Caltech Geobiologists Discover Unique "Magnetic Death Star" Fossil

An international team of scientists has discovered microscopic, magnetic fossils resembling spears and spindles, unlike anything previously seen, among sediment layers deposited during an ancient global-warming event along the Atlantic coastal plain of the United States.

Caltech Scientists Offer New Explanation for Monsoon Development

Geoscientists at the California Institute of Technology have come up with a new explanation for the formation of monsoons, proposing an overhaul of a theory about the cause of the seasonal pattern of heavy winds and rainfall that essentially had held firm for more than 300 years.

Giant Impact Explains Mars Dichotomy

The surface landscape of Mars, divided into lowlands in the north and highlands in the south, has long perplexed planetary scientists. Was it sculpted by several small impacts, via mantle convection in the planet's interior, or by one giant impact? Now scientists at the California Institute of Technology have shown through computer modeling that the Mars dichotomy, as the divided terrain has been termed, can indeed be explained by one giant impact early in the planet's history.

Stress Buildup Precedes Large Sumatra Quakes

The island of Sumatra, Indonesia, has shaken many times with powerful earthquakes since the one that wrought the infamous 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Now, scientists from the California Institute of Technology and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences are harnessing information from these and earlier quakes to determine where the next ones will likely occur, and how big they will be.

Partnerships of Deep-Sea Methane Scavengers Revealed

The sea floor off the coast of Eureka, California, is home to a diverse assemblage of microbes that scavenge methane from cold deep-sea vents. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have developed a technique to directly capture these cells, lending insight into the diverse symbiotic partnerships that evolved among different species in an extreme environment.

A Grand Canyon as Old as the Dinosaurs?

How the Grand Canyon was carved has been a topic of scientific controversy for nearly 140 years. Now, with new geochronologic data from the canyon and surrounding plateaus, geologists from the California Institute of Technology present significant evidence that the canyon formed nearly 50 million years earlier than previously thought.

Water Vapor Detected in Protoplanetary Disks

Water is an essential ingredient for forming planets, yet has remained hidden from scientists searching for it in protoplanetary systems, the spinning disks of particles surrounding newly formed stars where planets are born. Now the detection of water vapor in the inner part of two extrasolar protoplanetary disks brings scientists one step closer to understanding water's role during terrestrial planet formation.

Tracking Earth Changes with Satellite Images

Sebastien Leprince, a graduate student in electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology, working under the supervision of geology professor and director of Caltech's Tectonics Observatory (TO), Jean-Philippe Avouac, wrote software that correlates any two optical images taken by satellite. It has proved extremely reliable in tracking large-scale changes on Earth's surface, like earthquake ruptures, the mechanics of "slow" landslides, or defining the fastest-moving sections of glaciers that, due to global warming, have recently increased their pace.

Earthquake Season in the Himalayan Front

Recent research spearheaded by Jean-Philippe Avouac, professor of geology and director of the Tectonics Observatory at the California Institute of Technology, shows that in the Himalayan mountains, at least, there is indeed an earthquake season. It's winter.

Tracing the Roots of the California Condor

At the end of the Pleistocene epoch some 10,000 years ago, two species of condors in California competed for resources amidst the retreating ice of Earth's last major glacial age. The modern California condor triumphed, while its kin expired.

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