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Earth in the News

The latest reports of natural disasters and scientific discoveries about the Earth.

  • Tidal tugs on 'Telfon' faults drive slow-slipping earthquakes

    Teasing out how slow, silent earthquakes respond to tidal forces lets researchers calculate the friction inside the fault, which could help understand when and how the more hazardous earthquakes occur.

  • Continental U. S: Map shows content and origins of the geologic basement

    This map provides a picture of the nation's geologic basement. More than 80 pieces of crust have been added to the nation's basement since the Earth began preserving crust about 3.6 billion years ago.

  • Biodiversity promotes multitasking in ecosystems

    A worldwide study of the interplay between organisms and their environment bolsters the idea that greater biodiversity helps maintain more stable and productive ecosystems.

  • SWIFTS spectrometer to study Earth's tides and quakes

    The world's smallest spectrometer has successfully measured tiny deformations of the Earth's crust, of the order of one millimeter, over a length of one thousand kilometers. Researchers used the SWIFTS spectrometer to detect these as yet poorly understood movements. Earthquakes are not the only phenomena to deform the Earth's crust. Yet slower, more continuous deformations - such as those caused by Earth tides or by slow earthquakes - are sometimes difficult to detect using large-scale techniques like GPS or seismic sensors.

  • Ascent or no ascent? How hot material is stopped in Earth's mantle

    Gigantic volumes of hot material rising from the deep earth's mantle to the base of the lithosphere have shaped the face of our planet. Provided they have a sufficient volume, they can lead to break-up of continents or cause mass extinction events in certain periods of the Earth's history. So far it was assumed that because of their high temperatures those bodies -- called mantle plumes -- ascend directly from the bottom of the earth's mantle to the lithosphere. Scientists explain possible barriers for the ascent of these mantle plumes and under which conditions the hot material can still reach the surface. In addition, the researchers resolve major conflicts surrounding present model predictions.

  • Warming climate may release vast amounts of carbon from long-frozen Arctic soils

    While climatologists are carefully watching carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, another group of scientists is exploring a massive storehouse of carbon that has the potential to significantly affect the climate change picture. Scientists have investigating how ancient carbon, locked away in Arctic permafrost for thousands of years, is now being transformed into carbon dioxide and released into the atmosphere.

  • Scientists see deeper Yellowstone magma

    Seismologists have discovered and made images of a reservoir of hot, partly molten rock 12 to 28 miles beneath the Yellowstone supervolcano, and it is 4.4 times larger than the shallower, long-known magma chamber. The hot rock in the newly discovered, deeper magma reservoir would fill the 1,000-cubic-mile Grand Canyon 11.2 times.

  • World Happiness Report 2015 ranks happiest countries

    Since it was first published in 2012, the World Happiness Report demonstrated that well-being and happiness are critical indicators of a nation's economic and social development, and should be a key aim of policy. This year's report looks at the changes in happiness levels in 158 countries, and examines the reasons behind the statistics.

  • The 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake was felt from space

    For the first time, a natural source of infrasonic waves of Earth has been measured directly from space -- 450 kilometers above the planet's surface.

  • Thawing permafrost feeds climate change

    Single-cell organisms called microbes are rapidly devouring the ancient carbon being released from thawing permafrost soil and ultimately releasing it back into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, according to new research. Increased carbon dioxide levels, of course, cause the Earth to warm and accelerate thawing.

  • Arctic beetles may be ideal marker of climate change

    Researchers need to find ways to measure how the changes in climate are affecting biodiversity. One of the best places to look may be down at our feet, at beetles. That`s because, as a research team discovered after doing the first large-scale survey of Arctic beetles, these six-legged critters are not only abundant in number but also diverse in feeding habits and what they eat is closely linked to the latitude in which they are found.

  • Earthquake potential where there is no earthquake history

    It may seem unlikely that a large earthquake would take place hundreds of kilometers away from a tectonic plate boundary, in areas with low levels of strain on the crust from tectonic motion. But major earthquakes such as New Zealand's 2011 Mw 6.3 quake have shown that large earthquakes do occur. So what should seismologists look for if they want to identify where an earthquake might happen despite the absence of historical seismic activity?

  • Are gas hydrates a source of environmentally friendly energy?

    Gas hydrate is also known as the ice that burns. And all that burns releases energy. And a lot of energy is stored in hydrates and there are gigatons of it stored in the sediments of the oceans. 

  • How much of the Amazon rainforest would it take to print the Internet?

    Today (22 April) is Earth Day 2015 where worldwide events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Student study suggests that 0.002% of the Amazon rainforest, which spans 5.5 million square kilometers and houses approximately 400 billion trees, would be required to print the non-explicit Internet.

  • Exploding stars help us understand thunderclouds on Earth

    How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer -- how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was discovered, more or less by coincidence, that cosmic rays provide suitable probes to measure electric fields within thunderclouds.

  • Likely cause of 2013-14 earthquakes: Combination of gas field fluid injection and removal

    A seismology team finds that high volumes of wastewater injection combined with saltwater (brine) extraction from natural gas wells is the most likely cause of earthquakes near Azle, Texas, from late 2013 through spring 2014. The team identified two intersecting faults and developed a sophisticated 3-D model to assess changing fluid pressure within a rock formation, and the stress changes induced by both wastewater injection and gas production wells.

  • Phytoplankton, reducing greenhouse gases or amplifying Arctic warming?

    Scientists have presented the geophysical impact of phytoplankton that triggers positive feedback in the Arctic warming when the warming-induced melting of sea ice stimulates phytoplankton growth.

  • Extending climate predictability beyond El Niño

    Tropical Pacific climate variations and their global weather impacts may be predicted much further in advance than previously thought, according to research by an international team of climate scientists. The source of this predictability lies in the tight interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere and among the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Oceans. Such long-term tropical climate forecasts are useful to the public and policy makers, researchers say.

  • 'MyEarth' energy-tracking app encourages sustainable behaviors

    For a generation motivated by technology and fast-moving information, a professor has created an energy-tracking app to make reducing day-to-day energy usage more accessible.

  • Necessity at the roots of innovation: The scramble for nutrients intensifies as soils age

    Working among venomous snakes in Australia's Jurien Dunes, researchers ask how biodiverse plants survive in some of the world's worst soils. Their discoveries may help to develop agriculture on poor soils elsewhere.