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timothy oleson

Acid oceans followed Chicxulub impact

Within days after the massive Chicxulub impact that ended the Cretaceous Period 65.5 million years ago, a deluge of acid rain may have turned Earth’s ocean surfaces into suddenly inhospitable homes for a multitude of microorganisms, ultimately pushing them to extinction, according to a new study.
 

21 Aug 2014

Down to Earth With: Chris Strong

Being a weatherman is sometimes a thankless job, particularly when forecasts don’t pan out as expected. But the two-fold task of meteorologists — predicting the course and severity of impending weather events, and clearly communicating those predictions to a broad audience — is a vital one. This is especially true when you’re part of the group that so many people, including other forecasters, turn to as the primary source for weather information and insight: the National Weather Service (NWS).

18 Aug 2014

Mars Monthly

As Curiosity and Opportunity rove around Mars, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Mars Express and Mars Odyssey orbit above, and scientists on Earth study the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced almost weekly. Here are a few of the latest updates.

31 Jul 2014

Rings not just for planets anymore

Saturn is famously circled by halo-like rings of dust and debris, as are Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. Now, a 250-kilometer-wide rock named Chariklo is breaking up the planetary monopoly and showing that other extraterrestrial bodies can host rings as well.

23 Jul 2014

Striped pyrites link earthquakes to gold deposition

Many of the world’s richest gold deposits are found in fault zones, where the precious metal is concentrated in quartz veins that cut through the surrounding rock. For several decades, scientists have suspected that earthquakes help form these deposits by releasing pressure and giving metals in mineral-rich hydrothermal fluids in the fault zone a chance to precipitate. But clear evidence for this so-called “fault-valve” process has been hard to come by. Now, researchers studying the geochemical makeup of tiny pyrite crystals from one well-known gold mine appear to have found some long-sought confirmation.

18 Jul 2014

Benchmarks: July 15, 1806: Zebulon Pike launches Southwest expedition

Of America’s early 19th-century western explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark typically garner the most attention. But there was a third military man who, along with a detachment of U.S. Army troops and volunteers, also trekked into the newly acquired reaches of the young United States in the same era: Zebulon Pike.

15 Jul 2014

Solar wind gives lightning a boost

Strong gusts of solar wind appear to trigger lightning on Earth, according to a new study. Researchers studying patterns of lightning strikes in and around the U.K. over several years found a substantial uptick in lightning after high-speed streams of solar wind reached Earth. Given the regular timing of the streams’ arrivals and our ability to detect them with satellites, the findings could eventually help scientists better forecast lightning activity, potentially mitigating the hazard it poses to humans.

10 Jul 2014

Mars Monthly

As Curiosity and Opportunity rove around Mars, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Mars Express and Mars Odyssey orbit above, and scientists on Earth study the Red Planet from afar, new findings are announced almost weekly. Here are a few of the latest updates.
 

10 Jul 2014

Searching for evidence of ancient subduction

For billions of years, portions of Earth’s rigid surface have dipped and sunk along plate boundaries to be recycled back into the mantle below. Determining when the process of subduction began — a fundamental step in Earth’s physical, and possibly biological, evolution — has proved difficult for geoscientists due to the challenges of interpreting evidence from the few remnants of early Earth that remain. In a recent study, researchers have now proposed a new approach for identifying ancient subduction zones that could help tackle the longstanding question.
 

06 Jul 2014

Mercury's shrinkage underestimated

In addition to its myriad craters, Mercury is marked by mountainous ridges and faults that, similar to wrinkles that emerge on an overripe apple as it shrinks, are signs that Mercury’s surface has cracked and buckled as the planet has cooled. From previous observations, it was estimated that Mercury’s radius had decreased 1 to 3 kilometers in about the past 4 billion years, but according to a new study in Nature Geoscience, the amount of contraction has been greatly underestimated.
 

06 Jul 2014

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