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Stanford Earth Matters

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

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.

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.

2017

Top 10 Stanford Earth research stories of 2017

From laying the groundwork for a billion-sensor quake network to finding lithium deposits around supervolcanoes, these were our favorite research stories of 2017.

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.

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.

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."

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.

Introducing the Mobile Monitoring Challenge

The competition will provide a level and controlled playing field for testing remote technologies to monitor methane leaks from the oil and gas industry.

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.

oilfield at dusk

Climate impacts of super-giant oilfields go up with age

Neglecting the changing energy requirements of aging oilfields can lead to an underestimate of their true climate impacts.

Wirelessly charging moving vehicles

Stanford scientists have developed a way to wirelessly deliver electricity to moving objects, technology that could one day charge electric vehicles and personal devices like medical implants and cell phones.

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.

The 2015 Aliso Canyon methane gas leak in Southern California is shown in this image from an infrared camera.

EPA methane emission policy likely to miss 2025 targets

Stanford research shows plugging methane leaks will cost about a third less than the EPA estimates, further underscoring the cost-effectiveness of emissions mitigation – but the agency will also likely fall short of its 2025 reduction targets.

Accelerating design of high-power batteries

New Stanford study describes a model for designing novel materials used in electrical storage devices, such as car batteries and capacitors. This approach may dramatically accelerate discovery of new materials that provide cheap and efficient ways to store energy.

Let's Stop Talking About Climate Change

Instead of talking about the polarized topic of climate change, Stanford Earth scientist Rob Jackson suggests focusing on the shared benefits of addressing the problem, including job creation, health and safety.

Point Lobos rock formations

Navigating the guts of an ancient submarine canyon

Tourists flock to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve near Monterey, Calif., for its breathtaking coastal views and glimpses of the playful sea otters and other marine mammals that can be found among its waters. But the site has long attracted geologists for a very different reason.

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