Taxonomy term


In feats of tectonic strength, grain size matters

Plate tectonics involves some of the most powerful forces on Earth, but the lithosphere, of which the plates are made, is not infinitely strong: Weaknesses in the lithosphere allow it to break apart and form plate boundaries. Determining the strength of tectonic plates based on field observations has proved tricky, however, due to the sheer scale of plates, while experiments and calculations in the lab on olivine — the main mineral that makes up the lithosphere — have depicted plates as misleadingly strong. In a new lab-based study, researchers have taken a novel approach to testing olivine’s strength, and the results fit existing models of plate tectonics better than previous efforts.

04 Jan 2018

In the lab, machine learning improves quake forecasts

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that about 500,000 detectable earthquakes occur worldwide every year. But accurate forecasts of when quakes will occur have long been out of reach, in large part because of the complexities of fault behavior.

29 Dec 2017

Two-faced space worm could inform regenerative medicine

It sounds like the plot of a science fiction movie: Worms sent into space return to Earth with two heads. But it isn’t fiction at all. In a recent study, researchers sent worms with regenerative capabilities — some left whole and some cut into pieces — to the International Space Station (ISS) to study how the worms’ bodies would respond in space and whether their behavior might help efforts to treat human ailments.

19 Oct 2017

Red Planet Roundup: July 2016

With two rovers patrolling the surface of Mars, five spacecraft orbiting above it, and scientists here on Earth studying the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.

15 Jul 2016

Measuring rising seas is tricky in deltas

Earth’s stratigraphic record offers a patchwork diary of how different parts of the planet have formed and changed over time. Some of the most extensive pieces of the stratigraphic record are found in deltas, making them ideal places to look for long-term chronicles of Earth’s history, as well as clues to future changes to our coastal landscapes.

26 May 2016

Benchmarks: September 26, 1991: Crew sealed inside Biosphere 2

It takes about an hour to drive from Tucson, Ariz., to the Biosphere 2 research facility, perched atop a plateau in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Through its glittering glass walls, you can still see the shadowy silhouette of the Brazilian rainforest that grows inside. Indeed, the facility once enclosed numerous small-scale experimental ecosystems — from a swath of swaying savanna to a 700,000-gallon ocean complete with its own coral reef. And, beginning on Sept. 26, 1991, Biosphere 2 enclosed a crew of four men and four women who would call the bubble home for two years.
26 Sep 2015

The Syracuse University lava experiments

Pouring Lava

Melting a batch of the ancient basalt takes about four hours, but we hold the lava above its melting point for much longer to ensure that it is completely melted and to remove unwanted volatiles such as water. The lava is then poured at temperatures of 1,100 to 1,350 degrees Celsius, comparable to eruption temperatures of natural lava. We monitor it with a spot calorimeter and a Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera, the same instrument conventionally used at lava flows in the field.

20 Aug 2012