Stanford University
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Stanford Earth Matters

Person's hands on colorful geological map

The art of geology: Stanford maps spur international recognition of Northern Snake Range in Nevada

Hundreds of students participated in the Stanford Geological Survey, a century-long program that brought undergraduates to the field for extended periods to survey and map the geology of parts of California, Nevada, and Utah. (Source: Stanford News)

Researchers extract sediment cores at Searsville Lake in Jasper Ridge

This is epoch

At 12 points around the globe – including one at Stanford – scientists are working to detect when the Anthropocene began. (Source: Stanford Magazine)

Aerial view of Del Mar beach with buildings near coast

New approach estimates long-term coastal cliff loss

A new method for estimating cliff loss over thousands of years in Del Mar, California, may help reveal some of the long-term drivers of coastal cliff loss in the state. (Source: Stanford News)

An aerial perspective of two minke whales swimming side by side

Why whales need to be big

Scientists studied a unique group of Antarctic minke whales and found that these gigantic mammals actually represent the smallest possible body size required for their style of feeding. (Source: Stanford News)

Coastal erosion

Climate patterns shape sand deposits in the deep sea

New findings about how sand deposits form in the deep sea during different climate eras reveal mysterious processes miles beneath the ocean’s surface, and could help future-proof offshore operations like wind farms as the Earth warms and water rises.

Green-bearded Helmetcrest hummingbird

Better biodiversity policies

Our health and economic stability depend on biodiversity, but our governing policies often fail to address it coherently. An analysis of the world’s second most biodiverse country, Colombia, highlights how policies that span sectors and actors can fit together to govern biodiversity more effectively. (Source: Stanford News)

    Coral with sunlight

    You're stuck with your same old genome, but corals aren't

    A new study of tropical reef building corals shows these very long-lived animals are constantly changing and testing their genes – and some of these changes make it into the next generation. In this way a centuries-old coral might be a cauldron of genetic innovation, and it might help prepare them for climate change. (Source: Hopkins Marine Station)

    A glacier rises from calm seawater against a cloudy sky

    A scientist uses radar technology to map the insides of ice sheets

    The technique helps us understand ice sheets right here on Earth -- and whether there could be life far, far beyond. (Source: Stanford Engineering)

    Glacier next to ocean

    Are we missing a crucial component of sea-level rise?

    Across Antarctica, some parts of the base of the ice sheet are frozen, while others are thawed. Scientists show that if some currently frozen areas were also to thaw, it could increase ice loss from glaciers that are not currently major sea-level contributors.

    Abstract swirls with dots

    Geological activity can rapidly change deep microbial communities

    New research reveals that, rather than being influenced only by environmental conditions, deep subsurface microbial communities can transform because of geological movements. The findings advance our understanding of subsurface microorganisms, which comprise up to half of all living material on the planet.

    Soil microbe illustration - external link

    How a soil microbe could rev up artificial photosynthesis

    Researchers discover that a spot of molecular glue and a timely twist help a bacterial enzyme convert carbon dioxide into carbon compounds 20 times faster than plant enzymes do during photosynthesis. The results stand to accelerate progress toward converting carbon dioxide into a variety of products. (Source: SLAC)

    Meteorite external link

    ‘Fingerprinting’ minerals to better understand how they are affected by meteorite collisions

    Researchers mimicked these extreme impacts in the lab and discovered new details about how they transform minerals in Earth’s crust. (Source: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    Orca whale breaching (external link)

    'Predation at the largest scale': Understanding orca whales as apex predators

    Stanford whale biologist Jeremy Goldbogen discusses recent documentation of orcas teaming up to take down an adult blue whale – “arguably one of the most dramatic and intense predator-prey interactions on the planet.” (Source: Stanford News)

    Aerial view of rivers on land without vegetation

    A story written in mud

    Geologists have long assumed that the evolution of land plants enabled rivers to form snakelike meanders, but a review of recent research overturns that classic theory – and it calls for a reinterpretation of the rock record.

    Editor's picks collage

    Editor’s picks: Top 10 stories of 2021

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

    Aerial view of Ile Anglaise reef

    Researchers test physics of coral as an indicator of reef health

    New research shows that physics measurements of just a small portion of reef can be used to assess the health of an entire reef system. The findings may help scientists grasp how these important ecosystems will respond to a changing climate.

    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.”

    Humpback whales

    Researchers find whales eat more than expected

    Research on whale feeding highlights how the precipitous decline of large marine mammals has negatively impacted the health and productivity of ocean ecosystems.

    Trilobite fossil

    Extinction changes rules of body size evolution

    A sweeping analysis of marine fossils from most of the past half-billion years shows the usual rules of body size evolution change during mass extinctions and their recoveries. The discovery is an early step toward predicting how evolution will play out on the other side of the current extinction crisis.

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