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Earth Sciences News

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…

Artist Julie Selan’s reconstruction of Zanda fauna from the Pliocene epoch. Image courtesy of Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Arctic Fox, Woolly Rhino and Three-toed Horse

June 17, 2014

For the past 2.5 million years, the Earth has experienced millennia-long cold and warm cycles that collectively have become known as the Ice Age. During cold periods, continental-scale ice sheets blanketed large tracts of the…

Renowned ecologist William Schlesinger, president of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y., spoke to a packed audience of faculty and students at Joyce J. Cammilleri Hall inside the Dornsife Neuroscience Pavilion. Photo by Erica Christianson.

Averting the Apocalypse

April 21, 2014

In 1944, the United States Coast Guard released a herd of reindeer on St. Matthew Island off the coast of Alaska so top naval personnel could hunt them for recreation. The reindeer population grew exponentially. From the 29…

Students who participated in the Science of Sustainable Food Spring Break Program learned how to make compost out of food waste. In six to eight weeks the melon rinds, egg shells and paper napkins they combined will create a nutrient-rich soil for growing vegetables. Photo by Michelle Boston.

Food Revolution

April 7, 2014

As the sun shone against a clear blue sky on Catalina Island, 17  students gathered around a long, rectangular pit filled with dirt, garden clippings and bits of food — banana peels, lettuce leaves, waffles. Eleven…

Meghan Miller’s research looked at the ancient geologic record of Eastern Australia, but it is applicable to the Pacific Northwest in the United States, the Mediterranean and southeast Asia. Photo by John Livzey.

Solving a Geologic Riddle

March 26, 2014

USC Dornsife scientist Meghan Miller is among an international team of researchers who used computer modeling to reveal, for the first time, how giant swirls form during the collision of tectonic plates, with subduction zones…

Researcher Josh West treks through a valley in Peru in search of evidence of chemical weathering of rocks as they erode. Photo by Mark Torres.

The Biggest Natural Recycler

March 21, 2014

Researchers from USC and Nanjing University in China have documented evidence suggesting that part of the reason that the Earth has become neither sweltering like Venus nor frigid like Mars lies with a built-in atmospheric…

An overpass that collapsed on Highway 10 (now SR 42) in the Northridge/Reseda area at the epicenter of the earthquake in 1994. Since the quake, the Southern California Earthquake Center, based at USC Dornsife, has created a clearer picture of earthquake risks faced by regions throughout Southern California.

Strides in Earthquake Science

January 17, 2014

Twenty years ago, a fault that scientists didn’t even know existed slipped, triggering a massive 6.7 magnitude earthquake centered beneath the San Fernando Valley, with shockwaves rippling throughout the greater Los…

Kenneth H. Nealson, Wrigley Chair in Environmental Studies and professor of earth sciences and biological sciences (left), and Nicos A. Petasis, Harold and Lillian Moulton Chair in Chemistry and professor of chemistry and pharmacology, were selected as AAAS fellows for their key scientific discoveries. Nealson photo by Phil Channing. Petasis photo by Alexandra Bissonette.

Nealson, Petasis Named AAAS Fellows

December 10, 2013

Two USC Dornsife scientists have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), selected for the honor by their academic peers. Kenneth H. Nealson, Wrigley Chair in Environmental…

Professor of Earth Sciences Thorsten Becker has been awarded a 2013 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award. He will use the award to continue his research on the dynamics of earthquake faults in Potsdam, Germany. Photo by Michelle Boston.

Finding Fault

November 20, 2013

Thorsten Becker, professor of earth sciences, has won a 2013 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award, granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The award will support his continued research in Potsdam, Germany, on the…