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Earth Sciences News

William Berelson, chair of the Department of Earth Sciences at USC Dornsife, collaborates at the high-vacuum line in his laboratory with Maria Prokopenko, who was lead author of a recent paper appearing in <em>Nature</em>. Photo by Erica Christianson.

The Nitrogen Cycle Intensified

August 14, 2013

In a discovery that further demonstrates just how unexpected and unusual nature can be, scientists have found two strains of bacteria whose symbiotic relationship is unlike anything seen before. Working with William Berelson,…

Jan Amend, who is affiliated with the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, housed in USC Dornsife, is leading a $6.7 million project to develop approaches for detecting and characterizing microbial life in the subsurface. Photo by Michelle Salzman.

Life Underground

August 1, 2013

USC Dornsife researchers have embarked on a five-year project to look for microorganisms hundreds of meters below the surface — in deep mineshafts, boreholes and other sites — as part of the search for the limits…

At times, students traveled by camel during their research trip this summer for the "Field Geology" course taught by Meghan Miller, assistant professor of earth sciences at USC Dornsife. Photo courtesy of Meghan Miller.

Shaking it up in Morocco

July 31, 2013

The dusty Land Cruiser bumped and rumbled along the Moroccan desert floor as our caravan approached the village of Merzouga under the light of a waxing moon.  A long day of travel behind us, the dunes in the distance…

Down in the Amazonian floodplain, the rivers ran orange with rainforest soils, containing very fine particles called colloids, as well as entire tree trunks carried off by the high flows, said USC Dornsife's Sarah Feakins, referring to her recent research trip in Peru. Photo by Sarah Feakins.

Along the River Route

July 1, 2013

The following is a first-person account of a research trip to southeastern Peru courtesy of Sarah Feakins, assistant professor of earth sciences at USC Dornsife. While most tourists travel from Cusco along the Inca trail to…

USC Dornsife assistant professor Sarah Feakins served as lead author of a study that recently appeared online in <em>Geology</em>. The study provides insights about the development of hominins and the landscape that herbivores (horses, hippos and antelopes) grazed many million years ago. Photo by Dietmar Quistorf.

Bipedaling Toward Truth

January 31, 2013

What came first: the bipedal human ancestor or the grassland encroaching on the forest? A new analysis of vegetation change in the cradle of humanity over the past 12 million years is challenging long-held beliefs about the…

University Professor Thomas Jordan of USC Dornsife with his 2012 Outstanding Contribution to the Public Understanding of the Geosciences Award during a Nov. 4 ceremony in North Carolina. Photo courtesy of the American Geosciences Institute.

Tom Jordan Earns AGI Award

November 6, 2012

University Professor Thomas Jordan, W. M. Keck Foundation Chair in Geological Sciences and professor of earth sciences, has won the 2012 Outstanding Contribution to the Public Understanding of the Geosciences Award. Jordan,…

George Sanchez, USC Dornsife’s vice dean for diversity, (middle) stands with past and present USC Dornsife students at a recent Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) conference in Seattle, Wash. Everett Salas is far left, Cynthia Joseph is in the back row far right and Yadira Ibarra stands in the front row second from the right. Photo courtesy of Yadira Ibarra.

Supporting Diversity in Science

October 31, 2012

As a first-generation college student pursuing a degree in geological sciences, Yadira Ibarra felt like the proverbial stranger in a strange land. At Brown University, there were few women studying earth sciences. And even…

Jan Amend, professor of earth sciences and biological sciences in USC Dornsife, will lead an interdisciplinary team of researchers in an investigation into what life teems within Earth's subsurface biosphere. Their approach could become a template for collecting evidence of life or past life on extraterrestrial planetary bodies such as Mars. Photo by Michelle Salzman.

Detecting Life Beyond Earth

September 21, 2012

A team of researchers led by Jan Amend, professor of earth sciences and biological sciences in USC Dornsife, has been selected to join the prestigious NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), an organization of competitively…

USC Dornsife geophysicists Meghan Miller and Thorsten Becker conducting fieldwork in Morocco. Photo courtesy of Meghan Miller and Thorsten Becker.

Why Do the Caribbean Islands Arc?

August 20, 2012

The Caribbean islands have been pushed east over the past 50 million years, driven by the movement of the Earth’s viscous mantle against the more rooted South American continent, new research by geophysicists in USC…

USC Dornsife junior and senior geology majors in Malaga, Spain. Photo courtesy of John Platt.

Spain Rocks

July 13, 2012

For some people, rocks are those pesky objects that sometimes find their way into your shoes. But for aspiring geologists, who study how rocks came to be, the aggregate of minerals provide a looking glass into the past. Was…