Taxonomy term


Unprecedented exploration of undersea volcano yields surprising results

Underwater volcanic eruptions happen every day, but because of the vastness of the ocean and the great depth of water blocking the view, catching an active eruption is a game of chance. In fact, the largest-known underwater eruption of the past century was something of a fluke discovery. In July 2012, an airline passenger spotted a huge pumice raft floating in the South Pacific during a flight to Auckland, New Zealand. Upon landing, she alerted researchers, and scientists confirmed the 400-square-kilometer pumice raft near the Havre Seamount using NASA satellite imagery.

18 Apr 2018

World's longest underwater cave found in Mexico

In January, scientists and underwater explorers working with the Great Maya Aquifer (Gran Acuífero Maya, or GAM) project discovered the world’s longest flooded cave system, which stretches 347 kilometers in Quintana Roo on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

17 Apr 2018

Acid rain triggered deadly Chinese landslide

On June 5, 2009, a catastrophic landslide killed 74 people in southwestern China. But a lack of recent earthquake activity or heavy rainfall left geologists questioning what had triggered the slide. A new study suggests that China’s acid rain may have played a role in weakening the limestone and shale slope in unexpected ways.

13 Apr 2018

Red Planet Roundup: April 2018

With two rovers patrolling the surface of Mars, six 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.

05 Apr 2018

Earth's "hum" heard at ocean bottom

Lapping waves or crashing surf may come to mind for most people when they imagine the sounds of the ocean. But the ocean has other voices as well, including one produced by interactions of waves with the seafloor along the continental slope. Unlike waves on the shoreline, this steady, low sound, or “hum,” is inaudible to the human ear and has even proven difficult to detect in recordings made by ocean bottom seismometers (OBS). But in a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, researchers analyzing OBS data have now clearly identified the hum for the first time, which may allow it to be used to develop a better picture of Earth’s interior structure.

04 Apr 2018

Chemical tipping point triggers eruptive transitions

During an eruption, some volcanoes vacillate unpredictably between effusive and explosive behavior. New research has identified a chemical tipping point in some magmas that may trigger the transition between such mild and violent eruptive cycles.

02 Apr 2018

No river meant no floods for ancient Indus settlements

Large Middle Eastern rivers like the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates and Tiber were critical for the development of early urban societies in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Ancient Rome. And researchers have long thought that the rise, and eventual decline, of cities in the ancient Indus Civilization, which spread across about 1 million square kilometers of what’s now northwestern India and Pakistan from roughly 4,600 to 3,900 years ago, also depended on major rivers, namely those emerging from the Himalayas. But a new study looking at river sediments from the time of the civilization and earlier suggests that wasn’t the case for every ancient Indus city; some may have benefited from being farther away from large rivers and their periodic floods.

01 Apr 2018

Oldest "Third Pole" ice core recovered

Holding massive reservoirs of ice, high-altitude glaciers, such as those in the Himalayas, are sometimes referred to as Earth’s “Third Pole.” The Guliya Ice Cap, on the Tibetan Plateau, has now produced the oldest ice ever drilled outside the Arctic or Antarctica.

29 Mar 2018

Ceres: A bright spot in the asteroid belt

Orbiting in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres is the nearest dwarf planet to Earth and the only one within the inner solar system. It has been studied closely by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft since March 2015.

28 Mar 2018

Residual strain explains later quakes

The largest earthquake in recorded history struck southern Chile on May 22, 1960. The magnitude-9.5 temblor was followed by a tsunami that, combined with the seismic shaking, killed 1,600 people and left more than 2 million homeless. New research suggests that, despite the staggering size of the event, the shaking didn’t dissipate all the strain accumulated at the time on the subduction fault between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates. The residual strain left on the fault may explain why a portion of this same section of fault ruptured again — 56 years later — on Dec. 25, 2016, in a magnitude-7.6 event.

26 Mar 2018