Taxonomy term

september 2015

Getting there and getting around Hells Canyon

The closest major airports to Hells Canyon are Missoula, Mont., Boise, Idaho, and Spokane, Wash. If you book a multiday trip with a reputable rafting company, the company will likely help you arrange shuttles to the beginning and end of the canyon, or you may need to rent a car. Most Hells Canyon river trips end in Lewiston, Idaho, which also has a small airport with regularly scheduled flights to Salt Lake City, Seattle and Boise. 
 
18 Sep 2015

Vital seconds: The journey toward earthquake early warning for all

People living along the U.S. West Coast are keenly aware that they live near faults that could quake at any moment. The good news is that earthquake early warning — providing warnings seconds to minutes before damaging seismic waves hit — is progressing from being just a good idea to reality. 
17 Sep 2015

Gender equity in dino bones

Modern birds like cardinals and peacocks offer some of the most dramatic examples of sexual dimorphism on Earth, with males and females varying in size and/or displaying different plumage, among other differences. But whether the two sexes of birds’ dinosaur ancestors also possessed different physical characteristics has long been debated. Now, in a new study, scientists using state-of-the-art measuring techniques to look at Protoceratops — a frilled, horned relative of Triceratops that’s found abundantly in the fossil record — are questioning past notions about whether the sex of specimens can be distinguished based on their fossils.
 
17 Sep 2015

Ancient floods degassed Lake Kivu

The deep, cold waters of Lake Kivu — a stratified volcanic lake in the East African Rift Valley on the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo — hold 300 cubic kilometers of carbon dioxide gas and 60 cubic kilometers of methane, which seep from magmatic sources below the lake. An overturning of the thermally stratified waters could release those deadly gases onto a population of nearly 2 million.
 
16 Sep 2015

Red Planet Roundup: September 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.
 
15 Sep 2015

Geologic Column: September 26, 1774: The man, the myth, the legend of Johnny Appleseed is born

Little is known about the early life of John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, except that he was born in Massachusetts on Sept. 26, 1774. But he went on to become an orchardist and nurseryman and eventually a folk hero, helping tame the wilderness by planting apple orchards. 
14 Sep 2015

MESSENGER mission ends with a bang, and more data

After 11 years in space and more than 4,100 laps around Mercury since entering orbit in 2011, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft was decommissioned in heroic fashion on April 30, slamming into the planet’s surface at more 14,000 kilometers per hour after it had run out of propellant. Fittingly, it gouged a 16-meter-wide crater of its own amid the myriad others it observed there.
 
12 Sep 2015

Comment: Exoplanets: Life on the Terminator

New missions are searching for potentially life-bearing exoplanets around small, cool, red dwarf stars. On many of these exoplanets, the habitable zone lies on the line between sunlight and shadow, which, ironically, is called “the terminator.” Would life be able to exist in the terminator zones?

10 Sep 2015

Closing a gap in the tetrapod fossil record

The story of how fish evolved into four-legged land animals called tetrapods has long been left incomplete by a 15-million-year gap in the fossil record, known as Romer’s Gap, which stretches from the end of the Devonian Period into the Carboniferous. Whether the gap is due to the actual absence of tetrapod fossils from this interval, or whether such fossils exist but have not been found yet has long remained unclear. A new study, however, shows tetrapod fossils from the base of the gap, adding to a growing list of discoveries that appear to be closing the gap.
 
07 Sep 2015

Sun shapes Titan's atmospheric makeup

Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has a thick atmosphere composed of 98 percent nitrogen and about 1.4 percent methane, as well as small amounts of other gases. In a new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, astronomers have identified fluctuations in methane levels in Titan’s thermosphere that appear to be in tune with the 11-year solar cycle.
 
07 Sep 2015

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