Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Martian Meteorite Upsets Planet Formation Theory

A new study of an old meteorite contradicts current thinking about how rocky planets like the Earth and Mars acquire volatile elements such as hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and noble gases as they form.

Doctoral Fellow Solving Botswana Water Scarcity Crisis

Goabaone Jaqueline Ramatlapeng can vividly remember when she would go without water from domestic pipes for days. Growing up in Kopong, a rural village in Botswana, Ramatlapeng and her family faced a plight that those in surrounding villages knew as well: water scarcity. And when the water did flow, it was salty. Ramatlapeng’s research could help inform the development of sustainable water management policies in the region.

On Icy Enceladus, Expansion Cracks Let Inner Ocean Boil Out

In 2006, the Cassini spacecraft recorded geyser curtains shooting forth from “tiger stripe” fissures near the south pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus — sometimes as much as 200 kilograms of water per second. A new study suggests how expanding ice during millennia-long cooling cycles could sometimes crack the moon’s icy shell and let its inner ocean out, providing a possible explanation for the geysers.

Ridgecrest Shows How Earthquakes Damage Earth’s Crust

In July 2019, a series of earthquakes — including two major shocks of magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 — struck near Ridgecrest, California, between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. For local residents, it was a violent interruption to the Fourth of July holiday. For seismologists, it was a rare opportunity to study how earthquakes damage the Earth’s crust.

Geobiologist David Gold Wins NSF Career Award

David Gold, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, has received a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate biomarkers for identifying the oldest animal fossils on Earth.

Putting Science Into Practice: Preparing for Volcanic Eruptions

Coordinating the emergency response to an erupting volcano is an all-hands-on-deck affair that leaves little time for extra work, such as answering boatloads of inquiries from researchers who want to collect rock samples. On the other hand, science done during eruptions provides essential data for understanding and forecasting future volcanic flare-ups.