Geology stories can shake the world--it is in their nature--and 2014 was true to form. There were notable jolts and rumbles, and some surprising shakeups above the ground as well. Here are six areas where Earth made big news, as reported in Scientific American during the past 12 months. You may have your own earthy stories that you think should be on this list. If you do, please list them in the comments section below. Or email them to me at

Let the rumbling begin:

1. EARTHQUAKES. April was a fairly shaky month for the planet. A quake 200 miles from Mexico City in April tested the alert system for the hemisphere’s largest metropolis.  Another April shakeup, in Chile and registering just over magnitude 8, revealed to scientists that the threat of an even larger earthquake looms over the country. Evidence of a rare supersonic quake was discovered in Kamchatka. And a study found that strange glowing lights sometimes accompany shaking along rifts in the planet’s crust.

2. VOLCANOES. A deadly eruption in Japan caught a lot of unfortunate people by surpise, because it came from a shallow explosion of steam that is almost impossible to predict.  In Hawaii, the world’s largest volcano, Mauna Loa, rumbled back to life with some small quakes after a long quiet period. But the biggest volcano news was the eruption in late August of Iceland’s Baroarbunga volcano. which surprised scientists by pumping out huge amounts of sulphur, rather than the expected giant ash cloud.

3. LEGAL TREMORS. In November, an Italian appeals court cleared six seismologists of manslaughter,  reversing convictions and saying they were not responsible for lulling people into a false sense of security before a killer 2009 quake.

4. WAVES. Hawaii faces a more dangerous tsunami risk that previously thought, and officials are redrawing evacuation zones, scientists said at an October geology meeting.

5. SLIDES. After the Oso mudslide in Washington State, which carried away two dozen houses, geologists examined how an old slide was reactivated by rain at the site, and how the danger might have been foreseen.

6. THE GEOLOGY OF WAR. This year marked the 70th anniversary of World War Two's D-Day. Back in 1944 British divers risked their lives to collect sand samples from Normandy beaches as geologists tried to figure out whether the land could support heavy equipment brought ashore. 2014 was also the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War. Ancient geology played an important role there. Millennia before the Blue and the Gray fought, molten magma rose in the area and hardened into high ground such as Cemetery Ridge, which gave Union soldiers on it an advantage over attacking Confederates.