San Andreas Fault The San Andreas Fault runs roughly 800 miles through some of the most valuable real estate in the world. The southern section hasn't had a significant quake for over 300 years and is now primed and ready for another "big one." This episode takes a trip along the most famous fault line in the world and examine the geology that gives it its immense destructive power. It's an investigation given new urgency by recent warnings from 300 of America's leading scientists about the death and devastation that a major earthquake on the fault could unleash on Los Angeles.
The Deepest Place On Earth The Marianas Trench is the deepest place on earth, deeper than Mt. Everest is high. The trench is where the ocean floor disappears into the center of the earth. The pressures at this depth are 17 times greater than what it takes to crush a nuclear submarine. Only two men have ever been down the Trench, fewer than have set foot on the moon. Follow the daring missions into the abyss and explore the extraordinary geology that has created this deep scar along the ocean floor.
Krakatoa On August 27th, 1883 a series of blasts on the island of Krakatoa culminated in a colossal explosion that blew the island apart in one of the largest eruptions in recorded history. We explore the underground forces that led to this extraordinary explosion that killed over 36,000 people and the devastation that it caused. But this is not just history because Anak Krakatoa (the Son of Krakatoa) is growing bigger and bigger and will blow again.
Loch Ness Home to the legend of the Loch Ness Monster, this lake holds more water than any other lake in Britain. It's only 10,000 years old, but billions of years in the making. Trace the extraordinary story of Loch Ness: from the three billion year old bedrock of Northern Scotland, to the giant glaciers that carved out the Loch. On this incredible journey we reveal that Loch Ness was once part of America, giant dinosaurs, suspiciously similar to the fabled monster once roamed the area, and that the entire region was engulfed by huge volcanic eruptions as Scotland was ripped from its birth place on the American continent. Could the mythical Loch Ness monster be a descendant of the dinosaurs, somehow surviving in the murky waters of the loch?
New York It is one of the most man-made spaces on the planet, but everything in New York from the height of the skyscrapers to the way the subway was constructed to the position of the harbor is governed by the extraordinary forces that ultimately shaped this city. You can tell the geology of Manhattan at a glance by looking at the skyline. The skyscrapers of Midtown and Downtown are built on hard granite; the low-rise buildings in between are built on a soft, gravelly soil left over from the Ice Age. Learn how New Jersey and North Africa were neighbors 250 million years ago, how the rocks New York are built on are the remains of mountains that 450 million years ago were as tall as the Himalayas, and how Long Island is covered in rubble that remained as ice sheets retreated 10,000 years ago.
Driest Place On Earth The Atacama desert is considered the driest place on Earth. Since human records of the area began, some places have never received rain. But the records don't stop there - the Atacama is also the oldest desert in the world, and recently it has been dated to an amazing 150 million years old. Other research shows that the surface of this desert is also incredibly ancient, with boulders lying there that have not moved for over 23 million years - more than 50 times longer than it's taken for our human species to evolve. The soil is so dry, it has been used as a test bed for the Mars rovers. And though the desert was once thought to be completely lifeless, strange bacteria discovered there have given scientists new hope that they might find life on the red planet. Atacama is also home to the largest copper mine in the world. Inspect the riddle of the Atacama and uncover how this extraordinarily dry lanDISCape was created.
Great Lakes The Great Lakes of North America are the largest expanse of fresh water on the planet. Searching for clues of their formation, our geologists delve deep into an underground salt mine, investigate a fossilized coral reef, climb an Alpine glacier, and dive to the bottom of Lake Superior. They find evidence of an ancient tropical sea, a mighty rift that almost tore the continent in half, and a mile high ice sheet that repeatedly carved its way across North America. And as the lakes settle to their current levels, cascading over Niagara Falls, we find that their evolution is far from over.
Yellowstone Yellowstone National Park is one of the most dangerous geological features on Earth. In trying to uncover the processes behind Yellowstone's main attractions like "Old Faithful," geologists came to the frightening realization that Yellowstone was in fact a vast hidden super-volcano - one that is overdue for a massive eruption. Yellowstone has been on a regular eruption cycle of 600,000 years but the last eruption was over 640,000 years ago, so the next is overdue. An eruption at Yellowstone could be 2,500 times the size of the 1980 Mount St. Helens event. In the past 16.5 million years, the volcano has mysteriously moved hundreds of miles though Nevada across southern Idaho to reach its present location in Yellowstone. But even today it is still active. A swarm of 500 earthquakes hit the park early in 2009 and geologists found that the entire park is being pushed up into the air by hidden forces under the ground. Is this sleeping giant beginning to stir?
Tsunami Tsunamis are one of the most terrifying forces of nature, destroying all in their path. The December 26th Tsunami is estimated to have released the energy of 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs. What are the enormous forces that generate these catastrophic waves deep on the ocean floor? With 50% of the world's population living within a mile of the sea, this episode looks at what could happen in the future. East coast cities from New York to Miami face the threat of a truly colossal wave that could be generated by the collapse of an active volcano off the coast of Africa.
Asteroids These giant mountain-sized boulders from space have wrought death and destruction throughout the millennia but until recently geologists could find no evidence that they had actually struck the earth. Follow the remarkable detective story that begins at Meteor Crater in Arizona as mining engineers desperately try to unearth the billion dollar iron boulder they thought was lying there. It's a detective story that also uncovers immense riches; the world's biggest nickel deposit in Sudbury, Canada, vast oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico and a gold mine in South Africa - all the result of asteroid impacts. Evidence is also unearthed of violent impacts that decimated some of the first people to live in America. What clues do asteroids, and their smaller cousins, meteorites, hold in the formation of the early Earth and perhaps life itself?
Iceland It is the largest and most fearsome volcanic island on the planet. We'll scour the island for clues, to address the mystery of what powerful forces are ripping Iceland apart and lighting its fiery volcanoes. Here, lava rips huge tears in the ground and new islands are born from the waves. Yet despite the active volcanoes, Iceland historically has been covered in and carved by ice. Fire and ice collide, locked in a titanic battle, as glaciers explode and cataclysmic floods decimate the lanDISCape. But Iceland's volcanoes have had ramifications far beyond the shores of Iceland, causing climatic chaos and devastation across the planet; a fate which may one day happen again.
Hawaii The Hawaiian Islands are the most remote island chain on the planet. Emerging in the center of the Pacific, their origins have remained a puzzle for generations. Follow the story of the attempts to try and understand these beautiful, yet violent islands. It is a story of raging volcanoes, vast landslides, mega-tsunamis and strange forces emerging from the bowels of the planet. It reveals that Hawaii's Big Island is over 25 times bigger than Mt. Everest, that the entire Island chain is disappearing faster than any other land mass on Earth, and that volcanoes here might hold essential clues as to the inner workings of our planet.
The Alps The jagged backbone of Europe, spanning seven countries and providing essential water to millions, the Alps is Europe's most important geographic landmark. But how did marine fossils get here, seven thousand feet above sea level? Investigators as far back as Leonardo da Vinci have attempted to fathom out how the Alps evolved, a story that takes us to the bottom of the sea, up the slopes of the infamous Eiger and Matterhorn and deep into the heart of a glacier. But these iconic peaks won't be here for long. The mountains are tumbling down, glaciers are melting and the Alps are being washed away.