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Did a massive eruption spur Christianity in Iceland?

The landscape and culture of Iceland, more so than any other country, have been shaped by volcanism. In a new study, researchers have refined the dates for the massive 10th-century Eldgjá eruption, which occurred just a few decades after the island was first settled. The findings may support a connection between the violent volcanism depicted in Iceland’s most celebrated medieval poem and the island’s conversion from paganism to Christianity.

29 Jun 2018

Weedy seeds gathered in once-green Sahara

Today, the vast and arid Sahara Desert seems an unlikely place to find early signs of seed gathering and plant cultivation in Africa, but new evidence shows that, 10,000 years ago, people were collecting, sorting and saving seeds near a rock shelter known as Takarkori.

28 Jun 2018

Yellowstone's Mexican mantle plume

The volcanic activity at Yellowstone National Park is impressive, with thousands of active thermal features dotting a nearly 4,000-square-kilometer caldera. Scientists have long suspected that a massive mantle plume underlies the supervolcano. Now, new imaging has provided the clearest picture yet of the heat source that drives Yellowstone’s volcanism.

26 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

Sea-level rise could cut off wastewater service to millions in U.S.

Scientists report in a recent study that with just 30 centimeters of sea-level rise, roughly 4 million people in the U.S. could lose access to municipal wastewater services — services that allow three-quarters of America to run the tap and flush the toilet. And with even higher seas, the number goes up.

21 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

Red Planet Roundup: June 2018

With two rovers patrolling the surface of Mars, six spacecraft orbiting above it, and scientists here on Earth studying the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced often.

12 Jun 2018

Skate eggs found on hydrothermal vents

In July 2016, a team of scientists came upon a surprise 1,660 meters beneath the ocean’s surface near the Galápagos Islands: a clutch of yellow eggs, laid by a Pacific white skate, a cousin of rays and sharks. It was not the eggs themselves that surprised the team, but where they were found: near a volcanic hydrothermal vent. The large number of eggs at the site led the team to suggest that the skate was likely using the vent’s heat to incubate the eggs.

11 Jun 2018

TRAPPIST-1 system hosts seven "Earth-like" planets

In 2017, astronomers discovered seven planets orbiting a star dubbed TRAP­PIST-1, a faint red dwarf 40 light-years from Earth and only 9 percent as bright as our sun. The Earth-like qualities of these planets made headlines: they are of similar sizes to our planet, and their orbits fall within TRAPPIST-1’s habitable zone — two characteristics that scientists think are important for life to exist on a planet. Researchers now report that the TRAPPIST-1 planets have even more traits in common with Earth: they are likely rocky, and they may have surface water that exists as liquid, ice and vapor.

08 Jun 2018

Are diatoms triggering submarine landslides?

Far beneath the ocean’s surface, puzzling deposits from huge submarine landslides can be found amid expanses of nearly flat ocean floor. Without steep terrain, what causes these megaslides? In a new study, scientists who delved into deep-sea drilling records report a potential trigger for one such slide off the coast of northwest Africa: diatom ooze.

07 Jun 2018

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