Earth Sciences

Observations of Greenland's Helheim Glacier link the process through which chunks of ice at the edge of a glacier break away, which has been hard to study, to seismically detectable events known as glacial earthquakes, which have been increasing in number in recent years.

Because seismic signals from these events can be detected by instruments located all over the globe, it should be possible to use glacial earthquakes as proxies for the glacier edge breaking process, known as calving.


A new species of ‘super-armored’ worm, named Collinsium ciliosum, or Hairy Collins’ Monster after the palaeontologist Desmond Collins, who discovered and first illustrated a similar Canadian fossil in the 1980s, was a bizarre, spike-covered creature which ate by filtering nutrients out of seawater with its feather-like front legs, has been identified by palaeontologists.

The creature, which lived about half a billion years ago, was one of the first animals on Earth to develop armor to protect itself from predators and to use such a specialised mode of feeding.

Scientists have developed a computer model that clarifies the complex processes driving ocean mixing in the vast eddies that swirl across hundreds of miles of open ocean.

The Lagrangian In-situ, Global, High-performance particle Tracking (LIGHT) model is a first-of-its-kind tool because of its ability to exploit the power available from today's supercomputers, the authors say.


Salmon are severely impacted by the loss of floodplain habitats near Oregon's Tillamook Bay, where nearly 90 percent of estuaries' tidal wetlands have been lost to development -- threatening the survival of coho salmon and the safety of the local community. Now, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, NOAA Fisheries, and others have come together to reduce flood risk, increase resiliency of the ecosystem, and restore salmon habitat in Tillamook Bay under the auspices of The Southern Flow Corridor project, as the proposed collaborative effort is known. It will reconnect over 500 acres of floodplain habitat to two of the Bay's most productive salmon-bearing streams -- the Wilson and Trask Rivers.


Using biofuel is one way to decrease the United States' dependence on oil. And switchgrass is an excellent candidate for biofuel production. It is an adaptable plant that can grow on millions of acres of U.S. lands that cannot support crop or food production. It is also a renewable resource but growing it and making it profitable can be complicated. 

It lacks qualities, such as high biomass yield, needed to maximize biofuel production. Alternative breeding methods may be the answer.


The December 26th 2004 Mw ~9.2 Indian Ocean earthquake, also known as the Sumatra-Andaman or Aceh-Andaman earthquake and generated massive, destructive tsunamis, clearly demonstrated the need for a better understanding of how frequently subduction zone earthquakes and tsunamis occur. 

Using subsidence stratigraphy, a team traced the different modes of coastal sedimentation over the course of time in the eastern Indian Ocean where relative sea-level change evolved from rapidly rising to static from 8,000 years ago to the present day.

We can use lightning rods to increase the probability of it striking at a specific location but its exact path remains unpredictable.

Perhaps not for long. At a smaller scale, discharges between two electrodes behave in the same manner, streaking through space to create electric arcs where only the start and end points are fixed. Knowing that, it may be possible to control the current so that it follows a predetermined path, say Professor Roberto Morandotti and colleagues from
INRS Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications research centre
who have discovered a way to guide electric discharges - and even steer them around obstacles - using lasers at the Advanced Laser Light Source (ALLS) facility. 


In the late winter of 1976, the world famous fossil collector James Kitching was doing a survey near South Africa’s border with Lesotho.

To his surprise he found a tiny clutch of six fossilized eggs along the side of the road at a place known as Rooidraai.

It took five years for skilled palentologists to remove enough rock matrix from the eggs so that they could be preliminarily identified as the first dinosaur embryos from South Africa and the oldest dinosaur embryos in the world.

High in the sky where the cirrus ice crystal clouds form, jet contrails draw their crisscross patterns. Now researchers have found that these elevated ice cloud trails can influence temperatures on the ground and affect local climate.  

For contrails to form, the atmosphere at the level the jet is flying must be cold enough that the moisture from the jet exhaust freezes into ice crystals. There also must be enough moisture in the air that the clouds that form remain in the sky for at least a few hours as persisting contrails.


Researchers have developed a functioning organic solar cell consisting of a single component has been produced on the basis of metal-organic framework compounds (MOFs). The material is highly elastic and might also be used for the flexible coating of clothes and deformable components. 

Metal-organic frameworks, briefly called MOFs, consist of two basic elements, metal node points and organic molecules, which are assembled to form microporous, crystalline materials. For about a decade, MOFs have been attracting considerable interest of researchers, because their functionality can be adjusted by varying the components.