GEOLOGY

geology

Grapes reveal impacts of sulfur-rich Samalas eruption on 13th-century climate

The A.D. 1257 eruption of the Indonesian volcano Samalas sent an ash plume an estimated 43 kilometers into the sky in one of the most sulfur-rich eruptions of the last 7,000 years. A new study using tree rings, ice cores and historical records investigates how this colossal eruption impacted climate across the Northern Hemisphere, finding that the eruption triggered severe cold in some regions, while other areas were less affected. The pattern could be explained by the behavior of sulfate particles in the atmosphere, researchers suggest.

28 Apr 2017

Venezuela, Central Africa are Earth's lightning hot spots

People who live around Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo call it a “lighthouse.” The lake’s “never-ending storm” has been written about for centuries, and the incessant lightning there has even helped guide Caribbean sailors. Data from NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) has now confirmed that Lake Maracaibo is Earth’s top lightning hot spot.

24 Apr 2017

Tropical rainfall shifts resulted in greener Sahara

Six thousand years ago, the Sahara — today the world’s largest nonpolar desert, stretching over an area larger than the contiguous United States — was dotted with lakes and vegetation. Rock paintings from that time depict a much wetter landscape, and show elephants, hippos, antelope and many other animals living in the region.

21 Apr 2017

Massive dust storm caused by climate, not conflict

In August and September 2015, a massive dust storm swept across the Middle East, engulfing seven nations in sand thick enough to ground flights, trigger respiratory distress for many, and obscure the region from satellites. At the time, the unprecedented size of the storm was blamed on the ongoing conflict in Syria, with unusual amounts of dust being raised from abandoned agricultural lands and increased military traffic. But a new study cites a combination of climatic factors and weather as the more likely culprits.

20 Apr 2017

Neonicotinoids: Prominent pesticides escape into the environment

Three decades after neonicotinoids, a widely used class of pesticides, were first introduced, a far more complex understanding of their distribution, abundance and persistence in the environment — as well as their effects on nontarget species like bees — is emerging. 
14 Apr 2017

Geologic Column: Evolution of an ape-man

From Java Man to Piltdown Man to Nebraska Man to the many incarnations of Tarzan, our views on the “ape-man” have evolved.
12 Apr 2017

Six new deep-sea species discovered

About 2,000 kilometers southeast of Madagascar and 2.8 kilometers below the surface of the Indian Ocean, scientists have discovered six never-before-seen animal species living around deep-sea hydrothermal vents. The creatures were spotted by a remotely operated vehicle during an expedition in 2011 to a site called Longqi, or “Dragon’s Breath,” around which stand mineralized vent chimneys — some more than two stories tall — that are rich in copper and gold. Genetic testing confirmed the novelty of the animals, which include new species of polychaete worms and limpets as well as a previously unknown species of hairy-chested “Hoff” crab, named for actor David Hasselhoff.

11 Apr 2017

Shale boom could fuel batteries

Independent energy trends — namely a shale revolution and a push toward electronic vehicles — are connected in nonobvious but synergistic ways. In fact, the shale revolution may be a helpful partner for the electric vehicle industry.
09 Apr 2017

Breakup of Pangea led to thicker oceanic crust

Oceanic crust formed at mid-ocean spreading centers, like the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, is recycled back into the mantle at subduction zones. Aside from isolated chunks that might be even older, the oldest crust found on Earth today is thought to be about 200 million years old. This old crust, portions of which are found along the outer margins of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, is much thicker than the crust being produced today — in some places by almost 2 kilometers — according to a new study, a finding that may suggest that Earth’s supercontinent cycle affects how Earth’s interior cools.

07 Apr 2017

To find a mate, go big or go small, just don't go medium

The showy features of male animals are often advantageous for attracting mates. Yet these same traits can also prove harmful: A peacock’s long, many-eyed feathers — great for enticing females — can get in the way if a predator gives chase, and a red deer’s elaborate antlers can become stuck in branches, potentially trapping the animal. In a new study, researchers report that a distinctive bimodality in male ornamentation occurs in some species, suggesting that when it comes to successfully courting females, it pays for males to either have the flashiest, most elaborate ornaments, or no such parts at all.

06 Apr 2017

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