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How the ‘Yellowstone Plume’ saves US states

Posted on 30 Oct 2007 in Earth Science, Journalism

Oregon and Washington states should be much more dangerous places to live. Located above a zone where the Pacific oceanic crust is sliding underneath the North American continent, the states should experience regular devastating earthquakes. That they don’t, it seems, is down to the lubricating effect of the Yellowstone plume. Image: DirectDish

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How El Niño slows the Earth’s spin

Posted on 21 Oct 2007 in Earth Science, Environment, Journalism

El Niño has an immense impact on the weather, so great in fact that the ocean warming phenomenon actually makes the planet spin more slowly. Until now, though, no one knew why. Image: FlyingSinger

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Tree sap makes a formidable underwater insect trap

Posted on 17 Oct 2007 in Earth Science, Journalism, Palaeontology, Uncategorized

Getting fossilised in tree sap seems an odd way for an aquatic insect to meet its maker. Biologists have been left scratching their heads over how it happened. “Most previous studies have focused on non-aquatic insects, assuming that most resin solidifies at the tree bark,” says Alexander Schmidt of the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, Germany. Image: Rockman of Zymurgy

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Himalayas created during a high-speed impact

Posted on 17 Oct 2007 in Earth Science, Journalism

It brings a new meaning to the land speed record. After the break-up of the Gondwanan supercontinent 140 million years ago, India sped north at 20 centimetres per year – about five times as fast as any other landmass in the recent geological past. The speed of its collision with Asia propelled the Himalayas to the top of the world. Image: James C Farmer

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For trilobites, variety really was the spice of life

Posted on 8 Aug 2007 in Earth Science, Evolution, Journalism, Life, Palaeontology

It may be possible to predict winners and losers ahead of a mass extinction – those species with the greatest variability in their appearance should be most likely to survive. Image: dctim1

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Earth’s crust stretches just like pizza dough

Posted on 28 Jul 2007 in Earth Science, Journalism

You know how if you stretch pizza dough sometimes it will break right away and sometimes it will stretch and stretch? That, it turns out, is how the Gulf of California was formed. Image: VancityAllie

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