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ScienceDaily: Earth Science News

New light shed on wandering continents

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 01:19 PM PDT

A layer of partially molten rock about 22 to 75 miles underground can’t be the only mechanism that allows continents to gradually shift their position over millions of years, according to a new research. The result gives insight into what allows plate tectonics — the movement of the Earth’s crustal plates — to occur.

Seismic survey at the Mariana trench will follow water dragged down into the Earth’s mantle

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 11:22 AM PDT

Seismologists have just returned from a cruise in the Western Pacific to lay the instruments for a seismic survey that will follow the water chemically bound to or trapped in the down-diving Pacific Plate at the Mariana trench, the deep trench to which Avatar director James Cameron is poised to plunge.

New understanding of Earth’s mantle beneath the Pacific Ocean

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 11:21 AM PDT

Scientists have long speculated about why there is a large change in the strength of rocks that lie at the boundary between two layers immediately under Earth’s crust: the lithosphere and underlying asthenosphere. Understanding this boundary is central to our knowledge of plate tectonics and thus the formation and evolution of our planet as we know it today. A new technique for observing this transition has led to new insight on the origins of the lithosphere and asthenosphere.

Cooking better biochar: Study improves recipe for soil additive

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 10:15 AM PDT

A simple way to remove carbon from the atmosphere is by adding charcoal, or biochar, to topsoil — a centuries-old practice that also boosts crop production. A new study finds that when it comes to helping get water to plants, not all biochar is equal.

Trace element plays major role in tropical forest nitrogen cycle

Posted: 22 Mar 2012 08:36 AM PDT

New research sheds light on the critical part played by a little-studied element, molybdenum, in the nutrient cycles of tropical forests. Understanding the role of molybdenum may help scientists more accurately predict how tropical forests will respond to climate change.
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