Taxonomy term


Kerogen's nanostructure determines oil and gas reservoir capacity

The petroleum and natural gas that power engines and heat homes are extracted from the complex networks of nooks and crannies that permeate kerogen — a waxy organic mishmash that forms within sedimentary rocks as algae, terrestrial plants and other organic matter is compacted and heated over geologic time. In a new study, scientists have taken the closest look yet at kerogen’s internal pore structure, and the resulting images are helping scientists understand why some oil and gas reservoirs are more productive than others.

14 Mar 2019

Geologic Column: Newspeak for kids

To make room for words from the brave new digital world, the editors of children’s dictionaries are culling words that describe the natural world. But if kids can’t put names to nature, how will they learn to love it enough to fight for its future?

13 Mar 2019

Stronger monsoon drove ancient Indus civilization into the hills

Roughly 4,000 years ago, the Indus River Valley was home to the advanced and thriving Harappa culture. But by 1800 B.C., the civilization’s sophisticated cities along the river, which drains into the Arabian Sea on the coast of what is now Pakistan, were abandoned for smaller villages in the Himalayan foothills. A new study suggests that widespread changes in the Indian winter monsoon may have resulted in flooding that forced people to resettle farther from the Indus.

07 Mar 2019

Art joins science in coral communication

Scientists are not alone in their quest to observe and understand how coral reefs change through time. Artists and researchers have been creating stunning paintings, movies and even soundscapes to examine how reefs are responding to environmental pressures. Art has the power to engage viewers in scientific inquiry when they least expect it, reaching new audiences and facilitating public awareness.

04 Mar 2019

Piecing together the big picture of coral reef health

To better understand what’s happening to the world’s reefs, a team of researchers launched the 100 Island Challenge, a plan to survey 100 reefs twice each in five years using traditional methods combined with advanced imaging technology. Learning how reefs grow and change over time will help local populations better manage and conserve the fragile yet vital ecosystems. 

04 Mar 2019

Beryllium: the rain bringeth and the rain taketh away

High in Earth’s atmosphere, cosmic rays collide with oxygen atoms, shattering the oxygen into smaller atoms, including radioactive beryllium-10. Atmospheric beryllium-10 that falls to Earth’s surface — in precipitation or aboard dust particles — is known as meteoric beryllium-10. Researchers often use the ratio of meteoric beryllium-10 to nonradioactive beryllium-9 in soil as a tracer of soil age and processes. As beryllium-10 has a long half-life — about 1.4 million years — scientists have used it for studies of both short- or long-term soil dynamics.

25 Feb 2019

Seismometers eavesdrop on glacial outburst flood

On July 5, 2016, a previously dammed glacial moraine in Nepal burst, releasing 100,000 tons of water that barreled down the Sunkoshi River, destroying bridges, hydropower plants and roads in its path. The flood was so massive that ground shaking was felt throughout the river corridor and recorded by seismometers deployed in the wake of the April 2015 Ghorka earthquake.

22 Feb 2019

Mineral Resource of the Month: Garnet

Garnet is the general name given to a group of complex silicate minerals, all with isometric crystal structure and similar properties and chemical composition. The most common garnet minerals are classified into three groups: the aluminum-garnet group, the chromium-garnet group and the iron-garnet group.

21 Feb 2019

Easter Island inhabitants drank brackish water to survive

The remote Chilean island of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, is famous for its 961 giant stone statues and monuments, erected between 1200 and 1600. Called moai, these statues have been a mystery for years, especially considering just a few thousand people inhabited the small, resource-limited Pacific island nearly 3,700 kilometers west of Chile. “Why did people put the statues where they did?” asks Carl Lipo, an archaeologist at Binghamton University in New York. The answer, according to new research, may have something to do with the civilization’s water supply.

20 Feb 2019

Lab-grown magnesite a boon for carbon sequestration?

Left undisturbed, carbonate minerals can naturally lock up carbon in a stable form for millions of years or longer. Triggering the formation of carbonate minerals is thus a promising means of removing and sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In recent research, scientists uncovered new details about how one of Earth’s most stable, albeit slow-to-form, carbonates — magnesite — grows in nature and have found a way to accelerate its formation in the lab at room temperature. The results could aid in developing efficient carbon sequestration technologies.

19 Feb 2019