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Benchmarks: March 29, 1912: Scott's South Pole Journey Ends in Death

The epic tale of the race between Norway and Britain to be the first to reach the South Pole — and its tragic conclusion with the deaths of British team members in February and March 1912 — is well known. But the details of what happened on the ice, of what went wrong for the British expedition, have continued to be discussed and debated since the bodies of Capt. Robert Falcon Scott and his four crewmates were discovered the following summer. Several recent studies on the Antarctic climate and on the questionable behavior of Scott’s second-in-command are casting new light on the outcome of the expedition.

29 Mar 2018

Geomedia: On the Web: How will melting ice impact your city?

The relationship between melting glaciers and rising sea levels is best described as: “It’s complicated.” A new online tool shows just how counterintuitive predictions of how melting land-ice will affect coasts can be.

16 Mar 2018

Geomedia: Books: "Half-Earth" is only half-compelling

Edward O. Wilson, professor emeritus and honorary curator in entomology at Harvard, is a scientist of acclaim and renown, a naturalist and experimentalist who has made astounding discoveries about the natural world. These discoveries range from small details about ant communication to much larger ideas related to sociobiology, the co-evolution of genes and culture, island biogeography and biophilia, for example. His work is widely known, in large part, because he’s a talented and prolific writer, and he has twice won the Pulitzer Prize.

13 Mar 2018

Geomedia: Books: "Aerial Geology": A stunning and informative addition to any coffee table

My fellow EARTH Magazine contributor Mary Caperton Morton is the author of “Aerial Geology,” a beautiful and massive tome that profiles a hundred geologically interesting locations across North America. Mary was kind enough to forward me a copy for review, and I was delighted to flip through its gorgeous pages. It’s a visual feast, with a mix of satellite imagery, aerial photography and ground-based photos. Each site is allotted two to four pages for photos and Mary’s written descriptions, which are sometimes augmented by excellent schematic illustrations by the talented Kat Cantner, the illustrator for EARTH and the American Geosciences Institute (which publishes EARTH).

13 Mar 2018

Down to Earth With marine geoscientist Harold Tobin

As a boy growing up on the East Coast, Harold Tobin loved being outdoors but was not all that excited by geology or the region’s ancient rocks. But the catastrophic eruption of Washington state’s Mount St. Helens in 1980, when Tobin was 15, and the notion that tectonic plates must be moving beneath the Pacific Northwest, captured his imagination. A few years later, while a student at Yale University, he volunteered as a summer intern at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. That experience, along with his undergraduate curriculum, convinced Tobin to become a geologist.

02 Mar 2018

Benchmarks: February 12, 1986: France and the U.K. sign the Treaty of Canterbury, paving the way for the Chunnel

Since the tunnel connecting Britain and France beneath the English Channel opened in 1994, more than 390 million people and 320 million metric tons of goods have made the 50-kilometer subterranean trip. The Channel Tunnel, or Chunnel, which is actually three separate tunnels — two for rail traffic and one for maintenance — thus plays a major part in the countries’ economies, as well as in the broader European economy. Beyond that distinction, it has been memorialized in popular TV, movies and literature. And in recent years, the tunnel has taken on literal and symbolic significance as a gateway amid flows of refugees from strife-ridden parts of the world and in debates over immigration policy. The Chunnel has become so firmly embedded in the regional infrastructure and culture during the past quarter century that it is difficult to imagine it not being there today.

12 Feb 2018

Geomedia: Books: Putting 'Seeds on Ice' to protect crop diversity

Tucked away, deep underground, in a frozen corner of the Scandinavian north is the safety net for our food supply. The Global Seed Vault, on the island of Spitsbergen in Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago and popularly known as the “doomsday vault,” shelters our most precious seeds from possible global catastrophe.

07 Feb 2018

Mineral Resource of the Month: Titanium

Titanium is the ninth-most abundant element in Earth’s crust and is found in nearly all rocks and sediments, although it is not found as a pure metal in nature. It has a strong affinity for oxygen, typically forming oxide minerals — the most important being ilmenite and rutile. Processing of ilmenite and rutile in shoreline (beach) and fluvial (river and stream) heavy mineral sand deposits — found along many continental margins — provides most of the world’s titanium supply. Most of the remaining supply comes from two large hard rock deposits that contain ilmenite.

 
05 Feb 2018

Benchmarks: January 25, 1968: The last firefall: A Yosemite tradition flames out

Fifty years ago this month, on Jan. 25, 1968, a massive bonfire built of red fir bark atop Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park was burned down to embers and, promptly at 9 p.m., and for the last time, pushed over the cliff edge to create a flaming cascade for the viewing enjoyment of tourists gathered below. The spectacle, called “firefall,” had been a beloved Yosemite tradition for nearly a century.

25 Jan 2018

Down to Earth With: Wildfire meteorologist Craig Clements

Not many people are able to combine their work and hobbies the way Craig Clements, a meteorologist at San Jose State University in California, has. “I was always interested in mountain weather,” he says. “I got into meteorology through my interest in mountaineering and climbing.”

19 Jan 2018

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