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A Geyser of Mud From San Andreas Fault is Creeping Across California and it’s Unstoppable

A mud puddle doesn’t really sound all that threatening, but there’s one in California’s Imperial County that’s so troublesome, an emergency had to be declared earlier this year.

It’s called the Niland Geyser and it’s exactly that, a geyser of bubbling mud. But there’s a strange twist – this menacing puddle has been slowly creeping across the ground, to the point where it’s now threatening railroad tracks and a state highway.

The Niland Geyser first appeared in 1953, and sat around without incident for decades. Then, around 11 years ago, things shifted. The geyser started moving across dry ground at a glacial pace.

Now, things have gotten more serious – in the last six months, that pace has picked up considerably. In a few months, the Niland Geyser travelled 18.3 metres (60 feet).

Then, it travelled another 18 metres in a single day – bringing it worryingly close to Union Pacific’s railway tracks, State Route 111, a petroleum pipeline, and fibre optic telecommunications lines.

Overall, this bubbling puddle has moved roughly 73 metres (240 feet) from where it was a decade ago.

(Imperial County)

(Imperial County)

“It’s a slow-moving disaster,” Alfredo Estrada, Imperial County’s fire chief and emergency services coordinator, told the Los Angeles Times. Last month, the county announced it was proclaiming an emergency for the affect area.

There have been several attempts to stop the mud. The basin has been drained of water. Wells have been dug, to try and relieve pressure on the geyser. Loose stone was dumped in the mud spring.

As a somewhat desperate measure, the Union Pacific Railroad built a wall of steel and boulders 22.9 metres (75 feet) deep and 36.6 metres (120 feet) long between the mud spring and the railroad.

Nothing has stopped it, not even the wall. In October, the mud just seeped underneath it and kept sludging on towards the tracks.

The source of the mud, known as the mud spring or mud pot, is located at the southern end of the San Andreas Fault, the boundary between the North American and Pacific tectonic plates.

However, its important to note that the geyser’s presence and movement are not signs of seismic activity. A mud pot is associated with a tectonic boundary, but it’s actually a bit like a sinkhole (except full of, well, mud).

niland-geyser-railroad

(Imperial County)

The Niland Geyser is a geothermic feature where water is forced upward through the soil. It’s not a very hot spring, with a temperature of only around 27 degrees Celsius (80 Fahrenheit); instead it’s bubbling with carbon dioxide gas that is also seeping up from deep under the ground, released by prior earthquake activity.

It also reportedly has a bit of a stench, smelling faintly of rotten eggs – not uncommon for underwater spring activity, due to the hydrogen sulfide in the water.

As it moves along through a soft sedimentary rock called mudstone, it leaves a soggy trail in its wake, weakening the integrity of the ground to a depth of about 9-12 metres (30-40 feet), making it boggy and unsuitable to support structures.

So there’s no need to worry that the long-awaited “Big One” earthquake is about to hit. The Niland Geyser is plenty enough to worry about without borrowing impending doom.

The Union Pacific Railroad has already built an alternate track for its trains to travel along, which they do at a slower pace than they used to. If the mud continues to creep onward, a more permanent solution, such as a bridge, may need to be implemented.

And if it creeps too close to the road, California Department of Transportation Ed Joyce told KYMA, “Caltrans will have to close state route 111 if that mudpot advances to a point where it impacts the state road. We obviously have to divert traffic.”

MICHELLE STARR
sciencealert

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Planet Earth

Couple Gets Kidnapped And Tortured By Cannibals

While a British and American couple were traversing through Papua, New Guinea they were beaten and captured by wild cannibals. The pair were lucky to escape with their lives, according to ‘The Telegraph’. Both of them were later taken to a hospital located in Port Moresby.

It is no secret that for quite some time, some areas of New Guinea have been plagued with this ancient practice. One known tribe in particular, are still eating people. The Korowai tribe, is one of the last known tribes in the world to have been cannibals. There may be a few others still out there as well. A creepy thought no doubt.

Human cannibalism is a very old practice. It is a repulsive thought that anyone could eat another human being. But it has happened, people have actually eaten the internal organs of others before among their flesh.

The actual expression of cannibalism has become part of zoology. The reason for this is become of the practice. When one individual of a species actually consumes all or part of the same species as food, they are a cannibal.

This practice has never been accepted mainstream throughout history. It was forbidden and likely those doing this were tracked down and killed themselves. It makes one wonder, how many different incidents were quietly swept under the rug and forgotten about in the past.

Couple Gets Kidnapped And Tortured By Cannibals

Both Matthew Iovane and his girlfriend Michelle Clemens were quite lucky, they could have been killed by these wandering mad men. They were both forced to strip naked and were cut up and beaten by these savages. The then 31-year-old, starred on Channel 4’s Shipwrecked. According to ‘The Sun’ the couple were savagely beaten up with machetes when they attempted to flee the jungle.

Their day started out as a getaway adventure, yet turned out not what they expected it to be. Iovane and his American girlfriend were enjoying an adventure type holiday together before all of this happened.

Iovane went on to say, “They both had machetes with huge blades and one had a long wooden spear with a crude arrowhead and they were grunting. I thought we were being robbed so we put down our bags and tried to calm them, saying they could take everything when they started pushing and threatening us.”

“They took our belongings, I was naked in the most remote jungle on Earth with no shoes and Michelle was bleeding buckets beside me in her underwear. But nothing mattered except getting away, so we ran.”

When questioned further about the incident, the pair explained that they were both stripped naked, bound with vines and blindfolded before being subjected to a horrifying ‘torture game’.

After fleeing, the naked couple left all their belongings behind including an iPhone. Apparently, the tribesmen recognised it and even tried using the device.

The couple were later spotted by a man, who helped them get to safety where they were later treated for their injuries.

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Scientists Discover an Edible Mushroom that Eats Plastic, Could Potentially ‘Clean’ Landfills

Whether we like it or not, our society has become completely reliant on plastic. From food preservation to water transportation, computer technology to healthcare and medicine, plastic can be found in nearly every facet of the human experience.

But as we well know, plastic is a double-edged sword, with massive amounts of plastic waste not only piling up in landfills, but floating in the most remote depths of our oceans and water supplies. And despite our knowledge of plastic’s harmful effects on the environment, we’ve become so reliant on plastic that there seems to be no end in sight. In fact, plastic production is growing on a yearly basis – and posing a potentially mortal threat to us all.

However, a newly-discovered type of mushroom could not only play a crucial role in slashing plastic pollution, but could have myriad other uses in addressing the environmental crises the planet faces.

Discovered in 2012 by Yale University students, Pestalotiopsis microspora is a rare species of mushroom from the Amazon rainforest that’s capable of subsisting on a diet of pure plastic, or more accurately, the main ingredient in plastic – polyurethane – before converting the human-made ingredient into purely organic matter.

And not only can Pestalotiopsis microspora live off of our plastic waste, it can also live without oxygen-meaning that the rare breed of mushroom would make an ideal agent for landfill clean-up, literally from the bottom-up.

While the idea sounds fantastic, some scientists have expressed hope that the plastic-consuming fungi can form the basis of the community waste treatment centers of the future – replacing our current practice of dumping our trash into centralized, massive landfills with small, mushroom-centered community composting centers or even home recycling kits, according to Epoch Times.

And as it turns out, Pestalotiopsis microspora isn’t alone in the world of plastic-eating mushrooms – and some of its plastic-consuming kin are even perfectly safe for us humans to consume.

In a study led by Katharina Unger for Utrecht University in the Netherlands, oyster mushrooms and other types of mushrooms were placed in agar cups with plastic waste and held in a climate-controlled dome-shaped environment. After about a month, the roots of the mushroom consumed and transformed the plastic into an edible biomass – or food – that was completely free of any toxicity from the polyurethane.

Not only was the finished product completely free of plastic, but they also had an appealing taste, according to Unger, who described them as “sweet with the smell of anise or licorice.”

Yes, that’s right: for the very first time in history, plastic trash could be a part of our food chain – in a deliberate and surprisingly healthy way. Indeed, such a discovery – if refined – could be a part of a novel solution to food scarcity in a world brimming-over with plastic waste yet scarce on food for hundreds of millions of people.

“Our research partner [Utrecht University] expects that the digestion will go much quicker once processes are fully researched and optimized,” Unger told Dezeen magazine, adding that her team “imagined it as being used with a community or small farm setting.”

The benefits of plastic-eating mushrooms seem limitless. At the State of the World’s Fungi 2018 event in Kew Gardens, London, fungi that process polyurethane were also found to be suitable as “mushroom bricks,” or a durable and sustainable building material that could be suitable for building homes.

The management and elimination of plastic waste is among the greatest challenges we face in saving our environment. But if the natural rate of decomposition can be reduced from 400 years to a mere few months, then these fungi could soon be taking over the world.

Elias Marat
The Mind Unleashed

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Previously Unknown Human Relative Found On Philippine Island

Thirteen fossil bones and teeth excavated in a cave in the Philippines represent an enigmatic previously unknown human species, probably small in stature and possessing an unexpected mix of archaic and modern traits.

The discovery of remains of at least three individuals from this species, named Homo luzonensis, in Callao Cave on the northern part of the island of Luzon marked the second time in the 21st century that a bygone member of the human family has been found on southeast Asian islands.

The researchers were unable to extract DNA but did determine that one of the individuals lived 67,000 years ago and the other 50,000 years ago.

Previously Unknown Human Relative Found On Philippine Island

Reconstruction of female Homo floresiensis (Image Source)

Another ‘Hobbit’?

In 2003, fossils of another island-dwelling species – Homo floresiensis, dubbed the “Hobbit” due to its diminutive size – were unearthed in a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, some 1,800 miles (3,000 km) from the Luzon site. There is no indication the two species interacted or were closely related.

Homo luzonensis was a contemporary not only of the Hobbit but of our own species, Homo sapiens, which emerged in Africa roughly 300,000 years ago.

The scientists said they could not rule out the possibility that the arrival of our species in the region contributed to the demise of Homo luzonensis. The Hobbit also disappeared about 50,000 years ago at the same time Homo sapiens was spreading through the region.

 More clues to human origins

The Luzon and Flores discoveries demonstrate that the story of human evolution is more complicated than previously understood, with Asia offering up surprises, potentially with more to come, the researchers said.

The researchers were circumspect in describing the physical appearance and lifestyle of Homo luzonensis, known only from a sparse assemblage of hand and foot bones, and teeth from two adults and one juvenile, with no skull fossils. Based on tooth size in particular, it appears it might have been much smaller than Homo sapiens, but it is unclear whether it was as little as the Hobbit, which was roughly 3-1/2 feet (1 meter) tall.

“We have to stay cautious about it, especially because people will immediately have Homo floresiensis in mind as a ‘model’ for the physical appearance of Homo luzonensis, which was certainly not the case,” said paleoanthropologist Florent Détroit of the Musée de l’Homme-Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris.

“We can only speculate but it might be only in the range of a pygmy Homo sapiens,” added archaeologist Armand Mijares, leader of the Callao Archaeological Project.

The research was published in the journal Nature.

Based on animal bones with butchering marks found at the site, it appears these people ate meat and may have used stone tools, Détroit said.

The fossils from the seven-chamber cave, situated in the foothills of Luzon’s northern Sierra Madre mountains, boasted a combination of anatomical features setting it apart from other human species.

Some characteristics were similar to Homo sapiens as well as the Hobbit. Other traits were so archaic that they resembled Australopithecus, an earlier member of the human evolutionary lineage that died out roughly 2 million years ago, as well as the ancient human species Homo habilis and Homo erectus.

“For years – and until less than 20 years ago – human evolution in Asia was seen as very simple, with Homo erectus going out of Africa, settling in east and southeast Asia, and then nothing happened until the arrival of Homo sapiens at around 40,000 to 50,000 years ago and its ‘conquest’ of every region on Earth,” Détroit said.

“With the discoveries made on the field – fossils – and in the lab, for instance genetics, we now know that it was a much more complex evolutionary history, with several distinct species contemporaneous with Homo sapiens, interbreeding events, extinctions, et cetera,” Détroit added. “Homo sapiens was definitely not alone on Earth.”

source:Nature /DailySabah

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