Earthquake Hits England

30 04 2007

In scenes more reminiscent of Los Angeles than the Garden of England, locals listened anxiously to news bulletins after an earthquake struck Kent on April 28, toppling chimneys, cracking walls, cutting power and unnerving residents.

Seismologists at the British Geological Survey said the quake registered 4.3 on the Richter scale, making it the fourth-largest in the history of UK tremors. The last big rumble was in Dudley in the West Midlands in 2002 and that scored 4.8.

The whole article here.
More, plus photos and video:


It’s a Mineral, It’s a Crystal, Its — Kryptonite!

29 04 2007

Kryponite, the only substance that could defeat Superman, is no longer the stuff of science fiction. A unique and previously unidentifed mineral that nearly exactly matches the chemical makeup as described in the movie Superman Returns, was recently discovered by researchers in Serbia. However, unlike the Kryponite in the comics, the real deal is not green and glowing, but white and harmless even to superheroes.

The mineral will formally be called jadarite, after the mine in Serbia where it was found.

Read the full story here at BBC.

Geo-Pict of the Day: Quartz

25 04 2007

By Lorenzo S.; Emilia Romagna, Italy.

Giant Crystals’ Formation Revealed

20 04 2007

I previously blogged about Mexico’s Cueva de los Cristales (Cave of Crystals), called “the Sistine Chapel of crystals,” by Spanish geologist Juan Manuel García- Ruiz.

García- Ruiz and a Spanish-Mexican team of researchers have unlocked the mystery of just how the crystals achieved their monumental forms which include some of the largest natural crystals ever found: translucent gypsum beams measuring up to 36 feet (11 meters) long and weighing up to 55 tons.
Richard D. Fisher at

^ Photo : Richard D. Fisher at

To learn how the crystals grew to such gigantic sizes, García-Ruiz studied tiny pockets of fluid trapped inside. The crystals, he said, thrived because they were submerged in mineral-rich water with a very narrow, stable temperature range—around 136 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius) for many hundreds of thousands of years.

At this temperature the mineral anhydrite, which was abundant in the water, dissolved into gypsum, a soft mineral that can take the form of the crystals in the Naica cave.

The new findings appear in the April issue of the journal Geology.

In 1910 miners discovered another spectacular cavern beneath Naica. Its walls studded with crystal “daggers,” the Cave of Swords is closer to the surface, at a depth of nearly 400 feet (120 meters). While there are more crystals in the upper cave, they are far smaller, typically about a yard (a meter) long.

In the Cave of Crystals, on the other hand, the floor is covered in crystalline, perfectly faceted blocks. The huge crystal beams jut out from both the blocks and the floor.

Read the entire article here.

By Stefan Lovgren for National Geographic News
April 6, 2007
Read about the Naica film project and see the extraordinary gallery at Nacia.

EDIT: I just added a video of the Naica expedition to retrieve crystals for research. See below in the sidebar.


Featured Geology T-Shirt

19 04 2007

Vuggedaboudit — it’s like the Sopranos on a rockhounding field trip!

(A vug is cavity, void or large pore in a rock that is commonly lined with mineral precipitates.)

T-Rex Related to Modern Chicken

16 04 2007

The expression “hen’s teeth” will never again seem so benign.

Scientists have managed to extract proteins of collagen 1 from the bones of a 68-million-years-old Tyrannosaurus rex fossil. It was previously thought the protein in bones had a shelf life of around a million years. By comparison, DNA “survives” less than 100,000 years.

The first results, described in today’s issue of the journal Science, show that the collagen protein in T. rex bone is extraordinarily similar to that of the modern chicken, confirming current thinking that dinosaurs’ nearest cousins are birds.

“Based on the small sample we’ve recovered, chickens may be the closest relatives (to T. rex),” says geneticist John Asara of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, co-leader of a team reporting the discovery of faint traces of chicken-like bone lining preserved inside a dinosaur drumstick.

The organic material found inside those bones and analyzed is not DNA, but researchers say it’s the next-best thing: collagen proteins that were isolated using techniques on the very edge of what’s possible today.

Read more in the Washington Post, Sci-Tech Today, USA Today and other sources at Palentology News.

“Then” and “Now” photos 😀


Geo-Pict of the Day: Amethyst Calcite

13 04 2007

Amethyst Calcite

Amethyst Calcite from Brazil.
Click on the image to see a close-up of this beautiful mineral, and from there you can see the interactive video, where you can spin it around and zoom in!

Courtesy of Wilensky Fine Minerals.
Thank you, Stuart and Donna!