What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

2009 Saudi earthquakes linked to magmatic intrusion

September 27, 2010, 8:45 AM
Nasa_saudi_main9

On this rainy Monday morning ... Let's hop in the Wayback Machine and head to the year 2009. Back in May of that year, we spent a lot of time worrying about a lot of shaking going on in northwestern Saudi Arabia. The earthquakes were centered under a known volcanic field called Harrat Lunayyir and based on the behavior of the seismicity, reports from on the cracks in the ground, sulfur odors and "whooshing noises" and the location of the activity - in an area with an eruption as recently as ~1000 AD, many of us thought another eruption of the field was coming. Well, nothing came - the seismicity died away and no eruption came.

As it turns out, a new study by John Pallister (USGS) and others in Nature Geosciences supports the idea that the activity at Harrat Lunayyir was an eruption that couldn't quite make it to the surface. Based on seismic data and deformation data from satellites, they determined that magma rose as close as 2 km from the surface - but rather than erupting, it stalled in the crust forming a sill of likely basaltic lava. The activity did produce a 8-km long fissure through the region, which might have been the vent if the magma made it to the surface, but it didn't and we are left with this "near miss" (or as Ralph from the Volcanism Blog puts it, "successful intrusion"). Events like this are likely occurring much more often than we have previously realized, but only with constant surveillance allowed by networks of seismometers and satellites are we beginning to notice - similar to the "bulge" on South Sister in Oregon noticed in 2002.

What this study does emphasize is the real volcanic threat that exists in Saudi Arabia. The Harrat Lunayyir volcanic field is only one of a number of recent (geologically) volcanic features in Saudi Arabia. Most of this volcanism is likely related to the rifting in the Red Sea - and thus mostly takes the form of basaltic lava flows and scoria cones - so the overall hazard to life is relatively low. However, this recent seismicity at Harrat Lunayyir shows that we should expect an eruption at some point in the foreseeable future on the Arabian Peninsula.

Top Left: A NASA Image of the Harrat Lunayyir volcanic field in Saudi Arabia. Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

2009 Saudi earthquakes link...

Newsletter: Share: