Taxonomy term


No river meant no floods for ancient Indus settlements

Large Middle Eastern rivers like the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates and Tiber were critical for the development of early urban societies in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Ancient Rome. And researchers have long thought that the rise, and eventual decline, of cities in the ancient Indus Civilization, which spread across about 1 million square kilometers of what’s now northwestern India and Pakistan from roughly 4,600 to 3,900 years ago, also depended on major rivers, namely those emerging from the Himalayas. But a new study looking at river sediments from the time of the civilization and earlier suggests that wasn’t the case for every ancient Indus city; some may have benefited from being farther away from large rivers and their periodic floods.

01 Apr 2018

Red Planet Roundup: February 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. Here are a few of the latest updates.

09 Feb 2018

Looking under Lusi: Indonesian mud volcano linked to nearby volcanic complex

On May 29, 2006, a massive mud eruption in East Java, Indonesia, began spewing as much as 180,000 cubic meters — the volume of 72 Olympic-sized swimming pools — of hot muddy debris each day from several vents, quickly burying nearby villages and forcing the relocation of more than 60,000 people. Almost 12 years later, the eruption, nicknamed Lusi, continues to produce more than 80,000 cubic meters of mud a day, and nobody knows how long the oozing will continue. In a new study, however, scientists have gotten the clearest look yet of the roots of the mud volcano and its possible connection to a nearby volcanic complex that may be driving the eruption.

01 Feb 2018

Western wildfires affect water quality

Wildfires have burned increasing acreage in recent decades, a trend that’s expected to continue with global climate change. In the U.S. West, the frequency of fires has implications for water availability — both water used to fight wildfires and municipal water supplies, which can be contaminated by loosened debris from eroding, fire-burned slopes.

09 Jan 2018

Pharmaceuticals in urban sediments reveal wastewater treatment effectiveness

People take pills to relieve headaches or syrups to ease a hacking cough, and eventually these medications can make their way into streams and rivers around the world as humans excrete the chemicals. Scientists are now using concentrations of common pharmaceutical products (PPs) in river sediments in Orléans, France, to determine how effective four water treatment plants have been at removing chemicals from the environment.

03 Nov 2017

Neolithic farmers impacted sedimentation

The Neolithic Revolution, also known as the Agricultural Revolution, started in the Middle East about 11,500 years ago when people moved away from nomadic hunting and gathering toward more settled agricultural communities where they raised livestock and cultivated crops. In a new study of the Dead Sea Basin, researchers found that this turning point may also mark the first time that humans made a measurable impact on sedimentation rates.

29 Sep 2017

Dehydrated sediment layer made Sumatra quake stronger

Subduction zones are notorious for unleashing great earthquakes and tsunamis, such as the 2004 magnitude-9.1 Sumatra quake that caused shaking and inundations that killed more than 250,000 people and left millions more homeless. However, despite the dangerous reputations of subduction zones, their hazards are still often underestimated. New research reveals how sediments in the Sumatra Trench may have contributed to producing an even bigger earthquake and tsunami than hazard forecasts had estimated.

07 Sep 2017

Whirling "gravel devils" show wind can carry more than just sand

Sand grains, by definition, are between 0.06 and 2 millimeters in diameter, and they are often thought of by scientists as the largest sediments that wind can transport, with larger sediments simply being too hefty for winds to keep aloft. But strong winds, particularly in tropical storms and tornadoes, are known to move objects far larger than sand over short distances. Now, in the high Andes of Chile on the Salar Gorbea salt flat, evidence has been found of tornadic “gravel devils” whipping across the landscape and transporting gypsum crystals as long as 27 centimeters.

16 Jun 2017

Red Planet Roundup: April 2017

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. Here are a few of the latest updates.

14 Apr 2017

Supernova explosion detected in Early Pleistocene sediments

When a massive star comes to the end of its life cycle, it goes out with a spectacular bang known as a supernova. Only three of these events have been observed in the Milky Way in the past 1,000 years. Evidence for older explosions can be detected in the form of rare elements found on Earth that are only produced by such explosions.

10 Jan 2017