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Geology News

Moving Mountains: How Plate Tectonics Helped an Ancient Mountain Range Disappear

Jan 2015 | by Tara Roberts

Ruby Mountains Geology assistant professor, Elizabeth Cassel, and her students study an ancient Nevadan mountain range that dwarfed today's Sierra Nevada, but gradually disappeared as a result of shifting tectonic plates. Cassel's work is published in the journal Geology and featured in Scientific American. The research is significant because it nails down when the mountains existed: about 20 to 50 million years ago. "We're not the first people to say we think this area was higher than it is today, but we are the first to give absolute numbers, and determine when it was high," Cassel says. Read more...

Evidence of Plate Tectonics on Europa

Sept 8, 2014 | by Tara Roberts

Tectonics on Europa While examining images of Europa taken by NASA’s Galileo orbiter in the early 2000s, planetary geologists Simon Kattenhorn of the University of Idaho and Louise Prockter of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory discovered some unusual geological boundaries. The surface of Europa – one of Jupiter’s four largest moons, and slightly smaller than Earth’s moon – is riddled with cracks and ridges, and surface blocks are known to have shifted in the same way blocks on either side of the San Andreas fault move past each other on Earth. Many parts of Europa’s surface show evidence of extension, where wide bands (up to tens of miles wide) formed as the surface ripped apart, and fresh icy material from the underlying shell moved into the newly created gap, a process akin to terrestrial seafloor spreading. Read more...

Results published in Nature Geoscience, Sept 7, 2014. [access the article]

Gunterite: New Mineral Named for Geology Professor

Gunterite: New Mineral Named for Geology ProfessorGeology Professor Mickey Gunter has been honored by the International Mineralogical Association, which voted to name the newly discovered mineral after him.

"It's one of the biggest honors a person could have in their life as a mineralogist," says Gunter. "It's a bit overwhelming at the same time."

The orange-yellow mineral -- Na4(H2V10028)22H20 -- is the most recently named new mineral to be discovered this year. It comes out of the Sunday Mine in San Miguel, Colorado, a mine that has already produced several new minerals in recent years.