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Earth Sciences News

The Hebgen Lake earthquake, magnitude 7.1-7.3, struck southwestern Montana in August 1959, causing significant damage. Photo courtesy of USGS.

Strange Earthquakes

August 31, 2015

It’s not a huge mystery why Los Angeles experiences earthquakes. The city is right along a boundary between two tectonic plates — they shift, we shake. But what about places that aren’t along tectonic plate…

Material from landslides is filling up riverbeds with sediment. Photo by Greg Willis.

Quakes, Landslides, Now Floods?

July 28, 2015

For Nepal, the hits just keep coming. It started with a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in April, which led to aftershocks that are ongoing even now. All of the shaking triggered what are estimated to be more than 5,000 landslides,…

Donn Gorsline, Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences at USC Dornsife, taught marine geology from 1962-98. Recognized as a major figure in his field, he is pictured here in 1986. Photo courtesy of USC University Archives.

In Memoriam: Donn Sherrin Gorsline, 88

June 3, 2015

Donn Sherrin Gorsline, Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences at USC Dornsife, has died. He was 88. Gorsline died at his home in Los Angeles on May 27. Considered by many as the leading marine geologist of the latter half of…

A tsunami caused by the San Andreas? Nope. Image from <em>San Andreas</em> courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Experts: Quake Movie a Bit Shaky

June 2, 2015

The new disaster flick San Andreas takes a harsh look at what might happen if the largest earthquake in history struck the West Coast: crumbling skyscrapers, a towering tsunami and gaping gashes in the ground. But could it…

Freeway collapses were among the damage from the 1994 Northridge quake, caused by a previously unknown fault. Photo courtesy of FEMA, by Robert Eplett.

Little-known Faults

June 1, 2015

Beneath Los Angeles rise peaks of staggering height — an unnamed mountain range standing nearly 2 miles tall. Though they rival the San Gabriels in stature, you can’t see them: They’re hidden beneath…

The jet stream over North America. Photo courtesy of NASA.gov.

5 Factors Affecting California’s Drought

May 27, 2015

What conditions and factors prompted our drought? Why has it persisted? Why are we running out of water? Five experts — from USC Dornsife, USC Viterbi School of Engineering and USC Price School of Public Policy —…

Their dependence on silica likely gave sea sponges an advantage in an age of climate change between the Triassic and Jurassic periods. Photo courtesy of the NOAA Ocean Explorer.

The Winner in Climate Change?

April 7, 2015

Global temperatures climb, acid levels in the Earth’s oceans spike and sea levels rise. Next come the dinosaurs. No, we are not talking about today’s climate change phenomena. Think back —way back…

Naomi Levine, Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Earth Sciences at USC Dornsife. Photo by Alex Herrera.

Microbes and Climate

January 6, 2015

A new research laboratory in the USC Dornsife Marine Environmental Biology program is investigating the impact of climate change on microbial communities in the open ocean. Naomi Levine, Gabilan Assistant Professor of…

The team, led by USC Dornsife’s Josh West, left, and Sarah Feakins, sampled water for later analysis at their labs. Here, Feakins and West haul water from the turbulent rivers of the Andes. Photo courtesy of Sarah Feakins.

Climate Change in the Amazon

December 10, 2014

USC Dornsife scientists headed to Peru’s cloud forests to study the roles of forests and rivers in carbon cycling. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a key greenhouse gas and scientists are eager to understand how carbon…

Students in the International Geobiology Course enjoy an afternoon of field study as a break from intense analytical work at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island. Photos by Letty Avila.

Where Earth and Life Sciences Merge

July 24, 2014

Ooids are sediment grains generally composed of calcium carbonate formed on the sea floor. They fascinate geologists because they have appeared throughout the planet’s evolutionary history. Traditionally, earth…