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Clues to limestone weathering written in Western Wall

Builders and masons take note: When it comes to the durability of limestone, grain size matters. New research combining field and lab data shows that fine-grained limestone is more susceptible than its coarser-grained cousins to a one-two punch of chemical and mechanical weathering. The findings, which arose in part from observations of Jerusalem’s historic Western Wall, could have implications for Earth’s carbon cycle and landscape — as well as for architectural preservation.

16 Oct 2014

Kilauea eruptions could shift from mild to wild

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano is famously effusive: Low-viscosity lava oozes out of the main caldera and two active rift zones along the southern shore of the Big Island. But scientists suspect that Kilauea’s eruptions haven’t always been so mild, and a new study is providing further evidence supporting that notion. In the past 2,500 years, at least two cycles of explosive eruptions lasting several centuries each have rocked the island. The switch from effusive back to explosive is likely to occur again, scientists say, but probably not anytime soon.
 

14 Oct 2014

Ice (Re) Cap: October 2014

From Antarctica to the Arctic; polar caps, permafrost and glaciers to ocean-rafted sea ice; and burly bears to cold-loving microbes, fascinating science is found in every nook and crevasse of Earth’s cryosphere, and new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.

12 Oct 2014

Acid rain recovery in the Northeast

Four decades after the passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, the acid rain that plagued the Northeast is still diminishing. The amount of sulfate and nitrate found in Northeastern lakes is not only declining, but the decrease has been speeding up, according to a long-term study recently published in Environmental Science & Technology.

10 Oct 2014

Cassini spots new moon in Saturn's rings

Saturn is famous for its rings, but the sixth planet from the sun also has dozens of moons — 62 at last count, 53 of which have names — and now, according to new observations, it may have a 63rd. In April of last year, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft spotted a newly formed object at the edge of Saturn’s outermost A ring.

08 Oct 2014

Saturn's polar hexagon stable over time

Saturn’s peculiar polar “hexagon” has proven perplexing for scientists studying the atmospheric phenomenon since Voyager 1 and 2 first observed it in the early 1980s. Now, an international team has completed the most thorough study of the six-sided jet stream yet, using images and data collected between 2008 and 2014 by the Cassini spacecraft.

07 Oct 2014

For cloud formation, a little aerosol goes a long way

Clouds play a starring role in creating and controlling climate, but cloud physics are notoriously difficult to model, leaving wide gaps in understanding how cloud conditions have changed since the pre-industrial era. A new study looking at pristine regions of the sky in the South Pacific is shining some much-needed light on how particulate air pollution interacts with water vapor to form clouds.

06 Oct 2014

Alaskan megathrust fault more active under Kodiak

In 1964, a magnitude-9.2 earthquake ruptured two segments of the Alaskan megathrust fault along more than 900 kilometers from Prince William Sound to Kodiak Island. Historical and paleoseismic evidence has hinted at previous events in this region in 1788 and about 1100, and now a team working on Kodiak Island has found clues of another large event that struck about 500 years ago. The find makes the recurrence interval for the tsunami-producing fault much shorter, potentially increasing the earthquake and tsunami hazard profile, not only for Alaska, but also Hawaii and California.

05 Oct 2014

How the Spanish invasion altered the Peruvian coast

When Francisco Pizarro landed in Peru in 1532, his band of Spanish conquistadors set off a chain of far-reaching consequences for the people and economics of western South America. A new study has found that the Spanish invasion also changed the shoreline of northern Peru, by actually ending a several-thousand-year cycle of anthropogenic alteration.
 

05 Oct 2014

First building blocks in Oahu found

The Hawaiian Islands that jut above the waves are merely the tops of a string of towering volcanoes known as the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain. These mountains have formed flow by flow, eruption by eruption, over the past 28 million years as the Pacific Plate moves over a hot spot in the mantle.

03 Oct 2014

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