Solid Earth sciences

  • Article
    | Open Access

    The D$${}^{{\prime\prime} }$$ layer in the Earth’s lower mantle involves a seismic discontinuity which is often assigned to a mineral phase transition to post-perovskite, however, as this phase transition occurs over broad region the assignment of seismic boundaries remains unclear. Here, the authors find that due to the kinetics of the bridgmanite to post-perovskite transformation, thick transition layers can be detected by seismic reflections, unlike previously thought.

    • Christopher Langrand
    • , Denis Andrault
    • , Stéphanie Durand
    • , Zuzana Konôpková
    • , Nadège Hilairet
    • , Christine Thomas
    •  & Sébastien Merkel
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Numerous feathered dinosaurs and early birds have been discovered from the Jurassic and Cretaceous, but the early evolution of feather-feeding insects is not clear. Here, Gao et al. describe a new family of ectoparasitic insects from 10 specimens found associated with feathers in mid-Cretaceous amber.

    • Taiping Gao
    • , Xiangchu Yin
    • , Chungkun Shih
    • , Alexandr P. Rasnitsyn
    • , Xing Xu
    • , Sha Chen
    • , Chen Wang
    •  & Dong Ren
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The authors here perform experiments to investigate the dihedral angle of olivine-H2O and olivine-H2O-NaCl systems. The observed effect of NaCl to decrease dihedral angles allows fluids to percolate through forearc mantle wedge and to accumulate in the overlying crust, accounting for the high electrical conductivity anomalies in forearc regions.

    • Yongsheng Huang
    • , Takayuki Nakatani
    • , Michihiko Nakamura
    •  & Catherine McCammon
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum constitutes one of the largest climate perturbations in Earth’s history, but its exact causes are not well known. New estimates of greenhouse gas fluxes from the North Atlantic Igneous Province at high temporal resolution show that they could have initiated this event.

    • Stephen M. Jones
    • , Murray Hoggett
    • , Sarah E. Greene
    •  & Tom Dunkley Jones
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Some of Earth’s earliest continental crust has been previously inferred to have formed from partial melting of hydrated mafic crust at pressures above 1.5 GPa (more than 50 km deep), pressures typically not reached in post-Archean continental crust. Here, the authors show that such high pressure signatures can result from melting of mantle sources rather than melting of crust, and they suggest there is a lack of evidence that Earth’s earliest crust melted at depths significantly below 40 km.

    • Robert H. Smithies
    • , Yongjun Lu
    • , Tim E. Johnson
    • , Christopher L. Kirkland
    • , Kevin F. Cassidy
    • , David C. Champion
    • , David R. Mole
    • , Ivan Zibra
    • , Klaus Gessner
    • , Jyotindra Sapkota
    • , Matthew C. De Paoli
    •  & Marc Poujol
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Lithium use in electronics has increased dramatically, but the environmental impacts are poorly understood. Here the authors show lithium in river and tap water in South Korea is coincident with population density, and that waste water treatment is ineffective at scrubbing this potential toxin.

    • Hye-Bin Choi
    • , Jong-Sik Ryu
    • , Woo-Jin Shin
    •  & Nathalie Vigier
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Low seismic velocity anomalies reveal a complex scenario of plume upwellings from a deep thermo-chemical anomaly (superplume) in the mantle below the East African Rift, however, geophysical observations alone are insufficient to identify the extent of plume influence on the magmatism along the rift. Here, the authors use Sr-Nd-Pb isotope data to show that superplume mantle underlies the entire rift system, from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean south of Mozambique.

    • John M. O’Connor
    • , Wilfried Jokat
    • , Marcel Regelous
    • , Klaudia F. Kuiper
    • , Daniel P. Miggins
    •  & Anthony A. P. Koppers
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The long-term stability of Precambrian continental lithosphere depends on the rheology of the lithospheric mantle as well as the coupling between crust and mantle lithosphere. Here, the authors study crustal seismic anisotropy to reveal that the crust and mantle lithosphere of southern Africa have been coupled since cratonisation, over 2 billion years ago.

    • H. Thybo
    • , M. Youssof
    •  & I. M. Artemieva
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A reference function for describing the orientation of clay platelets in clay-rich materials is still lacking, but is necessary for applications such as prediction of water and solute transfer and designs of innovative materials. Here, the authors determine a reference orientation function of clay platelets, and validate their function for both engineered and natural clay-rich media.

    • Thomas Dabat
    • , Fabien Hubert
    • , Erwan Paineau
    • , Pascale Launois
    • , Claude Laforest
    • , Brian Grégoire
    • , Baptiste Dazas
    • , Emmanuel Tertre
    • , Alfred Delville
    •  & Eric Ferrage
  • Article
    | Open Access

    In this study, the authors monitor a hydrothermal fluid surge through seismic anisotropy changes at the Hakone volcanic field, Japan. The authors find the anisotropy changes to be set off by the seismic waves of the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake, that reactivated the hydrothermal system.

    • Maria Saade
    • , Kohtaro Araragi
    • , Jean Paul Montagner
    • , Edouard Kaminski
    • , Philippe Roux
    • , Yosuke Aoki
    •  & Florent Brenguier
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The links between plate tectonics and deep mantle structure remain unclear. Here, the authors demonstrate that transition elements (Ni, Cr, and Fe/Mn) in basaltic rocks can be used as a tool to trace plume-related magmatism through Earth history, and their results indicate the presence of a direct relationship between the intensity of plume magmatism and the supercontinent cycle.

    • Hamed Gamal EL Dien
    • , Luc S. Doucet
    •  & Zheng-Xiang Li
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The tectonic evolution of southwestern North America remains debated. Here, the authors present a complete time-dependent geodynamic model of the tectonic evolution of southwestern North America, which can explain the extensional collapse of the Basin and Range Province since the Late Eocene.

    • Alireza Bahadori
    •  & William E. Holt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The proximal femur is key for understanding locomotion in primates. Here, the authors analyze the evolution of the proximal femur in catarrhines, including a new Aegyptopithecus fossil, and suggest that Old World monkeys and hominoids diverged from an ancestral state similar to Aegyptopithecus.

    • Sergio Almécija
    • , Melissa Tallman
    • , Hesham M. Sallam
    • , John G. Fleagle
    • , Ashley S. Hammond
    •  & Erik R. Seiffert
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Global soil carbon dynamics are regulated by the modification of soil organic matter (SOM) decomposition by plant carbon input (priming effect). Here, the authors collect soil data along a 2200 km grassland transect on the Tibetan Plateau and find that SOM stability is the major control on priming effect.

    • Leiyi Chen
    • , Li Liu
    • , Shuqi Qin
    • , Guibiao Yang
    • , Kai Fang
    • , Biao Zhu
    • , Yakov Kuzyakov
    • , Pengdong Chen
    • , Yunping Xu
    •  & Yuanhe Yang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Chromian-spinel from mafic-ultramafic rocks is used as a reliable geotectonic and mantle melting indicator. Here, the authors argue that this only works partially – it can be used to assess information on mantle metasomatic processes but not petrogenesis.

    • Hamed Gamal El Dien
    • , Shoji Arai
    • , Luc-Serge Doucet
    • , Zheng-Xiang Li
    • , Youngwoo Kil
    • , Denis Fougerouse
    • , Steven M. Reddy
    • , David W. Saxey
    •  & Mohamed Hamdy
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The permeability of a dome exerts a control on the outgassing efficiency of the underlying magma. The authors investigate the role of hydrothermal alteration on this process in the laboratory and use these data to model whether the overpressures generated are capable of promoting explosive behaviour.

    • Michael J. Heap
    • , Valentin R. Troll
    • , Alexandra R. L. Kushnir
    • , H. Albert Gilg
    • , Amy S. D. Collinson
    • , Frances M. Deegan
    • , Herlan Darmawan
    • , Nadhirah Seraphine
    • , Juergen Neuberg
    •  & Thomas R. Walter
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The elevation and high heat flow of Southern South Africa has controversially been attributed to a mantle plume. Here, the authors link degassed CO2 to a non-degassed mantle source rather than the convecting upper mantle, confirming plume-related mantle melting.

    • S. M. V. Gilfillan
    • , D. Györe
    • , S. Flude
    • , G. Johnson
    • , C. E. Bond
    • , N. Hicks
    • , R. Lister
    • , D. G. Jones
    • , Y. Kremer
    • , R. S. Haszeldine
    •  & F. M. Stuart
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Diamonds can give us clues to the processes regulating deep carbon transport within the Earth. Here, the author discovers evidence from diamond coatings that organic compounds exist at great depth in Earth’s interior, and furthermore, that organic molecules may provide scaffolds for diamond nucleation and growth.

    • Maria Luce Frezzotti
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Gale Crater on Mars has been demonstrated to have once hosted water, but its chemistry is still under debate. Here the authors use mineralogical rock compositions and show the once saline character of Gale Crater—a result of warmer climate periods during the Hesperian period.

    • Keisuke Fukushi
    • , Yasuhito Sekine
    • , Hiroshi Sakuma
    • , Koki Morida
    •  & Robin Wordsworth
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The occurrence of longitudinal ridges on large landslide masses on planetary bodies is enabled by long runout distances, which have so far been attributed to the presence of ice. The authors here present a challenging model based on mechanical instabilities within the flow, suggesting that ice is not needed.

    • Giulia Magnarini
    • , Thomas M. Mitchell
    • , Peter M. Grindrod
    • , Liran Goren
    •  & Harrison H. Schmitt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    This study seeks to tackle the question of why intermediate magmatic rock compositions are poorly represented on the Earth’s surface. The authors do so by tracking the evolution of the physical behaviour of immiscible Fe-rich liquids within a sample suite from the lava lake on the Kilauea Iki volcano, Hawaii.

    • Victoria C. Honour
    • , Marian B. Holness
    • , Bernard Charlier
    • , Sandra C. Piazolo
    • , Olivier Namur
    • , Ty J. Prosa
    • , Isabelle Martin
    • , Rosalind T. Helz
    • , John Maclennan
    •  & Marlon M. Jean
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Fractured rocks of impact craters have been suggested to be suitable hosts for deep microbial communities on Earth, and potentially other terrestrial planets, yet direct evidence remains elusive. Here, the authors show that the Siljan impact structure is host to long-term deep methane-cycling microbial activity.

    • Henrik Drake
    • , Nick M. W. Roberts
    • , Christine Heim
    • , Martin J. Whitehouse
    • , Sandra Siljeström
    • , Ellen Kooijman
    • , Curt Broman
    • , Magnus Ivarsson
    •  & Mats E. Åström
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The geodynamic evolution of mountain ranges can be reconstructed using the pressure recorded by minerals in metamorphic rocks, under the key assumption that rock pressure is lithostatic. Here, the authors challenge the lithostatic pressure paradigm by showing that there can be significant outcrop-scale pressure gradients due to compression- and reaction-induced stress.

    • Cindy Luisier
    • , Lukas Baumgartner
    • , Stefan M. Schmalholz
    • , Guillaume Siron
    •  & Torsten Vennemann
  • Matters Arising
    | Open Access

    • Alan G. Hogg
    • , Colin J. N. Wilson
    • , David J. Lowe
    • , Chris S. M. Turney
    • , Paul White
    • , Andrew M. Lorrey
    • , Sturt W. Manning
    • , Jonathan G. Palmer
    • , Sarah Bury
    • , Julie Brown
    • , John Southon
    •  & Fiona Petchey
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Little is known about the long-term dynamics of mesopelagic fish despite their large contribution to total fish biomass. Here, the authors analyze the Santa Barbara Basin otolith record and suggest that mesopelagic fish populations were large but fluctuated with surface climate over the last ~2000 years.

    • William A. Jones
    •  & David M. Checkley Jr.
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Marine chemistry during the Early Earth (over 2.7 billion years ago) is commonly inferred to have been inorganically sulfate-reducing. Here, the authors argue that organic sulfur cycling may have played a previously unrecognized, yet important, role in the formation of ancient Archean marine sulfides.

    • Mojtaba Fakhraee
    •  & Sergei Katsev
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The India-Asia collision has formed the highest mountains on Earth and is associated with extensive intraplate deformation. Here, the authors present geodynamic experiments of continental deformation across Central, East, and Southeast Asia which suggest that the Pacfic and Sunda subduction zones played an active role during intraplate deformation.

    • W. P. Schellart
    • , Z. Chen
    • , V. Strak
    • , J. C. Duarte
    •  & F. M. Rosas
  • Article
    | Open Access

    On 22 December 2018, the western flank of Anak Krakatau collapsed into the sea of the Sunda Strait triggering a tsunami which killed approximately 430 people and displaced 33,000. Here, the authors show that Anak Krakatau exhibited an elevated state of activity several months prior to the collapse, including precursory thermal anomalies, an increase in the island’s surface area, and a gradual seaward motion of the southwestern flank.

    • Thomas R. Walter
    • , Mahmud Haghshenas Haghighi
    • , Felix M. Schneider
    • , Diego Coppola
    • , Mahdi Motagh
    • , Joachim Saul
    • , Andrey Babeyko
    • , Torsten Dahm
    • , Valentin R. Troll
    • , Frederik Tilmann
    • , Sebastian Heimann
    • , Sébastien Valade
    • , Rahmat Triyono
    • , Rokhis Khomarudin
    • , Nugraha Kartadinata
    • , Marco Laiolo
    • , Francesco Massimetti
    •  & Peter Gaebler
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The USArray of EarthScope is a seismic broadband network acquiring global seismic data. Here, the authors apply an iterative rank-reduction method to obtain free earthquake data at locations where no seismic stations are available as well as enhancing existing data recorded by the USArray.

    • Yangkang Chen
    • , Min Bai
    •  & Yunfeng Chen
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The nature of erosion featured at the outlet of submarine channels is still a topic of debate. Here the authors present, based on scaled experiments, a novel flow mechanism for turbidity currents at the end of submarine channels and for the first time describe their erosional character.

    • F. Pohl
    • , J. T. Eggenhuisen
    • , M. Tilston
    •  & M. J. B. Cartigny
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Can we pump water into deep active volcanic areas? Here, the authors model the effect of water circulation into supercritical geothermal systems and show that the effect of rock cooling dominates the seismicity increase over the pore pressure changes.

    • Francesco Parisio
    • , Victor Vilarrasa
    • , Wenqing Wang
    • , Olaf Kolditz
    •  & Thomas Nagel
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Climate dynamics in Earth’s distant history can provide important forecasting for future changes, but uncertainties in proxy-derived carbon dioxide results are common. Here Da and colleagues present a refined paleosol proxy for carbon dioxide reconstruction, and report persistently low levels ( < 300 ppm) throughout the Pleistocene interglacials.

    • Jiawei Da
    • , Yi Ge Zhang
    • , Gen Li
    • , Xianqiang Meng
    •  & Junfeng Ji
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Due to active geological resurfacing, the record of large impact basins (e.g. in Chryse Planitia) on Mars seems to be widely absent. Based on high-quality global datasets, the authors here propose a buried impact basin, covered by up to 1 km of sediments or lava flows after its formation more than 4 billion years ago.

    • Lu Pan
    • , Cathy Quantin-Nataf
    • , Sylvain Breton
    •  & Chloé Michaut
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The phytoplankton Gephyrocapsa have gone through repeated macroevolutionary shifts in size. Here, Bendif et al. combine fossil and genomic data to show the latest shift was coincident with a species radiation and suggest that previous shifts have also resulted from cycles of radiation and extinction.

    • El Mahdi Bendif
    • , Bruno Nevado
    • , Edgar L. Y. Wong
    • , Kyoko Hagino
    • , Ian Probert
    • , Jeremy R. Young
    • , Rosalind E. M. Rickaby
    •  & Dmitry A. Filatov
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Sulphur isotopes track recycling of subducted crustal material, yet few igneous rocks preserve these signals over Earth history. Here, the authors investigate a billion-year-old alkaline province in Greenland and are able to reconstruct a recycled mantle source, thus alkaline rocks can be used to reveal crustal recycling through geological time.

    • William Hutchison
    • , Rainer J. Babiel
    • , Adrian A. Finch
    • , Michael A. W. Marks
    • , Gregor Markl
    • , Adrian J. Boyce
    • , Eva E. Stüeken
    • , Henrik Friis
    • , Anouk M. Borst
    •  & Nicola J. Horsburgh
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Long-term climate cycles can potentially influence population dynamics, including those of humans. Here, the authors combine climate and archaeological records from Northeast China over the past 8000 years and demonstrate ~500 year cycles in both the monsoon and human activity.

    • Deke Xu
    • , Houyuan Lu
    • , Guoqiang Chu
    • , Li Liu
    • , Caiming Shen
    • , Fengjiang Li
    • , Can Wang
    •  & Naiqin Wu
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Late Middle Pleistocene (LMP) hominin fossils are scarce, limiting reconstruction of human evolution during this key period. Here, the authors use phylogenetic modelling to predict the modern human last common ancestor’s morphology and inform hypotheses of human origins by comparison to LMP fossils.

    • Aurélien Mounier
    •  & Marta Mirazón Lahr
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Forecasting aftershock earthquakes is a critical step in improving seismic hazard mitigation. The authors here combine Bayesian methods with extreme value theory to tackle this problem - and manage to estimate the maximum magnitude of an expected earthquake as well as the arrival times in a pre-defined window.

    • Robert Shcherbakov
    • , Jiancang Zhuang
    • , Gert Zöller
    •  & Yosihiko Ogata
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The Al-Idrissi Fault System in the Alboran Sea is a major tectonic structure in its initial stage. By using bathymetric and seismic reflection data, the authors unravel a 3D geometry for the AIFS, which corresponds to a crustal-scale boundary and provides a unique model of the inception and growth of a young plate boundary fault system.

    • Eulàlia Gràcia
    • , Ingo Grevemeyer
    • , Rafael Bartolomé
    • , Hector Perea
    • , Sara Martínez-Loriente
    • , Laura Gómez de la Peña
    • , Antonio Villaseñor
    • , Yann Klinger
    • , Claudio Lo Iacono
    • , Susana Diez
    • , Alcinoe Calahorrano
    • , Miquel Camafort
    • , Sergio Costa
    • , Elia d’Acremont
    • , Alain Rabaute
    •  & César R. Ranero
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Determining if a volcanic eruption will behave effusively or explosively is crucial for predicting the potential hazard type and for planning effective mitigation. Here, the authors present a universal, fluid dynamic induced, break-up criterion for low viscosity melts.

    • T. J. Jones
    • , C. D. Reynolds
    •  & S. C. Boothroyd
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Quantification of shale gas reserves is critical to shape the energy policies of countries. Here, the authors present a new procedure to estimate gas in place and show that important UK gas reserves are actually much lower than previously thought.

    • Patrick Whitelaw
    • , Clement N. Uguna
    • , Lee A. Stevens
    • , Will Meredith
    • , Colin E. Snape
    • , Christopher H. Vane
    • , Vicky Moss-Hayes
    •  & Andrew D. Carr
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Recent fossil findings have suggested that anthropoid primates originated in Asia before dispersing into Africa. Here, Jaeger and colleagues describe a new fossil Asian primate, Aseanpithecus myanmarensis, that they interpret as a closer relative of African crown anthropoids.

    • Jean-Jacques Jaeger
    • , Olivier Chavasseau
    • , Vincent Lazzari
    • , Aung Naing Soe
    • , Chit Sein
    • , Anne Le Maître
    • , Hla Shwe
    •  & Yaowalak Chaimanee
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Hydrous and alkali rich magmas rise through the lithosphere and may host gold-rich ore deposits – a poorly understood process. Here, the authors present new chalcophile element data across a metallogenic section of the lithosphere and suggest a continuous or staged ascent of magmatic-hydrothermal settings from mantle to upper crust.

    • David A. Holwell
    • , Marco Fiorentini
    • , Iain McDonald
    • , Yongjun Lu
    • , Andrea Giuliani
    • , Daniel J. Smith
    • , Manuel Keith
    •  & Marek Locmelis
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The point in time in which the ancient stagnant-lid tectonic regime with episodic plate subduction changed to continuous plate subduction is still topic of scientific debate. Here, the authors present vast geochemical dataset covering the last 3.5 billion years of Earth’s history and date the onset of continuous subduction to about 2.1 billion years ago.

    • He Liu
    • , Wei-dong Sun
    • , Robert Zartman
    •  & Ming Tang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Controversy surrounds the fixity of both hotspots and large low shear velocity provinces (LLSVPs). Here, the authors present new paleomagnetic data to show that the great bend in the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain can be attributed to mantle plume motion and that LLSVPs are mobile.

    • Richard K. Bono
    • , John A. Tarduno
    •  & Hans-Peter Bunge
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Sponge animals likely originated in the Precambrian, but their early spicular fossils are ambiguous. Here, Tang et al. report a new Cambrian sponge taxon with weakly biomineralized spicules and suggest that the poor Precambrian record may reflect the later evolution of biomineralization.

    • Qing Tang
    • , Bin Wan
    • , Xunlai Yuan
    • , A. D. Muscente
    •  & Shuhai Xiao