Geoscience News Stories of 2022
Updated: Feb 27
We're constantly flooded with news and other stories. We live in a day and age where news stories flicker and fade so quickly. We barely get a whiff of one story, before we're plunged into another.
As we wrap up the year that was, and bring in the next one, I thought I'd compile some of the important geoscience stories from 2022. You may have come across some of these news stories but I hope you will find a few stories here that you missed.
Fire & Brimstone
" The paradox of volcanoes was that they were symbols of destruction but also life. " ~ Matt Haig
The year 2022 was marked by some incredible volcanic activity around the world - here are 25 snapshots of the Earth's spectacle in fire and brimstone. The biggest volcano new stories this year were from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai off the coast of Tonga in the Pacific Ocean, and the eruptions in Hawaii, Italy, and Indonesia. Here's a quick update on what's been bubbling and brewing beneath the surface of the earth in 2022:
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano
In late December 2021, the eruptions of the submarine Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano off the Pacific coast made waves (literally! it resulted in tsunamis). The volcano reached its climax on 15 January 2022 - this eruption was the largest ever recorded in the 20th century and even rivalled the energy of nuclear test bombs.
In late November 2022, the world's largest active volcano, Mauna Loa began spewing lava. Two weeks later, the activity slowly subsided, and the neighbouring Kīlauea volcano which had been active since September 2021, also abated. What's causing these eruptions and what can we expect will happen next?
In February 2022, Italy's Mount Etna began to erupt and continued its firework display in the months ahead. Mount Stromboli, nicknamed 'the lighthouse of the Mediterranean', began erupting this month, exhibiting its fury in ash clouds and a tsunami.
What do these eruptions herald in the years ahead?
In August, Anak Krakatau erupted four times within 24 hours. In early December, Mount Semeru spewed ash plumes more than 1,500 metres (5,000 feet), the heavy rain and ashfall resulted in deaths and damage.
Some FAQs on the Semeru volcano, and its link (there isn't one) to other volcanoes:
“Across the sea of space, the stars are other suns.” - Carl Sagan
Image Credits: Carina Nebula by NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI
The year 2022 marked a lot of advances in planetary sciences and paved the way for a better understanding of our universe. Here are a few news stories that made us look to the dark, starry skies and wonder what else lies out there.
James Webb Telescope
With the launch of the James Webb telescope, we've entered a new dawn of astronomy with infrared images of the universe. These images will help to uncover the answers to questions we don’t even yet know to ask; questions that will help us better understand our universe and humanity’s place within it.
When DART deflected Dimorphos
Remember the Hollywood trope where an asteroid is heading for Earth, and we send a mission to deflect it? (Or if you're thinking of the film, Armageddon, to drill a hole into the asteroid - yikes!). Well, NASA actually managed to do that (deflect not drill holes) with the DART spacecraft and the 500-foot-wide Dimorphus asteroid.
Mangalyaan - India's Mars Orbiter
In October 2022, Mangalyaan, India's first interplanetary mission to explore the surface of the red planet (Mars), concluded its journey as it ran out of fuel. Designed to last just six months, the little Mars orbiter ran for eight years, collecting data on surface geology, and atmospheric processes, among other measurements, as well as over 1000 images of Mars. RIP Mangalyaan! read more >>
ISRO launches private & commercial services
In November 2022, Vikram-S - India's first privately-built rocket was launched - marking the advent of private stakeholders in the space sector. ISRO also launched a low orbit satellite, 36 OneWeb on the LMV3, to deliver high-speed, low latency connectivity worldwide - marking its first-ever commercial market service. read more >>
"Archaeology holds all the keys to understanding who we are and where we come from." ~ Sarah Parcak
This year marked some interesting archaeological finds that offered us deep insights into civilizations of yore and the ancestors we've descended from.
Shackleton's ship discovered in icy Antarctic depths
In March 2022, exactly a century after it sunk, the Endurance ship was discovered deep beneath the Wedell Sea. The well-known South Pole explorer, Ernest Shackleton and his crew set sail on the Endurance in 1915, and their journey despite all odds, is among the most exciting in the history of intrepid explorations into the unknown.
Llano de Mojos
Lost cities discovered in the Amazon via modern mapping technology
Imagine a search for the fabled city of El Dorado deep in the forested heart of the Amazon. Now imagine that search with LIDAR mapping technology that can reveal urban centres hidden beneath thick canopies. That's exactly what a group of German scientists did in the Bolivian Amazon, and discovered the ancient ruins of a vast urban settlement around Llanos de Mojos, that were abandoned some 600 years ago. read more >>
This year, Svante Pääbo was awarded the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on human evolution, which involved sequencing of the Neanderthal genome and the discovery of a new group of hominins called the Denisovans. This has paved the way for a new field, paleogenomics, but also has implications for modern medicine and paleoanthropology. read more >>
In other news
The year also marked some incredible archaeological finds from Etruscan bronze statues in Italy, a Roman-era mosaic in Syria, a Buddhist temple in Pakistan, an underground city in Turkey, and a 5000-year-old chalk sculpture in England. Here are the 10 archaeological finds from 2022: read more >>