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Earth Sciences News

This artist's rendition created from a photograph of Antarctica shows what Antarctica possibly looked like during the middle Miocene epoch, based on pollen fossil data. Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Dr. Philip Bart, LSU

Antarctica Warmer 20 Million Years Ago

June 18, 2012

Ancient Antarctica was warmer and wetter than previously suspected, enough to support vegetation along its edges, according to a new study led by USC Dornsife’s Sarah Feakins. By examining the remnants of plant leaf wax…

USC Dornsife alumna Sarah Greene, who earned a Ph.D. in geological studies in 2011, and Rowan Martindale, a doctoral candidate in earth sciences, contributed to a recent study that looks at geological records for evidence that mass extinction events may have been caused by ocean acidification.

Earth's Past Is Warning for the Future

March 6, 2012

When the Earth’s carbon dioxide level increased at a rapid rate during the Triassic-Jurassic period 200 million years ago, nearly half the ocean’s marine life became extinct. USC Dornsife geologists contributed to…

USC Dornsife professsor Katrina Edwards spent two months in the Mid-Atlantic. Photo by Phil Channing.

From Deep Sea to Dry Dock

November 23, 2011

This week a USC scientist who spent 65 days at sea in search of life hidden beneath the seafloor returns from a successful expedition, which she chronicled in regular blog posts from her ship. Katrina Edwards of USC Dornsife…

USC Dornsife professor Kenneth Nealson is working on an atmospheric monitor that will search for signs of life on Mars. Photo by Phil Channing.

Is the 'Dead Planet' Full of Life?

November 22, 2011

David Bowie asked it best in his 1971 song “Life on Mars?” But when it comes to the question of whether there’s currently life on the Red Planet, USC Dornsife professor Kenneth Nealson is fairly confident…

USC Dornsife's David Bottjer is searching for clues to the future by examining the past. Photo by Philip Channing.

And the Microbes Shall Inherit the Earth

October 12, 2011

Global warming is not a novel phenomenon, and by studying what happened to the planet during a period of global warming about 250 million years ago, one USC Dornsife scientist hopes to discover what could happen to us this…

USC Dornsife's Meghan Miller of earth sciences explains her discovery of active delamination beneath the Earth in the Colorado Plateau — research featured today in <em>Nature</em>. Photo by Pamela J. Johnson

Peeling off the Layers

April 27, 2011

For the first time, an active delamination of continental lithosphere has been found beneath the Colorado Plateau. Meghan Miller, assistant professor of earth sciences in USC Dornsife, and her team’s discovery is…

The sea cliffs near Lyme Regis, one of the locations in England where a team from the USC College Department of Earth Sciences searched for stromatolites. Photo credit Frank Corsetti.

Stories Set in Stone

January 19, 2011

When four members of the USC College Department of Earth Sciences took a fieldwork expedition to the United Kingdom, they didn’t have to venture out in the middle of nowhere, drive on dirt roads for hours or hike miles…

Dynamic topography (gray surface) and mantle flow (vectors) as predicted by a geodynamic model for the Mediterranean.

Dismantling a Volcanic Puzzle

June 3, 2010

If tectonic plate collisions cause volcanic eruptions, as every fifth grader knows, why do some volcanoes erupt far from a plate boundary? A study in Nature suggests that volcanoes and mountains in the Mediterranean can…

USC College Ph.D. candidates Mihaela Ignatova of mathematics (left) and Whitney Behr of earth sciences have earned 2010-11 USC Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Merit Fellowship awards. Photo credit Pamela J. Johnson.

Closing the Gender Gap

May 7, 2010

Nonlinear partial differential equations (PDEs) are difficult mathematical problems to study. Notice it didn’t say "solve." Ph.D. students researching nonlinear PDEs aren't looking for solutions. They're analyzing the…

Scott Paterson, professor of earth sciences in USC College, shows a student how to use a Brunton compass to measure rocks that have aligned minerals or layering, during a recent trip in Yosemite National Park. Photo courtesy of Scott Paterson.

Rock 'n' Research

May 6, 2010

Hang around the Department of Earth Sciences in USC College in the spring and you might notice posters on the walls asking pointed questions. "Enjoy hiking, climbing, and traveling to exotic spots?" one asks. "Curious about…