Taxonomy term

october 2016

Drilling for gold inside a submarine volcano

Earth scientists have been given the green light to drill into an active submarine volcano for the first time, with the hope of discovering substantial new reserves of valuable metals, as well as new forms of extreme life.

31 Oct 2016

Down to Earth With: Volcanologist Kayla Iacovino

When Kayla Iacovino enrolled as a freshman at Arizona State University in 2005, she thought she might become an astronaut. But, after a field trip to outcrops in northern Arizona during her first semester, she became hooked on geology.

28 Oct 2016

Cave dripwater records wildfires

Water seeps through soil and bedrock before dripping from the roof of a cave and carries with it elements of the outside world and its climate history. That is why speleothems, cave structures formed via precipitation, can be studied as climate proxies. New research suggests that the chemistry of the cave dripwater can also contain the signature of wildfires that burned outside the cave, on the ground above the cave’s roof, yielding a more complex picture of the past.

27 Oct 2016

When Earth hit the reset button on life: New research on the Permian-Triassic mass extinction

The Permian-Triassic extinction 252 million years ago extinguished most life on Earth. Recent research weighs in on the kill mechanisms, the timing of the extinctions on land and in the water, and how the environmental degradation of the past may shed light on our current mass extinction.

25 Oct 2016

Electric fields lift dust into the air at massive scales

During the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, black blizzards of dust enveloped the Great Plains, destroying crops. When farmers heard a crackling sound over the radio, they often knew a dust storm was coming, as such storms carry an electric field that can disrupt electronic equipment. Scientists have known since the 1800s that these fields exist, but how they might affect the swirling dust around them has not been understood. In airborne dust over the Sahara Desert, scientists have now directly measured these electric fields for the first time and found that, if strong enough, the fields can lift vast amounts of dust into the air.

25 Oct 2016

Convection formed Pluto's polygons

Among Pluto’s peculiar surface features, many of which were first seen just last year when NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft zipped by the dwarf planet, are polygon-shaped rises covering parts of a large equatorial basin known as Sputnik Planum. The basin is known to be filled mainly with ices of nitrogen, methane and carbon monoxide, but the origin of the polygons has been debated. In a pair of new studies published in Nature, two teams of researchers now attribute the distinctive shapes to convection within underlying layers of frozen nitrogen.

24 Oct 2016

Unique teeth helped vegetarian dinosaurs

Although the Tyrannosaurus rex might’ve been one of the most fearsome dinosaurs to roam Earth, it wasn’t the most common. That honor belonged to a group of vegetarian duck-billed dinosaurs called hadrosaurs. And now, scientists have uncovered the secret to their success: their teeth.

21 Oct 2016

NYC pigeons are canaries of lead poisoning

New research suggests that pigeons might prove useful for tracking high lead levels in cities. “Pigeons breathe the same air, walk the same sidewalks, and often eat the same food as we do. What if we could use them to monitor possible dangers to our health in the environment, like lead pollution?” said Rebecca Calisi of the University of California, Davis, in a statement.

20 Oct 2016

Travels in Geology: Tumbler Ridge: Finding dinosaurs — and their predecessors and descendants — in northeastern British Columbia

Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark got its start when an 8-year-old found a dinosaur footprint and convinced his father to call the experts. Today, visitors can see an exceptional source of fossils from the Precambrian through the Pleistocene, along with stunning scenery.

18 Oct 2016

Today's weather forecast: Good with a strong chance of improvement

Weather forecasts have improved significantly — roughly one day per decade — since the first numerical, physics-based computer models were implemented in the 1950s. What is needed to continue improving our forecasts?
18 Oct 2016