Physical Sciences

Humans Have Been Causing Earthquakes in Texas Since the 1920s

Earthquakes triggered by human activity have been happening in Texas since at least 1925, and they have been widespread throughout the state ever since, according to a new historical review…The earthquakes are caused by oil and gas operations, but the specific production techniques behind these quakes have differed over the decades, according to Cliff Frohlich, a senior research scientist and associate director at the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas at Austin. Frohlich said the evidence should lay to rest the idea that there is no substantial proof for human-caused earthquakes in Texas, as some state officials have claimed as recently as 2015. (Read the full story)

Most Eccentric Planet Known Flashes Astronomers With Reflected Light

Led by SF State astronomer Stephen Kane, a team of researchers has spotted an extrasolar planet about 117 light-years from earth that boasts the most eccentric orbit yet seen. What’s more, Kane and his colleagues were able to detect a signal of reflected light from the planet known as HD 20782 — a “flash” of starlight bouncing off the eccentric planet’s atmosphere as it made its closest orbital approach to its star. (Read the full story)

Mysterious Menominee Crack is Unusual Geological Pop-Up Feature

Seismologists studying a massive crack in the ground that appeared north of Menominee, Michigan in 2010 now think they know what the unusual feature might be. But as they explain in their study published this week in the journal Seismological Research Letters, there are still some mysteries to clear up about the strange geological occurrence in the rural Michigan woods. (Read the full story)

Precariously Balanced Rocks Suggest San Jacinto, San Andreas May Have Ruptured Together

Stacked in gravity-defying arrangements in the western San Bernardino Mountains, granite boulders that should have been toppled long ago by earthquakes are maintaining a stubborn if precarious balance. In puzzling out why these rocks still stand, researchers have uncovered connections between Southern California’s San Jacinto and San Andreas faults that could change how the region plans for future earthquakes. (Read the full story)