Taxonomy term

lucas joel

Soil acidity changes quickly from place to place

The acidity of soils, which affects soil fertility, depends largely on a region’s climate. What has been less clear is just how abrupt — or gradual — shifts in acidity are at the boundaries between adjacent regions with different climates. In a new study in Nature, scientists report that acidity transitions are indeed abrupt, and the results may provide a glimpse into how plant communities will evolve as the planet’s climate continues to change.

04 Apr 2017

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

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

Kaikoura quake jumped from fault to fault in New Zealand

A magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck New Zealand’s South Island at about midnight on Nov. 14, 2016, causing two fatalities, triggering a tsunami and multiple landslides, and destroying infrastructure across the region. Known as the Kaikoura earthquake, it is the largest quake to hit New Zealand since 2009, and it appears that the rupture jumped from one fault to another multiple times as it propagated. The event is still being investigated, but at the time EARTH went to press, at least 10 faults are reportedly thought to have been involved.

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

Discovered: One of the last-surviving Asian dinosaurs

Paleontologists have discovered a new species of oviraptorosaur, a group of strange bird-like dinosaurs without teeth. The species, Tongtianlong limosus, has been described based on a specimen preserved in mudstone dating to the end of the Cretaceous. The find adds to a growing list of newly unearthed and similarly aged oviraptorosaur species, suggesting the group flourished during the last few million years of the Age of Dinosaurs before all nonavian dinosaurs were killed off in the end-Cretaceous mass extinction.

21 Feb 2017

Why tectonic plates lurch forward when they break

When continents rift, they often do so slowly at first, but then they can suddenly speed up. Why they suddenly go faster instead of rifting at a steady pace has long eluded explanation. But in a new study, researchers suggest that the lithosphere perpetually thins as it rifts, and that after passing a threshold, it snaps like a rope under too much tension, causing plate motions to accelerate.

16 Nov 2016

Dust orbiting Jupiter is going the wrong way

Periodically, micrometeoroids strike one of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter — Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto — sending dust into space, some of which enters into orbit around the gas giant. Recently, researchers charting the dusts’ orbits spotted some peculiar patterns, including some particles orbiting Jupiter in a retrograde fashion, by circling, when viewed from above, clockwise rather than counterclockwise.

03 Nov 2016

New magma chamber discovered beneath New Zealand

New Zealand is no stranger to volcanism, but a newly discovered magma chamber 9.5 kilometers below the surface was an unexpected find for scientists studying ground movement around the country’s most active volcanic zone. The new chamber doesn’t sit directly beneath New Zealand’s familiar volcanoes, but just north and west of them beneath the Bay of Plenty coast. The find suggests recent intrusions of molten rock into a previously unknown magmatic zone.

01 Nov 2016

When Earth hit the reset button on life: New research on the Permian-Triassic mass extinction

The Permian-Triassic extinction 252 million years ago extinguished most life on Earth. Recent research weighs in on the kill mechanisms, the timing of the extinctions on land and in the water, and how the environmental degradation of the past may shed light on our current mass extinction.

25 Oct 2016

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