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Nanoparticle-based technology helps recover more oil

June 14, 2013 9:42 am | by Claude R. Olsen/Else Lie. Translation: Darren McKellep/Carol B. Eckmann | News | Comments

When petroleum companies abandon an oil well, more than half the reservoir’s oil is usually left behind as too difficult to recover. Now, however, much of the residual oil can be recovered with the help of nanoparticles and a simple law of physics. A partnership of Norwegian and Chinese scientists has succeeded in recovering up to 50% of residual in North Sea rock samples.

Oldest record of human-caused lead pollution detected

June 11, 2013 4:23 pm | News | Comments

Humans began contributing to environmental lead pollution as early as 8,000 years ago, according to a Univ. of Pittsburgh research report. The Pitt research team detected the oldest-discovered remains of human-derived lead pollution in the world in the northernmost region of Michigan, suggesting metal pollution from mining and other human activities appeared far earlier in North America than in Europe, Asia and South America.

Study: Earthquake acoustics can indicate if a massive tsunami is imminent

June 7, 2013 12:07 pm | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford University | News | Comments

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake occurred 43 miles off the shore of Japan. It generated an unexpectedly massive tsunami that washed over eastern Japan roughly 30 minutes later. Scientists at Stanford University have identified key acoustic characteristics of this quake that indicated it would cause a large tsunami.

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FEI, University of Oklahoma collaborate to develop unconventional oil, gas resources

June 6, 2013 12:14 pm | News | Comments

A research collaboration agreement has been formed between imaging company FEI and the University of Oklahoma to establish an oil and gas center of excellence. Called the FEI-OU Pore Scale Characterization Laboratory, the center will focus on the development of routine quantitative methods to classify shales in the economic assessment of tight oil and gas plays.

Pebbles, sand on Mars best evidence that a river ran through it

June 6, 2013 7:29 am | News | Comments

Pebbles and sand scattered near an ancient Martian river network may present the most convincing evidence yet that the frigid deserts of the Red Planet were once a habitable environment traversed by flowing water. Scientists with NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission reported on May 30, 2013, the discovery of sand grains and small stones that bear the telltale roundness of river stones and are too heavy to have been moved by wind.

Study IDs possible new rare earths sources in Wyo.

June 4, 2013 8:03 pm | by MEAD GRUVER - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A new study by the Wyoming State Geological Survey has identified dozens of possible sources of rare earth metals in Wyoming in addition to deposits in the Bear Lodge Mountains that a company already has targeted for mining. State geologists gathered and analyzed 335 rock samples from around Wyoming over the past year, making use of $200,000 appropriated by the Legislature.

Experts: Rounded stones on Mars evidence of flowing water

May 30, 2013 5:59 pm | News | Comments

Observations by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity have revealed areas with gravel and pebbles that are characteristic of a former riverbed.  Researchers, including members of the Niels Bohr Institute, have analyzed their shapes and sizes and the rounded pebbles clearly show that there has been flowing water on Mars.

Water-rock reaction may provide enough hydrogen to sustain life on Mars

May 30, 2013 1:27 pm | News | Comments

According to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder, a chemical reaction between iron-containing minerals and water may produce enough hydrogen "food" to sustain microbial communities living in pores and cracks within the enormous volume of rock below the ocean floor and parts of the continents.

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Scientists find possible solution to ancient enigma

May 29, 2013 1:09 pm | News | Comments

Stromatolites (“layered rocks”) are structures made of calcium carbonate and shaped by the actions of photosynthetic cyanobacteria and other microbes that trapped and bound grains of coastal sediment into fine layers. According to recent research, the widespread and mysterious disappearance of stromatolites may have been driven by single-celled organisms called foraminifera.

Earth’s mantle may affect long-term sea-level rise estimates

May 24, 2013 11:27 am | by Rob Enslin, Syracuse University | News | Comments

From Virginia to Florida, there is a prehistoric shoreline that, in some parts, rests more than 280 feet above modern sea level. The shoreline was carved by waves more than 3 million years ago—possible evidence of a once higher sea level, triggered by ice-sheet melting. But new findings by a team of researchers reveal that the shoreline has been uplifted by more than 210 feet, meaning less ice melted than expected.

Research shows how cosmic impact sparked devastating climate change

May 21, 2013 3:03 pm | by Tom Robinette, University of Cincinnati | News | Comments

An international team of researchers may have found what cause a dramatic cooling near the end of the last major Ice Age more than 12,000 years ago. The recently published study, which involved the study of rock melted into carbon spherules, describes evidence of a major cosmic event near the end of the Ice Age. The ensuing climate change forced many species to adapt or die.

Slow earthquakes: It's all in the rock mechanics

May 20, 2013 2:59 pm | News | Comments

Earthquakes that last minutes rather than seconds are a relatively recent discovery, according to an international team of seismologists. Researchers have been aware of these slow earthquakes, only for the past five to 10 years because of new tools and new observations, but these tools may explain the triggering of some normal earthquakes and could help in earthquake prediction.

Topography of Eastern Seaboard muddles ancient sea level changes

May 17, 2013 12:31 pm | by Ann Stark, LLNL | News | Comments

According to research taking place at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the distortion of the ancient shoreline and flooding surface of the U.S. Atlantic Coastal Plain are the direct result of fluctuations in topography in the region and could have implications on understanding long-term climate change, according to a new study.

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Study: Earth's iron core is surprisingly weak

May 17, 2013 10:54 am | News | Comments

The massive ball of iron sitting at the center of Earth is not quite as "rock-solid" as has been thought, say two Stanford University mineral physicists. By conducting experiments that simulate the immense pressures deep in the planet's interior, the researchers determined that iron in Earth's inner core is only about 40% as strong as previous studies estimated.

New study: Fracking hasn't polluted Arkansas water

May 16, 2013 5:58 pm | by KEVIN BEGOS - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas hasn't contaminated drinking water wells in Arkansas, according to a new study, but researchers said the geology there may be more of a natural barrier to pollution than in other areas where shale gas drilling takes place.

Groundwater unaffected by shale gas production in Arkansas

May 15, 2013 11:46 am | News | Comments

Scientists sampling 127 shallow drinking water wells in areas overlying Fayetteville Shale gas production in north-central Arkansas found no evidence of groundwater contamination. The team of scientists at Duke University and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) analyzed the samples for major and trace elements and hydrocarbons, and used isotopic tracers to identify the sources of possible contaminants.

Budget cuts pare real-time monitoring of volcanoes

May 14, 2013 8:09 am | by Rachel D’Oro, Associated Press | News | Comments

Worldwide, hundreds of flights are diverted each year because of volcanic activity. Scientists monitoring Alaska's volcanoes have been forced to shut down stations that provide real-time tracking of eruptions and forgo repairs of seismic equipment amid ongoing federal budget cuts—moves that could mean delays in getting vital information to airline pilots and emergency planners.

Revising Darwin's sinking-island theory

May 13, 2013 7:41 am | by Genevieve Wanucha, Oceans at MIT | News | Comments

The three different formations of South Pacific coral-reef islands, fringing, barrier, and atoll, have long fascinated geologists. The question of how reefs develop into these shapes over evolutionary time produced an enduring conflict between two hypotheses, one from Charles Darwin and the other from Reginald Daly. But in a recently published paper, researchers use modern measurements and computer modeling to resolve this old conundrum.

Hubble finds dead stars “polluted” with planet debris

May 10, 2013 9:24 am | News | Comments

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has found the building blocks for Earth-sized planets in an unlikely place—the atmospheres of a pair of burned-out stars called white dwarfs. Hubble's Cosmic Origins Spectrograph observed silicon and only low levels of carbon in the white dwarfs' atmospheres. Silicon is a major ingredient of the rocky material that constitutes Earth and other solid planets in our solar system.

New analysis suggests wind, not water, formed mound on Mars

May 7, 2013 7:33 am | News | Comments

A roughly 3.5-mile high Martian mound that scientists suspect preserves evidence of a massive lake might actually have formed as a result of the Red Planet's famously dusty atmosphere, an analysis of the mound's features suggests. If correct, the research could dilute expectations that the mound holds evidence of a large body of water, which would have important implications for understanding Mars' past habitability.

Scientists reveal relationship between sea floor lava and deep-carbon cycle

May 3, 2013 12:16 pm | News | Comments

A team from the Smithsonian and the University of Rhode Island has found unsuspected linkages between the oxidation state of iron in volcanic rocks and variations in the chemistry of the deep Earth. Their detailed spectroscopic work has uncovered chemical trends that not only run counter to predictions from recent decades of study, they belie a role for carbon circulating in the deep Earth.

Meteorite study may reveal Mars’ secrets of life

May 2, 2013 8:57 am | News | Comments

In an effort to determine if conditions were ever right on Mars to sustain life, a team of scientists has examined a meteorite that formed on the red planet more than a billion years ago. And although this team’s work is not specifically solving the mystery, it is laying the groundwork for future researchers to answer this age-old question.

Ohio hopes to save Richter scale developer legacy

April 25, 2013 9:16 am | by Lisa Cornwell, Associated Press | News | Comments

Fans of the Ohio native credited with developing the Richter scale of rating earthquake magnitude want to be sure that Charles Richter's name and legacy remain prominent in history. They are concerned because many reports about earthquakes no longer mention the scale developed in the early 1930s and just refer to magnitudes in general.

Fossil shells, new geochemical technique provide clues to ancient climate cooling

April 23, 2013 9:41 am | News | Comments

Using a new laboratory geochemical technique to analyze heavy isotopes of carbon and oxygen in fossil snail shells, scientists have gained insights into an abrupt climate shift that transformed the planet nearly 34 million years ago. At that time, the Earth switched from a warm and high-carbon dioxide "greenhouse" state to the lower-carbon dioxide, variable climate of the modern "icehouse" world.

Superstorm Sandy literally shook the United States

April 19, 2013 12:57 pm | News | Comments

When superstorm Sandy turned and took aim at New York City and Long Island last October, ocean waves hitting each other and the shore rattled the seafloor and much of the United States—shaking detected by seismometers across the country, University of Utah researchers have recently found. These “microseisms” generated by Sandy were detected by Earthscope, a network of 500 portable seismometers.

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