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View of east side of Sierra Mountains

Sierra Nevada range should celebrate two birthdays

New research reveals that after its initial formation 100 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada “died” during volcanic eruptions that blasted lava across much of the American West 40 million to 20 million years ago. Then, tens of millions of years later, the Sierra Nevada mountain range as we know it today was “reborn.”

Networked city

How to measure an earthquake through the internet

New technologies that detect motion in the Earth’s crust are emerging in surprising places and reshaping our understanding of earthquakes.

Summit lava lake

Scientists test friction laws in the collapsing crater of an erupting volcano

A new analysis of the 2018 collapse of Kīlauea volcano’s caldera helps to confirm the reigning scientific paradigm for how friction works on earthquake faults. The model quantifies the conditions necessary to initiate the kind of caldera collapse that sustains big, damaging eruptions of basaltic volcanoes like Kīlauea and could help to inform forecasting and mitigation.

Peel River

Longest known continuous record of the Paleozoic discovered in Yukon wilderness

Stanford-led expeditions to a remote area of Yukon, Canada, have uncovered a 120-million-year-long geological record of a time when land plants and complex animals first evolved and ocean oxygen levels began to approach those in the modern world.

Venus

Venus mission: Is Earth's twin still geologically active?

Much about Earth’s closest planetary neighbor, Venus, remains a mystery. Algorithms and techniques pioneered by Stanford Professor Howard Zebker’s research group will help to guide a search for active volcanoes and tectonic plate movements as part of a recently announced NASA mission to Venus.

Fault rupture

What causes earthquake foreshocks?

Because foreshocks precede larger quakes, they have long presented the tantalizing prospect of warning of potentially damaging earthquakes. But to date, they have only been recognized in hindsight, and scientists for decades have sought to understand the physical processes that drive them. Computer modeling by Stanford geophysicists finds answers in the complex geometry of faults.

Cement plant from above

For a low-carbon cement recipe, Stanford scientists look to Earth’s cauldrons

As the most-used building material on the planet and one of the world’s largest industrial contributors to global warming, concrete has long been a target for reinvention. Stanford scientists say replacing one of concrete’s main ingredients with volcanic rock could slash carbon emissions from manufacture of the material by nearly two-thirds.

Aerial view of Hiawatha Glacier

Airborne radar reveals groundwater beneath glacier

Researchers have detected groundwater beneath a glacier in Greenland for the first time using airborne radar data. If applicable to other glaciers and ice sheets, the technique could allow for more accurate predictions of future sea-level rise.

Cracked concrete

'DeepShake' predicts earthquake shaking intensity with AI

A deep neural network developed at Stanford and trained on more than 36,000 earthquakes offers a new way to quickly predict earthquake shaking intensity and issue early warnings of strong shaking.

Melt stream on Greenland

Can extreme melt destabilize ice sheets?

Researchers have deciphered a trove of data that shows one season of extreme melt can reduce the Greenland Ice Sheet’s capacity to store future meltwater – and increase the likelihood of future melt raising sea levels.

Editor's picks 2020 banner

Editor's picks: Top 10 stories of 2020

Our list includes a mix of favorites, high-impact stories and some of our most-read research coverage from a tumultuous year.

Kilauea lava fountain

Crystals may help reveal hidden Kilauea Volcano behavior

Stanford researchers used millimeter-sized crystals from the 1959 eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano to test models that offer insights about flow conditions prior to and during an eruption.

Reef crevice

Combining light and sound to see underwater

The “Photoacoustic Airborne Sonar System” could be installed beneath drones to enable aerial underwater surveys and high-resolution mapping of the deep ocean.

Ocean storm

Undersea origins of Earth's mysterious Love waves

Supercomputer simulations of planetary-scale interactions show how ocean storms and the structure of Earth’s upper layers together generate much of the world’s seismic waves. Decoding the faint but ubiquitous vibrations known as Love waves could yield insights about Earth’s storm history, changing climate and interior.

Earthquake concept

The science behind earthquakes

A collection of research and insights from Stanford experts on where and how earthquakes happen, why prediction remains elusive, advances in detection and monitoring, links to human activities, how to prepare for "The Big One," and more.

Tottori skyline

AI detects hidden earthquakes

Tiny movements in Earth’s outermost layer may provide a Rosetta Stone for deciphering the physics and warning signs of big quakes. New algorithms that work a little like human vision are now detecting these long-hidden microquakes in the growing mountain of seismic data.

Cracked road

How earthquake swarms arise

A new fault simulator maps out how interactions between pressure, friction and fluids rising through a fault zone can lead to slow-motion quakes and seismic swarms.

Tibetan Plateau

Seismic data explains continental collision beneath Tibet

New imagery reveals the causes of seismic activity deep beneath the Himalaya region, contributing to an ongoing debate over the continental collision process when two tectonic plates crash into each other.

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