Table of contents




Focus: Haiti

Shaken island p737


Geophysical analyses of the 2010 Haiti earthquake suggest that there is still potential for seismic activity in the region. Building a more resilient country is the only option.



Erosion and climate p738

Nikolaus J. Kuhn


Reply to ‘Erosion and climate’ p738

John N. Quinton, Gerard Govers, Kristof Van Oost & Richard D Bardgett




Focus: Haiti

Built-in resilience pp739 - 740

Michael K. Lindell


The 2010 Haiti earthquake showed that building codes must be adopted and strictly enforced. Furthermore, timely disaster recovery requires these codes to be supplemented by comprehensive hazard-insurance programmes.

Focus: Haiti

Beyond bricks and mortar pp740 - 741

Arthur L. Lerner-Lam


Geoscience has played a key role in the recovery of Haiti since the earthquake, but warnings were not heeded in the political sphere. Along with better houses, an adaptive disaster-management infrastructure that incorporates science needs to be built.


Research Highlights

Our choice from the recent literature p742



News and Views

Focus: Haiti

Structural geology: Invisible faults under shaky ground pp743 - 745

Roger Bilham


The Haiti earthquake ruptured one or more buried faults, generated tsunamis and caused extensive structural damage in Port-au-Prince. Investigations in the epicentral region quantify seismic hazards but offer no clear views of Haiti's seismic future.

Subject Category: Structural geology, tectonics and geodynamics

See also: Letter by Hough et al. | Letter by Hornbach et al. | Letter by Prentice et al. | Letter by Calais et al. | Article by Hayes et al.

Planetary science: Hidden martian carbonates pp745 - 746

Timothy D. Glotch


Evidence for the sedimentary carbonate rocks proposed to be prevalent on Mars has generally been lacking. Carbonate-bearing rocks found in the Leighton Crater may be associated with the formation of methane detected in the martian atmosphere.

Subject Category: Planetary science

See also: Letter by Michalski & Niles

Atmospheric science: Winds of change pp747 - 748

Tim R. McVicar & Michael L. Roderick


On average, terrestrial near-surface winds have slowed down in recent decades. This change will affect both wind energy and hydrology.

Subject Category: Atmospheric science

See also: Letter by Vautard et al.

Hydrology: Missoula's legacy p748

Alicia Newton


Subject Category: Hydrology, hydrogeology and limnology

Biogeochemistry: Cryptic wetlands pp749 - 750

Joseph B. Yavitt


Wetlands are home to microorganisms that produce and emit methane. Very small wetlands, tucked into unexpected places, might be making a larger contribution to the global methane budget than previously thought.

Subject Category: Biogeochemistry

See also: Letter by Martinson et al.

Ocean science: Last-minute monitoring p750

Heike Langenberg


Subject Categories: Atmospheric science | Oceanography



Deep crustal carbonate rocks exposed by meteor impact on Mars pp751 - 755

Joseph R. Michalski & Paul B. Niles


Mars may have once had a CO2-rich atmosphere, but carbonate rocks that could provide evidence for such conditions are sparse. Spectral analyses of rocks exposed from deep within an impact crater reveal that carbonate deposits may be extensive on Mars, but are buried under layers of younger volcanic rocks.

Subject Category: Planetary science

See also: News and Views by Glotch

Northern Hemisphere atmospheric stilling partly attributed to an increase in surface roughness pp756 - 761

Robert Vautard, Julien Cattiaux, Pascal Yiou, Jean-Noël Thépaut & Philippe Ciais


Surface winds have declined in China, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, the United States and Australia over the past few decades. Mesoscale model simulations suggest that an increase in surface roughness is contributing to the stilling trend in the mid-latitude Northern Hemisphere.

Subject Categories: Atmospheric science | Climate science

See also: News and Views by McVicar & Roderick

Central Pacific El Niño and decadal climate change in the North Pacific Ocean pp762 - 765

E. Di Lorenzo, K. M. Cobb, J. C. Furtado, N. Schneider, B. T. Anderson, A. Bracco, M. A. Alexander & D. J. Vimont


Decadal fluctuations in the North Pacific Ocean and overlying atmosphere significantly affect the weather and climate of North America and Eurasia. An ensemble of simulations with a coupled ocean–atmosphere model reveals a link between these decadal oscillations and central Pacific El Niño events.

Subject Categories: Oceanography | Atmospheric science | Climate science

Methane emissions from tank bromeliads in neotropical forests pp766 - 769

Guntars O. Martinson, Florian A. Werner, Christoph Scherber, Ralf Conrad, Marife D. Corre, Heiner Flessa, Katrin Wolf, Melanie Klose, S. Robbert Gradstein & Edzo Veldkamp


Methane concentrations above tropical forests in the neotropics are high, according to space-borne observations. Flux measurements in the field suggest that tank bromeliads, herbaceous plants common throughout tropical forests, emit methane and may contribute to the tropical source.

Subject Category: Biogeochemistry

See also: News and Views by Yavitt

Southern Ocean source of 14C-depleted carbon in the North Pacific Ocean during the last deglaciation pp770 - 773

C. Basak, E. E. Martin, K. Horikawa & T. M. Marchitto


Radiocarbon-depleted carbon dioxide was released to the atmosphere at the end of the last glacial period, but its source remains controversial. Neodymium isotope records of deglacial intermediate water circulation in the eastern North Pacific Ocean from fish teeth support a Southern Ocean source.

Subject Category: Palaeoclimate and palaeoceanography

Episodic swell growth inferred from variable uplift of the Cape Verde hotspot islands pp774 - 777

R. Ramalho, G. Helffrich, M. Cosca, D. Vance, D. Hoffmann & D. N. Schmidt


Ocean islands formed over hotspots can uplift and subside as the hotspots evolve. The history of the Cape Verde islands reveals large-scale uplift owing to growth of the hotspot swell, but also variable uplift of individual islands resulting from the local intrusion of magma.

Subject Category: Structural geology, tectonics and geodynamics

Focus: Haiti

Localized damage caused by topographic amplification during the 2010 M7.0 Haiti earthquake pp778 - 782

Susan E. Hough, Jean Robert Altidor, Dieuseul Anglade, Doug Given, M. Guillard Janvier, J. Zebulon Maharrey, Mark Meremonte, Bernard Saint-Louis Mildor, Claude Prepetit & Alan Yong


Microzonation maps use local geological conditions to characterize seismic hazard, but do not generally consider topography. Ground motions during the Haiti earthquake are found to have been significantly amplified along a high topographic ridge, which caused substantial structural damage, indicating that topography can play an important role in seismic hazard.

Subject Category: Structural geology, tectonics and geodynamics

See also: News and Views by Bilham | related Backstory

Focus: Haiti

High tsunami frequency as a result of combined strike-slip faulting and coastal landslides pp783 - 788

Matthew J. Hornbach, Nicole Braudy, Richard W. Briggs, Marie-Helene Cormier, Marcy B. Davis, John B. Diebold, Nicole Dieudonne, Roby Douilly, Cliff Frohlich, Sean P. S. Gulick, Harold E. Johnson III, Paul Mann, Cecilia McHugh, Katherine Ryan-Mishkin, Carol S. Prentice, Leonardo Seeber, Christopher C. Sorlien, Michael S. Steckler, Steeve Julien Symithe, Frederick W. Taylor & John Templeton


The 12 January 2010 Mw 7.0 Haiti earthquake exhibited primarily strike-slip motion but unusually generated a tsunami. An extensive field survey reveals that coastal strike-slip fault systems produce relief conducive to rapid sedimentation, erosion and slope failure, so that even modest predominantly strike-slip earthquakes can cause potentially catastrophic slide-generated tsunamis.

Subject Category: Structural geology, tectonics and geodynamics

See also: News and Views by Bilham | related Backstory

Focus: Haiti

Seismic hazard of the Enriquillo–Plantain Garden fault in Haiti inferred from palaeoseismology pp789 - 793

C. S. Prentice, P. Mann, A. J. Crone, R. D. Gold, K. W. Hudnut, R. W. Briggs, R. D. Koehler & P. Jean


The Enriquillo–Plantain Garden fault zone is the primary plate-bounding fault system in Haiti and was initially thought to be responsible for the 2010 earthquake. Palaeoseismic analyses of the fault system indicate that it ruptured during a large earthquake in either 1750 or 1770, but did not rupture during the 2010 earthquake.

Subject Categories: Structural geology, tectonics and geodynamics | Seismology

See also: News and Views by Bilham

Focus: Haiti

Transpressional rupture of an unmapped fault during the 2010 Haiti earthquake pp794 - 799

Eric Calais, Andrew Freed, Glen Mattioli, Falk Amelung, Sigurjón Jónsson, Pamela Jansma, Sang-Hoon Hong, Timothy Dixon, Claude Prépetit & Roberte Momplaisir


The Enriquillo–Plantain Garden strike-slip fault accommodates the relative motion between the North American and Caribbean plates and was thought to have ruptured during the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Satellite data instead indicate that a blind thrust fault, possibly related to the Haitian fold–thrust belt, was responsible and caused some contractional deformation.

Subject Categories: Structural geology, tectonics and geodynamics | Seismology

See also: News and Views by Bilham



Focus: Haiti

Complex rupture during the 12 January 2010 Haiti earthquake pp800 - 805

G. P. Hayes, R. W. Briggs, A. Sladen, E. J. Fielding, C. Prentice, K. Hudnut, P. Mann, F. W. Taylor, A. J. Crone, R. Gold, T. Ito & M. Simons


Initially, the devastating 12 January 2010 Haiti earthquake seemed to involve straightforward accommodation of the motion between the Caribbean and North American plates. A combination of seismological observations, geologic field data and space geodetic measurements shows that the rupture process may have involved slip on multiple faults, but lacked significant surface deformation.

Subject Category: Structural geology, tectonics and geodynamics

See also: News and Views by Bilham



Opposing decadal changes for the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation p805

M. Susan Lozier, Vassil Roussenov, Mark S. C. Reed & Richard G. Williams




Stress transfer between thirteen successive dyke intrusions in Ethiopia p806

Ian J. Hamling, Tim J. Wright, Eric Calais, Laura Bennati & Elias Lewi




Focus: Haiti

Esprit de corps in Haiti p808


Matthew J. Hornbach and colleagues navigated shallow debris-filled waters in an attempt to understand the factors that contributed to tsunami generation during the Haiti earthquake.

See also: Letter by Hornbach et al.

Focus: Haiti

After the shock pE1


Susan E. Hough and colleagues faced logistical challenges when attempting to deploy portable seismometers in post-earthquake Port-au-Prince.

See also: Letter by Hough et al.


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