Global (SRTM) Bathymetry Map


The following is an 20x downsampled SRTM global bathymetry map made with Python and Basemap.

Full resolution can be found on wikimedia.

One can notice the depth of the ocean floor, on a global scale, ranges between -2000 and -6000 meters. In some regions though like the Pacific exceed this range and reach 11 kilometers below the sea surface. One such region is the deepest point on Earth, the Mariana trench as shown below followed by a map for a perspective of its location.


Location of the Mariana trench. Wikimedia commons.


Python wrappers for the Generic Mapping Tools on the way


An interface for interoperability between the Generic Mapping Tools (GMT), a tool used by geophysicists to create research-quality figures, and Matlab has recently been developed that allows GMT users to interact with Matlab and Matlab users to make use of GMT.

GMT wrappers are currently also being developed for the Python programming language, particularly to be used in the IPython/Jupyter notebook due to an initiative by Leonardo Uieda (and his professor Paul Wessel) whose Postdoc is being funded by the NSF. You can watch his talk at the SciPy 2017 conference below.

Some of the mentioned advantages to which I attest  include:

  • Begin and End statements are introduced to eliminate the need to pipe postscript results into a file in each line of code being written. This also eliminates the need to use the -K and -O flags which keep the file open and updates it, respectively. The -K and -O flags are a major confusion for newcomers to GMT.
  • temporary files are created under the /tmp directory, in Linux, so they will automatically be cleaned once the jupyter notebook is closed or the operating system is rebooted. Moreover, every project will have its own  directory so files from different projects don’t get mixed up.
  • GMT documentation straight in the Jupyter notebook
  • Matplotlib- & Basemap-like behaviour, particularly inline viewing of figures, using
  • Pythonic aliases make the compact GMT flags

To contribute:


Cook, T. (2017), A powerful new tool for research, Eos, 98, Published on 17 July 2017.

Converting Greenhouse Gases to Rocks


One of the ways scientists are attempting to reduce greenhouse gases is to inject these gases into the ground. Specifically, they are testing injecting them, into basalt which is type of igneous rocks usually forming the first (rock) layer (sandwiched between the sedimentary & gabbro layers) in the oceanic crust basalt and in volcanic regions.

The above video features Iceland and its geothermal plants. Iceland is a heaven for geothermal energy as it lies along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) (i.e. where Mid-Atlantic ocean floor is spreading apart in opposite directions forming a ridge). Most notably Iceland lies along the V-Shaped Reykjavik ridge (figure below; Google maps) which is part of the Norther MAR.

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Radio interference around & Salinity in the Mediterranean


When ESA’s SMOS satellite was placed in orbit in 2009, it transpired that its signal was being interrupted by numerous illegal transmitters around the world. However, by working with national frequency protection authorities, 75% of these transmitters have now been shut down. Nevertheless, this is a laborious process and some regions, such as the Libyan coast and the eastern Mediterranean Sea, remain contaminated where mitigation strategies have not yet been successful. Source: ESA

Thanks to new processing techniques, information from ESA’s SMOS mission can be used to map salinity in the surface waters of the Mediterranean Sea. For example, daily maps can be created using DINEOF, which reduces noise and other sources of contamination. The image, which captures salinity on 3 March 2013, shows the fresher water from the Atlantic Ocean flowing through the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. Source: ESA

Educational Visualization Tool for Global Seismic Seismology


Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, IRIS, provides an educational visualization tool to aid in teaching about global seismology. Specifically it simulates how P-waves and S-waves travel from the epicenter on the surface of the Earth as well as through Earth’s interior.

It also provides annotations of each travelling ray as it reflects or refracts through the different layers along with their corresponding seismograms. Check it out here (opens in a new tab).

If you are a student, teacher, or just interested I invite you to check out the various learning and teaching resources available from IRIS.

Surprises at the Mariana backarc


The Mariana backarc, the same location of the deepest point on Earth, is where the thermal vents occur due to the spreading of two plates. In other words, the spreading apart of the sea floor results in a trench like the Mariana trench. At such backarcs, and the similar but not the same Mid-Ocean Ridges, “black smokers” form.

The following video is a fly-thru movie at the Mariana backarc in search for HydroThermal vents (second video).

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Drilling Through Ice


Two things drive us: pursuit of happiness and curiosity.

via Great Big Story