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The trouble with turtles: Paleontology at a crossroads

Turtles are the last big vertebrate group to be placed firmly on the tree of life, and the arguments are getting messy. Scientists in three fields in particular — paleontolgy, developmental biology and microbiology/genomics — disagree about how, and from what, turtles may have evolved. 

31 Mar 2014

Scientists go to extremes to monitor Arctic permafrost loss

Researchers are studying coastal erosion in the Arctic — where sea-ice extent has recently reached record lows, permafrost soils are rapidly thawing and the coast is retreating at an astonishing rate of 15 meters per year, more than double the rate of several decades ago.

24 Mar 2014

From field scientist to filmmaker: Doug Prose

Filmmaker Doug Prose’s path to becoming a geo-documentarian wasn’t straightforward (if such a path even can be), despite his now-obvious fit in the profession. An earth science class in ninth grade that stressed rote memorization of rock and mineral samples sitting on tabletops offered little inspiration and left him wondering “why anybody would care about geology.” But a series of chance encounters and opportunities subsequently led him back to the field and eventually uncovered a passion for geologic storytelling through film that he hadn’t dreamt of while growing up.

11 Mar 2014

Brooks Ellwood and the unusual applications of magnetism

The call came out of the blue. Geophysicist Brooks Ellwood was sitting in his office in the geology department at the University of Texas at Arlington in 1990 when the telephone rang. On the other end was Doug Owsley, a forensic anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution, who was calling to ask for Ellwood’s help to find the grave of “Wild Bill” Longley. Little did Ellwood realize that this seemingly straightforward request would set him off on a 10-year quest and a career he never anticipated.

10 Mar 2014

Commissioned artwork

In 2013, the American Geosciences Institute (AGI, which publishes EARTH) commissioned glass artist Adam Frus to create a sculpture to celebrate the Geological Society of America’s (GSA) 125th anniversary. AGI was looking for something unique to capture the essence of geoscience to present to GSA.

12 Mar 2014

Geoscience inspires glass artist Adam Frus

Adam Frus' true love for art took off when, at the age of 16, he took a glass-blowing class with his father and brother. Frus has now been working in blown glass for the better part of two decades, and in 2007, he started his own company, Frus Glass. He wasn’t always sure he wanted to be a professional artist, however, and he first pursued geology, graduating with a degree in geology from Arizona State University in 2007. Now he uses that geological background and love of the earth sciences to inform his art.

12 Mar 2014

Getting there and getting around on the John Muir Trail

The best time to hike the John Muir Trail (JMT) is late summer. To plan your own adventure, start by reading up on the trek at various websites such as the Pacific Crest Trail Association’s JMT trail site (www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/john-muir-trail/) and in guidebooks. Then, when you know when you want to go, procure your permits. To start in Yosemite, you can apply for permits through their lottery over the winter or get a permit for an alternate trailhead like we did.

26 Feb 2014

Be aware and prepare

Hiking the full 340-kilometer length of the John Muir Trail (JMT) isn’t a beginner backpacking trip. Make sure you enjoy slowly plodding up switchbacks carrying a heavy pack for days before you start out on this weeks-long trek. That said, I met a surprising number of people for whom the JMT was their first wilderness foray, and as far as I know, they all survived.

26 Feb 2014

Travels in geology: Walking toward Whitney: A journey through the Sierra High Country along the John Muir Trail

The hike to Mount Whitney traverses uninterrupted wilderness through three national parks — Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite — as well as national wilderness areas such as the Ansel Adams Wilderness and 13 different river drainages over which the ecosystems and geology continually shift. The trail brings you views of the imposing Ritter Range, the columnar-jointed basalt of Devils Postpile, red cinder cones and Yosemite’s iconic exfoliated domes. It’s not for the faint of heart (or the weak-kneed), but if you can make time for it, it’s a trip you’ll never forget.

05 Mar 2014

Tsunamis from the sky: Can meteotsunamis be forecast?

The Great Lakes, along with the U.S. East Coast, the Mediterranean, Japan and many other parts of the world, have a long history of mysterious large waves striking unsuspecting coastlines. Such waves have characteristics similar to tsunamis triggered by earthquakes or landslides. Only recently, however, have scientists unraveled how a storm can create and propagate these far-traveling waves — called meteorological tsunamis or meteotsunamis. 

19 Feb 2014

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