Mass seal deaths in Russia’s Lake Baikal

1 / 2
A handout picture taken on Sept. 20, 2015 and provided by Oleg Timoshkin, biologist at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Limnological Institute in Irkutsk, shows Spirogyra algae in the waters of Lake Baikal. Lake Baikal is undergoing its gravest crisis in recent history, experts say, as the government bans the catching of a signature fish that has lived in the world’s deepest lake for centuries but is now under threat. (AFP photo Russian Academy of Sciences’ Limnological Institute in Irkutsk/Oleg Timoshkin)
2 / 2
A handout picture taken on Sept. 20, 2015 and provided by Oleg Timoshkin, biologist at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Limnological Institute in Irkutsk, shows totting Spirogyra algae on the beach of Lake Baikal. Lake Baikal is undergoing its gravest crisis in recent history, experts say, as the government bans the catching of a signature fish that has lived in the world’s deepest lake for centuries but is now under threat. (AFP photo Russian Academy of Sciences’ Limnological Institute in Irkutsk/Oleg Timoshkin)
Updated 31 October 2017
0

Mass seal deaths in Russia’s Lake Baikal

MOSCOW: Around 130 dead seals have washed up on the shores of Russia’s Lake Baikal, authorities said Tuesday, as they launched a probe into the latest problem to hit the world’s deepest lake.
The Baikal seal is the smallest in the world, and exactly how and when the species colonized the ancient Siberian lake is still a mystery.
“There were about 130 animals found dead” over the past few days, said environmental ministry spokesman Nikolai Gudkov.
“We took water samples to understand whether we can talk of water pollution as the reason,” he told AFP, though results have not yet been processed.
Scientists have also taken biopsies of the animals, he said.
The animal is not endangered and Gudkov said the species’ population has actually increased in recent years, growing to around 130,000.
Preliminary theories about the die-off did not suggest pollution is the reason, he added.
Lake Baikal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has thousands of endemic species, has been suffering from a string of detrimental phenomena over recent years.
These include depletion of fish stocks, death of endemic sponges and explosion of growth of Spirogyra algae unnatural to the lake which scientists say is caused by pollution.


Massive diamond cache detected beneath Earth’s surface

Updated 18 July 2018
0

Massive diamond cache detected beneath Earth’s surface

  • “This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral..."
  • These naturally occurring precious minerals are located far deeper than any drilling expedition has ever reached

WASHINGTON: There’s a load of bling buried in the Earth.
More than a quadrillion tons of diamonds to be exact — or one thousand times more than one trillion — US researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported this week.
But don’t expect a diamond rush. These naturally occurring precious minerals are located far deeper than any drilling expedition has ever reached, about 90 to 150 miles (145 to 240 kilometers) below the surface of our planet.
“We can’t get at them, but still, there is much more diamond there than we have ever thought before,” said Ulrich Faul, a research scientist in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.
“This shows that diamond is not perhaps this exotic mineral, but on the scale of things, it’s relatively common.”
Using seismic technology to analyze how sound waves pass through the Earth, scientists detected the treasure trove in rocks called cratonic roots, which are shaped like inverted mountains that stretch through the Earth’s crust and into the mantle.
These are “the oldest and most immovable sections of rock that lie beneath the center of most continental tectonic plates,” explained MIT in a statement.
The project to uncover deep Earth diamonds began because scientists were puzzled by observations that sound waves would speed up significantly when passing through the roots of ancient cratons.
So they assembled virtual rocks, made from various combinations of minerals, to calculate how fast sound waves would travel through them.
“Diamond in many ways is special,” Faul said.
“One of its special properties is, the sound velocity in diamond is more than twice as fast as in the dominant mineral in upper mantle rocks, olivine.”
They found that the only type of rock that matched the speeds they were detecting in craton would contain one to two percent diamond.
Scientists now believe the Earth’s ancient underground rocks contain at least 1,000 times more diamond than previously expected.
Still, very few of these gems are expected to make their way to the jewelry store.
Diamonds are made from carbon, and are formed under high-pressure and extreme temperatures deep in the Earth.
They emerge near the surface only through volcanic eruptions that occur rarely — on the order of every few tens of millions of years.