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The geology of kidney stones revealed

Kidney stones are an excruciatingly painful problem for 10 percent of the world’s population. In a new study applying geobiological methods to the study of human kidney stones, researchers have shed light on how the stones form, and revealed that they partially and repeatedly dissolve inside the kidney — which could help in developing new protocols to treat the pervasive affliction.

15 Jan 2019

Going subterranean: Repurposed mines become innovative labs

Around the world, old mines are finding new life as underground research facilities, offering scientists unique ways to answer some of science’s biggest questions — from investigations of natural resources, seismic activity and carbon sequestration, to less obvious topics like biofuel development and how life began on Earth — and, maybe, on other planets as well. 

05 Nov 2018

Tiny ants are heroic weathering agents

Over geologic timescales, weathering of silicate minerals — which account for more than 90 percent of all crustal rocks on Earth — plays a significant role in decreasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as carbon dioxide is consumed in chemical weathering reactions and the resultant carbonate becomes sequestered in the form of limestone and dolomite.

Now, a new study has identified an unsung all-star of weathering agents: ants, which appear to be among the most powerful biological agents of mineral decay yet observed. Whether the weathering prowess of the ubiquitous tiny titans can be harnessed to draw down carbon dioxide levels, however, remains to be seen.

02 Nov 2014