Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Charting the “Bloody” Brine Flows from an Antarctic Glacier


In a previously undocumented event, iron-rich brine

can be seen flowing from Taylor Glacier during researchers’

1969–1970 Antarctic field season. Credit: Lois Jones


A red cascade occasionally appears to leak from Antarctica’s Taylor Glacier. Aptly named Blood Falls, the icy outflow’s striking color is caused by iron-rich brine that spews from the glacier’s side and rapidly oxidizes after hitting the air. The sight has puzzled observers since it was first spotted in 1903, but now, scientists have compiled a new historical record of brine releases to shed light on the frequency and extent of the phenomenon. The researchers presented their findings on 17 December at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2021.


“I just got to thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we knew more about how often this waterfall feature has been active or when it’s been active?’ because it looks so bizarre,” said Chris Carr, a glaciologist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. She led this project as part of her doctoral thesis at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. (Full story)




Using sparse data to predict lab earthquakes


A machine-learning approach developed for sparse data reliably predicts fault slip in laboratory earthquakes and could be key to predicting fault slip and potentially earthquakes in the field. The research by a Los Alamos National Laboratory team builds on their previous success using data-driven approaches that worked for slow-slip events in earth but came up short on large-scale stick-slip faults that generate relatively little data -- but big quakes.


"The very long timescale between major earthquakes limits the data sets, since major faults may slip only once in 50 to 100 years or longer, meaning seismologists have had little opportunity to collect the vast amounts of observational data needed for machine learning," said Paul Johnson, a geophysicist at Los Alamos and a co-author on a new paper, "Predicting Fault Slip via Transfer Learning," in Nature Communications. (Full story)




LANL launches Indigenous women in physics program


Arielle Platero, a senior at Fort Lewis College in

Durango, Colorado, and a member of the Navajo Nation,

has just been awarded a mentorship in physics

at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Credit: Arielle Platero.


Arielle Platero was born in Fort Defiance, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation and grew up in Farmington in a single-parent household.


Now 33 and a senior majoring in engineering and math, with an emphasis on physics at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, Platero has been chosen to participate in a paid mentoring program with physicists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in a joint LANL-Fort Lewis effort supporting Indigenous female undergraduate students pursuing a career in physics.


The two-year $195,000 LANL program, launched in mid-November, consists of 10 weeks at the lab and year-round mentoring. It is funded by the Department of Energy. Officials are seeking “to make it a more permanent program,” said Astrid Morreale, a researcher in the Particle Physics and Applications group at LANL and a co-leader of the program. (Full story)




LANL: B61-12 Bomb Reaches Major Milestone


A U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning performs a drop test of a B61-12.

Photo Courtesy DOD’s F-35 Joint Program Office.


A major milestone has been achieved with the recent delivery of the first production unit (FPU) of the B61-12, meaning the refurbished bomb is on track for full-scale production in May 2022. The first production unit was built at the Pantex Plant, near Amarillo, Texas.


The bomb has been undergoing a life extension program for more than nine years. Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories are the design agencies for the project, with Los Alamos also being responsible for producing detonators and other classified components.


“The first production unit milestone is the culmination of years of effort across a team that spanned many technical disciplines throughout the Laboratory,” said Bob Webster, deputy director for Weapons at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “’I’m very proud of the exceptional commitment of all involved to reach this point.” (Full story)