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Articles on Geology

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Today’s maps boast incredible detail and accuracy - but Smith’s were pretty good. Ordnance Survey

Two centuries of map-making – from William Smith’s survey to satellites

This year marks the 200th anniversary since William Smith published his life’s work, a geological map of England and Wales, in 1815. While “Strata Smith” and his map are well-known among geologists, this…
This lot survived rapid global warming – so why can’t we? Jay Matternes / Smithsonian Museum

Sudden global warming 55m years ago was much like today

It is often said that humans have caused the Earth to warm at an unprecedented rate. However researchers have discovered another period, some 55m years ago, when massive volcanic eruptions pumped so much…
How many continents can you count on one hand? Chones

Continents may not have been created in the way we thought

From the 1950s until recently, we thought we had a clear idea of how continents form. Most people will have heard of plate tectonics: moving pieces on the surface of the planet that collide, pull away…
Nailing down the sites of ancient volcanic eruptions could help identify mineral deposits. Ásgeir Kröyer/Flickr

Tracing the Earth’s hottest volcanoes from core to ore

Volcanic eruptions are as old as the planet itself. They inspire awe, curiosity and fear and demonstrate the dynamic internal activity of the Earth. However, the impact of modern volcanoes pales in comparison…
Much of Tasmania’s World Heritage has been sculpted by ice. The extension to the area (currently under debate) adds to all these values. Simon Lieschke/Flickr

Tasmania’s World Heritage debate needs to look beyond the trees

The debate around Tasmania’s controversial World Heritage extension, under review this week at international talks in Doha, has centred on forests. But the area includes far more than “just” trees — including…
The Grand Canyon of Mars – Valles Marineris. NASA,Viking Project,USGS

Lava, not water, formed canyons on Mars

The canyon-like scars which line Mars’ crust are seen by many as evidence for liquid water. But a study now suggests that a different kind of fluid – one much less hospitable to life – may actually have…
We live in a ‘wide brown land’ – but we need to figure out how to use it sustainably. Duncan Rawlinson

Groundbreaking earth sciences for a smart – and lucky – country

AUSTRALIA 2025: How will science address the challenges of the future? In collaboration with Australia’s chief scientist Ian Chubb, we’re asking how each science discipline will contribute to Australia…
Hydrothermal vents: nurseries for life on Earth? Wolfgang Staudt/Flickr

Was life on Earth kickstarted by hot water?

Scientists have simulated the electrical energy produced in the Earth that may have led to life 3.5 billion years ago. Using a fuel cell, researchers from the University of Leeds and NASA’s Jet Propulsion…
Up here, scanning ur rockz. John Howell

Drones offer 360° vision for oil-hunting geologists

Geologists are using drones to help extract more resources from the North Sea, using the latest visual technologies to identify oil-bearing rocks. Using an eight-rotor, camera-equipped “octocopter” drone…
We’re learning how the earliest rocks formed, and they’re providing a pretty weird picture of the young Earth. Taran Rampersad

Keep a lid on it: the controversy over Earth’s oldest rocks

New evidence is shedding light on the processes that formed Earth’s oldest rock and mineral record – processes that influenced the early evolution of life. Over the past 30 years our knowledge of the earliest…
Rose out of thin water. Sana Baloch

Devastating earthquake in Pakistan creates a new island

A magnitude 7.7 earthquake hit south-central Pakistan on Tuesday this week. Reports of hundreds of casualties highlight the awful scale of the tragedy, made more difficult for rescuers by the remote location…

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