Following Up: A September 2013 Update on Previous Articles

It’s been quite a while since our last follow-up post, so here are a few mini-updates and additional tidbits on some topics from previous articles here at The Basement Geographer:

UVB-76: 30 Years of Radio Mystery (originally posted 26 December 2011): On 24 January of this year, the mysterious Russian shortwave radio ‘numbers’ station known of UVB-76 (or, more accurately, UZB-76) issued a command over the air for the first time in its baffling history. A message read over the air (for the unitiated, the station’s output generally consists of an intermittent buzzing noise punctuated every few months by a voice issuing short coded messages in Russian) spelled out the phrase ‘OBYaVLENIYA KOMANDA 135’ – that is, ‘Command 135 initiated’. As is par for the course with the station, it’s impossible to say what it means, although it certainly hints at some sort of military purpose.

Vintage Road Map Week 2012, Part I (originally posted 26 April 2012): As noted earlier this week at the invaluable Google Maps Mania, the British Library has been at work georeferencing its enormous collection of antique maps from its Online Gallery and posting them into this mashup. As of this posting, viewers can browse through and explore in full 2 236 separate maps, and new maps are being added constantly. What makes this project even more interesting is that the Library is is using crowdsourcing to accomplish the task: contributors start at this page to enter the Online Gallery, then take a map of their choosing and begin georeferencing individual points within the antique map using a modern map overlay as the guide. The finished product is then overlaid onto a Google Map for context.

Surtsey: Evolution of an Island (originally posted 28 May 2012): The Surtsey Research Society hosted a conference in Reykjavík three weeks ago commemorating the 50th anniversary of Surtsey’s emergence from the Atlantic Ocean and the first such conference since 1967. Among the highlights from the 46 papers and 15 posters presented, attendees learned that the number of plant species that have entrenched themselves on the island has actually dropped since 2007.

Below, aerial footage of Surtsey released this spring. In it, the ever-growing patches of vegetation slowly colonising the island are prominent, as is Norðurtangi, the spit made of volcanic sand eroded from the island’s shore that continues to grow on the north side of Surtsey thanks to ocean currents.

Surtsey from maxeq on Vimeo.

These Are Theme Parks That Actually Exist (originally posted 17 August 2012): Expanding on the topics of strange amusement parks, Business Insider put together this list of weird and wacky attractions. While some of these parks featured in our article, there are even more outlandish theme parks available in this article, such as a recreation of Dickensian London, a Danish theme park with roller coasters named ‘Skid Mark’ and ‘Farting Dog’, and a simulated illegal border crossing through Mexican scrubland.

Bridges to Nowhere in Glasgow, Southern California, and New Zealand (originally posted 11 January 2013): One of Glasgow’s so-called ‘Bridges to Nowhere’ was finally completed at the beginning of July. After four decades of sitting idle (the shopping centre it was supposed to connect to was never built), the partially-completed bridge over the M8 in the Anderston district was converted to a pedestrian footbridge over the motorway thanks to funding from sustainable transportation charity SusTrans, allowing easy pedestrian access to Anderston Centre and Glasgow Central station.

Otherworldly Heights: The Solar System’s Tallest Mountains (originally posted 15 July 2013): For decades, scientists have believed Hawaii’s Mauna Loa shield volcano to be the world’s largest mountain by volume. This week, a team of scientists announced a monumental discovery of an ancient inactive volcano in the North Pacific Ocean that lays Mauna Loa’s claim to waste. While neighbouring Mauna Kea ranks as Earth’s tallest mountain when measured from base to summit (as mentioned in our article two months ago on the solar system’s tallest mountains), Mauna Loa covers far more area in total volume, having grown to 5 000 km2 (1 900 sq mi) in area and 75 000 km3 (18 000 cu mi) in volume over the past million years of eruptions. Even this mountain, however, is dwarfed in total volume by Tamu Massif, a giant shield volcano approximately 144.6 million years in age whose discovery was announced on 5 September in the journal Nature Geoscience. Located in the North Pacific Ocean approximately halfway between Japan and the Emperor Seamount chain, the basalt massif covers an astounding 260-310 000 km2 (100-120 000 sq mi) in area with minimum dimensions of 450 by 650 km (280 by 400 mi); an area at least the size of Ecuador.

Tamu Massif is the elevation section of ocean floor seen at centre between Japan on the left and the Emperor Seamount chain at right.

As for the name? ‘Tamu’ is derived from TAMU, the abbreviation for Texas A&M University, where lead oceanographer William Sager worked for nearly three decades before moving to the University of Houston. Sager has been studying the massif for the past two decades, operating under the premise that it was a region of several separate volcanoes. Tamu was the name originally given to the largest peak of the volcano. Now that the various mounts have been determined to be merely separate peaks of the same volcanic massif, the Tamu name has now been applied to the entire volcano which now ranks second in size for the entire solar system (narrowly behind Mars’ Olympus Mons).

Further Reading

Acosta, A. and A. Warner (2013). 14 Totally Bizarre Amusement Parks Around The World. Business Insider, 1 August 2013. Available at http://www.businessinsider.com/weird-amusement-park-attractions-2013-8?op=1. Accessed 7 September 2013.

BBC News (2013). Glasgow’s ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ finally completed. 7 July 2013. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-23218784. Accessed 8 September 2013.

Clarke, K. (2013). 2,000 Historical Maps. Google Maps Mania, 6 September 2013. Available at http://www.mapsmaniac.com/2013/09/2000-historical-maps.html. Accessed 7 September 2013.

Cook, J. (2013). A Russian enigma. The Kernel, 27 August 2013. Available at http://www.kernelmag.com/features/report/4716/a-russian-enigma/. Accessed 8 September 2013.

Sager, W.W., et al. (2013). An immense shield volcano within the Shatsky Rise oceanic plateau, northwest Pacific Ocean. Nature Geoscience, 5 September 2013. Available at http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo1934.html. Accessed 7 September 2013.

SciTechDaily (2013). Tamu Massif Confirmed as Largest Single Volcano on Earth. 6 September 2013. Available at http://scitechdaily.com/tamu-massif-confirmed-largest-single-volcano-earth/. Accessed 7 September 2013.

Surtsey Research Society (2013). Surtsey 50th Anniversary Conference Programme and Abstracts. Reykjavík, 12–15 August 2013. Available at http://www.surtsey.is/afm_50/Surtsey_ProgrammeAbstracts.pdf. Accessed 8 September 2013.

SusTrans (2013). The Bridge to Nowhere is finally going everywhere. 8 July 2013. Available at http://www.sustrans.org.uk/news/bridge-nowhere-finally-going-everywhere-1. Accessed 8 September 2013.

Tamu Times (2013). World’s Largest Volcano Now Named TAMU. 5 September 2013. Available at http://tamutimes.tamu.edu/2013/09/05/worlds-largest-volcano-now-named-tamu/. Accessed 7 September 2013.

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