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Benchmarks: February 12, 1986: France and the U.K. sign the Treaty of Canterbury, paving the way for the Chunnel

Since the tunnel connecting Britain and France beneath the English Channel opened in 1994, more than 390 million people and 320 million metric tons of goods have made the 50-kilometer subterranean trip. The Channel Tunnel, or Chunnel, which is actually three separate tunnels — two for rail traffic and one for maintenance — thus plays a major part in the countries’ economies, as well as in the broader European economy. Beyond that distinction, it has been memorialized in popular TV, movies and literature. And in recent years, the tunnel has taken on literal and symbolic significance as a gateway amid flows of refugees from strife-ridden parts of the world and in debates over immigration policy. The Chunnel has become so firmly embedded in the regional infrastructure and culture during the past quarter century that it is difficult to imagine it not being there today.

12 Feb 2018

Geomedia: Books: Putting 'Seeds on Ice' to protect crop diversity

Tucked away, deep underground, in a frozen corner of the Scandinavian north is the safety net for our food supply. The Global Seed Vault, on the island of Spitsbergen in Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago and popularly known as the “doomsday vault,” shelters our most precious seeds from possible global catastrophe.

07 Feb 2018

Mineral Resource of the Month: Titanium

Titanium is the ninth-most abundant element in Earth’s crust and is found in nearly all rocks and sediments, although it is not found as a pure metal in nature. It has a strong affinity for oxygen, typically forming oxide minerals — the most important being ilmenite and rutile. Processing of ilmenite and rutile in shoreline (beach) and fluvial (river and stream) heavy mineral sand deposits — found along many continental margins — provides most of the world’s titanium supply. Most of the remaining supply comes from two large hard rock deposits that contain ilmenite.

 
05 Feb 2018

Benchmarks: January 25, 1968: The last firefall: A Yosemite tradition flames out

Fifty years ago this month, on Jan. 25, 1968, a massive bonfire built of red fir bark atop Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park was burned down to embers and, promptly at 9 p.m., and for the last time, pushed over the cliff edge to create a flaming cascade for the viewing enjoyment of tourists gathered below. The spectacle, called “firefall,” had been a beloved Yosemite tradition for nearly a century.

25 Jan 2018

Down to Earth With: Wildfire meteorologist Craig Clements

Not many people are able to combine their work and hobbies the way Craig Clements, a meteorologist at San Jose State University in California, has. “I was always interested in mountain weather,” he says. “I got into meteorology through my interest in mountaineering and climbing.”

19 Jan 2018

Down to Earth With: Paleontologist Ali Nabavizadeh

A perfect day in the life of paleontologist Ali Nabavizadeh wouldn’t be complete without a fresh corpse. The subjects of his work at the dissection table range from a rhinoceros, to an elephant head, to the human cadavers essential to the anatomy classes he teaches at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden, N.J. The only thing that could possibly top a fresh corpse, in fact, is an extremely old one.

20 Dec 2017

Down to Earth With: Volcanologist Jess Phoenix

Field geologists usually love camping, hiking and all things outdoors. Today, Jess Phoenix is no different, but she wasn’t always that way. As a child growing up in Colorado, she bucked traditional backpack-wearing pursuits. “I would take the horses on trail rides and that was probably the most outdoorsy thing that I did,” Phoenix says. Instead, she took after the athletic interests of her parents, both FBI agents, playing “every sport under the sun.”

11 Dec 2017

Geomedia: Gifts: Holiday Gift Guide

There’s never a shortage of geeky pop-culture merchandise and gift ideas available, but sometimes it’s hard to find clever items that are less “Guardians of the Galaxy” and more about the actual galaxy. If you have science lovers on your holiday shopping list, look no further than EARTH’s Holiday Gift Guide for ideas — from space soap to science board games — that are sure to surprise and delight.

07 Dec 2017

Benchmarks: December 5, 1952: The Great Smog smothers London

On Friday, Dec., 5, 1952, a blanket of thick, yellow smog settled over London, cloaking the city for five days straight. Smog wasn’t uncommon — Londoners called these days “pea-soupers,” based on the yellow-black color — and there were notable smog episodes from the Industrial Revolution (late 1700s) through the 1950s. But the haze of the city’s infamous “Great Smog” of 1952 long overstayed its visit. The lingering smog killed thousands, and its residual effects lasted for decades.

05 Dec 2017

Mineral Resource of the Month: Zinc

Zinc is a ubiquitous element occurring in many rocks in Earth’s crust and as a trace constituent in the oceans and the atmosphere. Zinc is commonly found in mineral deposits along with other base metals, such as copper and lead, and is produced mainly from three types of deposits: sedimentary exhalative, Mississippi Valley type, and volcanogenic massive sulfide. Sphalerite, a zinc sulfide mineral, is the primary ore mineral for zinc and has been the source for most of the world’s production.

 

04 Dec 2017

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