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Earth Sciences News

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…

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…