Melting Glacier Exposes Frozen Forest

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The Mendenhall Glacier, which flows from the 1,500-square-mile Juneau Ice Field, has been retreating since the mid-1700s, according to the USDA Forest Service. But in the past 50 years, reports LiveScience, relics of an old forest have begun appearing amid the melted ice. In the past year or so, trees still upright and with roots and bits of bark still intact have been exposed by the retreating flow.

Researchers based at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) are studying the emerging forest; they have determined that the trees’ ages range from about 1,200 to 2,350 years old, reports the Juneau Empire. The trees are likely spruce, UAS geology professor Cathy Connor said, though this hasn’t been verified.

"There are a lot of them, and being in a growth position is exciting because we can see the outermost part of the tree and count back to see how old the tree was," Connor told LiveScience. "Mostly, people find chunks of wood helter-skelter, but to see these intact upright is kind of cool."

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There's An Ocean Deep Inside the Earth

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In what sounds like a chapter from Journey to the Center of the Earth, the chemical makeup of a tiny, extremely rare gemstone has made researchers think there's a massive water reservoir hundreds of miles under the earth.

The gemstone in question is called ringwoodite, which is created when olivine, a material that is extremely common in the mantle, is highly pressurized; when it’s exposed to less pressurized environments, it reverts into olivine. It has previously been seen in meteorites and created in a laboratory, but until now it had never been found in a sample of the earth’s mantle. 

Diamond expert Graham Pearson of the University of Alberta came across a seemingly worthless, three-millimeter piece of brown diamond that had been found in Mato Grosso, Brazil, while he was researching another type of mineral. Within that diamond, he and his team found ringwoodite—and they found that roughly 1.5 percent of the ringwoodite’s weight was made up of trapped water. The findings are published in Nature.

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