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News

"Easy bake" fossils resemble real deal

Most fossils are millions of years in the making, but a new technique is allowing scientists to simulate the process of fossilization in about 24 hours. The laboratory-based method, described in a study published in the journal Palaeontology, sheds light on how exceptionally preserved fossils form generally over geologic time and may provide custom samples for research projects investigating specific conditions under which certain fossils formed.

27 Nov 2018

Scientists discover granite crystallizes at lower temperatures

Investigating the properties of granite has given researchers insight into how gold and other economically important ores are produced, the thermal properties of Earth’s crust, the state of magma in active volcanic regions, and how Earth’s continents formed. “The temperature of granite crystallization underpins our thinking about many of these phenomena,” researchers note in a new study in Nature. “But evidence is emerging that this temperature may not be well constrained,” added the study authors, who found that certain granites crystallize at temperatures as much as 200 degrees Celsius lower than previously thought.

26 Nov 2018

Titan's dunes form the same way as Earth's

The mountains of East Xanadu rise high above the windswept plains and dunes of Shangri-La. This fantastical landscape isn’t found in a scene from a Hollywood movie, or even a desert on Earth, but on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. New research looking at the surface topography of Titan — more than a billion kilometers from Earth — reveals it has a lot in common with our planet. The work, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, shows that the dunes likely formed in a process that’s analogous to how dunes form on Earth — through weathering, erosion and deposition.

23 Nov 2018

Gulf Stream eddies transport iron to North Atlantic subtropical gyre

Dust from the Sahara Desert is a major supplier of iron to the North Atlantic subtropical gyre — the huge circular ocean current stretching between North America and the west coasts of Africa and Europe — where cyanobacteria use the scarce nutrient to fuel nitrogen fixation, which then fertilizes other organisms at the base of the marine food chain. Now, researchers have discovered that eddies spinning off the Gulf Stream also transport iron to the northwestern edge of the gyre.

22 Nov 2018

Winter precipitation in southwestern U.S. tied to Kiwi Coast

Water supplies in the southwestern United States largely depend on winter precipitation. Predicting seasonal rain and snowfall is becoming more difficult, however, as climate change causes precipitation patterns to vary. A new study provides evidence of a strong correlation between late-summer to fall sea-surface temperatures off the coast of New Zealand and winter precipitation in the southwestern U.S. — a correlation that could help provide earlier and more reliable forecasts for the southwestern U.S., and improve water resource and ecosystem management in the region.

21 Nov 2018

Marine animals have been migrating for millions of years

Scientists have suspected that ancient animals migrated in response to changing global temperatures, but until now, there was no documentation of this across extensive time periods. In a new study, researchers found that, for millions of years, marine organisms like corals, sponges and snails, have shifted their ranges in response to climate change.

20 Nov 2018

Japanese diaries show sun's cycle sparks lightning on Earth

The effects of solar cycles on Earth’s climate over timeframes of thousands of years are well documented, but the shorter-term effects on weather are less understood. A new study using ancient Japanese diaries to track storms in the 18th and 19th centuries suggests that one of the sun’s shortest cycles — the 27-day rotational period — may play a role in stimulating lightning on Earth.

15 Nov 2018

Turning modern "eyes" on ancient sites

People have inhabited Jerash, Jordan, since the Neolithic. But much of its history has been buried by subsequent occupation, including over the last two centuries. Archaeologists have excavated Jerash with trowels and screens to uncover its long history, but now, with the help of lidar and old photographs, a team of researchers is discovering more about Jerash’s past by gazing down on the city from the sky.

13 Nov 2018

Algae ate themselves to death and caused a global extinction

Errant asteroids and toxic emissions from volcanic eruptions are the usual suspects in mass extinctions. But during the Ordovician, it was a million-year stretch of cooling ushered in by proliferating algae that triggered a worldwide glaciation and extinction event, according to a new study.

08 Nov 2018

Saharan dust a storm killer

Each year between 900 million and 4 billion metric tons of dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa is swept into the atmosphere and blown around the world. In places like Texas, the dust often leads to poor air quality. A new study suggests that desert dust may also suppress the formation of severe storms and hurricanes in the southern United States.

06 Nov 2018

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