Taxonomy term

july 2014

La Brea climate adaptation as different as cats and dogs

The La Brea tar pits are famous for being a predator trap. For every herbivore, a dozen or more carnivores are pulled from the prolific Pleistocene fossil site in downtown Los Angeles. Two new studies focusing on the two most common species found at the tar pits — dire wolves and saber-toothed cats — are characterizing how the tar pits’ two top predators coped with the warming climate toward the end of the last ice age, and the results are surprisingly dissimilar: While the wolves got smaller, the cats got bigger.

12 Aug 2014

Are slow-slip earthquakes under Tokyo stressing faults?

More than 13 million people live in Tokyo, a city that has been devastated by earthquakes in the past and is likely to be rocked again. Since the massive magnitude-9 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, recurrence intervals for nondamaging slow-slip quakes beneath Japan's capital have shortened. And that has left seismologists to wonder if this aseismic creep could be signaling a countdown to Tokyo's next "big one."

07 Aug 2014

Oso landslide report yields some answers

Early on March 22, 2014, the most damaging landslide in U.S. history devastated the community of Oso, Washington. Forty-three people perished, most inside their homes, when a saturated hillside nearby gave way and a massive mudflow swept over their neighborhood. On July 22, a search crew recovered the last of the 43 bodies, exactly four months after the landslide, and coincidentally on the same day, a team of scientists and engineers released an exhaustive report detailing the event and its implications.

01 Aug 2014

Mars Monthly

As Curiosity and Opportunity rove around Mars, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Mars Express and Mars Odyssey orbit above, and scientists on Earth study the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced almost weekly. Here are a few of the latest updates.

31 Jul 2014

Comment: The search for clarity on climate change

Straightforward scientific conclusions about climate change often fail to reach policymakers and the broader society. Climate scientists need to revise their communication strategies to close the vast gap in understanding that persists between what is known about climate change and how the public perceives the issue.

31 Jul 2014

A real rift in the midcontinent

In the heart of the U.S. Midwest, basalt cliffs and lava flows point to a massive break in the continental crust that occurred a little more than a billion years ago, a feature known as the Midcontinent Rift. Splitting the strong, thick North American craton — the stable interior of the continent — would have required dramatic geologic events. Geologists have long suspected two leading scenarios: a plume of hot mantle rock that sat beneath the several-hundred-kilometer-thick lithosphere, something like the one that sits below Yellowstone today; or mantle material upwelling beneath a zone where the Grenville Orogeny had pulled the rigid continental crust apart as a new supercontinent formed.

30 Jul 2014

Augustine Volcano's earthquakes and explosive eruption caused by a clogged conduit

New research shows that the explosive eruption in 2006 of Alaska’s Augustine Volcano, and the series of earthquakes that preceded it, were caused by a clogged conduit. The findings may help geologists monitor future eruptions at Augustine and elsewhere. 

29 Jul 2014

Crowdfunding science: A new piece of the research grant puzzle

Scientific research has traditionally been funded by grants from various governmental agencies, along with funding from universities, corporations and private foundations. But money is often given out in large chunks to big research labs, leaving smaller, shorter-term projects in need of funding. Now, crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter — through which a large number of people donate small amounts of cash — are changing the landscape of research grant funding.

27 Jul 2014

Books: The once and future San Andreas Fault

One of the most famous pictures of the San Andreas Fault — taken by G.K. Gilbert, the pioneering geologist whose late-19th century insights into faults and the earthquake cycle were close to prescient — shows a woman standing next to the ruptured fault immediately after the 1906 earthquake.

27 Jul 2014

Crowdfunding spotlight

A spotlight on some geosciences-related projects that have been funded on Kickstarter.

26 Jul 2014