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mary caperton morton

Toxic treatments: Lead lingers in folk remedies

Despite drastic reductions in lead poisoning since the 1970s, some children are still being exposed to lead from atypical sources, including cosmetics and folk remedies with often-unknown origins. Medical geologists are on the case.

25 Jun 2018

Rolling thunder portends remote eruptions

The logistics of monitoring volcanoes located in remote regions, such as Alaska’s Fox Islands, can be prohibitive — but monitoring is necessary, as ash clouds billowing from even far-flung volcanoes can make their way into airplane flight paths. Researchers are now proposing an acoustic warning system to detect volcanic ash clouds that would rely on listening for the thunderclaps that often herald these eruptions.

23 Jun 2018

India's urban areas punch city-shaped holes in fog

Air pollution boosts fog formation in some places, creating whiteouts that can affect air and ground transportation, air quality, and public health. In northern and eastern India, persistent fog often hovers over the Indo-Gangetic Plain, a vast region dotted with several densely populated cities, including Delhi, home to 19 million people. Over some of these cities, however, satellite imagery is revealing large holes in the fog.

21 Jun 2018

Taking the surprise out of sneaker waves

Since 2005, more than two dozen confirmed fatalities in California and Oregon have been caused by so-called sneaker waves, which surge far ashore with little warning, sometimes catching beachgoers by surprise. Most beaches in the Pacific Northwest and California have posted signs warning visitors of the hazard, but few scientific studies have been done on sneaker waves and, currently, there is no consensus on their definition or origin. 

01 Jun 2018

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

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