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Around 12,000 firefighters battled Sunday to contain wildfires in California that have killed six people -- but authorities warned "erratic" winds and dry conditions have caused the flames to grow and spread. "Very hot and dry conditions will continue over the West coast states through Sunday," the National Weather Service said early Sunday.
First-person footage of flames engulfing a neighborhood shows just how devastating the wildfires in Greece are. A man trying to save his friend's cat caught the wildfire on video as it burned through the trees surrounding his home. Within the video's short span of time, just three-and-a-half minutes, the fire approaches and starts to consume the house. SEE ALSO: Devastating photos show the impact of deadly wildfires in Athens According to an English-language version of a local paper, the Cyprus Times, the person who recorded the video is safe. The severe wildfires near Athens has claimed 91 lives over the past week, the Associated Press says. A number of victims drowned in the sea while trying to flee the fire. According to the Centre for the Research on Epidemiology of Disasters in Brussels, this is the deadliest wildfire Europe has seen since 1900. The fire started on July 23 in Mati, a small village just outside of Athens, and spread without warning. Since then, it's ravaged the coast and prompted Greece to ask for aid from the European Union. During a Sunday memorial service at the local church in Mati, the Holy Synod — a ruling body of bishops in the Greek Orthodox Church — said in a letter that "everyone bears responsibility for protecting the environment from haphazard development." The unprecedented heat waves scorching Europe have been boosted by climate change. According to NOAA, Greece is experiencing one of its hottest years on record. Thanks to a lack of steady rainfall, heavy winds, and extremely dry forests, Greece's "tinderbox conditions" make wildfires almost inevitable. Rising temperatures are an international issue — although we're just over halfway through 2018, global warming is already apparent. WATCH: Veterinarians are using fish skin to help heal bear paw burns from wildfires
Ying Zhou teaches a Geology 101 class to students at Virginia Tech, but after peering deeply into the subterranean world beneath the Yellowstone volcano, Zhou says she needs to modify her lesson plans — for Yellowstone, anyhow. Yellowstone is one of the most heavily-researched volcanoes in the world, and it's believed to be responsible for few mega-eruptions in the last two million years. Volcanologists understand its behavior quite well, and there's agreement that any sort of eruption would be likely be proceeded by months or even years of warning. But scientists still aren't sure exactly how the volcano came to be, though many suspect its hundreds of geysers and steaming springs are fueled by a great plume of hot rock emanating from the deep Earth, which rises up to a surface "hotspot." Yet Zhou, a theoretical seismologist, has found otherwise. SEE ALSO: Cannibalism, infanticide: The dark side of Alaska’s bear cam In a study published last week in the journal Nature Geoscience, Zhou describes how she used seismic measurements from earthquakes around North American and beyond to build a visual representation of an inaccessible, mysterious place: the world deep beneath Yellowstone. And what Zhou found, was unexpected. Yellowstone National Park's Great Fountain Geyser.Image: nps/jacob W. Frank"I was puzzled," said Zhou in an interview. She thought she might see the great plume of intensely hot rock, similar to the plume feeding Hawaii's Kilauea volcano. "But we saw something different," said Zhou. She found a massive slab of ancient Earth crust, some 250 to 270 miles beneath the ground. It had broken into giant pieces, but one slab dropped deep beneath Yellowstone, digging into the deep Earth and apparently triggering a welling up of the Earth's mantle — the hot rock beneath the crust. There was no clear sign of a single, large plume feeding Yellowstone, and it's famous national park. "The argument has been going on for a long time," John Wolff, a volcanologist at Washington State University who had no role in the research, said in an interview. "While its true that the plume hypothesis tends to dominate, there’s always been this alternative view." "I'm really on the fence," Wolff added. But Zhou isn't. "If there is a plume, it would explain things nicely," said Zhou. "But here we don’t see the plume — so in that sense, the plume theory is open to challenge." The triangles show a track of volcanoes formed in the last 16.5 million years, with ages shown in millions of years. Yellowstone is the youngest.Image: virginia techIn fact, no one has ever actually seen the plume, nor the chunk of Earth's crust Zhou thinks is there. Earth's deep underworlds are mostly distant and inaccessible. So what any geologist knows is largely based upon studying rocks on the surface and detecting seismic activity beneath the ground to build a picture of what might be transpiring below. That's why the science isn't yet settled. "Both theories involve explaining a feature that formed over the past 15 to 20 million years ago when there was nobody around to take notes or images of what was going on," Stanley Mertzman, a geoscientist at Franklin and Marshall College who had no involvement in the research, said over email. "So scientists are doing their level best to explain this feature based on rather indirect evidence." Mertzman speculated that this could potentially be "the opening salvo in a debate" between Zhou's recent findings and researchers persuaded by the hotspot theory, which has decades of evidence behind it. "This paper is not going to end the argument," said Wolff. An illustration of a plume (red) feeding Yellowstone's volcanic activity.Image: NPsPeter Nelson, who studies geoscience at the University of Texas at Austin, recently added even more evidence to the hotspot theory. In research also published in Nature Geoscience back in March, Nelson concluded that a "single narrow, cylindrically shaped" structure some 250 miles diameter — which is the great plume feeding the volcano — sits beneath Yellowstone. Like Zhou — and every other geologist — Nelson and his team have no hope of digging a tunnel to depths beneath Yellowstone, so they used a method similar to Zhou's to measure how seismic waves moved through the ground. They found that in this peculiar, cylinder-like area, seismic waves traveling through the Earth move notably slower than the rock around it. "It's like doing a CT scan of peoples' heads," said Nelson in an interview, referencing the medical imaging that reveals different internal structures by analyzing how X-ray waves move through tissue, like the brain. And Nelson's scans of the deep Earth support a plume of hot rock "extending from the core of the Earth all the way up to Yellowstone," he said. But Zhou's technique — which she described as "putting special glasses on the seismometers so you can see the detail better" — found a subterranean structure, seemingly like a chunk of Earth's crust, that extended all the way from Yellowstone to Oregon. Yellowstone's Lone Star Geyser erupting.Image: Nps"If it was a plume, you would just see an unusual structure just right under Yellowstone, not all the volcanoes extending to Oregon," she said, referencing a curving line of volcanoes reaching southwest from Yellowstone. This healthy scientific debate will only continue, as Mertzman noted scientists are trying to make sense of a "long and complicated" geologic history. "Zhou's work is really the tip of the iceberg," he said. Though, a passageway leading 400 miles beneath the surface — if it were ever to exist — would certainly clear up a lot of debate, mused Mertzman. "What does it really look like in the walls of that descending passageway through rock that have been pushed and pulled through a very active 500 million years of Earth history?" he wonders. WATCH: This "horror" was spotted off the coast of the Carolinas
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