Taxonomy term

september 2017

Coatings may prevent pipeline clogs

When ice forms in household water pipes, blockages and expansion can cause the pipes to burst. Similar problems can arise in the transportation of oil and gas when ice-like substances called gas hydrates build up inside pipelines — an issue traditionally mitigated by insulating pipes or by using antifreeze additives. But in a new study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, researchers report an alternative solution: specialized coatings for the inside of oil and gas pipes that prevent hydrate buildups and clogs. The coatings could prove more reliable than the usual approaches, but whether the method can be applied cost-effectively on a large scale is uncertain.

27 Aug 2017

Earthquakes make volcanoes more — and less — gassy

Triggering of volcanic emissions by earthquakes has been observed since antiquity. The Roman naturalist and philosopher Pliny the Elder proposed the link as early as A.D. 77, and in “The Voyage of the Beagle,” Charles Darwin wrote about inland eruptions in Chile closely following an offshore earthquake in 1835. More recent statistical studies show that after large earthquakes, volcanic activity around the world increases. But the lack of robust monitoring equipment at most volcanoes has made it hard to quantify the relationship. In a new study, scientists demonstrate how satellites can be used to track changes in sulfur dioxide emissions from volcanoes after seismic events, offering a potential way to study the often elusive link between seismicity and volcanism.

25 Aug 2017

T. rex's bone-crushing bite

In a landscape rife with fearsome predators, Tyrannosaurus rex carved out a bone-crushing niche. New research analyzing the force generated by T. rex’s massive jaws found that the terrible tyrant’s bite could exert a pressure of more than 30,300 kilograms per square centimeter (431,000 pounds per square inch): a world record.

24 Aug 2017

Transylvanian ice cave reveals European winter climate record

Over the last 10,000 years, water dripping into a cave in Transylvania has frozen into one of the largest and oldest cave glaciers in the world. Today, the Scărișoara Ice Cave in central Romania preserves one of the longest ice records on Earth, a boon for climate researchers seeking to study how Europe’s climate has fluctuated during the Holocene.

23 Aug 2017

Dust influences pollution levels in eastern China

Air pollution often enshrouds cities in eastern China in a thick haze that impairs visibility and causes respiratory health problems. Emissions from human activity are mainly to blame, but climate researchers now report that natural forces — namely, dust kicked into the air by wind — can also exert a strong control over how much pollution persists in the air.

22 Aug 2017

A mammoth king: Was the legend of King Hygelac in "Beowulf" inspired by a fossil find?

Some literary and scientific sleuthing suggests that the eighth-century discovery and misidentification of fossil mammoth bones on the Rhine-Meuse River Delta could have led to the monsters and characters of “Beowulf.”
20 Aug 2017

Young Costa Rican lavas might reflect pockets of primordial mantle

During the Archean, between 4 billion and 2.5 billion years ago, Earth’s super-heated young mantle produced a unique type of lava known as komatiite. In a new study published in Nature Geoscience, researchers looking at 90-million-year-old komatiites in Costa Rica — by far the youngest komatiites ever found — suggest the modern mantle may still harbor pockets of intense heat reminiscent of early Earth.

18 Aug 2017

Why meteors snap, crackle and pop

Keen-eared observers sometimes report hearing popping, whistling or buzzing at the same time they see meteors pass far overhead, a perplexing phenomenon called the electrophonic effect. What causes the effect — or if it’s even real — has been discussed for centuries; famed astronomer Edmond Halley is said to have dismissed it as a figment of people’s imaginations. In a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers suggest that not only is it real, but that it is caused by radio waves induced by meteors and converted to sound waves near Earth’s surface.

17 Aug 2017

Baby Louie dinosaur fossil gets a formal name

A baby dinosaur found fossilized with a clutch of eggs in China in the 1990s has finally been identified as an embryo from a new species of giant oviraptorosaur, according to a study in Nature Communications. The specimen, nicknamed “Baby Louie” and once featured on the cover of National Geographic, has been formally classified as a caenagnathid oviraptorosaur named Beibeilong sinensis, which translates to “Chinese baby dragon,” by Hanyong Pu of the Henan Geological Museum in Zhengzhou, China, and colleagues.

16 Aug 2017

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