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november 2015

Opalescent pools shimmer beneath Santorini

With its bright blue waters and dramatic cliffside villas, Santorini, Greece, is an idyllic vacation destination, but lurking beneath the Aegean waves lay the remains of one of the most active volcanoes in human history. Because of its eruptive past and proximity to population centers, the Santorini Caldera is closely monitored, but a recent expedition revealed something never before seen there or anywhere else: shimmering opalescent pools of carbon dioxide sequestered on the seafloor.
 
15 Nov 2015

Red Planet Roundup: November 2015

With two rovers patrolling the surface of Mars, five spacecraft orbiting above it, and scientists here on Earth studying the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.
 
14 Nov 2015

Geologic Column: Thanksgiving's unsung hero

Thanksgiving as we know it in America today has only been celebrated since President Lincoln declared it a national holiday in 1863, thanks to the entreaties of Sarah Josepha Hale, an influential writer and editor.

13 Nov 2015

Comment: Remarkable geology sets new Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument apart

In the Coast Ranges west of Sacramento, Calif., lies a wilderness of steep-sided canyons, mountainous terrain, rich biological diversity, and cultural and historical significance. But it’s the geology of this region that makes it worthy of designation as a national monument.

12 Nov 2015

Bite marks offer best evidence yet of T. rex cannibalism

Tyrannosaurs were not the most discerning of carnivores. In addition to dining on other dinosaurs, like Triceratops and duck-billed hadrosaurs, it appears the fearsome apex predators weren’t averse to making a meal of their own kind. A series of deep bite marks on a 66-million-year-old leg bone uncovered recently in eastern Wyoming may be the best evidence yet of Tyrannosaurus rex cannibalism.

10 Nov 2015

Ice sheet has had lasting effect on European earthquakes

“Modern Germany is not known for its earthquakes,” says Christian Brandes, a geoscientist at the University of Hannover in Germany. The country, after all, is in the middle of a tectonic plate, he says, away from any plate boundaries or other features that would cause tectonic strain to build up in underground faults. 
 
10 Nov 2015

Wormholes may limit landslides

When Emma Harrison, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, began digging trenches in the Luquillos Mountains of Puerto Rico to study how the soil mantle responds to rapid changes in erosion, she couldn’t help but notice that the thick soils were chock-full of wriggling worms. Intrigued by the worms’ abundance and prodigious activity at her field site, Harrison wondered whether their presence could be influencing weathering and erosion in the Luquillos. 

09 Nov 2015

Isotopes could reveal ancient American turquoise trade

For centuries before the arrival of Europeans, turquoise was prized among pre-Hispanic cultures of North America. Caches of the distinctive, creamy-blue-green mineral have been unearthed in crypts and other ritually significant structures in what are now the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Farther south, in Mesoamerica, archaeologists have found elaborate mosaic masks and ornamentation made of turquoise pieces. Despite multiple anthropological and historical hints, identifying where the turquoise used by different civilizations came from has proven difficult. But in a recent study, scientists have described a geochemical fingerprinting technique that may help parse the geographic origins of turquoise specimens and illuminate trade routes in ancient America.
 
09 Nov 2015

Marine microorganisms drive summer clouds over Southern Ocean

The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica is home to some of the most pristine air anywhere on Earth. And yet it’s also one of the cloudiest places on the planet, a seeming contradiction because water droplets require particulate matter in the air to condense into clouds. Now, a study looking at cloud droplet concentrations over the Southern Ocean is giving scientists a clearer understanding of the role played by marine microorganisms in cloud formation and climate.
 
06 Nov 2015

Fossil fuels diluting atmospheric radiocarbon

Radioactive carbon-14, or radiocarbon, is used to date fossils and artifacts and study ecosystems, as well as to solve crimes and run medical tests. But these applications could be in jeopardy, according to new research illustrating how atmospheric radiocarbon will be diluted by fossil fuel emissions in the coming century.  
 
05 Nov 2015

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