Taxonomy term

may 2015

More warming may mean more lightning

Add more lightning to the list of predicted effects of climate change. A recent study in Science forecasts a significant increase in the number of lightning strikes within the continental United States over the next century.

 
13 May 2015

Amber-encased plant could be oldest known grass: Specimen may also preserve a Cretaceous-aged hallucinogen

Delicate grasses don’t preserve well in the fossil record, and evidence for grasses coexisting with dinosaurs is scant. But according to a new study, a chunk of 100-million-year-old amber recently discovered in Myanmar appears to contain the world’s oldest grass fossil — far more ancient than any fossil grasses previously found. What’s more, the specimen seems to be topped with the world’s oldest known ergot — a fungus containing ingredients used to make lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD. But while the image of a 100-metric-ton sauropod grazing on hallucinogen-laced grass is intriguing, not everybody is convinced that the specimen is the real deal.

12 May 2015

Mineral Resource of the Month: Graphite

Graphite is one of four natural forms of crystalline carbon, along with carbon nanotubes, diamonds and fullerenes. It is gray to black in color, opaque and usually has a metallic luster, although it sometimes exhibits a dull earthy luster. Graphite is soft, flexible, low-density, chemically inert and highly refractory. It is the most electrically and thermally conductive of the nonmetals. 

 
12 May 2015

A decade of slow slip may have preceded Japan's 2011 earthquake

Everyone notices when a fault ruptures quickly — the ground shakes and shudders, and sometimes, the seas churn. However, tectonic plates can also creep past each other so slowly that it’s almost imperceptible. Researchers say they’ve now identified the longest example to date of this type of movement along the Japan Trench in the decade leading up to the devastating magnitude-9.0 earthquake that shook the island of Honshu in 2011.

12 May 2015

Yosemite's cliffs in retreat

This past winter, two athletes grabbed the world’s attention as they climbed up the sheer walls of Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan. But some geologists are more concerned with what falls down these precipitous faces — namely, rocks. Park geologist Greg Stock has developed a history of rockfalls in Yosemite valley dating back 15,000 years, which reveals how its cliffs have crumbled since glaciers disappeared at the end of the last ice age.

 
11 May 2015

Comet water unlike Earth's

Scientists have long suspected that much of the water that fills our planet’s oceans may have come from asteroids or comets that collided with the early Earth. Now, recently reported data from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission, which landed its Philae probe on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November, appears to favor an asteroid origin story for Earth’s water.

10 May 2015

Benchmarks: May 8, 1902: The deadly eruption of Mount Pelée

At the turn of the 20th century, the town of St. Pierre was known as the “Paris of the Caribbean.” Nestled into the northwest coast of the French island of Martinique, it boasted a bustling harbor where ships hauled away precious loads of sugar and rum, and it had usurped the official capital — Fort-de-France — as the colony’s cultural center. But St. Pierre had a problem: it lay in the shadow of a massive volcano.

 
08 May 2015

Could U.S. phosphate deposits help meet growing rare earth demand?

The modern world runs on rare earth metals — they are essential ingredients in light bulbs, smartphones, wind turbines and military weapons, among other uses. Currently, China supplies more than 95 percent of the global demand for rare earth elements (REEs), giving it a virtual monopoly. But new research suggests that the United States may contain vast domestic reserves of its own that could dwarf known deposits.

 
05 May 2015

Where on Earth? - May 2015

Where on Earth was this picture taken? Use these clues to guess and submit your answer via mail, email or Web by the last day of the month (May 31, 2015).

01 May 2015

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