Buried inside ancient grains of rock salt, a team of geologists has discovered traces of a breathable, animal-friendly atmosphere. If confirmed, the finding will push back the rise of oxygen on Earth hundreds of millions of years, raising new questions about the evolution of complex life both here and beyond our solar…
Volcanic super-eruptions are bad. Like really bad. Scientists warn of such a potentially civilization-ending catastrophe in our future, but as a new study shows, we’ll only have a year to prepare once the signs of an impending eruption become visible.
Four billion years ago, an endless barrage of space rock pummeled the surface of the Earth and the Moon, in a period known as the Late Heavy Bombardment. Now, astronomers have performed a detailed analysis of one of the most famous craters from that time, and what they’ve learned could rewrite the most violent chapter…
Central California is currently in the middle of an earthquake swarm, with up to 18 (and counting) tiny quakes shaking things up over the course of a single day. The situation is not, however, as ominous as it may seem.
Since the time of Isaac Newton, scientists have wondered if the gravitational pull of the sun and moon might be strong enough to trigger earthquakes and tremors on Earth. An analysis of 81,000 low-frequency earthquakes along the San Andreas Fault now confirms these suspicions.
Two years ago, Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano erupted—and it kept erupting for the next 181 days, forming the largest volcanic depression ever seen. New research reveals the extraordinary processes that transpired beneath the surface, including the formation of a magma-filled canal that measured a whopping 28 miles…
Explorers hoping to find easily accessible liquid water on Mars may be out of luck. A new study questions the source of recently discovered surface water on the Red Planet, a revelation that may force Martian colonists to settle in the arctic regions where ice is plentiful.
An extraordinarily large landslide has been discovered near Glacier Bay in southeast Alaska. Aerial photos show a snow-capped mountain with a huge chunk taken out of it—and a debris field that extends for nearly seven miles.
We’ve heard a lot of buzz recently about the Anthropocene, the geologic epoch of man and machine. Does it exist? Are we in it right now? Later this summer, the International Stratigraphic Union will convene and attempt to answer these weighty questions.
New findings from NASA’s Curiosity Rover provide evidence that significant amounts of oxygen once permeated the atmosphere of ancient Mars. The Red Planet, it would seem, was more Earth-like than we thought.
If an active volcano nearby suddenly kicks up its activity with steam, smoke, and below-ground rumblings, it’s a good idea to get away very quickly. But now researchers have found an even more dangerous sign to watch volcanoes for: sudden, total silence.
This may look like just another rock, but its so much more than that. It’s also a storage unit for carbon emissions—and it could finally give us a way to backtrack a bit on what we’ve done to our climate.
A few years ago, divers discovered an apparent underwater “lost city” off the coast of Zakynthos in Greece. New research reveals that the site, which was thought to be the ruins of a long-forgotten civilization that perished when tsunamis hit the shore, is in actuality a geological formation—and a bizarre one at that.
Geoengineering, or hacking Earth’s climate system to cool the planet, is a controversial field that promises to either save our collective asses or bring on the apocalypse. Now, scientists have discovered a major problem with one popular geoengineering scheme that entails dumping a bunch of iron into the ocean to soak…
Volcanic eruptions don’t really need our help looking impressive. But with a pair of infrared goggles, one of nature’s most fearsome outbursts becomes downright psychedelic.
Life has been transforming Earth’s atmosphere since the first single-celled organisms evolved. But few instances of atmospheric terraforming compare with what went down 2.7 billion years ago, when air pressure seems to have plummeted to less than half of its current value. What could have caused the worldwide…
For the first time, geologists have compiled a global map of the wave-like motions called “convective currents” inside Earth’s mantle. They found that those convective currents are moving roughly ten times faster than previously thought. The discovery can help explain everything from how Earth’s surface changes over…
Californians may scoff at the idea of a mid-sized earthquake, but when our nation’s capitol started shaking on August 23, 2011, people freaked out. Having grown up in the DC metro area, I can tell you why: we don’t get noticeable earthquakes. We are seismically boring and perfectly cool with it.
A single shale oil field in the United States is responsible for a significant upsurge in global atmospheric levels of ethane, a dangerous gas that has been linked to climate change and pollution. It’s yet more evidence that fracking is screwing up our planet.
The most popular artificial material on Earth isn’t steel, plastic, or aluminum — it’s concrete. Thousands of years ago, we used it to build civilizations, but then our knowledge of how to make it was lost. Here’s how we discovered concrete, forgot it, and then finally cracked the mystery of what makes it so strong.