say. Scientists who analyzed beach sand on the island of Mauritius found tiny crystals of zirconium silicate that were hundreds of millions of years older than... More »

April Quakes Signaled Tectonic Plate Split

Indo-Australian plate is breaking in two

(Newser) - The two massive earthquakes that hit off the coast of Sumatra in April caused only a fraction of the deaths and damage of 2004's killer quake, but scientists now realize they were part of a momentous change in the planet's surface, the BBC reports. Researchers believe the quakes,... More »

Earthquake Prediction: California Is Next

And hit to San Andreas or Cascadia faults could be even 'scarier'

(Newser) - Is what happened in Japan set to repeat itself in California? Author Simon Winchester thinks so. In an article for Newsweek that’s turning some heads , Winchester notes that though scientists aren’t sure why, major earthquakes have a tendency to happen in clusters, with a quake on one side... More »

Africa Rapidly Breaking in Two

Quakes widen fissure at rarely-seen speed: scientists

(Newser) - Africa is gradually breaking apart—and in the past several months, the process has accelerated. Now, amid earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, it’s happening exceptionally quickly, reports Der Spiegel . Water is threatening to flood a fracture between Ethiopia and Mozambique, scientists say; while it will be millions of years before... More »

Discovery of Earth's Twin 'Within Reach'

Kepler will find habitable planet like ours: astronomer

(Newser) - The Kepler spacecraft prowling the far reaches of the Milky Way will soon find a habitable planet similar to earth, a leading astronomer is convinced. Recent technological advances in the observation of planets outside our own solar system have rapidly brought us closer to finding earth's "twin" planet,... More »

One Island, Two Faults Adds Up to Trouble Ahead

Geologists keeping a worried eye on the Haiti-Dominican Republic hot zone

(Newser) - Haiti's devastating earthquake came as a shock to most non-geologists, but the Caribbean is one of the most seismically active areas in the world. The Caribbean plate is squeezed between two larger plates, the North American and South American, creating loaded fault lines. Haiti's quake was along the Enriquillo line—... More »

Q&A About Haiti Quake

Questions answered, like why wasn't the Dominican Republic hit?

(Newser) - Confused about why the Haitian earthquake didn't also hit the Dominican Republic or cause a tsunami? Slate provides answers:
  • Why so much destruction? Haiti has no national building codes, and though some follow best practices, inspection is almost nonexistent.
  • Why wasn't the DR affected? It was, but most of the
... More »

Geologists Warned of Haiti Earthquake

Calculations predicted temblor of up to 7.2 magnitude—but not timing

(Newser) - Scientists have known for years that the fault Haiti sits on was due for a large-magnitude quake—they just didn’t know when. A 2008 paper predicted a quake registering up to 7.2, but “it could have been the next day, it could have been 10 years, it... More »

Centuries of Fault Stress Unleashed Haiti Hell

Devastating 7.0 quake brewing since 1760

(Newser) - The catastrophic earthquake that hit Haiti yesterday had been brewing along a fault line for hundreds of years, experts say. Geologists believe the tectonic plates beneath the Caribbean had been pushing against each other along the fault ever since a major quake in 1760, finally rumbling into cataclysm yesterday. The... More »

Desert Rift Creating New African Sea—Slowly

Crack created by volcanic eruption will eventually meet with Red Sea

(Newser) - Africa is getting a new ocean—in a million years, give or take. It's starting with a 35-mile rift in the Ethiopian desert caused by the eruption of a volcano in 2005. The rift will eventually meet with the Red Sea, allowing the waters to spill in, say scientists. The... More »

4 Earthquakes Strike Off Mexican Coast

No damage reported; 6.9 tremor felt as far away as Phoenix, LA

(Newser) - A series of four earthquakes hit within an hour today under Mexico’s Gulf of California, BNO News reports. The second of the tremors, which at 9 miles deep were relatively shallow and thus more dangerous, registered a 6.9 on the Richter scale. No damage was immediately reported, and... More »

Quake Knocks New Zealand a Foot Closer to Australia

(Newser) - There’s nothing like a 7.8 magnitude earthquake to bring two countries together—literally. The temblor that hit New Zealand last week has shoved its southern island about 12 inches closer to Australia, TVNZ reports. That might not sound like much, but considering that New Zealand typically moves about... More »

6.0 Quake Shakes Mexico City

(Newser) - A strong earthquake struck central Mexico today, causing tall buildings in the capital to sway and sending office workers into the streets. The 6.0-magnitude quake was centered near Chilpancingo, about 130 miles southwest of Mexico City, and 50 miles from the resort of Acapulco, according to the US Geological... More »

Undersea Volcano Erupts in Pacific 'Ring of Fire'

It's not yet a threat to islanders, animal life

(Newser) - Scientists sailed today to inspect an undersea volcano that has been erupting for days near Tonga—shooting smoke, steam, and ash thousands of feet into the sky above the South Pacific ocean. The eruption doesn't pose any danger to islanders at this stage, authorities say, and there have been no... More »

Powerful Quakes Rock Indonesia

Dozens injured by swarm of strong quakes north of Sulawesi

(Newser) - A series of powerful earthquakes injured at least 50 people and damaged hundreds of buildings in Indonesia's Talaud Islands today, reports CNN. A 7.2 magnitude quake centered north of Sulawesi was followed by some 20 strong aftershocks. Islanders fled to higher ground after a tsunami warning was issued; it... More »

Volcano Showers Tokyo With Ash

Residents warned larger explosion may follow

(Newser) - Powdery ash showered Tokyo this morning as Japan's Mount Asama volcano erupted 90 miles away, Reuters reports. Smoke burst a mile into the air and rocks flew onto sparse neighboring towns, but there was little damage and no visible lava from the explosion. Scientists have warned people not to approach... More »

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