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mary caperton morton

Airport earthquakes continued after injection ended

Since Oct. 31, 2008, when seismic activity was first detected, hundreds of earthquakes smaller than magnitude 3.4 have peppered a fault zone that partly underlies the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in north-central Texas. After the quakes were linked to the subsurface disposal of wastewater fluids from oil and gas operations in wells located within a kilometer of the initial quakes, wastewater injections into those wells were halted in August 2009. 

31 May 2018

Which warm waters boosted Hurricane Harvey?

Last August, Hurricane Harvey walloped Texas, dropping more than 100 centimeters of rain on Houston and nearby areas, and causing more than $125 billion in damage. But almost nobody saw it coming. In the days before Harvey made landfall 60 kilometers east of Corpus Christi, the tropical storm barely registered as a threat, but within 30 hours it escalated from a tropical storm into a Category 4 hurricane. Using data collected before and during the storm, scientists are piecing together how Harvey became so ferocious so fast, an effort that could help scientists better predict which future storms might have similarly rapid intensifications.

30 May 2018

Oldest human remains outside Africa found in Israel

The recent discovery of a jawbone belonging to Homo sapiens, and associated stone tools, in Israel may push back the timing of the earliest human migration out of Africa by as much as 50,000 years.

28 May 2018

A new look at Cheddar Man

In 1903, a skeleton was found in a limestone cave in Cheddar Gorge, near Somerset, England. Radiocarbon dating in the 1970s revealed the remains to be more than 10,000 years old, making it the oldest near-complete human skeleton found in Britain. Now, as yet unpublished research suggests Cheddar Man’s genome reveals a surprisingly different appearance for the Mesolithic man from what’s long been thought, according to researchers who analyzed DNA from the skeleton.

23 May 2018

Lava shaped Lake Tahoe

With its preternaturally clear blue waters, Lake Tahoe is tranquil today, but the deep lake straddling the border of California and Nevada was once the site of repeated lava flows. In a new study, researchers used radiometric argon dating to describe how episodes of volcanism created the landscape around the largest alpine lake in North America.

21 May 2018

Rising waters sink seafloors

Predicting how much the ocean surface will rise in the coming years requires complicated, global-scale bookkeeping of the many factors that affect sea levels. In a new study, scientists have, for the first time, quantified the role of ocean-bottom deformation — the gradual deepening of ocean basins under the weight of more water — in both global and regional sea-level rise, an effort that may help produce more accurate sea-level projections.

13 May 2018

Flightless dino had bright, rainbow-colored feathers

In recent years, many dinosaurs have gotten a fabulously feathered makeover, but for the most part, scientists still aren’t sure what colors the animals were. A new discovery of a finely preserved feathered dinosaur fossil in China suggests that some dinosaurs were as brightly colored as modern-day hummingbirds.

10 May 2018

New map of Titan shows moon's hidden surface

Before NASA’s Cassini mission, which ended in 2017 after 13 years orbiting Saturn, little was known about the surface of the planet’s largest moon, Titan, as most of its features lie obscured under a dense, opaque atmosphere composed mainly of nitrogen gas. However, thanks to special filters that enabled Cassini’s cameras to see through the haze, the spacecraft captured high-resolution images of about 9 percent of Titan’s surface, with 25 to 30 percent of the moon imaged in lower resolution. Researchers have now used an algorithm to interpolate the remainder of the moon’s surface and create the most complete global topographic map of Titan yet.

01 May 2018

How Borneo got its elephants

Elephants may not seem like islanders, but a small population lives on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo. How and when the animals arrived on the island has long been a mystery. A new DNA analysis points to colonization at the end of the Pleistocene, when a land bridge may have connected Java, Borneo and Sumatra to the Malay Peninsula and mainland Asia.

28 Apr 2018

Lidar preserves record of destroyed theropod tracks

In 2011, the first theropod dinosaur tracks ever discovered in Arkansas were uncovered at an active gypsum quarry near Nashville in the southwestern part of the state. Over two weeks, researchers collected a set of high-resolution digital scans of the trackway that has now allowed scientists to piece together its 100-million-year-old story, even though the tracks have long-since been destroyed by mining operations.

26 Apr 2018

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