Research by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the University of Bradford used laser microscopes to explore how stone tools were used in prehistory, and the process has helped streamline surface measurement techniques for modern manufacturers.
In 1969, an exploding fireball tore through the sky over Mexico, scattering thousands of pieces of meteorite across the state of Chihuahua. More than 40 years later, the Allende meteorite is still serving the scientific community as a rich source of information about the early stages of our solar system's evolution. Recently, scientists from the California Institute of Technology discovered a new mineral embedded in the space rock—one they believe to be among the oldest minerals formed in the solar system.
Previous research the Carnegie Institution’s Bob Hazen demonstrated that up to two thirds of the known types of minerals on Earth can be directly or indirectly linked to biological activity. Now, he has traced the history of one mineral of interest—mercury—and has shown the changes in Earth’s geochemistry that contributed to the formation of the 90 or more mercury-containing chemical now found on Earth.
After analyzing the longest sediment cores ever retrieved on land, obtained from beneath remote, ice-covered Lake El'gygytgyn ("Lake E") in the northeastern Russian Arctic, researchers say the polar regions are much more vulnerable to climate change than previously thought. The cores reveal intense warm climate intervals in the Arctic’s recent past.
Scientists had long observed the unusual properties of lunar topsoil but had not taken much notice of the microparticles and nanoparticles found in the soil and their source was unknown. When these tiny glass bubbles were examined, they differed greatly from what is usually found in similar structures on Earth.
An 18-member international team of researchers has discovered melt-glass material in a thin layer of sedimentary rock in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Syria. According to the researchers, the material—which dates back nearly 13,000 years—was formed at temperatures of 1,700 to 2,200 C, and is the result of a cosmic body impacting Earth.
More than 100 times the size of the volcanic explosion at Mount St. Helens, super-eruptions have been theorized to take place at giant pools of magma that form a couple of miles below the surface and simmer for up to 200,000 before exploding. But new research seems to show that these pools might exist for as little as a few hundred years before erupting.
Using forensic-style chemical analysis, scientists in the U.K. and Germany have directly linked seismic observations of the deadly 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption to crystal growth within the magma chamber, the large underground pool of liquid rock beneath the volcano. Building direct links between observations at the surface and processes occurring underground has been an ongoing problem for volcanologists.
A Sandia National Laboratories modeling study contradicts a long-held belief of geologists that pore sizes and chemical compositions are uniform throughout a given strata, which are horizontal slices of sedimentary rock. By understanding the variety of pore sizes and spatial patterns in strata, geologists can help achieve more production from underground oil reservoirs and water aquifers.
Naval Research Laboratory scientists have obtained a first-ever measured altitude profile of a dim extreme-ultraviolet terrestrial airglow emission that provides vital information needed to test and improve the accuracy of advanced techniques for remote sensing of the daytime ionosphere. They have obtained this altitude profile using scans from the Remote Atmospheric and Ionospheric Detection System (RAIDS) experiment.
Scientists in the U.K. have discovered a previously unrecognized volcanic process called “fluidized spray granulation”, which can occur during kimberlite eruptions to produce well-rounded particles containing mantle, most notably diamonds. This physical process is remarkable similar to the gas injection and spraying process used to form smooth coatings on chocolates.
For those who study earthquakes, one major challenge has been trying to understand all the physics of a fault—both during an earthquake and at times of "rest"—in order to know more about how a particular region may behave in the future. Now, researchers at the California Institute of Technology have developed the first computer model of an earthquake-producing fault segment that reproduces, in a single physical framework, the available observations of both the fault's seismic (fast) and aseismic (slow) behavior.
Existing historical climate records are typically biased to the high latitudes, where polar ice and ocean sediments lock in the atmosphere’s past. Yet a main driver of climate variability today is El Niño, which is a completely tropical phenomenon. Scientists at the California Institute of Technology believe they have found the ice core of the tropics, however.
For more than a decade, scientists debated whether a maze of valleys near the Martian equator was sculpted by ice or volcanic processes. Now, aresearcher reports finding lava flows shaped like coils of rope near the equator of Mars, the first time such geologic features have been discovered outside of Earth.
A 150-pound fossil recovered last year in northern Kentucky is more than 6 feet long and 3 feet wide. To the untrained eye, it looks like a bunch of rocks or a concrete blob. Experts are trying to determine whether it was an animal, mineral or a form of plant life from a time when the Cincinnati region was underwater. So far, it has everyone at a loss.
According to new research in the U.K. that looked at data from thousands of fracking operations in the United States, the chance of rogue fractures due to shale gas fracking operations decreases significantly beyond a certain distance from the injection source. This, the first analysis of its kind, could be used as a starting point for separating aquifers and fracking.
A group of high-tech tycoons wants to mine nearby asteroids wants to use commercially built robotic ships to squeeze rocket fuel and valuable minerals like platinum and gold out of the lifeless rocks that routinely whiz by Earth. The inaugural step, to be achieved in the next 18 to 24 months, would be launching the first in a series of private telescopes that would search for rich asteroid targets.
Seismologists say last week's powerful earthquake off western Indonesia increased pressure on the source of the devastating 2004 tsunami: a fault that could unleash another monster wave sometime in the next few decades.
According to findings by the U.S. Geological Survey, the rate of earthquakes in the United States’ midsection has jumped six-fold from the late 20th century through last year, and the changes are "almost certainly man-made." Most of the earthquakes resulting from drilling activities are relatively mold, falling into the magnitude 3 range on the Richter scale.
Earth is clingy when it comes to copper. A new Rice University study finds that nature conspires at scales both large and small—from the realms of tectonic plates down to molecular bonds—to keep most of Earth's copper buried dozens of miles below ground.
Over the years, experts have claimed human use of fire from as long as 1.5 million years ago, but until recent excavation and analysis work at the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa the claims have only been conjecture. Researchers say that while the new evidence is not “rock solid”, the fires that once burned deep inside the cave offer pretty strong evidence.
A series of global warming events called hyperthermals that occurred more than 50 million years ago had a similar origin to a much larger hyperthermal of the period, the Pelaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), new research has found. The findings represent a greater understanding of the major "burp" of carbon that occurred during the PETM.
A panel of experts in Japan recently said that any tsunami unleashed by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake in the Nankai trough, which runs east of Japan's main island of Honshu to the southern island of Kyushu, could top 34 m (112 ft) at its highest. This is a significant elevation of risk from an earlier forecast in 2003 that put the potential maximum height of such a tsunami at less than 20 m.
China holds about a third of the world's rare earth reserves but supplies about 90% of what is consumed. In the past two years it has imposed limits on its exports, citing a need to impose order on an unruly domestic market and to reduce environmental damage. Officials from the U.S. the European Union, and Japan met recently to propose ways to ensure secure supplies of strategically vital rare earths and other critical materials.
Evidence from fossilized raindrop impressions dating 2.7 billion years ago, discovered by University of Washington researchers, indicates an abundance of greenhouse gases most likely caused the warm temperatures on ancient Earth.