Geology

  • Earth’s Oldest Rocks
    Scientists have discovered rocks that are 4.28 billion years old, making them 250 million years more ancient than any previously discovered rocks. Our planet formed about 4.6 billion years ago, so these rocks could provide a unique window on the young Earth.
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  • Diamonds May Be Life’s Birthstone
    Researchers have come up with a new model in which the first molecules of life formed on diamonds.
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  • Lukewarm Supervolcano
    Yellowstone is known for its hot springs and geysers, and the unique forms of life that inhabit them. Scientists are now learning more about the mysterious 'supervolcano' that powers these environments, and whether or not the giant could erupt again.
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  • Complex Volcanoes
    For the first time, scientists have mapped an elaborate maze of magma chambers beneath the volcanoes of Iceland. The unique view into a complex subterranean world could provide important information about earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
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  • Revising Earth’s History
    Geologists have found that major basins in India are 500 million years older than previously thought. The study may lend weight to idea that complex life originated earlier in Earth's history.
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  • Lava Holds Clues to Planet Formation
    An analysis of lava samples from Hawaii has given scientists a new tool for reconstructing planetary origins. The study will help us understand how planets form, and may help in the search for terrestrial planets beyond our solar system.
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  • Early Acid Rain
    A new study of ancient minerals shows that the earliest continents on Earth may have been scoured and destroyed by the planet's harsh climate. The study has also demonstrated that the Earth may have been habitable as early as 4.3 billion years ago.
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  • Deep Hydrogen
    Molecular hydrogen provides energy for many bacteria, in hot springs at Yellowstone and in rocks several kilometers beneath the surface. How did molecular hydrogen get inside these deep rocks, and what does this tell us about the origin of life on Earth?
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  • Tiny Pieces of Time
    Three-billion-year-old microcrystals are teaching scientists about planetary evolution and the processes that formed the continents of Earth. The crystals are incredibly resistant to change, and contain geological 'records' of their movements through and around the planet.
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  • Calcium Carbonate Fingerprints
    Researchers studying microbes in hot springs have made a surprising discovery about the geological record of life and the environment of Earth. The discovery may even affect how scientists search for evidence of life on other planets.
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  • A History of Starts and Stops
    Scientists have found that plate tectonics on Earth may have ground to a halt in our planet's past - and may do so again. Plate tectonics are responsible for creating geologic features like mountains and ocean basins, and play an important role in maintaining Earth's
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  • The Mystery of the Missing Matter
    A new theory may explain why the composition of Earth's mantle differs from that of chondrite -the material from which the Earth was originally formed. The theory may help us understand the formation and evolution of our planet.
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  • A Breathable Earth
    Geologists have determined when Earth may have first supported an oxygen-rich atmosphere similar to that of today. The study provides clues about how life on Earth has evolved alongside our planet's changing climate.
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  • Earth’s Life-Giving Rocks
    If minerals deep in the Earth's mantle were not able to store oxygen, there might not be life on our planet's surface. New research results provide insight into how the subsurface of our planet helps maintain the Earth's habitability.
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  • A Volcanic Switch
    A switch from predominantly undersea volcanoes to a mix of undersea and terrestrial ones may have helped to increase oxygen levels in the ancient Earth's atmosphere. This increase allowed for the evolution of complex oxygen-breathing organisms.
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