Archive for the ‘Geography’ Category

231/365 – 2004 Tsunami

April 17, 2012 Leave a comment

The December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was caused by an earthquake that is thought to have had the energy of 23,000 atomic bombs.

The epicenter of the 9.0 magnitude quake was under the Indian Ocean near the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

The violent movement of sections of the Earth’s crusts known as tectonic plates displaced an enormous amount of water, sending powerful shock waves in every direction.

The tectonic plates in this area had been pushing against each other, building pressure for thousands of years – they continue to do so and will likely cause underwater earthquakes and tsunamis in the future.

The shifting of the earth’s plates in the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004 caused a rupture more than 600 miles long, displacing the seafloor above the rupture by perhaps 10 yards horizontally and several yards vertically. That doesn’t sound like much, but the trillions of tons of rock that were moved along hundreds of miles caused the planet to shudder with the largest magnitude earthquake in 40 years.

Within hours of the earthquake, killer waves radiating from the epicenter slammed into the coastline of 11 Indian Ocean countries, damaging countries from east Africa to Thailand.

Despite a lag of up to several hours between the earthquake and the impact of the tsunami, nearly all of the victims were taken completely by surprise because there were no tsunami warning systems in the Indian Ocean to detect tsunamis or to warn the general populace living around the ocean.

By the end of the day of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, it had already killed 150,000 people. The final death toll was 283,000.

The Indian Ocean tsunami traveled as far as 3,000 miles to Africa and still arrived with sufficient force to kill people and destroy property.

Many people in Indonesian reported that they saw animals fleeing for high ground minutes before the tsunami arrived – very few animal bodies were found afterward.

The risk of famine and epidemic diseases was extremely high immediately following the tsunami – bodies rotting in the tropical heat contaminated food and water sources.



228/365 – Bay of Bengal

April 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Location: South Asia

Ocean type: bay

Primary sources: Indian Ocean

Basin countries: India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka

Max length: 2,090 km; c.1,300 mi

Max width: 1,610 km; 1,000 mi

Surface area: 2,172,000 km²

Average depth: 2,600 m ; 8,500 feet

Max depth: 4,694 m ; 15,400 feet

The Bay of Bengal, the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. Roughly triangular in shape, it is bordered mostly by India and Sri Lanka to the west, Bangladesh to the north, and Burma (Myanmar) and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the east.

 The Bay of Bengal occupies an area of 2,172,000 km². A number of large rivers – the Padma (a distributary of the Ganges), Meghna (a distributary of the Brahmaputra), Jamuna (a branch of the Brahmaputra), Ayeyarwady, Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna and Kaveri – flow into the Bay of Bengal.

Among the important ports are Cuddalore, Ennore, Chennai, Karaikal, Pondicherry, Tuticorin, Kakinada, Machilipatnam, Vishakhapatnam, Gangavaram, Krishnapatnam, Paradip, Kolkata, Mongla, Chittagong and Yangon.


181/365 – Valcanoes

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

A volcano is a mountain that opens downward to a pool of molten rock below the surface of the earth. When pressure builds up, eruptions occur.

In an eruption, gases and rock shoot up through the opening and spill over or fill the air with lava fragments. Eruptions can cause lava flows, hot ash flows, mudslides, avalanches, falling ash and floods.

The danger area around a volcano covers about a 20-mile radius.

Fresh volcanic ash, made of pulverized rock, can be harsh, acidic, gritty, glassy and smelly. The ash can cause damage to the lungs of older people, babies and people with respiratory problems.

Volcano eruptions have been known to knock down entire forests.

An erupting volcano can trigger tsunamis, flash floods, earthquakes, mudflows and rockfalls.

More than 80% of the earth’s surface is volcanic in origin. The sea floor and some mountains were formed by countless volcanic eruptions. Gaseous emissions from volcano formed the earth’s atmosphere.

There are more than 500 active volcanoes in the world. More than half of these volcanoes are part of the “Ring of Fire,” a region that encircles the Pacific Ocean.

Active volcanoes in the U.S. are found mainly in Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington, but the greatest chance of eruptions near areas where many people live is in Hawaii and Alaska.

Even though the volcanic eruption in Iceland was relatively small, the ash cloud that was produced disrupted European air travel for six days in April 2010. The eruption created the highest level of air travel disruption World War II.

Crater Lake in Oregon formed from a high volcano that lost its top after a series of tremendous explosions about 6,600 years ago.


Categories: Geography, Nature

178/365 – Kilimanjaro

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Elevation: 19,340 feet
Location: Tanzania, east Africa

The meaning and origin of the name Kilimanjaro is unknown. It is thought to be a combination of the Swahili word Kilima, meaning “mountain,” and the KiChagga word Njaro, loosely translated as “whiteness,” giving the name White Mountain.

Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa and fourth highest of the Seven Summits, is considered the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, rising 15,100 feet (4,600 meters) from base to summit.

Kilimanjaro is composed of three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo 19,340 feet (5,895 meters); Mawenzi 16,896 feet (5,149 meters); and Shira 13,000 feet (3,962 meters). Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo’s crater rim.

Kilimanjaro is a giant stratovolcano that began forming a million years ago when lava spilled from the Rift Valley zone. The mountain was built by successive lava flows. Two of its three peaks—Mawenzi and Shira—are extinct while Kibo, the highest peak is dormant and could erupt again.

Kilimanjaro has 2.2 square kilometers of glacial ice and is losing it quickly due to global warming. The glaciers have shrunk 82% since 1912 and declined 33% since 1989.

Kilimanjaro lies within the 756-square-kilometer Kilimanjaro National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of the few places on earth that encompasses every ecological life zone including tropical jungle, savannah, and desert to montane forests, subalpine plants, and the alpine zone above timberline.

Kilimanjaro has five common routes to its highest summit: Marangu Route; Machame Route; Rongai Route; Lemosho Route; and Mweka Route.

Climbing Kilimanjaro is easy and requires no technical climbing or mountaineering experience. The biggest challenge and danger is the high altitude. Climbers die from improper acclimatization and altitude sickness rather than falls.

Kilimanjaro is not a peak you can climb on your own. It is mandatory to climb with a licensed guide and have porters carry your equipment. This sustains the local economy and allows local people to reap the rewards of tourism.

The fastest verified ascent time was by Italian Bruno Brunod in 2001. He climbed Uhuru Peak from Marangu Gate in 5 hours, 38 minutes, and 40 seconds. The fastest round-trip time was by local guide Simon Mtuy who ran up and down on December 26, 2004 in 8 hours and 27 minutes.

Mount Meru, a 14,980-foot volcanic cone, lies 45 miles west of Kilimanjaro. It is an active volcano; has a snowcap; lies in Arusha National Park; and is often climbed as a training peak for Kilimanjaro.


160/365 – North Pole

February 6, 2012 Leave a comment

North Pole definition

North Pole is situated in the norther hemisphere where the Earth’s axis of rotation meets the Earth’s surface. There is a big difference between Geographic North Pole and Magnetic North Pole.

The Earth’s North Magnetic Pole is the point on the Earth’s surface at which the Earth’s magnetic field points vertically downwards. Magnetic north pole location moves constantly with time. The location of magnetic north pole was defined at 82.7°N 114.4°W in 2005.

James Clark Ross was first who reached the North Magnetic Pole in June 1, 1831. The fact is that the Magnetic North Pole is physically a magnetic field south pole.

North Pole location

The North Pole is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean which constantly covered with shifting sea ice. The North Pole latitude is 90° North.

At the North Pole all lines of longitude converge there, so North Pole longitude can be defined as any degree value. Greenland is the closest land to geographic north pole (700 km / 440 mi away).

North Pole climate

North Pole weather is much warmer than in South Pole. It is situated in Polar climate zone. The average north pole temperature during winter time is -34°C (-30°F) and average North Pole summer temperature is 0°C (32°F).

The temperature of North Pole changes during last 20 years. Many scientists consider it as a result of global warming. The thickness of ice at the north pole is 3-4 meters.

History of North Pole exploration

The exploration of North Pole has a long history. It is known North Pole fact that the first man who cross Arctic Circle was Greek geographer and explorer Pytheas of Massilia at about 320 BC. So he is considered a first Polar explorer.

The first North Pole map was made by D. Gerasimov, Russian sailor, in the first half of XVI century. But nevertheless the main steps of North Pole discovery were made much later – in the beginning of the last century.

Explorers and enthusiasts tried to achieve North Pole using all possible ways – dog sleds and planes, dirigibles and nuclear icebreakers, skis and parachutes.

It is considered that the first person in the North Pole was Robert Peary. He claimed that he reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909 together with Matthew Henson and four Inuit men. However, it is still controversial north pole fact.

People, who accompanied Peary during the journey, weren’t trained in navigation and couldn’t independently confirm his own navigational results. The other American explorer Frederick Albert Cook stated to have reached the North Pole on April 21, 1908, but he didn’t provide the convincing proof.


152/365 – Venus

January 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Venus is known as Earths’ twin sister because of its similar size and proximity to each other.

Its atmosphere is made up mostly of carbon dioxide.

Venus rotates so slowly that it orbits the sun faster than it can make one whole rotation on its axis. In other words, Venus has a longer day than year.

It takes 243 days for Venus to make a rotation.

And it takes 224 days for Venus to orbit around the sun.

Venus is the most widely explored planet aside from our own Earth. Numerous space probes have been sent to Venus to gather data and some have landed on the surface.

It is believed that Venus used to have bodies of water similar to Earth, but dried up over a period of 300 million years when the sun began admitting more solar energy after the sun’s infancy stage.

The clouds of Venus is filled with sulfuric acid.

Venus has mountains that are higher than Earth. Maat Mons is more than 5 miles high.

Venus is the brightest planet viewed from Earth.

The planet rotates from East to West. The only other planet that does this is Uranus.



142/365 – Comets

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Comets are in orbit around the Sun as are our planets.

Comets are composed of ices, dust and rocky debris carried from the early formation of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago.

Comets are remnants from the cold, outer regions of the solar system. They are generally thought to come from two areas – the Oort Cloud and the Kuiper Belt. Both of these are areas where materials left over from the formation of our solar system have condensed into icy objects. Both regions extend beyond the orbits of Neptune and Pluto but are still part of our solar system and much closer to us than the closest star.

Comet orbits are elliptical. It brings them close to the sun and takes them far away.

Short period comets orbit the Sun every 20 years or less. Long period comets orbit the Sun every 200 years or longer. Those comets with orbits in between are called Halley-type comets.

Comets have three parts: the nucleus, the coma and the tails. The nucleus is the solid center component made of ice, gas and rocky debris. The coma is the gas and dust atmosphere around the nucleus, which results when heat from the Sun warms the surface of the nucleus so that gas and dust spew forth in all directions and are driven from the comet’s surface. The tails are formed when energy from the Sun turns the coma so that it flows around the nucleus and forms a fanned out tail behind it extending millions of miles through space.

We see a comet’s coma and tail because sunlight reflects off the dust (in the coma and dust tail) and because the energy from the Sun excites some molecules so that they glow and form a bluish tail called an ion tail and a yellow one made of neutral sodium atoms.

Scientists have seen comets range in size from less than 1 km diameter to as much as 300 km, although the 300km (called Chiron) does not travel into the inner solar system.

We know a comet could impact Earth and that it is important to understand the nature of comets so we can design better methods to protect ourselves from them should one be on a collision path with Earth.

A comet nucleus has a dark, sometimes mottled surface but we don’t know if it has an outer crust or if it is layered inside. We don’t really know what comets are like beneath their surface and that’s why we need a mission like Deep Impact.