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Stanford Earth Matters

Science and insights for people who care about Earth, its resources and its environment

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Oil rig in North Dakota

U.S. oil and gas methane emissions are 60 percent higher than EPA reports

A new study shows leakage equals $2 billion dollars in wasted natural gas — enough to supply 10 million households — and provides a roadmap for future emissions research.

East Rift Zone

Geothermal at the foot of Kilauea

Geothermal engineer Roland Horne discusses geothermal energy in the face of natural hazards and a way to tap the earth’s heat far from volcanoes in the future.

Motion

What does the future of energy look like?

Eight Stanford scientists share ideas for how the world can reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and make energy more sustainable, secure and affordable for all.

fresh water stream

Wastewater project harnesses anaerobic bacteria to save energy

A wastewater treatment plant under construction in Redwood Shores will be the largest to test a technology that significantly reduces the cost of cleaning water. The key: bacteria that eschew oxygen while producing burnable methane.

Biorefinery at sunset

A way for carbon capture at biorefineries to pay off

A new paper maps out how tax credits and possible incentives from state fuel standards could allow ethanol producers to profit from removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

exhaust from car

EPA's proposed rollbacks of mileage standards are a terrible idea

Rob Jackson argues in Scientific American that proposed EPA mileage rollbacks are shortsighted and a matter of human health as well as economics.

Traffic

Potential impacts of emissions rule rollback

An economist and climate policy expert discuss the possible consequences to fuel efficiency regulation changes.

fire and pellets

Negative-emissions systems to protect climate

New study examines the potential for biomass growing sites, CO2 storage sites, and co-location. In the near term, the technology could remove up to 110 million tons of CO2, or 1.5% of total U.S. emissions annually. 

surfers with oil rig in background

Stanford law and water quality experts discuss possible offshore oil expansion

If federal plans move ahead, most U.S. coastal waters would be open to offshore oil drilling. Stanford professors look at the issues from California's perspective.

oil wells against a sunset

New map profiles induced earthquake risk for West Texas, New Mexico

A seismic stress map created by Stanford geophysicists can help predict which parts of West Texas and New Mexico may be at risk of fracking-induced earthquakes. The map could guide oil discovery efforts in the region.

Tony Kovscek and Tae Wook Kim working in a lab

New techniques for removing carbon from the atmosphere

As the world continues to burn 100 million barrels of oil a day – a rate that is expected to continue for the next 50 years – Stanford Earth researchers are developing greener ways of extracting the oil and mitigating the resulting greenhouse gases.

Greg Beroza showing off earthquake data.

21st-century Earth science is computer intensive and data driven

If asked to imagine a geologist, you might envision a tanned and dusty figure, hardy and weathered like the ancient rocks that he or she spends days studying out “in the field."

Crater Lake

Supervolcanoes: A key to America’s electric future?

Stanford researchers show that lake sediments preserved within ancient supervolcanoes can host large deposits of lithium, which is critical for modern technology.

Molten Metal

High pressure key to lighter, stronger metal alloys

Shocking complex metal mixtures with high pressure could lead to desirable properties such as higher heat resistance and allow power plants and engines to run hotter and more efficiently.

neodymium on the periodic table

Critical minerals scarcity could threaten renewable energy future

The supply chains for critical and rare minerals are vulnerable to political and economic disruptions that could hamper the global shift to a renewable energy future.

drill rig in Fayetteville Shale gas play in Arkansas

Small earthquakes at fracking sites may be early indicators of bigger tremors to come

Tiny tremors caused by hydraulic fracturing of natural gas near the surface could be early signs of stressful conditions deep underground that could destabilize faults and trigger larger earthquakes.

Moon rises behind wind turbines.

Stanford researchers test public receptiveness to different wind energy turbines

New research suggests vertical axis turbines, which may have fewer impacts on birds and the environment, could increase public support for new wind energy installations.

Three wind turbines

Winds of change for vertical axis turbines?

New research suggests vertical axis turbines, which may have fewer impacts on birds and the environment, could increase public support for new wind energy installations.

coal fire plant

Effects of rolling back the Clean Power Plan

Early October the EPA moved to roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Stanford legal and economic experts discuss this move and what it means for attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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