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Complex Kaikoura earthquake forces rethink of multifault ruptures

Just after midnight on Nov. 14, 2016, the northern end of New Zealand’s South Island was hit by a magnitude-7.8 earthquake. Epicentered about 60 kilometers southwest of the popular tourist town of Kaikoura, the quake was the strongest the area had seen since the 1855 magnitude-8.2 Wairarapa quake struck the Cook Strait. The Kaikoura quake led to two deaths as well as extensive damage to roads, rails and buildings.

24 Jul 2017

Bare Earth Elements: Tour brings hurricane hunting aircraft and expertise to the masses

With hurricane season officially getting under way on May 15 in the Eastern Pacific and June 1 in the Atlantic, NOAA has been busy this week publicizing National Hurricane Preparedness Week, which aims to inform the public about what they can do to prepare for potentially damaging and life-threatening storms. This year, the agency is simultaneously hosting its annual Hurricane Awareness Tour, a week-long traveling exhibition starring hurricane hunting aircraft and their crews. EARTH's Tim Oleson dropped by the tour stop in Washington, D.C., on May 9 to check it out and talk with Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center.

11 May 2017

Silk Road routes may have followed the herds

The Silk Road — the ancient trade route that stretched thousands of kilometers from China to the Mediterranean — often calls to mind images of large camel caravans trekking for months across deserts and over mountains, carrying luxurious linens, spices and gems between distant lands. In reality, the “road” comprised a network of many shorter relays between neighboring areas, with goods often changing hands many times in cities, rural villages and even remote trading outposts. In a new study, researchers have illuminated likely routes of Silk Road travelers through a region of particularly challenging terrain — mountainous Central Asia — with the help of an innovative mapping method.

04 May 2017

And then there was one: Ceres' disappearing ice volcanoes

Earth has numerous volcanoes, both active and extinct — some of which continue to tower over landscapes long after they finished erupting. On the chilly dwarf planet Ceres, however, scientists have identified just a single volcano — an ice-erupting cryovolcano — raising questions about whether others ever existed there and, if so, what happened to them. In a new study, researchers suggest that Ceres has likely had other volcanoes, but that, over time, their icy slopes have been flattened beyond recognition.

28 Apr 2017

Soil moisture may help predict power outages in hurricanes

Power outages, most often caused by trees and branches falling on electric lines and transformers, are one of the most debilitating aspects of hurricanes, knocking out power to large numbers of people and businesses. In a new effort to improve modeling of where and when power outages caused by falling trees will occur during hurricanes, researchers are making use of frequent measurements of soil moisture provided by NASA’s SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) mission, which began collecting data in spring 2015. 

08 Mar 2017

How soil management could help reduce greenhouse gas concentrations

As scientists continue studying the web of natural and anthropogenic processes that affect Earth’s climate, discussions about how to limit global warming have included proposals both to cut emissions and to increase sequestration of greenhouse gases through a variety of methods. In a recent review published in Nature, Keith Paustian, a soil ecologist at Colorado State University, and his colleagues noted the understudied and underrated greenhouse gas mitigation potential of the world’s soils.

17 Feb 2017

Chaco Canyon: Garden of Eden or salty-soiled pilgrimage site?

The remains of elaborate stone houses, some with hundreds of rooms, and other structures scattered throughout New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon attest to advanced settlements built there by ancestral Puebloans between A.D. 800 and 1250. But how these peoples subsisted amid the arid climate and seemingly infertile ground of the canyon has long puzzled scientists. In a new study, researchers suggest that Chaco Canyon’s salty desert soils may have supported ample agriculture after all.

17 Jan 2017

The path to gypsum is four steps long

Drywall and plasters made from both natural and manufactured gypsum are commonly used in home and building construction around the world, in part because of gypsum’s widespread availability. Despite its abundance, and its seemingly simple makeup, however, relatively little is known about how the calcium sulfate mineral forms in nature. In a recent study, researchers have shed new light on the multi-stage process by which gypsum grows — and the findings could help develop more efficient ways to manufacture the material.

08 Nov 2016

Ancient landslide gave us Zion Canyon

It took about 20 seconds for the Sentinel rock landslide to tumble into Zion Canyon, but those seconds changed the landscape for thousands of years.

 
03 Oct 2016

Exploring the newest gift to America: Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument

In late August, President Obama declared Maine's Katahdin Woods and Waters to be America's newest national monument. It's remote! But as EARTH's editorial intern found out, you can run into just about anybody out there!

29 Aug 2016

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