Chemical analysis of some of the world’s oldest rocks has provided the earliest record yet of Earth's atmosphere and shows that the air 4 billion years ago was very similar a billion years later, when the atmosphere, though it likely would have been lethal to oxygen-dependent humans, supported a thriving microbial biosphere that ultimately gave rise to the diversity of life on Earth today.

Until now, researchers have had to rely on widely varying computer models of the earliest atmosphere's characteristics.
The number of large earthquakes fell considerably in 2014, down to 12 from 19 in 2013. The trend was similar worldwide. Only 11 earthquakes reached magnitude 7.0-7.9 and one registered magnitude 8.2, in Iquique, Chile on April 1st. That was the lowest annual total of earthquakes magnitude 7.0 or greater since 2008, which also had 12. On average, since 1900 there have been 18 large earthquakes each year.

Millions of earthquakes occur throughout the world each year but most go undetected because they have very small magnitudes or hit remote areas.  In the United States, the US Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) publishes the locations for about 40 earthquakes per day. 

If you hit the ground with a hammer, it creates a micro-earthquake, but it is obviously too small to be detected. The ancient Chinese used to use a drum in the ground to listen for enemy sappers mining underneath their fortifications.

The process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, extracts gas and oil from shale rock by injecting a high-pressure water mixture directed at the rock to release the oil and gas trapped inside. Like any geological event, that results in micro-earthquakes much smaller than humans can feel. 

The 2011 east coast earthquake felt by people from Georgia to Canada likely originated from a fault “junction” just outside of Mineral, Virginia, according to new U.S. Geological Survey research published in the Geological Society of America’s Special Papers.

When the Bárðarbunga volcano beneath Iceland's Vatnajökull ice cap reawakened in August 2014, scientists got an opportunity to monitor how the magma flowed through cracks in the rock away from the volcano.

 Although it has a long history of eruptions, Bárðarbunga has been increasingly restless since 2005, including a dynamic period in August and September of this year, when more than 22,000 earthquakes were recorded in or around the volcano in just four weeks, due to stress being released as magma forced its way through the rock. 

Many villagers near the Cape Verde volcano will have little to return to. Joao Relvas/EPA

By David Rothery, The Open University

Around 60 volcanoes erupt in the average year. On any particular day, there are usually about 20 volcanoes erupting somewhere in the world. Naturally, they can’t all make headlines. But when there are human tragedies involved, we need to question the priorities of the news media.

The planet's largest carbon reservoir is not in permafrost or the Amazon rainforest, it is hidden in the Earth's inner core, according to what the authors of a new study in PNAS call a "provocative and speculative" finding. 

As much as two-thirds of Earth's carbon. They suggest that iron carbide, Fe7C3, provides a good match for the density and sound velocities of Earth's inner core under the relevant conditions. The model, if correct, could help resolve observations that have puzzled researchers for decades but they are not claiming it is more than it is.

An ancient, deep canyon buried along the Yarlung Tsangpo River in south Tibet, north of the eastern end of the Himalayas, has been discovered by geologists who say this ancient canyon--thousands of feet deep in places--effectively rules out a popular model used to explain how the massive and picturesque gorges of the Himalayas became so steep, so fast. 

Time is relative. What is a long time to humans is nothing to a mountain. Like humans, mountains usually burst on the scene, then they stand tall and finally age wears them down and their sharp features soften and they become grow shorter and rounder.

Not all mountains, though. The Gamburtsev Mountains in the middle of Antarctica look quite young for their age. Though the Gamburtsevs were discovered in the 1950s, they remained unexplored until government budget increases and few things left above ground to explore led scientists to fly ice-penetrating instruments over the mountains 60 years later.

Tectonic plates, which make up the outer layer of the earth, are rigid. It is giant layers of rock, after all. But that is a bit of a simplification. They are not rigid and don't fit together as nicely as we imagine, according to a new paper in Geology by Corné Kreemer, an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and his colleague Richard Gordon of Rice University, which quantifies deformation of the Pacific plate and challenges the central approximation of the plate tectonic paradigm that plates are rigid.