Taxonomy term

december 2012

Energy Notes: August 2011-2012

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit

19 Dec 2012

Here comes the solar maximum: What we know - and don't know - about solar storms and their hazards

As solar science continues to advance, researchers are finding new ways to study and forecast the behavior of our star, whose whims endanger our technology-dependent way of life. But what the upcoming peak means for solar storms, and how those storms will affect Earth, remain to be seen.

17 Dec 2012

The long road to understanding our star

The earliest written records of sunspots date back to 165 B.C. in China, but human understanding of the sun didn’t begin making leaps forward until the early 1600s, shortly after the invention of the telescope. That’s when Galileo Galilei, Thomas Harriot and others began drawing sunspots in detail and tracking how they moved and changed.

17 Dec 2012

Down to Earth With: Antarctic meteorite hunters

Dotted with snow dunes and nunatak mountain ranges, Antarctica’s glacial landscapes give the continent an otherworldly feel — but the scenery isn’t what’s truly alien. Antarctica is littered with meteorites, hundreds of thousands of which have been untouched since the moment of impact. For more than 35 years, the volunteer scientists of the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) program have been scouring the icy plains in search of meteorites from meteoroids, the moon and even Mars.

15 Dec 2012

Mineral Resource of the Month: Soda Ash

Natural soda ash, sodium carbonate, is an alkali chemical refined from the mineral trona or from naturally occurring sodium carbonate-bearing brines. Synthetic soda ash is sodium carbonate that has been manufactured from one of several chemical processes. Whether natural or synthetic, soda ash is an essential raw material in the production of flat glass and fiberglass — both of which are used by the domestic automotive and construction industries. Soda ash is also used to produce chemicals, detergents and other important industrial products. 

13 Dec 2012

Bare Earth Elements: A geo-themed pop quiz in honor of 12/12/12

Think you have your geo-vocabulary down, or want to test your geo-jargon chops? Be our guest!

Rearrange twelve 12-letter words using 12-word definitions as clues. Some are a little easier, some are a little harder. All are geo-fantabulous!

Email us your name and answers by 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 14, 2012, for a chance to win an EARTH Magazine T-shirt.

12 Dec 2012

Highlights of 2012: Outlook on natural gas

Natural gas’s bright future in the United States

Thanks to new developments, we now can affordably produce natural gas from rock formations that previously were inaccessible. And thanks to these developments, we now have more natural gas than ever before. The glut has decreased prices for at least a little while. If recent trends continue — namely if those prices stay low and various political, environmental and economic pressures to transition to a cleaner, domestic source of energy remain in place, it’s likely that over the next decade or two, natural gas will overtake petroleum to become the most popular primary energy source in the U.S.
09 Dec 2012

Getting There and Getting Around Sicily

Italy’s volcanoes are mostly in the south, so flying into Rome or Naples is probably easiest. Getting around Italy is also very easy, whether you take the train or rent a car.  

06 Dec 2012

Travels in Geology: Exploring Vulcan's Playground: The Volcanoes of Southern Italy and the Aeolian Islands

The prospect of traveling to Italy might conjure romantic thoughts of stucco-covered villas surrounded by terraced vineyards, ancient visages carved in marble, fountains gurgling in cobblestone piazzas, and pasta smothered in tomato and basil. However, when I was asked to spend a semester teaching in northern Italy, these were not my first thoughts. As a geologist, I instead pondered the Dolomites in alpenglow, the exposure of the iridium-bearing Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary (formerly known as the K/T) in Gubio, and the possibility of visiting some of Italy’s famous volcanoes — Mount Vesuvius and Mount Etna — to the south.     

06 Dec 2012

Two NASA spacecraft reveal ancient underground cracks from moon's formation

SAN FRANCISCO: The face of the moon has always enchanted humankind, but new data from a NASA mission have given scientists a glimpse of what lies beneath the surface.

06 Dec 2012