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mary caperton morton

Oman ophiolite suggests subduction started with a shove

Plate tectonics is a fundamental control on how Earth operates and is important for the planet’s habitability, but how this crustal recycling process got started has long been a mystery. A new study examining some uniquely coupled metamorphic and volcanic rocks in Oman is adding some needed clarity about the initiation of subduction zones, a critical component in plate tectonics.

23 Jan 2019

Mesosaurs may have spent time on land

Mesosaurs are famous for being the earliest-known fully aquatic reptiles. With their whip-like tails, webbed feet and nostrils on top of their heads, the 2-meter-long reptiles appear to have been well adapted for life in the water. But in a new study, scientists have found fossil evidence that mesosaurs may have spent some of their adult lives on land.

21 Jan 2019

Ocean circulation change suffocating Gulf of St. Lawrence

Estuaries are among the most nutrient-rich and biologically productive areas of the ocean, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where freshwater from the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River meets the salty Atlantic Ocean in eastern Canada, is the largest estuary in the world. But the biodiversity and long-thriving fisheries of the Gulf of St. Lawrence could be threatened by declines in oxygen levels over the last half century. 

18 Jan 2019

The geology of kidney stones revealed

Kidney stones are an excruciatingly painful problem for 10 percent of the world’s population. In a new study applying geobiological methods to the study of human kidney stones, researchers have shed light on how the stones form, and revealed that they partially and repeatedly dissolve inside the kidney — which could help in developing new protocols to treat the pervasive affliction.

15 Jan 2019

Earliest art found in South Africa

Blombos Cave, located along the South African coast about 300 kilometers east of Cape Town, has been excavated since 1991, revealing materials left by Homo sapiens between 100,000 and 70,000 years ago. 

14 Jan 2019

Early mammal reproduced like a reptile

A mother found fossilized alongside 38 of her young is offering a rare glimpse into early mammalian reproductive strategies. Unearthed in northeastern Arizona, the 184-million-year-old fossils are from specimens of Kayentatherium wellesi, an early mammal-like tritylodont that falls between reptiles and true mammals on the evolutionary tree.

09 Jan 2019

Ancient collision left a bit of Europe behind in Britain

Great Britain is famously considered the birthplace of modern geology, and the many layers and terranes of rocks that make up England, Wales and Scotland have been studied and mapped for centuries. But that doesn’t mean scientists fully understand the island’s geologic past. In a new study, researchers looking at unusual volcanic rocks in southern England found previously unrecognized evidence of the island nation’s past connection to mainland Europe.

02 Jan 2019

Night lights reveal that people move as rivers rise

Flooding is one of the most damaging natural hazards, so it’s no surprise that many people resettle farther from rivers after catastrophic flooding. A new study finds that the distance that people move from a given river depends on the degree of flood protection in place, with people rebuilding closer to rivers that offer high levels of structural flood protection, such as levees and dams, than they do to rivers without such protections.

28 Dec 2018

Survey says: U.S. lakes getting murkier

study of more than 1,000 lakes across the United States between 2007 and 2012 found that the number of murky green and brown lakes surpassed the number of clear blue lakes.

24 Dec 2018

Revealing the ghosts of glaciers past

On the ground, it’s hard to fathom the effects that glaciers once had on the now nearly ice-free Rocky Mountains, but from the air, the landscape is clearly haunted by the ghosts of glaciers past. In 2015, pilot and photographer Garrett Fisher set out in his antique 1949 Piper Cub aircraft to photograph all the remaining glaciers in the American Rockies. 
18 Dec 2018

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