Taxonomy term

bethany augliere

Cassini's legacy after two decades

Scientists on Earth have received the last submission from the Cassini spacecraft. It descended into Saturn’s atmosphere at 122,500 kilometers per hour, which caused it to melt, thereby ensuring that Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus would remain protected from possible contamination by any errant Earth microbes. Cassini scientists had considered other options for the spacecraft’s end, including leaving it to float endlessly in space or parking it in orbit around Saturn. But ultimately, they chose to have it descend into Saturn’s atmosphere after deciding the data that could be returned from the descent were more valuable than any further data it might obtain by remaining in space. Scientists will make discoveries from these data for decades to come.

15 Sep 2017

Down to Earth With: Cave microbiologist Hazel Barton

In the early 1990s, when Hazel Barton was pursuing her doctorate in medical microbiology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, she enjoyed exploring caves as a hobby. She never imagined that she would one day incorporate caving into her career.

04 Aug 2017

Stock traders' algorithm finds slow earthquakes

Traders in financial markets use a variety of computer algorithms to help them decide when to buy or sell different stocks. Geologists have now adapted one of these algorithms to improve detection of subtle slow-slip events along faults, paving the way for a better understanding of regional seismic hazards.

02 Aug 2017

Massive trove of dinosaur tracks cataloged in Australia

In a remote region of Western Australia, paleontologists have documented the world’s most diverse assemblage of dinosaur tracks. The scientists found preserved in Early Cretaceous rocks thousands of tracks, 150 of which can be assigned to at least 11, and possibly as many as 21, different known track types representing theropods, sauropods, ornithopods and armored thyreophorans.

18 Jul 2017

Bottom dropping out of coral reefs

Coral reefs provide habitat for 25 percent of all marine life, support fishing and tourism economies, and protect shorelines from surging waves and storms. But since the 1970s, coral populations have been waning because of warming waters, coastal development and pollution. Recently, scientists studying several beleaguered reef systems have discovered an unexpected consequence of their decline — the seafloor around the reefs is eroding, leaving coastal communities more vulnerable to high winds and waves.

17 Jul 2017

1883 sea rescue informs new model of wind-wave interactions

Despite improvements in oceanographic observation, knowledge gaps remain about the interactions between ocean waves and wind blowing over the water’s surface. This is in part due to the difficulty of observing the ocean in high seas and windy conditions. In a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, however, researchers have used a historical record of a treacherous 1883 at-sea rescue — aided by the wave-calming effects of a fish-oil slick — to develop a model of how wind and water interact to form different sizes and types of waves.

29 May 2017

Down to Earth With: Biogeochemist Stephen MacAvoy

Stephen Mac­Avoy is an associate professor and chair of the environmental science department at American University in Washington, D.C. MacAvoy specializes in the urban environment found in his own backyard, studying urban water problems like stormwater overflow, which contributes to sewage and nutrient pollution, and the geochemistry of the degraded Anacostia River. He recently spoke with EARTH about how living “green” roofs can help reduce pollution in waterways, his surprising love of teaching and his advice for young scientists.

26 May 2017

Fossil forest recorded ancient sunspots

The sun’s surface is home to dark, relatively cool blotches of high magnetic activity known as sunspots, which vary in number over a roughly 11-year cycle. In a new study in Geology, scientists found evidence of this solar cycle dating back 290 million years to the Permian Period.

05 May 2017

Scientists crack the secret of dinosaurs' incubation time

Paleontologists have long thought that the eggs of dinosaurs — like those of their living bird relatives — probably hatched after short incubation times, up to a few weeks at most. But surprising results from a new study suggest that nonavian dinosaurs spent anywhere from three to six months inside an egg, incubation times similar to reptiles like crocodiles and alligators.

18 Apr 2017

Travels in Geology: Exploring Maine's magnificent Mount Katahdin

Mount Katahdin marks a fitting end to the Appalachian Trail: It’s a nontechnical, but grueling, climb, not to be underestimated or attempted without preparation, that affords spectacular views of igneous and glacial geologic features.


08 Mar 2017