Early Earth’s Slowing Rotation Helped Oxygen Build Up

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN The planet’s spin may have mediated critical atmospheric oxygen When Judith Klatt began studying the colorful mats of primitive microbes living in a sinkhole at the bottom of Lake Huron, she thought she might learn something about Earth’s early ecosystems. Instead Klatt, a biogeochemist at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in … More Early Earth’s Slowing Rotation Helped Oxygen Build Up

Rebecca Boyle Excavates Earth’s Earliest History

THE OPEN NOTEBOOK Earth has a memory problem. Few rocks have survived from the first billion years of the planet’s history, when all kinds of important things happened, including—perhaps—the first stirrings of life. This amnesia has made it hard for researchers to piece together our origin story, and answer the really big questions like How … More Rebecca Boyle Excavates Earth’s Earliest History

Data illuminate a mountain of molehills facing women scientists

From the peer-review process to our very concept of what it means to be brilliant, studies show that women face subtle biases and structural barriers to success in the geosciences. Every female scientist has a story. One woman was warned not to wear her wedding ring to job interviews. Another noticed that her adviser showered … More Data illuminate a mountain of molehills facing women scientists

Crystal clocks

SCIENCE How smudged crystals offer windows into a volcano’s eruptive past. Crystals in volcanic rocks contain clocks that offer clues to the volcano’s plumbing and past behavior. The technique, called diffusion chronometry, is catching on among volcanologists. It depends on understanding how the crystals grew out of a magma soup deep underground, accreting layers that … More Crystal clocks

A forest of hypotheses

Falling in love with a single theory can cut off fruitful avenues of enquiry. Here’s how to keep your mind open. The clamour in a Panamanian rainforest is deafening to human ears: bugs shriek, birds sing and bats screech throughout the humid night. To avoid attracting predators, male katydids (Tettigoniidae) trill out short, infrequent mating … More A forest of hypotheses

Thinking the Unthinkable

Rare cataclysms are hard to study and plan for, but they may be too dangerous to ignore. Read the full story in Science magazine and listen to my interview on the Science podcast.

Lava-filled cracks may encourage quakes

In 2002, residents of the eastern Congo suffered a one-two punch–a volcanic eruption followed months later by a destructive earthquake. Now researchers say the events might have been related, exposing a new source of seismic hazards in rift zones like East Africa. Learn more in my podcast for Scientific American.