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lucas joel

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

Electric fields lift dust into the air at massive scales

During the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, black blizzards of dust enveloped the Great Plains, destroying crops. When farmers heard a crackling sound over the radio, they often knew a dust storm was coming, as such storms carry an electric field that can disrupt electronic equipment. Scientists have known since the 1800s that these fields exist, but how they might affect the swirling dust around them has not been understood. In airborne dust over the Sahara Desert, scientists have now directly measured these electric fields for the first time and found that, if strong enough, the fields can lift vast amounts of dust into the air.

25 Oct 2016

Milky Way invisible for a third of humanity

Death Valley National Park is a remote place, and in its night sky countless stars, including many in our own Milky Way Galaxy, are visible. But on the park’s eastern horizon, a dome of light appears each night, blotting out stars in that part of the sky. The glow of city lights from Las Vegas creates this “light pollution,” which worldwide now hides the Milky Way from about one-third of humanity, according to a new study in Science Advances.

12 Oct 2016

Water use soared as workers flocked to North Dakota's oilfields

Amid North Dakota’s oil boom, about 24,000 temporary oilfield workers moved to Williams County — in the state’s Bakken oil shale region — between 2010 and 2012, almost doubling the area’s population. In a new study, researchers found that those workers have been responsible for the region’s skyrocketing water use almost as much as hydraulic fracturing by the oil industry itself.

 
06 Oct 2016

Mammals hit harder than thought by end-Cretaceous extinction

Mammals, unlike the remaining nonavian dinosaurs and many other animals, are thought to have fared relatively well through the massive meteorite impact and protracted volcanism at the end of the Cretaceous 66 million years ago. After the extinction, mammals went on to dominate terrestrial ecosystems. But new research indicates that mammals might have taken a bigger hit than paleontologists have realized: Instead of about 75 to 85 percent of species going extinct, as prior studies suggested, it looks like about 93 percent of all mammal species may have gone extinct during the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction.

05 Oct 2016

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