Scientists just learned what makes Yellowstone’s supervolcano tick

April 18, 2018 by  
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We all know about the supervolcano boiling underneath Yellowstone – but, until now, we didn’t know what was fueling the cauldron. This week, scientists revealed that they were able to model the behavior of two magma chambers underground by using supercomputer technology. At one point, these two magma lakes almost meet, forming a slab of pressure-trapping rock. That rock could be the powder keg that fuels the volcano. University of Oregon geologist Ilya Bindeman and his team ran simulations based on research from the University of Utah , which had determined that two gigantic magma chambers lay underneath Yellowstone. Bindeman’s simulations showed how those magma chambers formed over the course of 7 million years. ? Using these models, researchers determined that a cooler magma shelf is crushed between the two magma bodies about six miles below the surface. This so-called “gabbro rock” is found in other supervolcanoes around the world. Someday, scientists will be able to use this information to help shed a little light on how and when the Yellowstone volcano might blow, as well as what feeds it. Related: NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth “This is the nursery, a geological and petrological match with eruptive products. We think that this structure is what causes the rhyolite-basalt volcanism throughout the Yellowstone hotspot, including supervolcanic eruptions,” said Bindeman. The study was published this week in Geophysical Research Letters . + Geophysical Research Letters Via Science Alert Images via Deposit Photos and GRL

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Scientists just learned what makes Yellowstone’s supervolcano tick

New evidence suggests a massive magma plume under Yellowstone Park

March 20, 2018 by  
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A new study reveals evidence of a massive plume of magma beneath Yellowstone National Park – and it could run all the way to Mexico. Scientists have debated the presence of a plume for years, and if one does exist, it would explain the heat that bubbles to the surface in the park. Researchers at the University of Texas found evidence for a plume under the park using seismic data obtained from listening stations across North America run by EarthScope’s USArray . Using this data, they found a long, thin 72 x 55-kilometer channel where seismic waves are slower. This indicates that the section of mantle is 600 to 800 degrees warmer than areas around it. Related: Scientists construct new theory of Yellowstone’s supervolcano hotspot This plume could be the cause of Yellowstone’s surface activity , although the scientists say that more research is needed. There is also more work to be done to understand the forces holding the plume in place in its current location. Via Phys.org Images via Nature and Deposit Photos

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New evidence suggests a massive magma plume under Yellowstone Park

SOM’s net-zero Paris skyscraper will be one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe

March 20, 2018 by  
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Prolific firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) just unveiled plans for Charenton-Bercy, a net-zero Paris skyscraper that’s designed to be one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe. The 180-meter tower would include multiple green features, including rainwater harvesting, greywater recycling, green roofs, and waste-to-energy conversion systems. As part of its “garden in the sky” design, the project would also feature a  band of vegetation running the length of the tower’s facade, leading into a tree-filled plaza at the tower’s base. The architects would place the skyscraper on the banks of the Seine in southeastern Paris. The building will house a mix of residential units and a hotel, with shops and outdoor cafes in the adjoining plaza. The master plan calls for  green space to occupy more than one-third of the site. In fact, the developer working with the architects has committed to planting one tree on-site per residential unit. Related: SOM unveils impressive LEED-targeting medical campus for Egypt’s National Cancer Institute (NCI) The plans reflect the firm’s goal of creating an icon of sustainability while blending the design into the traditional cityscape of Paris. In the words of Daniel Ringelstein, director at SOM London, the architects “saw [their] role as bringing a fresh perspective from an international point of view, refined in close collaboration with [their] local team to ensure a sensitive integration within the existing community.” + SOM Architecture Via Dezeen Images via Som Architecture

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SOM’s net-zero Paris skyscraper will be one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe

Wave of earthquakes shake Yellowstone’s supervolcano

February 22, 2018 by  
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Since the start of February, Yellowstone National Park and its supervolcano have been hit with a wave of at least 20 earthquakes and a number of smaller tremors. Although the largest earthquake only registered a 2.9 on the Richter scale and all have struck about five miles below the Earth’s surface, this so-called earthquake swarm is noteworthy, though likely not reason for alarm. “While it may seem worrisome, the current seismicity is relatively weak and actually represents an opportunity to learn more about Yellowstone,” wrote researchers Michael Poland and Jamie Farrell for the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory . “It is during periods of change when scientists can develop, test, and refine their models of how the Yellowstone volcanic system works.” Though the name may conjure images of aggressive insects , earthquake swarms are actually a fairly common, benign occurrence at Yellowstone. The largest earthquake storm came in 1985, when more than 3,000 earthquakes struck Yellowstone over several months. The area typically experiences 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes each year, most of which are not felt. Swarms are caused by stress changes at fault lines due to either tectonic forces or local pressure increases resulting from changes in water, magma , or subterranean gas. The highly seismic Yellowstone is affected by both swarm-causing factors. Related: Scientists construct new theory of Yellowstone’s supervolcano hotspot While the earthquake swarms and Yellowstone’s supervolcano are both currently harmless, there is always a small chance that, someday, the big one will arrive. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there is a 1 in 730,000 chance that the supervolcano will experience a major eruption; this is roughly equivalent to the probability of an asteroid collision with Earth. As for what might trigger such an event, tiny tremors serve as reminders. Seismologist Jamie Farrell told National Geographic, “The most likely hazard in Yellowstone is from large earthquakes”. Via National Geographic Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Wave of earthquakes shake Yellowstone’s supervolcano

7 simple designs that solve modern problems – and don’t cost a fortune

February 22, 2018 by  
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Clean water . Affordable housing. Renewable energy . These are just a few of the pressing needs that can be met by design . All around the world, people have come up with innovative solutions to life’s problems using affordable, readily available materials and technologies. Read on for a look at seven simple designs that meet these challenges and more. Recycled laptop batteries power houses You might think the Tesla Powerwall has home renewable energy storage under control, but a few creative people have decided to do it themselves, drawing on recycled laptop batteries to make their own home storage devices that cost less than the Tesla option – solving an issue and reducing waste at the same time. They’ve shared their designs online so others can also benefit. Related: 6 urban farms feeding the world Plastic bottle air conditioner uses no electricity Climate control is an issue people worldwide face, but those living in rural areas don’t always have access to the air conditioners we may have. In Bangladesh, inventor Ashis Paul repurposed plastic soda bottles to design the Eco Cooler : a cooling system that requires no power. His company has already installed them in around 25,000 homes. 3D printing homes out of clay and mud Humans will probably always need affordable, sustainable housing . The World’s Advanced Saving Project is working to meet these needs with their BigDelta, a massive printer that 3D prints houses for almost zero cost out of mud and clay. The organization draws inspiration from the mud dauber wasp, which builds its homes from mud. Ceramic Cool Brick cools homes with simply water 3D printing innovators Emerging Objects created a home-cooling solution called the Cool Brick. The ceramic device only needs water to cool down a house in a dry, hot climate – and works based on evaporative cooling systems utilized all the way back around 2,500 BC. Ceramic filters help bring clean water to Cambodia When you can switch on a tap and water gushes out, it’s easy to take clean water for granted. But people around the world lack access to clean drinking water , and UNICEF and the Water and Sanitation Program teamed up to bring it to people in Cambodia . Their ceramic water filters , manufactured and distributed by Cambodians, resulted in a 50 percent fall in diarrheal illness after they were implemented. The ceramic water purifiers cost around $7.50 to $9.50 per system, according to a report from both organizations , and replacement filters cost around $2.50 to $4. Zero-energy air conditioner made of terracotta tubes Evaporative cooling was also put to work in India in an artistic, energy efficient cooling solution designed by Ant Studio for a DEKI Electronics factory. Conical terracotta tubes comprise the installation , and when water is run over them – once or twice a day – evaporation helps lower the temperature. DIY solar generator for the people of Puerto Rico Remember those creatives who design their own Powerwall-like devices? Business owner Jehu Garcia is one, and he also put his technological know-how to work to try and combat Puerto Rico’s electricity crisis in the wake of Hurricane Maria . He posted a YouTube video detailing his design for a solar generator costing around $550, including the cost of a solar panel and light bulbs. He teamed up with a contact in Puerto Rico, asking people to build the generators and send them or parts. Images via Pixnio , Jehu Garcia , Grey Bangladesh , World’s Advanced Saving Project , Emerging Objects , UNICEF and Water and Sanitation Program , Ant Studio , and Jehu Garcia on Instagram

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7 simple designs that solve modern problems – and don’t cost a fortune

Africa’s first waste-to-energy plant to supply 30% of Addis Ababa’s household electricity needs

February 22, 2018 by  
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Ethiopia ‘s capital Addis Ababa has had one landfill for around 50 years: the Koshe dump site. Serving over three million people, it’s about as large as 36 football pitches, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). A waste-to-energy plant, a first for Africa , could transform the site, burning around 1,400 tons of trash every day. Waste incineration is a popular energy source in Europe; there are 126 plants in France, 121 in Germany, and 40 in Italy, according to UNEP. But no plants have been constructed in Africa — until now. The Reppie Waste-to-Energy Project is designed to supply Ethiopia’s capital with around 30 percent of household power needs. To meet European standards, UNEP said Reppie “adopts modern back-end flue gas treatment technology to drastically reduce the release of heavy metals and dioxins produced from the burning .” Related: Dubai announces plans for world’s biggest waste-to-energy facility A BBC video posted this month said the waste-to-energy plant will generate three million bricks from waste ash, and 30 million liters of water will be recovered from the garbage. They said the plant will avert the release of 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide . Hundreds of jobs will also be generated, including for people who depended on scavenging at the dump. For cities lacking a large amount of land, UNEP described waste-to-energy incineration as a quadruple win: “it saves precious space, generates electricity, prevents the release of toxic chemicals into groundwater , and reduces the release of methane — a potent greenhouse gas generated in landfills — into the atmosphere.” The government of Ethiopia partnered with renewable energy and waste management company Cambridge Industries , state-owned engineering company China National Electric Engineering , and Danish engineering firm Ramboll to build the plant. UNEP said last November it was set to start operating in January, though it appears they’re not all the way there yet; that said, the BBC video reported the plant is connected to the national power grid . + Reppie Waste-to-Energy Project + United Nations Environment Program Via the BBC Images via Depositphotos and Pixabay

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Africa’s first waste-to-energy plant to supply 30% of Addis Ababa’s household electricity needs

Two giant volcanic eruptions formed Yellowstone’s iconic caldera

October 27, 2017 by  
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Researchers now believe the sprawling Yellowstone caldera was created by two massive eruptions from the supervolcano that occurred approximately 630,000 years ago. Geologists from the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) made this discovery when they uncovered new evidence of the two massive eruptions in the Santa Barbara Basin, which was uniquely suited to capture a long-lasting record of volcanic activity. The record suggests these two closely spaced eruptions from the Yellowstone supervolcano altered the planet’s climate in the wake of an ice age and created the 45 x 30 mile Yellowstone caldera that can be seen today. The evidence for the two massive eruptions was found in two layers of ash and shell sediments off the coast of Santa Barbara, California . 630,000 years ago, the underwater conditions of the Santa Barbara Basin were ideal for preserving records of volcanic activity because of a nutrient-rich environment which allowed single-celled organisms known as foraminifera to thrive. The microscopic shells of the foraminifera contain temperature-sensitive oxygen isotopes, which allows scientists to determine the temperature of the sea at a particular point in the past. Related: NASA considers puncturing Yellowstone supervolcano to save life on Earth Based on the record of foraminifera shells, researchers determined that the Santa Barbara Basin cooled approximately 3 degrees Celsius after each of the super-eruptions, due to ash and volcanic gases in the atmosphere blocking sunlight. Although the world at the time was warming in the wake of an ice age, the two eruptions delayed this climate shift significantly. “It was a fickle, but fortunate time,” said Jim Kennett, geologist and lead author of the study published by the Geological Society of America . “If these eruptions had happened during another climate state we may not have detected the climatic consequences because the cooling episodes would not have lasted so long.” Via New Atlas Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Two giant volcanic eruptions formed Yellowstone’s iconic caldera

Striking apartment complex is made of 48 raw shipping containers

October 27, 2017 by  
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While some designers choose to mask the rough aesthetic of shipping containers with sophisticated cladding, Danish firm Arkitema Architects are proudly putting the metal boxes at the forefront with the design of a new apartment complex in Denmark. Beat Box is a funky complex comprised of 48 containers whose simple and raw appearance was blends in nicely with the former industrial neighborhood of Musicon, just outside of Copenhagen. The Beat Box apartment complex uses 48 containers to create 30 light-filled apartments. Spanning over three blocks in a semi-circle shape, the modern complex will face two of the most central streets in the city. The ground floor will be enclosed with large glass panels to create a strong connection between the structure and its urban environment. Related: This shipping container hotel is so cool you’ll forget its a shipping container The rough exteriors of the shipping containers will be retained, while the interiors will be converted into modern living spaces of various sizes. Large glazed windows and doors will be built into the containers to bring natural light into the units, some of which will have balconies. Future tenants will also be able to enjoy amenities such as a bbq patio and ample bike parking. Thanks to the efficiency of building with shipping containers , construction of the Beat Box project will be a fairly straightforward. Additionally convenient is that the complex will be built in a way so that the structure will be flexible , meaning that the containers can be reconfigured in years to come if necessary. Retaining the rugged exterior of the containers is an integral part of the design, which is focused on creating a sustainable icon for the neighborhood’s revitalization goals, which aims to add 1,000 jobs and 1,000 homes to the Musicon area over the next 15 years. The ambitious urban plan is counting on various sustainable architectural projects accommodate the new population, which will hopefully see the previously industrial area converted into a thriving avant-garde community. + Arkitema Architects Via Archdaily Images via Arkitema Architects

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Striking apartment complex is made of 48 raw shipping containers

NPS offers $5K reward for information about beloved white wolf shot in Yellowstone

May 15, 2017 by  
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There are only three white wolves known to reside in Yellowstone National Park . But one of them, a 12-year-old alpha female, was recently mortally wounded from a gunshot and had to be put down by park staff. Park superintendent Dan Wenk said this was a criminal act, and the park is offering $5,000 for any information about who might have shot the animal . Hikers came across the severely wounded white wolf last month inside the national park near Gardiner, Montana . Park staff responded and had to euthanize the wolf because her wounds were too grave. She was sent to the United States Fish & Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Oregon for a necropsy, and this week Yellowstone National Park shared the preliminary results: the wolf suffered from a gunshot. Related: Court condemns Wyoming wolves to first legal hunt in four years Park officials think someone shot the alpha female in the north side of Yellowstone or near the Old Yellowstone Trail. They think she was wounded between 1 AM on April 10 and 2 PM on April 11. Wenk said the park will offer a reward for information that can help them arrest and convict the person or people who criminally shot the wolf. The white wolf was 12 years old, which is double the average Yellowstone wolf’s age. She was the alpha female for more than nine years with one alpha male. She gave birth to at least 20 pups as an alpha female. The park said her range was quite expansive, from Hayden Valley in Wyoming to the Firehole River area, and even up to the northern part of the park near Montana. The park describes her as “one of the most recognizable wolves and sought after by visitors to view and photograph .” The park encourages anyone with information to step forward and call, text, email, or message them on social media; details to get in touch are here . Tips are confidential. Via the National Park Service Images via Yellowstone National Park on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 )

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NPS offers $5K reward for information about beloved white wolf shot in Yellowstone

Revolutionary printed solar sheets reach final trial stages in New South Wales

May 15, 2017 by  
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When disaster strikes, whether it be man-made or natural, power is the resource people need most. For this reason, Professor Paul Dastoor has been working for decades to develop a lightweight “printed solar ” panel that is capable of generating power . Now, the invention is in its final trial stages at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales. The revolutionary solar panels are made by printing electronic ink onto clear, plastic sheets. The final product is lightweight enough it can be quickly shipped to populations in distress – and that is the point. “What we do know right now is that if there’s a disaster the first thing people need is power,” said Dastoor. “Typically that’s generated by a diesel generator and you have to truck in fuel.” Compared to a silicon model, the lightweight solar panels are made from glass, which makes them much lighter. This, in turn, makes them ideal for developing countries. ”If I had 1000 square metres of typical silicone cells, that would weigh the equivalent of roughly three African Elephants . 1000m2 of this material would weigh about 100 kilograms,” said Vaughan, putting the product’s weight into perspective. The panels are also very economical to produce. After doing extensive economic modeling, the research team has concluded that they can produce the printed solar scales for less than $10 a square meter. “Try buying carpet for less than $10 a square metre,” said Vaughan. Related: MIT unveils new solar 3D printer that can build houses on other planets Based on data collected by the research team thus far, it is estimated that the university’s small printer can produce hundreds of meters of solar cells every day. In Professor Dastoor’s words, this “means that we’ll be able to power using scaled up printers , say thousands and thousands of homes… it’s very exciting.” You can expect to find the printed solar panels available for sale in about three years time. And, they won’t be marketed to just go on roofs . “One of the things about these cells is that they’re not as sensitive to light intensity,” said Dastoor. “Any part of the roof will generate electricity ; even walls, windows, surfaces of vehicles, tents, lightweight structures, roofs that can’t take a heavy conventional silicone solar cells are now accessible to these modules.”The inventor will “massively increase” the area of solar cells so energy can be produced in a variety of new ways. Added Dastoor, “We think it’s going to be a big change to the way in which we think about power being generated renewably .” Via ABC News Images via Kerrin Thomas of ABC News

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Revolutionary printed solar sheets reach final trial stages in New South Wales

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