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timothy oleson

Ice (Re) Cap: April 2015

From Antarctica to the Arctic; from polar caps, permafrost and glaciers to ocean-rafted sea ice; and from burly bears to cold-loving microbes, fascinating science is found in every nook and crevasse of Earth’s cryosphere, and new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.

 

     
    15 Apr 2015

    Red Planet Roundup: March 2015

    NASA’s Curiosity rover found evidence that one or more large and long-lasting lakes probably filled Gale Crater in the planet’s warmer and wetter early history. While investigating the lower slopes of Mount Sharp recently at an outcrop called the Murray Formation, the rover photographed thick rock stacks featuring numerous layers of lithified sediment. Such stacks are typical of lake environments, where sediments slowly settle to the bottom and transform into rock over time.

    15 Mar 2015

    Thank subduction for Earth's nitrogen-rich air

    Plate tectonics underlies many of Earth’s distinctive features, from its ever-shifting continents to its colliding mountain ranges and continuously forming crust at mid-ocean ridges. According to a new study, the process might also explain another of our planet’s peculiarities: its nitrogen-rich atmosphere.

     
    08 Mar 2015

    Fossil leaves reveal effect of "impact winter"

    When the Chicxulub bolide struck the Yucatán Peninsula at the end of the Cretaceous about 66 million years ago, widespread extinctions of land and marine animals resulted. However, the blast’s lasting effects on plants, which tend to be more resilient against impact-related fallout, have been less clear. Now, a new analysis of fossil leaves dating to around the end-Cretaceous offers some of the first quantitative evidence of a substantial shift in plant communities — toward more deciduous plants — following the impact.

    05 Mar 2015

    Benchmarks: February 17, 1977: Hydrothermal vents are discovered

    In early February 1977, as scientists aboard the research vessel (R/V) Knorr made their way across the Pacific waters off the northwest coast of South America, they had reason to suspect their expedition might find the success that had eluded others. Previous missions had identified their destination — a site on the ocean surface about 330 kilometers northeast of the Galápagos Islands, below which two tectonic plates rift apart — as a promising location from which to search for their intended target. Once there, the researchers would deploy a variety of tools, including manned and unmanned submersibles, to the ocean bottom in the hopes of directly spotting hydrothermal vents.

    17 Feb 2015

    Ice (Re) Cap: February 2015

    From Antarctica to the Arctic; from polar caps, permafrost and glaciers to ocean-rafted sea ice; and from burly bears to cold-loving microbes, fascinating science is found in every nook and crevasse of Earth’s cryosphere, and new findings are announced often. Here are a few of the latest updates.

    15 Feb 2015

    Wealth of seafloor features emerges from new survey

    A new survey of Earth’s deep ocean — 80 percent of which remains unmapped — has revealed a wealth of previously unknown features, including thousands of seamounts as well as a variety of undersea tectonic features that are either buried under too much sediment or were simply too small to be seen before.

    14 Feb 2015

    New nationwide soil map available online

    The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently completed a seven-year soil-mapping project detailing the mineralogy and geochemistry of soils across the lower 48 U.S. states. Bill Cannon, an emeritus scientist at the USGS in Reston, Va., and co-author of the report, which was published in 2014, discussed the effort last October at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting in Vancouver, B.C.

    13 Feb 2015

    Scientists sequence oldest modern human genome to date

    A chance fossil find along a Russian river has provided researchers with the oldest genomic data ever sequenced from a modern human. The fossil, a nearly complete left femur, was pulled from a bank along the Irtysh River near the Ust’-Ishim district in western Siberia in 2008 by a Russian artist before it made its way to scientists.

    11 Feb 2015

    Plate tectonics seen on Europa

    Earth is no longer the only body in the solar system where plate tectonics operates, according to new research reported in Nature Geoscience. 

    05 Feb 2015

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