Taxonomy term

september 2013

Energy storage brings a renewable energy future one step closer

Renewable energy sources promise to address many of the energy challenges facing society: They derive power from inexhaustible supplies of sunlight and wind and have the capability to meet a substantial portion of global electricity demands without adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. However, renewable power supplies must first overcome one inherent drawback: variability.

29 Sep 2013

Think differently: renewable hydrogen generation

Most of the existing solutions for renewable energy storage represent riffs on our current energy infrastructure. They are either inherent to existing fuel sources (concentrated solar power), or linked directly to the grid (flywheels, pumped storage and compressed air energy storage). But what if the future looks radically different from today, as history has often shown it can? What if the future of energy is based on hydrogen produced by renewable energy sources?

29 Sep 2013

Sinking sediment in deltas is as important as swelling seas

Sea-level rise due to melting ice is a common worry in coastal areas. But the sea-level story is much more complicated: What lies below the surface — sediment, and the rate at which it compacts — is also an important consideration, especially in deltas.

In a new study, researchers exploring the role of subsurface sediment compaction in coastal subsidence along Egypt’s Nile Delta, most of which lies just a meter above sea level, found subsidence rates there are four times greater than the rate of sea-level rise.

26 Sep 2013

Benchmarks: Sept. 26, 1912: Birth of Preston Cloud, geologist who deciphered banded iron formations

Banded iron formations (BIFs) represent some of the earliest, and most controversial, evidence that the early Earth was devoid of oxygen. These deposits were recognized for their economic value in the mid-1800s, but it wasn’t until the late 1960s when Preston Cloud focused his intellect on  the origins of (BIFs).

26 Sep 2013

Writing on the Rocks

Visitors to White Sands should plan on making a slight detour to the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, an hour’s drive from the national monument. This scenic basalt ridge between White Sands and the White Mountains contains one of the greatest concentrations of petroglyphs anywhere in the Southwest. More than 21,000 petroglyphs of geometric and abstract shapes, faces and animals were etched into the dark rocks by the Jornada Mogollon people, who lived in this area between A.D. 1000 and 1400. 

24 Sep 2013

Getting There and Getting Around New Mexico

White Sands National Monument is located in south-central New Mexico. To get there, fly into Albuquerque or El Paso, rent a car and drive 360 kilometers south on Interstate 25 from Albuquerque or 160 kilometers north from El Paso. The closest town to White Sands is Las Cruces, which has plenty of hotels, restaurants and attractions, including a natural history museum and a historic Spanish village. 

24 Sep 2013

Missile testing

White Sands National Monument is surrounded by military installations, with the White Sands Missile Range to the north and Holloman Air Force Base to the east. Occasionally, the national monument and U.S. Highway 70 between Alamogordo and Las Cruces are closed due to missile testing. 

24 Sep 2013

Travels in Geology: Exotic dunes and atomic bombs in New Mexico's White Sands

The Desert Southwest is famous for out-of-this-world landscapes — some places look like the moon, others like Mars — but New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument, at the very northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert, offers an otherworldly backdrop like no other

24 Sep 2013

Energy Notes: May 2012-2013

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit

19 Sep 2013

Down to Earth With: Tanya Atwater

When Tanya Atwater began graduate school in marine geology in 1967, it was considered unlucky for women to be aboard ships. Undaunted, Atwater signed up to work on the first research cruise to take a close look at a seafloor spreading center. Voyage after voyage, she and her mentors fought for her right to work on oceanographic vessels, and it is fortunate they did. Atwater has since had a remarkable career studying plate tectonics and was instrumental in piecing together the evolution of the San Andreas Fault plate boundary.

16 Sep 2013