Climate, Geology, News

This Globe Trotting geologist will help us better understand Climate Change

Hima Hassenruck-Gudipati (BS '14) on a backpacking trip along the Tour de Mont Blanc, one of the most popular long distance walks in Europe.

Hima Hassenruck-Gudipati graduated this year from Caltech. She majored in mechanical engineering but minored in geology and her main area of interest was seeing how green technology and engineering can help mitigate the effects of climate change. Now, she has embarked on a global quest to understand the past, the present, and the future of climate change. When Caltech wrote this article…

Biology, Geology, News

Scientists find life at 20 km deep

Photo credit: Philippa Stoddard. A hundred million years ago this outcrop is thought to have been 20km down, yet it still contains evidence of life.

A Yale undergrad may force us to rewrite geology and biology books, after reporting a find which suggests that life can exist much deeper than currently believed, at temperatures at which DNA is barely stable. Geologists found carbon isotopes in rocks on Washington state’s South Lopez Island; these isotopes suggest the minerals grew from fluids flush with microbial methane. Microbial methane…

Biology, Geology, News

Megalodon extinction paved the way for whale development

megalodon.

Megalodon is quite possibly the most dangerous predator to ever live in the Earth’s waters in the recent geological history – roaming the seas between 28 to 1-3 million years ago. We’re still not sure why it went extinct, but a recent study suggests that its extinction paved the way for whales to grow more and more, reaching the enormous sizes we…

Biology, Geology

Fossils Reveal “Beer-Bellied” Dinosaur

Image via Scientific American.

It was about as big as T-Rex, but not quite as fit – new fossils have revealed that Deinocheirus mirificus had quite a beer belly. “This is an entirely new body plan” for such dinosaurs, says Stephen Brusatte, a vertebrate palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Indeed, few scientists would have imagined such a scientific appearance. The first fossils of Deinocheirus mirificus (which means ‘unusual…

Geology, News, Physics

Earth’s magnetic field could flip within a human lifetime

Earth's magnetic field is shown in midreversal.COURTESY OF GARY A. GLATZMAIER University of California, Santa Cruz, AND PAUL H. ROBERTS University of California, Los Angeles

Geologists have known for quite a while that the Earth’s magnetic field has flipped many times throughout the planet’s history. Its dipole magnetic field, like that of a bar magnet maintains the same intensity, but for unknown reason(s), it sometimes becomes weaker and changes polarity. Now, a new study has showed that this phenomenon could happen much faster than previously believed –…

Geology, News, Space

Ancient Magma found on the Moon, below the Dark Spots

uried rift features, detected through gravity mapping, are seen superimposed on a full moon. Image credits: KOPERNIK OBSERVATORY/NASA/COLORADO SCHOOL OF MINES/MIT/JPL/GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER

Scientists have discovered an almost rectangular feature consisting of ancient magma. The features are similar to rifts here on Earth, a linear zone where the Earth’s crust and lithosphere are being pulled apart. However, since the Moon doesn’t have any plate tectonics to cause rifts, the origin of this magma is still questionable. Magma on the Moon Several kilometers below the…

Geology, News

Strange Spherical Fossils may be Among World’s Earliest Multicellular Animals

Early developmental stages of Megasphaera. Xiao et al.

Some bizarre spherical fossils found in China may be remnants of some of the world’s earliest animals (not unicellular organisms). A recent analysis has revealed that they are not bacteria or single celled protists, but rather algae, or even embryos from early animals. “The real value of these fossils is that we now have some direct evidence about how this transition…

Geology, News

Geologists find changes in well water chemicals prior to earthquakes

husavik-iceland

A team of geologists from Iceland, Sweden and Saudi Arabia has found changes in groundwater chemicals prior to earthquakes. They emphasize that they haven’t found a precursor to earthquakes, but there seems to be a connection between these chemical changes and incoming earthquakes. There is no reliable earthquake warning system, and there almost certainly won’t be any (at least in…

Geology, News, Space

Jupiter’s Moon Europa found to have Plate Tectonics

Europa's lineae, colorized. Image via NASA.

Europa, Jupiter’s icy moon is the only body in the Solar System found to have plate tectonics (besides Earth). A new study has found several defining features, including plate subduction, broken linear features and offset likely caused by strike slip faults. An introduction to plate tectonics Plate tectonics is one of the newest big theories in science. Developed in the…

Geology, News

Wrinkles in ancient rock may be signs of early life

Image via MIT.

Take a walk along any shore line – the odds are you’ll see at least a few rocks with a wrinkled pattern like the one below; what are these wrinkles? The answer is surprisingly complex, and has had geologists scratching their heads for decades, but now, that riddle may have finally been answered. The problem with these patterns is that…