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Portal:Earth sciences

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The Earth Sciences Portal

Introduction

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Earth science or geoscience is a widely embraced term for the fields of natural science related to the planet Earth. It is the branch of science dealing with the physical constitution of the earth and its atmosphere. Earth science is the study of our planet’s physical characteristics, from earthquakes to raindrops, and floods to fossils. Earth science can be considered to be a branch of planetary science, but with a much older history. “Earth science” is a broad term that encompasses four main branches of study, each of which is further broken down into more specialized fields.

There are both reductionist and holistic approaches to Earth sciences. It is also the study of the Earth and its neighbors in space. Some Earth scientists use their knowledge of the Earth to locate and develop energy and mineral resources. Others study the impact of human activity on Earth's environment, and design methods to protect the planet. Some use their knowledge about Earth processes such as volcanoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes to plan communities that will not expose people to these dangerous events.

The Earth sciences can include the study of geology, the lithosphere, and the large-scale structure of the Earth's interior, as well as the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Typically, Earth scientists use tools from geography, chronology, physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics to build a quantitative understanding of how the Earth works and evolves. Earth science affects our everyday lives. For example, meteorologists study the weather and watch for dangerous storms. Hydrologists study water and warn of floods. Seismologists study earthquakes and try to predict where they will strike. Geologists study rocks and help to locate useful minerals. Earth scientists mainly work “in the field”—climbing mountains, exploring the seabed, crawling through caves, or wading in swamps. They measure and collect samples (such as rocks or river water), then they record their findings on charts and maps. Read more...

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Caldera Mt Tambora Sumbawa Indonesia.jpg

Mount Tambora (or Tomboro) is an active stratovolcano on Sumbawa, one of the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia. Sumbawa is flanked to the north and south by oceanic crust. It was formed due to the active subduction zones beneath it, and before its 1815 eruption, was more than 4,300 metres (14,100 feet) high, making it then one of the tallest peaks in the Indonesian archipelago.

The large magma chamber under Tambora had been drained by pre-1815 eruptions and underwent several centuries of dormancy as it refilled. Volcanic activity reached a peak that year, when Tambora erupted. With a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 7, the eruption was the largest since the Taupo eruption in 181 AD, and the largest in recorded history. The explosion was heard on Sumatra island, more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) away. Heavy volcanic ash rains were observed as far away as Borneo, Sulawesi, Java and Maluku islands, and Tambora was reduced to a height of 2,850 metres (9,350 feet). Although estimates vary, the death toll was at least 71,000 people, of which 11,000–12,000 were killed directly by the eruption. The eruption created global climate anomalies in the following years, while 1816 became known as the "year without a summer" due to the impact on North American and European weather. In the Northern Hemisphere, crops failed and livestock died, resulting in the worst famine of the century. Read more...

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Full Moon partially obscured by the atmosphere of Earth.
Credit: NASA

Astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery recorded this rarely seen phenomenon of the full Moon partially obscured by the atmosphere of Earth. The image was recorded with an electronic still camera at 15:15:15 GMT, Dec. 21, 1999

In the news

17 June 2018 – Boko Haram insurgency
Twin suicide bombings in Damboa, Nigeria, leave at least 31 people dead. The explosions are reportedly followed by rockets fired from outside the town. (BBC)
17 June 2018 – 2018 Osaka earthquake
A magnitude 5.5 earthquake strikes Osaka, Japan, at 7:58 a.m. local time on 18 June (22:58 UTC). At least five people have been killed and several are transported to hospitals with injuries. Electrical services are disrupted citywide, affecting 170,000 buildings. (NHK)
2 June 2018 – Asteroid close approaches to Earth in 2018
A 2–5-metre (6 ft 7 in–16 ft 5 in) wide asteroid named 2018 LA was estimated (before impact) to have an 82% chance of having impacted Earth today, with several corroborating reports from Botswana. An OFM media report from near Klerksdorp, North West province, South Africa, describes "'a light' falling from the sky" at 18:49 (UTC+02:00) Saturday night. (NASA) (Minor Planet Mailing List) (Project Pluto) (OFM)
25 May 2018 – 2018 lower Puna eruption
A magnitude 4.4 earthquake occurs at Kīlauea. (CBS News)

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Climate change (More...)

Global warming · Rachel Carson · Retreat of glaciers since 1850

Earthquakes (More...)

1949 Ambato earthquake · 1968 Illinois earthquake · 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens · 1997 Qayen earthquake · 2002 Bou'in-Zahra earthquake · 2005 Qeshm earthquake · 2007–2008 Nazko earthquakes

Volcanoes (More...)

1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens · 2007–2008 Nazko earthquakes · Amchitka · Armero tragedy · Calabozos · Cerro Azul (Chile volcano) · Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve · David A. Johnston · Geology of the Lassen volcanic area · Loihi Seamount · Mauna Kea · Mauna Loa · Metacomet Ridge · Mono–Inyo Craters · Mount Cayley volcanic field · Mount St. Helens · Mount Tambora · Nevado del Ruiz · Surtsey · The Volcano (British Columbia) · Upper and Lower Table Rock · Volcano (South Park) · Yellowstone National Park

Other geology (More...)

Mary Anning · Archaea · Archaeopteryx · Cerro Azul (Chile volcano) · Bryce Canyon National Park · Calabozos · Chicxulub crater · Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event · Charles Darwin · Earth · Ediacara biota · Geology of the Bryce Canyon area · Geology of the Capitol Reef area · Geology of the Death Valley area · Geology of the Grand Canyon area · Geology of the Lassen volcanic area · Geology of the Zion and Kolob canyons area · Global warming · Iridium · Oil shale · The Volcano (British Columbia) · Toronto Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory · Volcanology of Io · Yellowstone National Park

Geography (More...)

Antarctica · Australia · Bryce Canyon National Park · Carlsbad Caverns National Park · Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve · Death Valley National Park · Geography of India · Geography of Ireland · National parks of England and Wales · Niagara Falls · Rondane National Park · Shoshone National Forest · Yellowstone National Park · Yosemite National Park · Zion National Park

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For a more comprehensive treatment of topics, see Outline of earth science and Index of earth science articles

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