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Earth Sciences News

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…

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…