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Features

Burying the sky: Turning carbon dioxide into rock

At an Icelandic geothermal power plant, researchers are capturing carbon dioxide and burying it in basalt to keep the greenhouse gas out of the sky. But can this method be scaled up, and work elsewhere, to help meet global climate goals? 

02 Jun 2017

When and how did plate tectonics begin on Earth?

Earth’s surface is a shifting puzzle of plates that collide and diverge, generating earthquakes, fueling volcanoes, opening ocean basins and raising mountain ranges. But when and how did this process — unique in our solar system as far as we know — begin? 
22 May 2017

An economic argument for reframing the geoscientist's role in disaster mitigation

Geoscientists don’t often weigh in on the long-term societal implications of the natural disasters they study — but perhaps they should. Thinking about disasters in the same way economists do might help them do more good.
14 May 2017

Travels in Geology: Geo-diversity and geologic history in the North West Highlands of Scotland

The complex rocks of the North West Highlands of Scotland —which span two-thirds of Earth’s history — include the oldest rocks in the United Kingdom, as well as some young, glacially sculpted landscapes. They also hold a prominent place in the history of geology.
09 May 2017

Neonicotinoids: Prominent pesticides escape into the environment

Three decades after neonicotinoids, a widely used class of pesticides, were first introduced, a far more complex understanding of their distribution, abundance and persistence in the environment — as well as their effects on nontarget species like bees — is emerging. 
14 Apr 2017

Shale boom could fuel batteries

Independent energy trends — namely a shale revolution and a push toward electronic vehicles — are connected in nonobvious but synergistic ways. In fact, the shale revolution may be a helpful partner for the electric vehicle industry.
09 Apr 2017

Of airplanes and ash clouds: What we've learned since Eyjafjallajökull

The havoc created when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull Volcano erupted in 2010 and closed trans-Atlantic and northern European airspace for days also created research opportunities. Scientists, engineers and the airline industry have been working together to figure out how to keep the aviation system going when volcanic ash can’t be avoided.
02 Apr 2017

Warning: Ash Ahead!

One of the next-generation tactics being pursued by engineers is the use of ash-sensing equipment installed on airplanes that could warn of an ash cloud ahead and allow pilots time to adjust their flight path to avoid the cloud. “If you’re driving a car and you see a hazard up ahead, you can navigate around it,” says Fred Prata of the University of Oxford in England. “Every aircraft has radar equipment with which [pilots] can see weather systems and fly around them. This is the same concept, but adapted to image volcanic ash.”

02 Apr 2017

Ash vs. airplanes

Between 1953 and 2009,* there were 129 reported incidents of airplane-ash encounters, with 79 of those causing some degree of airframe or engine damage. Twenty-six involved significant or severe damage, and nine involved some degree of engine shutdown during flight. Most of the encounters occurred within 24 hours of the onset of ash production during an eruption and within 1,000 kilometers of the source volcano. All flights landed safely.

02 Apr 2017

Travels in Geology: Easter Island's enduring enigmas

Easter Island, a lonely island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, is steeped in mystique — and not just for its famous, perplexing statues and controversial story of societal collapse. How the island formed has also baffled geologists for decades.

27 Mar 2017

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