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Data-driven discovery reveals Earth's missing minerals

New discoveries in mineralogy, one of the oldest human endeavors, are arising from a new sort of mining—data mining. Mineralogists are applying statistical models and data science techniques to reveal previously unseen patterns and clues hidden in mineralogical databases, and to find undiscovered minerals.
18 May 2018

Oceanic crust in all its glory

Our loop drive through the high Hajar Mountains boasted excellent exposures of every oceanic crustal layer. One good exposure of the sequence of mantle rocks is found in the hills surrounding Oman’s capital city Muscat. They consist of a variety of peridotite called harzburgite, which is the pyroxene-depleted residue left behind after basaltic magma is extracted. That extracted magma forms the oceanic crust, whose characteristic rock sequence is, from bottom to top: 1) dark, layered gabbro overlain by massive gabbro (the intrusive equivalent of basalt that comprises solidified magma chambers); 2) sheeted basaltic dikes (the conduits that transported lava from the magma chambers up to the ocean floor); and 3) bulbous pillow lavas, which form when basalt erupts directly into seawater.

06 May 2018

Getting there and getting around Oman

Oman’s main gateway is Muscat International Airport (MCT), which offers service to most major Middle Eastern and European cities. There are no direct flights to Oman from North America; it’s usually most convenient to fly through Dubai, Doha, Bahrain or a major European city. Emirates, Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, Oman Air and Turkish Airlines are among those that offer connecting service.

06 May 2018

Travels in Geology: Northern Oman: Stunning canyons, towering dunes and the world's largest ophiolite

The small, politically stable sultanate of Oman hosts the world’s biggest and most intact ophiolite — a rare slice of oceanic crust emplaced on land — as well as stunning canyons, turquoise swimming holes, lush palm oases, Bronze Age tombs, endangered sea turtles and endless fields of sand dunes.
 
06 May 2018

Slumgullion: Colorado's natural 'lab' offers insights into landslides worldwide

In southwestern Colorado, a centuries-old landslide (first identified as such in 1883 by an infamous prospector and purported cannibal) is offering geologists an ideal laboratory to study slow-moving slides.

27 Apr 2018

From farm to filter: Restored wetlands remediate nitrogen pollution

The early 20th-century invention of a nitrogen-fixation process revolutionized agriculture and made it possible to feed the planet’s growing population. But nitrogen runoff is polluting our waterways and suffocating aquatic life. Now, researchers looking for ways to reverse that trend are turning farmland into wetlands to filter nitrogen from streams and rivers.
20 Apr 2018

Getting there and getting around the Causses

Toulouse is the best gateway to the Causses region. Toulouse-Blagnac Airport hosts plenty of flights to connecting cities in Europe, but no direct flights from the United States. Rent a car at the airport and head north to explore the region. The main highway going north to the Causses is well maintained, with fueling stations along the way that offer everything a traveler might need, including showers. Figuring out how to pay for gasoline was tricky — but that’s part of the adventure of travel.

06 Apr 2018

Travels in Geology: Underground awe in France: The caves of the Causses

The Causses du Quercy region in south-central France has been transformed into a karstic wonderland by the slow dissolution of limestone. The resulting caves, which served as shelters for early humans who left their bones, tools and art for us to ponder, are both geologically and paleoanthropologically fascinating.

06 Apr 2018

Pairing geoheritage and economic development: China's Guizhou Province offers a modern model

China’s pace of landscape protection has been as dizzying as its pace of development and the country has emerged as a global leader in geoheritage preservation. Guizhou shows how to recognize and protect geoheritage while also boosting economic development.

27 Mar 2018

Disrupting the deep: Ocean warming reaches the abyss

Since the 1970s, just 7 percent of the heat associated with humancaused warming has melted snow and ice or warmed the land and atmosphere. The other 93 percent was absorbed by the oceans, where temperatures are now increasing at nearly all latitudes and depths, threatening to fundamentally alter our planet by disrupting ocean circulation. 
20 Mar 2018

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