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Earth’s crust is cracking up under Indian Ocean

Posted on 26 Sep 2012 in Earth Science, Featured, Journalism

The whole world shuddered in sympathy back in April, as Earth’s crust began the difficult birth of a new tectonic plate boundary. Two huge earthquakes ripped through the floor of the Indian Ocean, triggering large aftershocks the world over, and providing the best evidence yet that the vast Indo-Australian plate is being torn in two. Image: Fred Pollitz

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Russian hot springs point to rocky origins for life

Posted on 13 Feb 2012 in Chemistry, Earth Science, Evolution, Featured, Journalism, Life

Where on Earth is the cradle of life? The widespread view is that life began in the oceans, in the water that surrounds deep-sea hydrothermal vents. But that story is being challenged by new evidence that life began on land, which is deepening a rift between origin-of-life biologists. Image: Anna S. Karyagina

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Volcanoes may give a 100-year warning

Posted on 1 Feb 2012 in Earth Science, Journalism, Physics

A blast from the past has left tantalising hints that volcanic eruptions could be predicted decades in advance. Volcanoes can signal their intent to erupt days or months ahead of time, giving authorities a chance to evacuate the area. Now evidence of the events leading up to a Bronze Age eruption suggests it might be possible to extend that warning period. Image: miriam.mollerus

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Ancient lakes show when eukaryotic life left the sea

Posted on 13 Apr 2011 in Earth Science, Evolution, Journalism, Life, Palaeontology

It is generally assumed that life began in the ocean around 3.8 billion years ago, then moved onto land. Until now, there had been little evidence to suggest this landward migration happened before half a billion years ago. The discovery of eukaryote cells in 1-billion-year-old lake sediment looks set to change that. Image: Shandchem

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Foreshocks may warn that a big quake is coming

Posted on 17 Feb 2011 in Earth Science, Journalism, Physics

Advance warning is the ultimate prize for earthquake studies. Now, for the first time, one study offers tantalising evidence that it may be possible to build such a system to warn of some impending large quakes about an hour before they strike. The finding comes from an analysis of the seismic record from the lead-up to a devastating earthquake that hit Turkey in 1999. Image: martinluff

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