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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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Drinking water

Natural chromium sources threaten California groundwater

A study shows natural sources of hexavalent chromium are affecting more people and wells in California than industrial sources. But groundwater pumping may accelerate release of this carcinogen.

Arctic

Finding the pulse of the polar vortex

A new analysis of how air moves between two layers of Earth’s atmosphere reveals a deep system that could enable long-term weather forecasts and better climate models.

Mount Sinabung

Learning through sound

The audible world contains vast amounts of information about the world around us. Scholars from across Stanford are exploring this invisible landscape as a research tool and as a way of understanding each other.

Port Arthur

Bracing for sea level rise to boost national security

Storm season is upon us, the federal flood insurance plan is broken and sea level rise continues unabated. Stanford climate and policy experts Alice Hill and Katharine Mach look at issues related to rising seas with an eye toward increasing resilience and security.

Fuego Volcano

Beyond lava and ash: What makes volcanoes dangerous?

Recent eruptions offer reminders that lava, ash and size don’t fully explain how volcanoes become deadly. Geologists Gail Mahood and Donald Lowe describe some of the science and mysteries behind volcanic hazards. 

Cracked earth

Study casts doubt on the predictive value of earthquake foreshocks

Do tiny underground tremors provide clues that a big earthquake is coming? A new study suggests foreshocks are just like other small quakes, not helpful warning signs as previously thought.

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.

Lava lake

Understanding Kilauea: A different flavor of volcano

Geophysicist and volcanologist Paul Segall describes Hawaii's most active volcano and the science behind the latest eruptions.

Summit of Villarica volcano

Stanford scientists eavesdrop on volcanic rumblings to forecast eruptions

Sound waves generated by burbling lakes of lava atop some volcanoes point to greater odds of magmatic outbursts. This finding could provide advance warning to people who live near active volcanoes.

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.

Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica

Interacting Antarctic glaciers may cause faster melt and sea level contributions

Two of the most rapidly changing glaciers in Antarctica, which are leading contributors to sea-level rise, may behave as an interacting system rather than separate entities, according to a new analysis of radar data.

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.

fire in a conifer-dominated forest

More frequent fires slow plant regrowth

Long-term effects of repeated fires on soils found to have significant impacts on carbon storage not previously considered in global greenhouse gas estimates.

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."

rising sea levels illustration

​Jenny Suckale: A Better Plan B for Managing Disasters

Stanford’s Russ Altman and Jenny Suckale explore how society can better prepare for a future with more frequent and more dangerous storms.
Fiber optic cable.

Building a ‘billion sensors’ earthquake observatory with optical fibers

The same optical fibers that deliver high-speed internet and HD video to our homes could one day double as seismic sensors for monitoring and studying earthquakes.

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.

earthquake illustration

Manmade and natural earthquakes not so different after all

New research shows manmade and naturally occurring earthquakes in the central U.S. share the same characteristics, information that will help scientists predict and mitigate damage from future earthquakes.

Dustin Schroeder stands in front of airplane in Antarctica

Frozen secrets: Geophysicist explores glaciers with radar

Stanford Earth’s Dustin Schroeder researches new ways of observing, understanding, and predicting the configuration of ice sheets using ice-penetrating radar data.

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