We think we know how mountains form. Plate tectonics causes rock to be pushed up at fault boundaries. Except that model is hard to prove, and a new study suggests it might actually be a lot more complicated. Video is based on the work done by Dr. Nikki M. Seymour, during her time as a EPS postdoc.
A new technique for measuring past topography shows the Himalayas were more than halfway to their summit before a continental collision made them the highest range in the world. “The controversy rests mainly in what existed before the Himalayas were there,” explains Page Chamberlain, professor of Earth and planetary sciences and of Earth system science at the Doerr School of Sustainability, and senior author of the study.
Researchers have analyzed the shifting patterns of entire dune fields on Earth and Mars, as seen from orbit, and found they are a direct signature of recent environmental change. This new tool can be applied anywhere with dunes, such as Mars, Titan, and Venus.
Stanford scientist Tiziana Vanorio learned the value of public service from growing up in a family with a calling for ethics and justice. Now, she sees her work developing a low-carbon cement as her way of giving back.
Hundreds of students participated in the Stanford Geological Survey, a century-long program that brought undergraduates to the field for extended periods to survey and map the geology of parts of California, Nevada, and Utah.
The national award is designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in the fields of the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics.
Stanford professor Jef Caers discusses addiction, mental health, sexuality and stopping fossil-fuel-funded research
Caers, professor in Earth & Planetary Sciences, shared how his struggles evoked the realization that he no longer wanted to be an “enabler” for the fossil fuel industry.
As a young adult, Ayla Pamukçu found herself at a crossroads between college and culinary school. Thanks in part to an influential box of rocks, she chose a research path that eventually led to a career studying the inner workings of the Earth.
Our list includes a mix of favorites, high-impact stories, and some of our most-read research coverage from a year of new beginnings.
Scientists have created diamond capsules that can entrap other phases and preserve high pressure conditions even after returning the capsules to low pressure. The technique mimics the process in nature where diamonds can have inclusions that are only stable at high pressure.
“[What’s] not so well-appreciated is you need a well-trained force of technical people running the reactor,” explains Stanford nuclear security expert Rodney Ewing. “If their work is disrupted, if they’re kept captive, or if they’re not allowed to rest, as was the case at Chernobyl, that is a major concern."
The Geoscience of Environmental Justice course enables students to engage with the EPA community and work to asses and problem solve the heavy metal contaminants issue that is negatively impacting the population.
The award recognizes individuals who go above and beyond their role to create a more inclusive, just, and welcoming community at the Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.
More than any class before, the 2022 graduates of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences are prepared to navigate uncertainties in the pursuit of a life that brings happiness and meaning, according to Dean Stephan Graham.
The award encourages student engagement in the American Institute of Professional Geologists, the largest organization committed to promoting geology as a profession.
Small modular reactors, long touted as the future of nuclear energy, will actually generate more radioactive waste than conventional nuclear power plants, according to research from Stanford and the University of British Columbia.
So-called small modular reactors are promoted as less expensive and cumbersome than conventional light-water reactors. Research led by former postdoctoral scholar Lindsay Krall with Stanford nuclear security expert Rodney Ewing suggests the volume and chemistry of the waste they produce may pose safety challenges.
A new certificate program provides a framework for Stanford Earth graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to learn new skills, gain practical experience, and produce portfolio pieces that will broaden their professional preparedness. The program will be carried into the new school focused on climate and sustainability.
After modeling Titan's landscape, researchers led by Stanford geologist Mathieu Lapôtre found the moon exhibits a special type of sedimentary process called sintering, which means neighboring grains smash together and fuse into a bigger, stronger piece that's less destructible by wind.
A new hypothesis reveals that a global sedimentary cycle driven by seasons could explain the formation of landscapes on Saturn’s moon Titan. The research shows the alien world may be more Earth-like than previously thought.
California has rolled out plans to protect plant and animal life across 30 percent of the state’s most critical land and water by 2030. Biologists Elizabeth Hadly and Mary Ruckelshaus and environmental law expert Deborah Sivas discuss keys to its success, potential impacts, legal precedents, and more. (Source: Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment)
Explanation for formation of abundant features on Europa bodes well for search for extraterrestrial life
Ice-penetrating radar data from Greenland suggests that shallow water pockets may be common within Europa’s ice shell, increasing the potential habitability of the Jovian moon’s ice shell.
Geologist George Hilley comments on the approach taken by scientists who simulated landslide risks in the Austrian Alps under various climate scenarios in order to better prepare and adapt for future landslides.
A Stanford University study suggests the weight of snow and ice atop the Sierra Nevada affects a California volcano’s carbon dioxide emissions, one of the main signs of volcanic unrest.
Stanford Earth professor George Hilley and coauthors write about a new initiative bringing together scientists to address fundamental questions about subduction zone geohazards, using the latest advances in observation technology and computational resources.
By analyzing the chemistry of over 200 geothermal springs, researchers have identified where the Indian Plate ends beneath Tibet, debunking some long-debated theories about the process of continental collision.
Research by Page Chamberlain and PhD student Tyler Kukla presents a new hypothesis for the cause of a major forest dieback episode in the western U.S. It shows forests depended on winter moisture for millions of years.
"Clearly, a nuclear reactor is not a nuclear bomb – reactors are designed to avoid runaway chain reactions," Stanford nuclear security expert Rod Ewing writes in an op-ed. But there are three vulnerabilities that can have serious consequences, he explains.
“We are in the middle of a war with great devastation and human suffering and deaths and adding a nuclear event – even if it is minor releases of radioactivity – to the present situation, that is really a heavy burden,” says Stanford Earth professor Rod Ewing.
Stanford geologist George Hilley discusses the process and purpose of creating a computational model to demonstrate mountain formation.
Using the Santa Cruz Mountains as a natural laboratory, researchers have built a 3D tectonic model that clarifies the link between earthquakes and mountain building along the San Andreas fault for the first time. The findings may be used to improve seismic hazard maps of the Bay Area.
Nicole Ardoin and Mark Horowitz discuss exciting new programs and courses within the new school, which will focus on climate and sustainability.
Geologists have long assumed that the evolution of land plants enabled rivers to form snakelike meanders, but a review of recent research overturns that classic theory – and it calls for a reinterpretation of the rock record.
The fourth annual Stanford Earth Photo Contest drew images of a dramatic sunset, a menacing shark, an intriguing frog, and a perennial favorite – the Milky Way. The winners were selected among 101 submissions.
New modeling suggests giant, cool blobs of titanium-rich rocks sinking down to the ancient Moon’s hot core could have produced intermittently strong magnetic fields for the first billion years of the Moon’s history.
New research by Elizabeth Miller suggests the ancestral Sierra Nevada range and the mountains we see today were born at different times.
New research reveals that after its initial formation 100 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada “died” during volcanic eruptions that blasted lava across much of the American West 40 million to 20 million years ago. Then, tens of millions of years later, the Sierra Nevada mountain range as we know it today was “reborn.”
Jef Caers, Sally Benson and Tapan Mukerji have been awarded a 2021 Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) seed grant to prototype an intelligent agent for CO2 sequestration in saline aquifers.
Research led by Pedro Monarrez of Stanford Earth shows that the usual rules of body size evolution change not only during mass extinctions but also during subsequent recovery.
A new model of ancient asteroids bombarding the Earth has been applied to understand how oxygen levels in Earth’s atmosphere evolved.
Stanford Earth's Erik Sperling and Richard Stockey describe their research on the connection between rising oxygen levels and a previously unexplained slowdown in mass extinctions.
A sweeping analysis of marine fossils from most of the past half-billion years shows the usual rules of body size evolution change during mass extinctions and their recoveries. The discovery is an early step toward predicting how evolution will play out on the other side of the current extinction crisis.
A new Stanford University study shows rising oxygen levels may explain why global extinction rates slowed down over the past 541 million years. Below 40 percent of present atmospheric oxygen, ocean dead zones rapidly expand, and extinctions ramp up.
The geological sciences professor is among 59 fellows elected for outstanding achievements and contributions that push the frontiers of science – an honor that AGU has given to fewer than 0.1% of its members since 1962.
Stanford Earth's Andrew Leslie describes his research showing plants evolved complexity in two waves, 250 million years apart.
Stanford Earth professor Jef Caers talks about working with the company KoBold Metals to develop an algorithm for determining the size and shape of an ore body using the fewest possible drill holes.
Schaefer is among 18 early-career researchers to receive funding in the inaugural year of Scialog: Signatures of Life in the Universe for her proposal, "Could Nucleic Acid-Based Life Survive on Oxygen-Rich M Dwarf Planets?"
A new method for quantifying plant evolution reveals that after the onset of early seed plants, complexity halted for 250 million years until the diversification of flowering plants about 100 million years ago.
A new study led by Stanford Earth's Andrew Leslie has found that rather than evolving gradually, land plants evolved in two dramatic bursts which occurred over 250 million years apart.
The planetary geologist has been recognized for his efforts to advance the field of Earth and planetary surface processes.
Tyler Hall is working on optimal sequential decision-making for subsurface exploration. TomKat fellowships provide research funding, a stipend, and tuition support for up to two years.
Jef Caers discusses how his research in machine-learning modeling can reduce uncertainty – and wasted efforts – when it comes to locating mineral deposits that are increasingly important for energy storage.
Scott Fendorf, Jane Willenbring, Howard Zebker, Alex Konings, Steve Gorelick and Gabrielle Wong-Parodi received awards from the Woods Institute for interdisciplinary research to solve major environmental challenges.
The new school will include transitional academic divisions, university-wide cross-cutting themes organized into institutes and an accelerator focused on solutions.
Sulgiye Park, PhD ’18, has been recognized for her PhD and postdoctoral work on understanding a wide array of functional materials at extreme environments.
Stanford-led expeditions to a remote area of Yukon, Canada, have uncovered a 120-million-year-long geological record of a time when land plants and complex animals first evolved and ocean oxygen levels began to approach those in the modern world.
Much about Earth’s closest planetary neighbor, Venus, remains a mystery. Algorithms and techniques pioneered by Stanford Professor Howard Zebker’s research group will help to guide a search for active volcanoes and tectonic plate movements as part of a recently announced NASA mission to Venus.
Faculty at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences recommend these 29 books for your summer reading.
Jane Willenbring co-authored an op-ed outlining a twenty-point anti-racism plan that organizations can implement to build an inclusive, equitable and accessible geoscience community.
Graduates of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences have the skills and knowledge to persevere in the face of new challenges and uncertainty, according to Dean Stephan Graham.
Caers wrote about his personal journey and offered advice to others on how they can share their struggles and be vulnerable.
Recipients of the school’s annual Excellence in Teaching Awards are selected based on nominations from students, faculty, and alumni.
The award is given to geoscientists who have had a significant influence by means of a substantial body of excellent research in either or both 'pure' and 'applied' aspects of the science.
A new authored by Stanford Earth PhD students Richard Stockey, Thomas Boag and Will Gearty looked at the fossil record of marine mollusks dating back 145 million years and examined how diversity shifted during warmer and colder periods.
A fossil study from Stanford University finds the diversity of life in the world’s oceans declined time and again over the past 145 million years during periods of extreme warming. Temperatures that make it hard for cold-blooded sea creatures to breathe have likely been among the biggest drivers for shifts in the distribution of marine biodiversity.
Two “out there” ideas from Stanford faculty have received NASA funding in hopes that they could drastically advance space exploration. Mathieu Lapôtre is co-PI on a project to increase robotic reach that could be used to explore Mars.
Efforts to prevent human exposure to asbestos may be mobilizing the cancer-causing mineral so that it can reach water supplies, based on new findings about how the fibers move through soil.
Don Lowe wrote the geologic definitions and descriptions of a recent art installation in the Science and Engineering Quad. The dynamic spheres were created by international artist Alicja Kwade.
In a podcast series hosted by The Stanford Daily, Dean Stephan Graham discussed the new climate and sustainability school and other topics affecting the Stanford community.
The gases released from meteorite samples heated in a high-temperature furnace can tell scientists about the initial composition of the atmospheres of rocky exoplanets.
The geological sciences PhD student has been awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from NSF to explore marine invertebrate body size changes in the fossil record.
Stanford University experts are cautiously optimistic that the Biden administration can change the U.S. trajectory on nuclear waste, and they offer their thoughts on how it can be done.
New research suggests that hot, rocky planets in other solar systems could form and keep thick atmospheres full of water.
Dean Stephan Graham and Nicole Ardoin presented an update on the structure of the new school at the Faculty Senate meeting on March 11th. The plans include a Sustainability Accelerator that will translate policy and technology solutions.
A decade after a powerful earthquake and tsunami set off the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan, Stanford experts discuss revelations about radiation from the disaster, advances in earthquake science related to the event and how its devastating impact has influenced strategies for tsunami defense and local warning systems.
“In some cases, as we become more sophisticated, we’ve lost the ability to see what’s most obvious,” said Rod Ewing, Frank Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security at Stanford. “You calculate the probability of an event against the expense – and often cost is the driver."
Stephan Graham, Noah Diffenbaugh, Sally Benson and Anjana Richards served as panelists at a recent Deliberative Polling event to discuss proposals for the new school focused on climate and sustainability.
Page Chamberlain, DEI director Lupe Carrillo and former postdoctoral researcher Grace Bulltail discuss diversity and postdoc success in the context of the NSF-supported Research University Alliance collaboration.
Mathieu Lapôtre is co-PI on a project to develop a long-reach crawling and anchoring robot with extendable manipulator arms to explore difficult terrains on other celestial bodies, with a focus on Martian caves.
The newly added flexibility in core courses allows for greater exploration of the major that typically isn’t covered in high school curricula, said Department Chair Kevin Boyce.
“We can form all sorts of gemstones potentially in space, as long as you have the right chemistry in the right temperature and conditions,” said Stanford Earth professor Wendy Mao.
A new theory that helps explain geological and chemical processes on Mars also suggests the martian environment continues to be dynamic, with implications for both astrobiology and future human exploration of the Red Planet.
A promising lead halide perovskite is great at converting sunlight to electricity, but it breaks down at room temperature. Now scientists have discovered how to stabilize it with pressure from a diamond anvil cell.
Following deliberations by a Blueprint Advisory Committee in the fall, leaders are seeking faculty input on proposals for the new school’s structure, composition and areas of focus.
Geological scientist Erik Sperling and his lab are featured in a Stanford News story about the challenges labs on campus have been facing.
Finding and extracting deposits of cobalt, lithium, nickel and other materials used in batteries is expensive and environmentally fraught. Geoscientists are now using artificial intelligence to quickly identify new resources, get the most out of those we already know about and improve refining processes.
Geophysicist Sonia Tikoo discussed the Moon's early magnetic field, which scientists can constrain by dating magnetized rock samples.
Looking back at what has been a turbulent year, the Stanford community has found new ways to come together to learn and to work, while also advancing research.
A collection of research and insights from Stanford experts who are deciphering the mysteries and mechanisms of extinction and survival in Earth’s deep past and painting an increasingly detailed picture of life now at the brink.
From Dec. 7-17, Stanford faculty, students and scholars presented their work at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), along with fellow scientists and researchers from various disciplines in the Earth and planetary sciences.
“I think the mid-upper mantle would be gorgeous, because it would be olivine green, like 60 percent, and it would also have garnets, these beautiful red cubic minerals,” says Stanford mineral physicist Wendy Mao.
Stanford Earth’s 2020 photo contest drew 156 photographs from faculty, students, and staff. The images captured experiences coping with COVID-19, as well as close encounters with nature from activities before the pandemic.
Brown, a professor of geology, emeritus, and Diffenbaugh, a professor of Earth system science, join a cohort of global leaders for their exceptional contributions to the Earth and space sciences community – an honor given to fewer than 0.1% of AGU's members.
A new model shows how brine on Jupiter’s moon Europa can migrate within the icy shell to form pockets of salty water that erupt to the surface when freezing. The findings, which are important for the upcoming Europa Clipper mission, may explain cryovolcanic eruptions across icy bodies in the solar system.
Jennifer Saltzman discussed her role in the Bright STaRS program, which has been influential for scholars at Stanford Earth including Farm intern Claire Valva, local high schooler Michael Wucher and alumni Daniel Ibarra and Jason Stuckey.
Page Chamberlain and Lupe Carrillo discussed collaborating on an NSF grant to expand professional development opportunities for underrepresented researchers in STEM.
The annual award from the American Geophysical Union (AGU) recognizes significant contributions to research and community-building by a mid-career scientist in the field of Earth and planetary surface processes.
A school focused on climate and sustainability, announced last May, is beginning to take shape. Leaders anticipate blueprints for the school’s academic structure by winter quarter.
Dean Stephan Graham co-authored an op-ed with the deans of the School of Humanities and Sciences and the School of Engineering urging readers to "vote for the party and candidate of your choice, but by all means vote."
The sustainability initiative that arose out of the Long-Range Vision has awarded 17 seed grants providing one year of funding to faculty pursuing groundbreaking ideas for sustainability solutions.
The Summer Undergraduate Research in Geoscience and Engineering (SURGE) program celebrates 10 years of bringing students from diverse backgrounds to Stanford for a summer of Earth science research and graduate school preparation.
With a career that balances mountaineering, teaching, and research, Hari Mix uses his background in Earth systems and geology to reconstruct past climates, examine mechanisms producing extreme precipitation, and teach the next generation of students about the planet.
Geological sciences PhD student Sandra Schachat received recognition from the Entomological Society of America for outstanding contributions to the Society, academic department, and the community, while still achieving academic excellence.
DNA data from more than 3,300 species reveals how lichens stayed together, split up, swapped partners and changed form over 250 million years.
Stanford Earth’s summer internships have been redesigned to an online lecture series, exposing more local high school students to research in environmental sciences than ever before.
According to Stanford University Mars experts, NASA’s latest Martian rover will drive a wave of exciting discoveries when it lands on the Red Planet – and possibly alter scientists’ understanding of the blue one it launches from.
Nikki Seymour will be studying a formation known as the Orocopia Schist in west-central Arizona, which may help provide a better understanding of the age or origin of things like copper deposits in Arizona.
Faculty at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences recommend these 24 books for your summer reading.
Graduates of the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences have the knowledge and skills to create an environmentally just and sustainable world for everyone, according to Dean Stephan Graham.
Prof. Inês M.L. Azevedo and fellow researchers explore the paths to Net Zero.
The Chicxulub impact crater that is linked to the extinction of the dinosaurs hosted a hydrothermal system that chemically and mineralogically modified more than 100,000 cubic kilometers of Earth’s crust, according to new research.
NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, Geological and Environmental Sciences BS ’10, is at the forefront of a new crop of space explorers destined for the Moon, and maybe one day, Mars.
Scientists are still trying to piece together how Earth transformed from a molten planet to one with living creatures walking around on its silicate mantle and crust. Hints lie in the strange ways materials behave under extreme temperatures and pressures.
A cohort of the Stanford Earth Young Investigators program helped advance our understanding of the relationship between the body size and circulatory systems of marine animals over a vast time frame.
The former director of NASA Ames discusses how the advent of new activities and players in the exploration and use of space is raising fresh challenges and concerns about planetary protection.
Researchers have discovered an ancient plant species whose reproductive biology captures the evolution from one to two spore sizes – an essential transition to the success of the seed and flowering plants we depend on.
New research indicates river delta deposits within Mars’ Jezero crater – the destination of NASA’s Perseverance rover on the Red Planet – formed over time scales that promoted habitability and enhanced preservation of evidence.
Mathieu Lapôtre shows the targeted landing site for NASA's Perseverance rover may be a great place to look for signs of life.
Stanford scholars, including faculty at Stanford Earth, detail some of the major environmental success stories of the past half century and reflect on important milestones.
Researchers present new evidence that the deoxygenation of the ocean wiped out biodiversity during one of the “Big Five” mass extinctions in Earth’s history – relevant information as climate change contributes to decreasing oxygen in the oceans today.
Tyler Kukla, Chayawan Jaikla, Indraneel Kasmalkar, and Anna Broome have been honored with 2019 OSPAs from the American Geophysical Union.
Scientists exploring space are bringing back insights about Earth’s deep past, its complicated relationship with life and our planet’s future.
Upending an evolutionary theory proposed in the 1950s, scientists have found that the groups most resistant to extinction also contain the greatest ecological diversity – their members perform a larger number of different functions in ecosystems.
Stanford Earth's Rodney Ewing and Wendy Mao help discover a new way to create diamonds by "cheating" thermodynamics.
With the right amount of pressure and surprisingly little heat, a substance found in fossil fuels can transform into pure diamond.
New fossil research shows extinction for smaller marine animals across most of the past 485 million years was more common than once believed. Why?
"It's not a surprise that no one would support Yucca," says Stanford's Rodney Ewing, who led a 2018 study that recommended moving responsibility for disposing of nuclear waste to an independent nonprofit corporation.
After a rigorous selection process, Stanford Geological and Environmental Sciences alumna Jessica Watkins, BS '10, has been selected as one of the five women to join NASA as an active astronaut.
Nuclear waste must be moved to dry-cast storage, which "is probably safe for tens of hundreds of years but shouldn’t be considered a final solution," says Rod Ewing.
How did those planets form? Could they exist in our universe? Could Star Wars really happen? Stanford Earth experts on planetary formation, processes and habitability discuss the science behind the fictional saga.