Where on Earth is this freaky lava pool? Why do people hate love locks? Is it true that fire ants love the suburbs? And what do the soon-to-be-lost sounds of the industrial age sound like? All your answers are here, in this week's landscape reads!
Who hates love? People who care about bridges, apparently. As the fad has grown among the romantically inclined, small footbridges in Paris now groan under the additional metal of an estimated 700,000 locks. And these tiny tokens of affection, taken together, are weighing down the city's aging infrastructure. [The Guardian]
Fire ants first arrived by ship as stowaways from South America in the 1930s, but, for decades, they spread in only a fifty-mile radius around the port of Mobile, Alabama. Then Americans moved out into the suburbs, buying shrubs and sod for their picket-fenced lawns. And fire ants hitched a ride again, as nurseries transported plants and soil across state lines; soon enough, fire ants had invaded the entire South. This piece by Justin Noble is from July, but it was just selected for the Best Science and Nature Writing of 2013, and it's well worth revisiting. [Nautilus]
Torsten Nilsson curates a curious place in Sweden called the Museum of Work. As he's been collecting old factory equipment, he realized that these machines may persist in museums but no one will know what they sound like in use. He's decided to do something about that. "The resulting archive of 600 recordings will focus exclusively on things that clang, screech, hiss, grind, roar, and clatter—that is, noises most of us try to avoid," writes Christ Wright in the introduction to his lovely interview with the Swedish curator. You can also listen to some of the sounds below. [The Boston Globe]
When a mystery chemical spilled into West Virginia's river this January, we wondered how we could know so little about a chemical being stored so close to drinking water. In typical New Yorker fashion, Evan Osnos unravels the tangled web of lobbying and backroom deals that cozied the state up to big business while putting its citizens'- health at risk. [The New Yorker]
Photo: NASA Earth Observatory shared this unearthly photo of the Halema'uma'u Crater in Hawaii this past week. This lava lake formed in the crater just 6 years ago, slowly expanding into a pit over 500 feet across. The lava had sunken slightly from the day before, leaving the glowing cracks on its barely cooled surface. Photo by USGS.