Taxonomy term

december 2015

Narratives from Nepal: Relief and rebuilding after the Gorkha Earthquake

When a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, mountaineer Ben Erdmann was on a climbing expedition on Annapurna; meanwhile, seismologist Susan Hough and engineer Ajay Sitaula were at home in California and Colorado, respectively, watching the disaster unfold. Soon after, all would be on the ground in Nepal, involved in relief efforts or working to assess what happened — especially why the quake did not do as much damage as scientists expected it would.

06 Dec 2015

Working near Gorkha's epicenter

Hari Krishna Bhattarai works for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Nepal, as well as for Educating Nepal, an organization that aims to improve the education of Nepali schoolchildren. On Friday, April 24, Bhattarai was working at a field site in Gorkha, tending to various WWF-related projects and working with locals in the Gorkha region. The next day, April 25, was a Nepalese public holiday, so Bhattarai returned to his home city, Pokhara, near the Annapurna Massif. The Gorkha quake struck Saturday, doing little damage to Pokhara. On Monday, Bhattarai returned to the area near Barpak, where he had been working, to deliver relief supplies like beans and rice. 
 
06 Dec 2015

Ocean oxygen levels control seafloor carbon burial

Residual organic carbon from dead marine phytoplankton and other oceanic life can follow two pathways: It can be deeply buried in seafloor sediments or it can be oxidized, either in the water column or in shallow sediment layers. The balance between these two processes and the extent of organic carbon burial over time are crucial in the global carbon cycle, but a complete understanding of the factors and rates controlling organic carbon burial versus oxidation in the oceans has been lacking. In a recent study in Geology, scientists improved on an approach to quantify organic carbon oxidation and provided a glimpse of marine organic carbon burial in the Precambrian, when the oceans were anoxic and Earth’s atmosphere was in the early stages of oxygenation.
 
05 Dec 2015

Down to Earth With: Paleobiologist Nigel Hughes

I first met Nigel Hughes, a paleobiologist at the University of California at Riverside (UCR), in 2010. He took me on a brisk walk through the UCR Botanical Gardens, where the trees kept us cool in the hot Southern California sun while he told me all about trilobites. 
 
03 Dec 2015

Human hands not most advanced

Compared to chimpanzees, our recent evolutionary cousins, humans have long thumbs relative to our fingers. This trait has endowed our ancestors and us with a particular talent for grasping and working with tools, which likely contributed to our evolutionary success over the last several million years since splitting off from the last common ancestor (LCA) shared by the two groups. But rather than humans having the more evolved hand — a prevailing hypothesis since the late 20th century — a new study suggests that chimps’ hands, with lower thumb-to-finger-length ratios, have changed considerably more.
 
03 Dec 2015

Moroccan fossil formation reshapes timeline of Early Phanerozoic evolution

Many new life-forms emerged during both the Cambrian Explosion and the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event, but a lack of fossils from the 40-million-year span in between has left scientists wondering if a period of evolutionary stasis took hold between the two booms. Now, the discovery of a prodigious bed of fossils in Morocco that date to between 485 million and 444 million years ago indicates that the Ordovician boom may actually have been a continuation of the Cambrian Explosion, with little to no evolutionary downtime in between.
02 Dec 2015

Travels in Geology: Sedona: A journey to the edge of a supercontinent

Built upon crimson slopes studded with junipers and towering pines, surrounded by soaring red rock spires, and encircled by 800,000 hectares of pristine national forest, the central Arizona town of Sedona is widely recognized for its natural beauty, diverse recreational opportunities, flourishing art scene and its role as a hub of New Age healing.

01 Dec 2015

Getting there and getting around Sedona

Although Flagstaff’s Pulliam Airport is located just 40 kilometers from Sedona, flights into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, a two-hour drive to the south, are usually cheaper and have better connections. It is also possible to ride Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route to Flagstaff. To fully explore central Arizona, you will need a car; if you fly in, you can rent one at either city’s airport, in downtown Flagstaff or in Sedona. 
 
01 Dec 2015

Where on Earth? - December 2015

Where on Earth was this picture taken? Use these clues to guess and submit your answer via mail, email or Web by the last day of the month (December 31, 2015).

01 Dec 2015

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