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The Scarce Mineral Behind the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics

  This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics is thankfully not being awarded for the discovery of some esoteric atomic particle but rather for the development of a technology that impacts all our lives. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences noted in its announcement that the prize was awarded to 3 scientists who “invented a new…

Breaking Down Rocks in the Deep Ocean

When I witness adults cooing over Eocene-era rocks, or tasting 15 million-year-old ocean sediments, I instantly wonder what their childhood was like. Were they kids that didn’t want to leave the sandbox after recess? Were they shy and looked at the ground more than they looked at the sky? Why curiosity for inanimate objects over, say, plants or something with eyes and a heart?

Iceland: Raw, Rugged, and a Warm-Up for Mars

In Iceland, Bethany Ehlmann is touring with students to learn more about the dynamic geological processes that mold and carve our planet in order to learn about other planets, particularly Mars. Her expedition kicks off with some amazing sights and the threat of a nearby volcanic eruption imminent.

Seafloor Research Vessel Gets Underway

Rocking lazily in the gentle swell as our floating country of 113 people steams out to the first drill site offers me time to recollect what it takes to finally pull out of port. Stepping aboard this 471-foot ocean drill ship, which flies a Cyprus flag, are 30 scientists hailing from countries such as France,…

101 Geysers Spotted Erupting From Saturn Moon

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft team have numbered the plumes of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.

Signs of Spring on American Prairie Reserve

By Damien Austin Freezing rain has left inches of ice across a snow-crusted prairie. A few days from now the creeks will be running high as warm weather moves in to unravel the layers of winter. It’s also the time of year when my two young daughters stand at the kitchen windows with their faces…

February 23, 2014: Cycling to the South Pole, Saving India’s Killer Tigers and More

Join radio host Boyd Matson every week for adventure, conservation and green science. This week they endure a 750-mile bike ride from Antarctica’s coast to the South Pole, explore the sonic wonders of the world, explain the Yukon’s modern-day gold rush, fly south for the winter with snowy owls, empower Bolivia’s rural citizens to protect their corner of the world, kayak the length of the Colorado and Green Rivers, recover from unpleasant tropical parasites, advocate for tigers and humans when species clash in India, track Turkey’s bears by cellphone.

Strange Mars Craters Created By Ice?

A four-decade long Martian mystery surrounding the origins of double-rimmed craters may have been cracked. New research suggests that their strange spill patterns seen around some impact sites on Mars may be directly linked to giant ice sheets that could have blanketed the Red Planet sometime in its ancient past. (Related: Ancient Mars Was Snowy,…

April 7, 2013: Cycling to the South Pole, Swimming With Manatees and More

When an endangered species begins to thrive in a certain area, that should be the cause of celebration. But in Kings Bay, Florida, the celebration is becoming problematic for the local manatee populations, that use the warm waters to survive the winters. The waters are becoming crowded with tourists who flock to the region to swim and kayak among the slow-moving marine mammals.

Rediscovering Ross Island 2012: Penguins in the Wind

Written by Glenn Gaetani. We (Ken, Phil, Paul, Erin, Dan, and I) left McMurdo Station to spend four days at Cape Bird sampling lavas erupted from Mount Bird, a 5900 foot shield volcano that makes up the northern part of Ross Island (see blog 1 for a map). The flight from McMurdo to Cape Bird…

In the Field with Plane Table and Horse…

National Geographic founder Willard Drake Johnson learned from the best, assisting the famous geologist Grove Karl Gilbert on his Lake Bonneville research when only 19 years old. Johnson was so enthralled by drama of the natural world that he once wrote fan mail to John Muir, telling him that if he (Muir) were to write a popular physical geography book it would “usurp the place of the novel in the public library.”

Grove Karl Gilbert, “A Captain Bold”

Grove Karl Gilbert was considered by his own and future generations to be the greatest of all American geologists, and “a captain bold,” according to Australian geologist E.C. Andrews. But his contributions went beyond field geology. He was the first scientist to hypothesize that the moon’s craters were caused by meteor strikes. (History proved him right.) And in 1888, he helped found the National Geographic Society…

Clarence Dutton: Poet of the Grand Canyon

Clarence Dutton was chairman of the now-historic meeting on January 13, 1888, when 33 men agreed to found a geographical society. He was also chairman the following week, when an even larger crowd voted to formalize it as the National Geographic Society. But as the years have passed, Captain Clarence Dutton has slipped from memory. He deserves better. Dutton was a complex mixture — a soldier, geologist, and poet — and his mind and character reflects the judgment he himself passed on the Grand Canyon: that it “first bewilders, and at length overpowers.”

Alaska Commemorates Centennial Anniversary of Novarupta Volcano Eruption

This month marks the centennial anniversary of the eruption of the Novarupta Volcano in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska — the largest volcanic eruption of the twentieth century. On June 6, 1912, the giant eruption blackened the skies with smoke. With an eruption ten times the force of Mount Saint Helens in 1980, mountains collapsed…

UNESCO’s Geoparks “Clarify” Geotourism

An International Congress in Portugal tries to resolve confusion about a key approach to the way destinations welcome travelers by determining what exactly is “geotourism”?