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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.

Stack of cut logs in front of forest.

Getting to Zero Deforestation

A synthesis paper led by Eric Lambin reveals the strengths and weaknesses of corporate environmental pledges, and prescribes solutions to boost effectiveness.

Student snorkeling among coral reefs.

Learning through fieldwork in Palau

Undergraduates study links between human and natural systems in a program that puts them up close with corals. Stanford Earth professor Rob Dunbar is a lead instructor. 

Molten Lava

Puzzle at the center of the Earth

Mysterious patches on the planet’s core that dampen seismic waves could be the result of ancient seawater chemically reacting with iron under extreme conditions.

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."

farm tractor

Soil holds potential to slow global warming

The land under our feet and the plant matter it contains could offset a significant amount of carbon emissions if managed properly.

Blue sea ice

Poor outlook for biodiversity in Antarctica

A comparison of Antarctic biodiversity and its management with global trends finds that it is more similar to the rest of the world than previously believed. 

city skyline

Society needs to better understand the economics of climate change

Gaps in social science knowledge of climate change constrain the policy impact of natural science research, a Stanford team argues.

Rusty Water cap

Inadequate regulations threaten groundwater

Inconsistent or vague definitions in oil and gas regs leave water supply vulnerable

shiny metal

Tiny Diamond Anvils Trigger Chemical Reactions

Experiments with 'molecular anvils' mark an important advance for mechanochemistry, which has the potential to make chemistry greener and more precise

Two stacks

Exploring an effective, low-cost and fair U.S. climate policy

Economist Larry Goulder discusses tradeoffs of policy options and finds ways to enhance societal and economic benefits

Great Salt Lake, Utah

Extinct Lakes of the American West

Extinct lake landforms provide clues of climate change over millions of years and inform our understanding of rainfall patterns and water management in the arid American West.

Eiffel Tower illustration

Risk of extreme weather events higher if Paris Agreement goals aren’t met

The Paris Agreement has aspirational goals of limiting temperature rise that won’t be met by current commitments. That difference could make the world another degree warmer and considerably more prone to extreme weather.

Photo credit: Florence Low/DWR

Share the Wealth: A Cap-And-Trade System of Water Conservation and Resiliency?

In order to meet the California’s future water needs, researchers propose a cap and trade approach to water conservation based on local supply and demand realities.

ancient dragonfly fossil

Insects took off when they evolved wings

Now buzzing and whizzing around every continent, insects were mysteriously scarce in the fossil record until 325 million years ago – when they first took flight and, according to a new study, evolutionarily took off.

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.

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.

Leafy green vegetables in a growing facility.

Grocery store program improves farmers’ adoption of environmental practices

In one of the first analyses of a company-led sustainability program in the food and agriculture space, Stanford researchers found a major grocery chain fostered increased adoption of environmental practices at the farm level.

The front of Antarctica's Getz Ice Shelf. Photo credit: Jeremy Harbeck/NASA

New Study Reveals Strong El Niño Events Cause Large Changes in Antarctic Ice Shelves

Matthew Siegfried, a postdoctoral researcher working with Dustin Schroeder in the Stanford Radio Glaciology Group, co-authored a study showing oscillations of water temperature in the tropical Pacific Ocean can induce rapid melting of Antarctic ice shelves.

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