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An electronic sign on a road in South Lake Tahoe warns of snow and ice

Record snowfalls buried parts of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains between late 2016 and early 2017. The resulting meltwater helped trigger a spate of small earthquakes. Credit: George Rose/Getty

Geophysics

Wintery weather makes California’s landscape tremble

Seismic shivers documented in the Golden State after record-breaking snows in 2016 and 2017.

Water from melting snow sets off swarms of small earthquakes in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.

Emily Montgomery-Brown at the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, and her colleagues analysed records of earthquakes near Long Valley Caldera, in the eastern part of the state. The scientists compared the seismic patterns with streamflow in the area.

Since 1984, small earthquakes have rattled the ground 37 times more often when streamflow has been very high than when it has been very low. Water percolating into the ground as snow melts in spring seemingly changes the pressure in the ground, triggering the quakes.

After a record snowfall in the Sierra Nevada area between late 2016 and early 2017, for example, the region experienced a swarm of minor quakes, including more than 3,000 such events between 28 May and 1 August 2017.

The work represents one of only a few examples of a documented link between precipitation and earthquakes.

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Selected materials found in the gut contents of Tollund Man

The intestinal contents of a man killed in a prehistoric ritual (clockwise from upper left): barley, charred food that had been encrusted in a clay pot, flax seeds and sand. Credit: Peter Steen Henriksen, the Danish National Museum

Archaeology

The guts of a ‘bog body’ reveal sacrificed man’s final meal

Tollund Man, who lived more than 2,000 years ago, ate well before he was hanged.
Illustration of Earth with white lines showing the magnetic field.

Earth’s magnetic field (depicted as white lines in this artist’s impression) can be studied with observations from a constellation of commercial satellites. Credit: Mikkel Juul Jensen/Science Photo Library

Geophysics

Telecoms satellites’ new purpose: spying on Earth’s magnetic field

Clues to the forces generated by the planet’s core emerge from observations intended for satellite navigation.
Ageing of an artwork with graphene

After 130 hours of artificial ageing by visible light, the painting Triton and Nereid has lost some of the purple tint to the figures’ right, but a graphene film kept the bright pink at upper left undimmed. Credit: M. Kotsidi et al./Nature Nanotechnol.

Materials science

A graphene cloak keeps artworks’ colours ageless

A layer of carbon atoms preserves a painting’s vibrant hues — and can be applied and removed without damage.
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