Augustine Volcano sits alone, a 4,000-foot pyramid on its own island in Cook Inlet. Like many volcanoes, it has a tendency to become top heavy. When gravity acts on Augustine's oversteepened dome, rockslides spill into the ocean. A scientist recently found new evidence for an Augustine-generated tsunami from a time when Egyptian pharaohs built their own pyramids. Read more
On April 1, 1946, the sea floor ruptured just south of Unimak Island in the Aleutian Islands. Seawater displaced by the giant earthquake sent a 100-foot wave into the Scotch Cape lighthouse on Unimak, destroying the concrete structure and killing the five men inside. They never knew what hit them in the 2 a.m. darkness. Read more
Scientists who worked for the Arctic Aeromedical Laboratory from the late 1940s to the 1960s cranked out dozens of quirky and sometimes controversial publications in its two decades of existence. Developed during the Cold War to "solve the severe environmental problems of men living and working in the Arctic." Read more
During our planet's most recent cold period, a slab of ice smothered Manhattan. Canada looked like Antarctica but with no protruding mountains. When the last glacial maximum peaked about 20,000 years ago, most of the continent — from the Arctic Ocean to the Missouri River — slept under a blanket of white.
A couple of summers ago, David Tomeo was exploring a creekbed in Denali National Park, preparing for a field seminar on the park’s dinosaurs he would help lead a few weeks later. With a trained eye for the impressions dinosaurs pressed into mud millions of years ago, Tomeo walked to a large boulder in the middle of a landslide. Right in the center of it, a four-toed track stood out. Read more.
In June 2012, Army Air National Guard pilots flying over the glacier in a Blackhawk helicopter saw aircraft parts on the dirty, cracked-up ice. It’s not often that glaciologists help with the recovery of long-lost human remains, but military officials recently enlisted Martin Truffer for that purpose Read more.
I’m resting on a mattress of tundra plants that are growing more than 200 miles from the nearest Alaska village. While I have snuck away here to my own private ridge top, eight other people, all scientists, are somewhere on this 30-mile-long wedge of tundra, rocky beaches, lakes and bird cliffs in the central Bering Sea. Read more.
On June 6, 1912, if you happened to be sitting on a log outside your cabin near Fairbanks, Juneau or Dawson City, you would have heard an explosion. There was no way to know the boom came from hundreds of miles away, or that it was the starting gun for the largest volcanic eruption of the 1900s. Read more.
After a winter of outstanding snow conditions, three scientists drove snowmachines up Valdez Glacier this spring, curious to see how far they could get. At about 5,500 feet above the salt water of Port Valdez, their machines rested on about 20 feet of snow that had fallen there during the winter. Read more.
First, I’ll wear light-colored clothing. Second, I’ll bathe more often in an attempt to be as odorless as possible. Third, I won't exhale while I'm in the woods. "Snow mosquitoes," the big, sluggish mosquitoes that are the first to irritate us, survive the winter by bundling up in leaf litter or wedging themselves under loose tree bark. Read more.
While running through Bicentennial Park in Anchorage, biologist Jessy Coltrane spotted a porcupine in a birch tree. On her runs on days following, she saw it again and again, in good weather and bad. Over time, she knew which Alaska creature she wanted to study. “I thought, ‘Oh my god, how does he do it? How does this animal make it through winter?’” Coltrane said during the December defense of her doctoral thesis in Fairbanks. Read more.
There's a new kind of dinosaur out there, and it lived in Alaska. Its bones, long turned to stone, are part of a cliff in northern Alaska. That's where dinosaur-hunter Tony Fiorillo brushed dirt away from a portion of its massive skull something that most of us would mistake for a rock. Read more.
Beneath a sky of stars and hazy aurora, the heat of an October day shimmers upward. The next morning, leaves, moss and tundra plants are woven into a carpet of white frost; a skin of ice creeps over the surface of lakes. Alaska is freezing once again, responding to the planet’s nod away from the sun and signaling one of the biggest changes of the year. Northern plants in these parts are standing at the ready, prepared for a long season of doing nothing. Read more.
Somewhere in the rolling tundra east of Deadhorse, a lone wolf hunts. The 100-pound male will take anything it can catch, or find — a ptarmigan, a darting tundra rodent, a fish, the scraps of a carcass, or, if lucky, a moose calf or caribou. Hunger is a common companion, but the wolf somehow survived when his mate probably died of it last winter. Read more.