School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
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Large fresh water supply discovered on Hawai‘i Island

In March 2013, researchers from UH Mānoa and UH Hilo began drilling at 6400 feet above sea level in the saddle region between the mountains of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. HIGP faculty member Donald Thomas is leading the effort. What they discovered seven months later may radically change conventional wisdom regarding the state’s most valuable resource: fresh water. Click on the image or title to watch the UH video report.

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SOEST in the News

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Underwater view of shark tagging HIMB scientists study threatened shark species

Fishing, climate change and pollution threaten many shark species. Now, scientists are getting a close look at the shark environment. They want to better understand the threats this important animal faces. The researchers recently attached a camera to a sandbar shark to record its everyday activities. “And when we recovered the camera, we saw that the shark had spent the day in a large aggregation of sharks, not just sandbar sharks but also blacktip sharks and many, many scalloped hammerhead sharks.” said Carl Meyer, HIMB assistant researcher. He also said sharks are important top-level hunters. They help keep a balance in ocean ecosystems. Pollution, climate change and fishing threaten those systems.

Read more about and watch the video at Voice of America “Learning English.” Image courtesy of HIMB; click on it to see the full version.

Micrograph of opihi teeth Opihi teeth strongest natural material on Earth

A new study by British scientists claims that the strongest natural material on Earth is the tiny teeth of opihi. The University of Portsmouth study found that the amount of weight opihi teeth can withstand is comparable to a strand of spaghetti holding up a hippopotamus, about five times the strength of most spider silks. Chris Bird, researcher at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). “When you eat a lot of opihi, you have a lot of the radula [ribbon-like structures containing the animals’ teeth] that are going to be tearing at the linings of your stomach and intestine as your body processes the opihi.” However, Bird assures that people would have to eat a lot of it for it to become a health problem.

Read more about and watch the video at Hawaii News Now. Image courtesy of University of Portsmouth; click on it to see the full version.

Photo of Parcheta at Kilauea NASA’s latest robot is exploring Earth’s volcanoes

For many geologists, the real intrigue about volcanoes lies just below the surface. It’s why researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are developing small machines, called VolcanoBots, to climb the walls deep inside volcanic vents. Carolyn Parcheta, the lead geologist on the project and former G&G PhD student, said that VolcanoBots have been in production for a year. “In order to eventually understand how to predict eruptions and conduct hazard assessments, we need to understand how the magma is coming out of the ground”, she said. Bruce Houghton, G&G professor and Hawai‘i state volcanologist, noted, “We have a good picture of what happens once we see an eruption start at the surface, but all our problems are subsurface.”

Read more about in the Huffington Post and at JPL News, and see the related story in Ka Leo. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech; click on it to see the full version.

Please visit SOEST in the News: 2015 for archived news articles, with links to previous years.

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