New View of Tectonic Plates

Computational scientists and geophysicists at the University of Texas at Austin and Caltech have developed new computer algorithms that for the first time allow for the simultaneous modeling of the earth's mantle flow, large-scale tectonic plate motions, and the behavior of individual fault zones, to produce an unprecedented view of plate tectonics and the forces that drive it.

NRC Recommends Three Astronomy/Astrophysics Projects with Potential Major Caltech Roles

In an announcement August 13, the National Research Council recommended three space- and ground-based astronomy and astrophysics projects with potential major roles for researchers at Caltech: CCAT, a giant submillimeter telescope that will help unravel the origins of stars, planets, and galaxies; LISA, designed to detect gravitational waves; and the development of a Giant Segmented Mirrored Telescope—the Thirty Meter Telescope being one of two such telescopes under development.

Caltech, Canadian Space Agency Awarded NASA Project to Develop Spectrometer Headed to Mars

Caltech and the Canadian Space Agency announced today that they will be partnering on the development of the Mars Atmospheric Trace Molecule Occultation Spectrometer (MATMOS) instrument to be flown aboard the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter when it launches in 2016.

Caltech Team Finds Evidence of Water in Moon Minerals

That dry, dusty moon overhead? Seems it isn't quite as dry as it's long been thought to be. Although you won't find oceans, lakes, or even a shallow puddle on its surface, a team of geologists has found structurally bound hydroxyl groups (i.e., water) in a mineral in a lunar rock returned to Earth by the Apollo program.

Caltech Scientists Measure Changing Lake Depths on Titan

On Earth, lake levels rise and fall with the seasons and with longer-term climate changes, as precipitation, evaporation, and runoff add and remove liquid. Now, for the first time, scientists have found compelling evidence for similar lake-level changes on Saturn's largest moon, Titan—the only other place in the solar system seen to have a hydrological cycle with standing liquid on the surface.

Caltech Geologist Investigates Canyon Carved in Just Three Days in Texas Flood

In the summer of 2002, a week of heavy rains in Central Texas caused Canyon Lake—the reservoir of the Canyon Dam—to flood over its spillway and down the Guadalupe River Valley in a planned diversion to save the dam from catastrophic failure. The flood excavated a 2.2-kilometer-long, 7-meter-deep canyon in the bedrock. According to a new analysis by Caltech assistant professor of geology Michael Lamb, the canyon formed in just three days. 

Edwin S. Munger, 88

Edwin S. Munger, professor of geography, emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), passed away peacefully June 15 at his home in Pasadena, California. He was 88 years old.

East African Human Ancestors Lived in Hot Environments, Says Caltech-led Team

East Africa's Turkana Basin has been a hot savanna region for at least the past 4 million years—including the period of time during which early hominids evolved in this area—says a team of researchers led by scientists at Caltech. These findings may shed light on the evolutionary pressures that led humans to walk upright, lose most of our body hair, develop a more slender physique, and sweat more copiously than other animals.

Caltech-Led Team First to Directly Measure Body Temperatures of Extinct Vertebrates

Questions about when, why, and how vertebrates stopped relying on external factors to regulate their body temperatures and began heating themselves internally have long intrigued scientists. Now, a team led by researchers at Caltech has taken a critical step toward providing some answers. They describe the first method for the direct measurement of the body temperatures of large extinct vertebrates—through the analysis of rare isotopes in the animals' bones, teeth, and eggshells.

Aseismic Slip as a Barrier to Earthquake Propagation

A research team made up of scientists from Caltech and their partners in Peru and France report on their analysis of GPS data from the 2007 Pisco quake in Peru. They found, in part, that 50 percent of the postseismic slippage is aseismic—movement along a fault that occurs without any accompanying seismic waves.

 

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