Taxonomy term

august 2017

Dust influences pollution levels in eastern China

Air pollution often enshrouds cities in eastern China in a thick haze that impairs visibility and causes respiratory health problems. Emissions from human activity are mainly to blame, but climate researchers now report that natural forces — namely, dust kicked into the air by wind — can also exert a strong control over how much pollution persists in the air.

22 Aug 2017

A mammoth king: Was the legend of King Hygelac in "Beowulf" inspired by a fossil find?

Some literary and scientific sleuthing suggests that the eighth-century discovery and misidentification of fossil mammoth bones on the Rhine-Meuse River Delta could have led to the monsters and characters of “Beowulf.”
20 Aug 2017

Geologic Column: Alternative history: Earth in a funhouse mirror

If a particular historical event had turned out differently, how might subsequent history have changed? 
18 Aug 2017

Young Costa Rican lavas might reflect pockets of primordial mantle

During the Archean, between 4 billion and 2.5 billion years ago, Earth’s super-heated young mantle produced a unique type of lava known as komatiite. In a new study published in Nature Geoscience, researchers looking at 90-million-year-old komatiites in Costa Rica — by far the youngest komatiites ever found — suggest the modern mantle may still harbor pockets of intense heat reminiscent of early Earth.

18 Aug 2017

Why meteors snap, crackle and pop

Keen-eared observers sometimes report hearing popping, whistling or buzzing at the same time they see meteors pass far overhead, a perplexing phenomenon called the electrophonic effect. What causes the effect — or if it’s even real — has been discussed for centuries; famed astronomer Edmond Halley is said to have dismissed it as a figment of people’s imaginations. In a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers suggest that not only is it real, but that it is caused by radio waves induced by meteors and converted to sound waves near Earth’s surface.

17 Aug 2017

Baby Louie dinosaur fossil gets a formal name

A baby dinosaur found fossilized with a clutch of eggs in China in the 1990s has finally been identified as an embryo from a new species of giant oviraptorosaur, according to a study in Nature Communications. The specimen, nicknamed “Baby Louie” and once featured on the cover of National Geographic, has been formally classified as a caenagnathid oviraptorosaur named Beibeilong sinensis, which translates to “Chinese baby dragon,” by Hanyong Pu of the Henan Geological Museum in Zhengzhou, China, and colleagues.

16 Aug 2017

Travels in Geology: Austria's Salzkammergut: World heritage preserved in salt

Explore stunning mountain peaks, sparkling lakes, quintessential alpine villages and the world’s oldest salt mines, along with Mozart’s hometown, in Austria’s salt district.
11 Aug 2017

Getting there and getting around Austria's Salzkammergut

Salzburg boasts Austria’s second-busiest airport, with nonstop flights to cities throughout Europe and connecting flights to a number of North American gateways. Munich, Germany, just 145 kilometers and 1.5 hours away on the A8 autobahn, has direct flights from North America. Picking up a rental car is easy at either airport. Austria’s official language is German, but many Austrians are fluent in English. Road signs are in German but are easily followed by English speakers.

11 Aug 2017

Comment: In space, timing is everything

From concept to launch, planetary missions are the result of years of planning and work, but success can hinge on a few events that happen in mere seconds.
10 Aug 2017

Mineral Resource of the Month: Silicon

Almost 30 percent of Earth’s crust consists of silicon, the second-most abundant element on Earth following oxygen. Silicon is rarely found free in nature; it combines with oxygen and other elements to form silicate minerals. These silicate minerals compose more than 90 percent of Earth’s crust. Silicates are the largest class of rock-forming minerals on Earth. Silicon dioxide, or silica, typically takes the form of quartz, the most common component of sand. Silicon is also the seventh-most abundant element in the universe.

07 Aug 2017