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mary caperton morton

Battery recycling underlies elevated lead in African soils

Of all the recycling industries in the world, lead-acid battery recycling is one of the most profitable — and one of the most toxic. In the U.S., regulations on the industry have dramatically reduced lead exposure and pollution at battery recycling plants. But in Africa, where the industry is growing and largely unregulated, lead levels are skyrocketing. A new study in Environmental Research looking at environmental lead levels in seven African countries is shining a spotlight on the ongoing public health crisis.

19 Apr 2018

Acid rain triggered deadly Chinese landslide

On June 5, 2009, a catastrophic landslide killed 74 people in southwestern China. But a lack of recent earthquake activity or heavy rainfall left geologists questioning what had triggered the slide. A new study suggests that China’s acid rain may have played a role in weakening the limestone and shale slope in unexpected ways.

13 Apr 2018

Chemical tipping point triggers eruptive transitions

During an eruption, some volcanoes vacillate unpredictably between effusive and explosive behavior. New research has identified a chemical tipping point in some magmas that may trigger the transition between such mild and violent eruptive cycles.

 
02 Apr 2018

Oldest "Third Pole" ice core recovered

Holding massive reservoirs of ice, high-altitude glaciers, such as those in the Himalayas, are sometimes referred to as Earth’s “Third Pole.” The Guliya Ice Cap, on the Tibetan Plateau, has now produced the oldest ice ever drilled outside the Arctic or Antarctica.

29 Mar 2018

Residual strain explains later quakes

The largest earthquake in recorded history struck southern Chile on May 22, 1960. The magnitude-9.5 temblor was followed by a tsunami that, combined with the seismic shaking, killed 1,600 people and left more than 2 million homeless. New research suggests that, despite the staggering size of the event, the shaking didn’t dissipate all the strain accumulated at the time on the subduction fault between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates. The residual strain left on the fault may explain why a portion of this same section of fault ruptured again — 56 years later — on Dec. 25, 2016, in a magnitude-7.6 event.

26 Mar 2018

Globe-trotting bacteria found at both poles

The Arctic and Antarctica, separated by more than 15,000 kilometers, may be geographic opposites but they share many similarities, including their diverse arrays of bacteria and other microscopic life forms. A new study looking at the DNA of bacteria from both poles has found remarkable similarities between the two regions’ bacterial diversity, including some of the same species.

21 Mar 2018

Pesky ticks even plagued dinosaurs

Blood-sucking, disease-spreading ticks are one of the most maligned parasites in the world, and new evidence shows they’ve been doing their dirty work for a long time: Fossilized ticks dating to the mid-Cretaceous represent the first direct evidence that the ancestors of today’s pesky critters once plagued dinosaurs.

20 Mar 2018

Carbon emissions spike when continents rift

The vast majority of Earth’s carbon is stored in the planet’s interior. This buried carbon is not isolated from the surface over geologic timescales, however; some of it is released back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and other gases when volcanic eruptions occur above subduction zones or island arcs.

19 Mar 2018

Geomedia: On the Web: How will melting ice impact your city?

The relationship between melting glaciers and rising sea levels is best described as: “It’s complicated.” A new online tool shows just how counterintuitive predictions of how melting land-ice will affect coasts can be.

16 Mar 2018

Geomedia: Books: "Aerial Geology": A stunning and informative addition to any coffee table

My fellow EARTH Magazine contributor Mary Caperton Morton is the author of “Aerial Geology,” a beautiful and massive tome that profiles a hundred geologically interesting locations across North America. Mary was kind enough to forward me a copy for review, and I was delighted to flip through its gorgeous pages. It’s a visual feast, with a mix of satellite imagery, aerial photography and ground-based photos. Each site is allotted two to four pages for photos and Mary’s written descriptions, which are sometimes augmented by excellent schematic illustrations by the talented Kat Cantner, the illustrator for EARTH and the American Geosciences Institute (which publishes EARTH).

13 Mar 2018

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