Taxonomy term

august 2014

Benchmarks: September 1, 1957: Fossil Cycad National Monument is dissolved

On Sept. 1, 1957, with the stroke of a pen, the U.S. Congress declared Fossil Cycad National Monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota to be no more. At one time, the site held the world’s largest collection of rare fossil cycad-like plants that thrived during the Cretaceous. Over the years, mismanagement, vandalism and theft left the site barren of fossils — the site never had a staff or visitor center, and was never opened to the public. The site’s initial designation as a national monument, in October 1922, had been brought about by the crusading of one man, Yale University paleobotanist George R. Wieland; in the end, he was also responsible for its demise.

01 Sep 2014

Natural arsenic levels in Ohio soils exceed regulatory standards

A new study in which all 842 soil samples taken in Ohio had more arsenic than recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raises the question of what to do when natural background levels in the environment exceed limits set to protect ecosystems and human health.
 

31 Aug 2014

Floating nuclear plants may be safer from tsunamis

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake just off the coast of Tohoku, Japan, set off a devastating tsunami that swamped the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex on the coast northeast of Tokyo. Backup generators failed, triggering nuclear meltdowns in three reactors that could no longer be cooled.
 

30 Aug 2014

Sunken logs a delicacy for ocean bottom-feeders

Wood isn’t often on the menu for deep sea-dwelling critters, but for some species, there’s nothing like a tasty tree stump for dinner. Five years after leaving bundles of Acacia wood 3,200 meters deep at the bottom of Monterey Canyon off the central California coast, biologists retrieved the bundles with a remotely operated vehicle and found that some hosted diverse colonies of organisms.
 

29 Aug 2014

Down to Earth With: Kerry Sieh

After more than 30 years as a professor and researcher at Caltech, earthquake geologist Kerry Sieh (pronounced “sea”) surprised his colleagues when he pulled up stakes in 2008 for a rare opportunity in Southeast Asia to be the founding director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
 

28 Aug 2014

Volcanic ash feed southern ocean plankton

Ash plumes from volcanoes in South America and elsewhere may spur large blooms of plankton in otherwise barren parts of the Southern Ocean, but maybe not for the reason scientists have suspected, according to a new study. Such blooms are of interest because they consume atmospheric carbon dioxide, although their overall effect on climate remains far from clear.
 

28 Aug 2014

Down to Earth With: Tom Malloy

Butte, Mont., is home to one of the nation’s largest Superfund sites — a 300-meter-deep lake of acidic, heavy metal-contaminated water known as the Berkeley Pit. As the reclamation manager of Butte-Silver Bow County, it’s Tom Malloy’s job to help clean it up.

27 Aug 2014

The subcontinent's sturdy mammals

India is home to some hardy mammals, according to a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers reported that 20 of 21 mammalian taxa identified from fossils found in southern India have survived on the subcontinent over at least the last 100,000 years, with some lineages stretching back twice that long.
 

27 Aug 2014

Extra rib may be sign of mammoth decline

High rates of a congenital defect in woolly mammoths may offer evidence that inbreeding and environmental stress contributed to the animals’ demise during the Late Pleistocene, according to a new analysis of fossil mammoth neck bones.

26 Aug 2014

South American fossils offer revised view of Gondwana assembly

Fossils of a known age have been found for the first time in rocks in Brazil that, although long-studied, had previously eluded scientists’ attempts to pinpoint their age. The discovery of the marine animals dates the rocks to 550 million years ago, researchers say, offering important insights into the geological evolution and timing of the assembly of the former supercontinent Gondwana.
 

25 Aug 2014

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