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Melted magma could warn of brewing volcanic eruptions

Posted on 16 Feb 2014 in Earth Science, Featured, Journalism

Before volcanoes erupt, they must “defrost”. The magma beneath some of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes might be relatively cool and solid for more than 99 per cent of the time. That means evidence that it has warmed up and melted could be a sign of an imminent eruption. Image: dherrera_96

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Ice-age animals live on in Eurasian mountain range

Posted on 22 Jan 2014 in Archaeology, Environment, Evolution, Featured, Journalism

It’s the land that time forgot. Not only have conditions in the Altai-Sayan region in central Asia barely changed since the last ice age, but the mix of mammals that lives there is also almost the same – with the obvious exception of mammoths and the woolly rhinoceros. Image: Pavel “KoraxDC” Kazachkov

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AD 536: The year that winter never ended

Posted on 20 Jan 2014 in Earth Science, Environment, Featured, Journalism

In almost every region of the world, AD536 was marked with bad weather, social disorder – and death. This climatic downturn may well have profoundly altered the course of history. The trigger of this cooling has long been a mystery, but now we may finally be close to identifying the culprit – or culprits. Image: Yotam Rozin

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Real King Kong may have been brought down by fruit

Posted on 14 Jan 2014 in Evolution, Featured, Journalism, Life, Palaeontology

Nearly 80 years ago, Dutch anthropologist Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koenigswald discovered a giant human-like tooth in a drug store in Hong Kong, and named the animal it came from Gigantopithecus. Since then, thousands more large teeth and three jawbones have come to light – but why the largest known ape went extinct remains unclear. Image: Tim Evanson

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Volcanic lightning captured in a bottle

Posted on 20 Dec 2013 in Earth Science, Featured, Journalism

It’s a “build your own volcano” kit like no other. A team of geologists in Germany has built a model volcano that crackles with lightning as it erupts. But this is no toy science kit for kids – it could offer insights into the disruption risk to aircraft in the aftermath of an eruption. Image: fmg2001

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Did asteroid fracking cause Earth’s worst extinction?

Posted on 11 Dec 2013 in Earth Science, Evolution, Featured, Journalism, Palaeontology

What caused the largest mass extinction of them all? A meteorite strike like the one that seems to have sealed the fate of the dinosaurs? Volcanic or tectonic convulsions?The ravages of a humble microbe? To the long list of possible culprits and accomplices we can now add another, controversial entry – fracking. Image: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

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