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geology

Earth's magnetic field illuminates ocean temperatures

As Earth warms, the atmosphere isn’t the only place where temperatures are rising — the oceans are absorbing most of the excess heat, but precisely how much is unclear. Using recently launched satellites that can measure subtle fluctuations in Earth’s magnetic field, researchers are devising a method that may help refine ocean temperature measurements and clarify how much heat the oceans are storing.

16 Mar 2017

Geologic Column: Rebirth on the vernal equinox

Although March is a particularly tempestuous month, known for producing record-breaking snowstorms and damaging tornadoes, cultures around the world have for millennia also recognized it as a time of rebirth.

14 Mar 2017

Life on land 300 million years earlier than thought

Life emerged on land about 300 million years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study in Geology by scientists who discovered minerals in 3.22-billion-year-old rocks that they suggest could only have formed with the help of biological processes.

13 Mar 2017

Travels in Geology: Exploring Maine's magnificent Mount Katahdin

Mount Katahdin marks a fitting end to the Appalachian Trail: It’s a nontechnical, but grueling, climb, not to be underestimated or attempted without preparation, that affords spectacular views of igneous and glacial geologic features.

 

08 Mar 2017

Getting there and getting around Mount Katahdin

Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park is about 120 kilometers northwest of Bangor, Maine, and its international airport. Once in Maine, you will need a car to get around. You can rent one at the airport or drive in from another large regional city like Boston. Plan to visit in the summer months before Oct. 15, when the campgrounds close. Bear in mind, they can be closed earlier due to weather.

08 Mar 2017

To cool the planet, volcanoes of the future will need more firepower

Explosive volcanic eruptions can spew sulfur gas into the stratosphere — the layer of the atmosphere above where most clouds and weather occur — where it forms sulfate aerosols that reflect sunlight back into space and cool the planet. Now, researchers investigating how volcanic plumes could be affected by projected anthropogenic warming have found that, as temperatures rise, it becomes more difficult for volcanic plumes to reach the stratosphere.

06 Mar 2017

Beneath one volcano, enough water to fill Lake Superior

Beneath a Bolivian volcano called Cerro Uturuncu sits one of Earth’s largest-known magma reservoirs, the Altiplano-Puna Magma Body (APMB), which may have a volume as large as 500,000 cubic kilometers. Dissolved in the APMB magma, scientists report in a new study in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, is enough water to fill Lake Superior or Lake Huron — two of the largest lakes in the world.

01 Mar 2017

Early Pacific seafarers set sail in El Niño years

Even with modern airplanes and ships, the far-flung islands of Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii, Micronesia and Fiji are difficult to reach. Thousands of years ago, the seafarers who first settled the islands had a much more arduous journey, sailing thousands of kilometers and navigating by the stars. According to a new study, these intrepid travelers may have gotten a boost from weather associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation patterns, which sweep through the Pacific every three to seven years.

27 Feb 2017

Down to Earth With: Cave scientist and paleoclimatologist Kathleen Johnson

Paleoclimatologist Kathleen Johnson has some advice for anyone interested in tropical cave science: befriend experienced cave guides and beware of venomous snakes, ubiquitous bats and Frisbee-sized spiders.

24 Feb 2017

Broadening ocean current could carry less heat poleward with climate change

Some ocean currents, like the Agulhas Current in the southwestern Indian Ocean, act like giant air conditioners, moderating Earth’s climate by shuttling heat from the equator toward the poles. The Agulhas is one of the largest and fastest currents in the world: Flowing southwest along the east coast of Africa, it stretches almost 1,500 kilometers and transports about 70 million cubic meters of water every second toward the South Pole at peak speeds upward of 7 kilometers per hour.

21 Feb 2017

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