Taxonomy term

october 2012

SEC mandates businesses disclose use of conflict minerals

Restive stakeholders crowded the auditorium at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Aug. 22. They were anxiously awaiting the Commission’s final ruling on sections of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which would amend the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 to include a conflict minerals disclosure statement.

07 Nov 2012

USArray: Geoscientists' "Earth Telescope"

Big science often requires big tools. Particle physicists use huge particle accelerators. Astronomers need enormous telescopes to peer to the edge of the cosmos. Earth scientists, by contrast, normally probe the planet individually or in small groups using comparatively inexpensive instruments. This “small science” approach has served us well; using it, we have learned a great deal about how Earth works. But now, we have our own big science tool: USArray, a "telescope" for earth scientists to peer deep into the subsurface.

28 Oct 2012

Bigfoot education and outreach

USArray has offered an unprecedented opportunity for earth scientists to explain to the public how we conduct experiments and test hypotheses, and what we aim to learn from the results.

28 Oct 2012

Voices: Judged unfairly in L'Aquila - roles and responsibilities should have been considered

Earlier this week, an Italian judge summarily convicted seven participants in a meeting of the Italian Serious Risks Commission who evaluated the hazard posed by the L’Aquila earthquake swarm before the magnitude-6.3 earthquake on April 6, 2009, for the same offense and to the same penalty: six years in prison. Much has been written about this court decision, but the very different roles played by the seven defendants and their different expertise have not been discussed. Is there no difference among the roles of the “L’Aquila Seven” in the communication disaster?

26 Oct 2012

Blame it on the rain: The proposed links between severe storms and earthquakes


The U.S. Geological Survey’s website states it in no uncertain terms: “There is no such thing as ‘earthquake weather.’” Not too surprising, right? After all, how could the seemingly insignificant stresses imposed on the planet’s surface by mere weather instigate seismic shaking far underfoot?  Earthquakes and heavy rainstorms do occasionally produce comparable results on the planet’s surface, devastating landscapes and impacting humans, but it’s hard to imagine any more of a connection between such disparate phenomena. Yet, from at least the time of Aristotle, some people have professed links between atmospheric conditions and seismic shaking. And as the ability to record Earth’s rumblings has continued to improve, efforts to demonstrate such links scientifically have persisted into the present century.

23 Oct 2012

Down to Earth With: Lawson Brigham

Lawson Brigham, a Distinguished Professor of Geography and Arctic Policy at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and retired U.S. Coast Guard captain, has worn many hats in his career. He has been the deputy director and Alaska Office director of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission in Anchorage; chair of the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum of the eight Arctic nations; vice chair of the Arctic Council’s working group on Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment; and a contributing author to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.

18 Oct 2012

Hot Earth orbits closest star system

A hot Earth-sized planet circles Alpha Centauri, the sun's nearest stellar neighbor, a team of astronomers led by Xavier Dumusque of the University of Geneva reports this week in Nature. They detected the tiny gravitational tug this world exerts on its star.

16 Oct 2012

Sun provides water to the moon?

Until recently, the consensus in the scientific community was that the moon was bone-dry. Scientists thought that the massive impact responsible for the moon’s creation would have driven away the hydrogen needed to form water. In the past four years, however, that view has melted away. The first suggestion of water was in 2008, when researchers identified the presence of water in volcanic lunar glass. In 2009, satellites orbiting high above the moon identified water on its surface.

14 Oct 2012

Arctic humidity on the rise

As the Arctic warms and sea ice melts, scientists suspect that system feedback cycles may further speed up the warming process. Now, a new study looking specifically at the Arctic water vapor cycle shows how shifting patterns of humidity may bring about changes in the Arctic atmosphere.

07 Oct 2012

Benchmarks: October 1, 1960: Camp Century, a cold war ice fortress is built

The soldiers who staffed Camp Century enjoyed many of the same accommodations as their fellow soldiers at bases around the world. They had a mess hall, a chapel, a theater, a dispensary, an emergency room and even a hobby shop, all onsite. Just like their counterparts elsewhere, Camp Century’s soldiers got out of bed, shaved, showered and went to work. However, when Camp Century personnel opened the door and walked from their quarters, they saw only one thing: snow. No sun, no moon, no sky, and no distant horizon. Just a corridor with walls, floor and ceiling made of snow.
02 Oct 2012