News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Time capsules of fluid, trapped within the oxide minerals from two iron ore deposits reveal an important role for sediment-derived carbonate–sulfate-rich melts in the concentration of iron, a crucial element for humanity’s development.

    • James M. Brenan
  • News & Views |

    Permanent surface deformation caused by the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquakes has been directly measured, constraining the mechanics of surface damage in earthquakes.

    • Wanpeng Feng
    •  & Rafael V. Almeida
  • News & Views |

    Deep, carbon-rich Pacific waters intruded into the South Atlantic some 38 to 28 thousand years ago. This deep Pacific expansion could have represented a considerable sink of atmospheric CO2, one that helped initiate the Last Glacial Maximum.

    • Brian A. Haley
  • News & Views |

    The Archaean atmosphere may have been well oxygenated, according to a reconsideration of sulfur cycling at that time. This challenges the view that sedimentary sulfur records oxygen-poor conditions during Earth’s first two billion years.

    • Desiree Roerdink
  • News & Views |

    Organic carbon in the top metre of Earth’s soils is far older than previously thought, averaging 4,800 years old. These radiocarbon-derived age estimates require us to recalibrate our expectations of ecosystem gains and losses of carbon.

    • Sharon A. Billings
    •  & Lígia F. T. de Souza
  • News & Views |

    Compositional signatures of subducted crust in the deep-mantle sources of ocean island volcanoes in the Atlantic Ocean but not the Pacific reveal that plate motions on Earth’s surface influence the characteristics of Earth’s deepest interior.

    • Richard W. Carlson
  • News & Views |

    Large-scale land acquisitions accelerate tropical deforestation, suggests an analysis of two decades of land-deal and forest-cover data. Such exploitation will threaten the future of these globally crucial carbon sinks and biodiversity hotspots.

    • Andreas Neef
  • News & Views |

    The morphology and geometry of the plate interface in a subduction zone is heterogeneous and influenced by lower-plate normal faulting, suggests an analysis of seismic data. These properties of subduction interfaces may influence how the largest earthquakes occur.

    • Matt J. Ikari
  • News & Views |

    A revised age reconstruction suggests marine-based regions of the Eurasian Ice Sheet melted rapidly, contributing to a major sea-level rise some 14,600 years ago. Such a rapid collapse of massive ice hints at the vulnerability of Earth’s remaining ice sheets.

    • Joseph D. Ortiz
  • News & Views |

    Whether Earth’s water was delivered early or late in its formation is debated. The composition of Venus’s atmosphere may indicate that late accretion, the final stage of planet formation, delivered little water to the terrestrial planets.

    • Ramon Brasser
  • News & Views |

    Mars’s newest seismometer needed to separate marsquakes from meteorology. Continuous weather observations to keep it honest are revealing new facets of Mars’s churning atmosphere.

    • Nicholas Heavens
  • News & Views |

    The biomass of some of the smallest ocean organisms may be stable or even increase in a warming world, suggests a data analysis based on machine-learning techniques.

    • Daniele Iudicone
  • News & Views |

    Strengthening and poleward movement of the Southern Westerlies, and increased melting of the Antarctic ice sheet play a primary role in changes observed in the Southern Ocean over the past few decades, according to measurements and modelling.

    • Alessandro Silvano
  • News & Views |

    Differential cycling of carbonate and organic carbon in the mantle may link the Great Oxidation Event and the subsequent increase in carbon isotope values, according to a model that links the Earth’s surface and interior.

    • Jeremy K. Caves Rugenstein
  • News & Views |

    Tectonic tremor may ultimately be caused by in situ fluid overpressure generated by chemical reactions between a subducting slab and the mantle, according to field and microstructural observations of a shear zone.

    • Kohtaro Ujiie
  • News & Views |

    Northern peatlands store over 1,000 Gt of carbon, almost double previous estimates, according to a new analysis of peat core data. The fate of this peat carbon, however, is uncertain in a rapidly changing world.

    • Matthew J. Amesbury
    • , Angela Gallego-Sala
    •  & Julie Loisel
  • News & Views |

    The large domes found on the dwarf planet Ceres may not result from cryovolcanism, but from solid-state flow analogous to salt doming on Earth, according to numerical simulations of gravitational loading.

    • Michael Küppers
  • News & Views |

    Wet rice cultivation in the Palu Valley, Indonesia, prepared the ground for the devastating liquefaction-induced landslides that were triggered by the Mw 7.5 earthquake in 2018, suggest two studies of the spatial relationship between landslide morphology and irrigation.

    • Phil R. Cummins
  • News & Views |

    The structure of the lithosphere is key to reconciling the dynamic topography predicted by mantle convection models with residual topography derived from observations, suggest analyses of both models and data.

    • Nicolas Flament
  • News & Views |

    Subduction processes may have operated very early in Earth’s history according to the heavy silicon isotope compositions of Archaean igneous rocks. The silicon that precipitated out of the Archaean oceans as chert was subducted and melted to yield seawater-like heavy isotope signatures in early granitic rocks.

    • Franck Poitrasson
  • News & Views |

    The distribution of iron-loving elements between the mantles of the Moon and Earth may differ from established belief, suggest two studies that determine the hafnium–tungsten ratio and sulfide–silicate melt partitioning of elements in the lunar mantle.

    • Philipp Gleißner
  • News & Views |

    African savannah grasslands initially proliferated in the late Miocene due to declining atmospheric CO2, rather than previously proposed regional climate drying. Supplanting previous woodland vegetation due to photosynthetic adaptations, these grasslands set the stage for subsequent mammalian evolutionary trends on the continent.

    • Hayley Cawthra
  • News & Views |

    Ocean-floor plateaus are not voluminous lava flows from central volcanoes as thought, but anomalously thick oceanic crust, suggest magnetic anomaly patterns from the Shatsky Rise, in the northwestern Pacific Ocean.

    • Joanne M. Whittaker
  • News & Views |

    Earth’s formation by the accretion of volatile-rich carbonaceous chondrite-like materials, without a need for exotic building blocks or secondary volatile loss, is supported by recognition of a plateau pattern for highly volatile elements.

    • Zaicong Wang
  • News & Views |

    Confidence that banded iron formations record oxic conditions during deposition is established, as a model demonstrates that they are formed of primary iron oxides rather than secondarily altered silicate minerals.

    • Eva E. Stüeken
  • News & Views |

    Deep soil carbon in tropical catchments can be rapidly mobilized to rivers upon land-use change to agriculture, suggest analyses of dissolved organic carbon. Such carbon stocks had been thought stable for millennia.

    • Alf Ekblad
    •  & David Bastviken
  • News & Views |

    The Toarcian oceanic anoxic event disrupted terrestrial ecosystems as well as the marine realm, according to analyses of microfossils derived from land plants. Changes in diversity and composition were initially more rapid in terrestrial ecosystems.

    • Luke Mander
    •  & Jennifer C. McElwain
  • News & Views |

    The Moon’s isotopic composition is uncannily similar to Earth’s. This may be the signature of a magma ocean on Earth at the time of the Moon-forming giant impact, according to numerical simulations.

    • H. Jay Melosh
  • News & Views |

    Nitrogen deposition in China has stabilized over the past decade, thanks to efficient regulation of fertilizer use, suggests an analysis of wet and dry deposition.

    • Maria Kanakidou
  • News & Views |

    Flotation of aerosols as a film on the hydrocarbon lakes of Saturn’s moon Titan may explain the lakes’ stillness, and could influence the atmospheric hydrocarbon cycle.

    • Isabelle Couturier-Tamburelli
  • News & Views |

    Pyroclastic density currents generate a basal air cushion that reduces friction with the ground, reveal laboratory experiments. This explains their ability to travel rapidly over large distances from their volcanic source.

    • Alain Burgisser
  • News & Views |

    Thinning and retreat of Jakobshavn Isbræ has reversed in 2016, in tandem with regional ocean cooling.

    • Rebecca H. Jackson
  • News & Views |

    A chemically distinct region separates the Indian and Pacific mantle domains as revealed by isotope analyses on rare samples from the Australian–Antarctic Ridge.

    • Pamela D. Kempton
  • News & Views |

    A magnitude 7.5 strike-slip earthquake that struck Palu, Indonesia, in 2018 unexpectedly generated a devastating tsunami. Seismic data reveal that its rupture propagated fast, at supershear speed. Whether the two are connected remains to be seen.

    • P. Martin Mai
  • News & Views |

    Transition from a weak and erratic geomagnetic field to a more stable one around 560 million years ago, inferred from palaeomagnetic measurements, suggests that the inner core may have solidified around that time, much later than thought.

    • Peter Driscoll
  • News & Views |

    Cumulative wildfires or prescribed burning produce different outcomes for the vegetation, suggest two long-term analyses of fire-affected ecosystems. Climate change and land management practices are altering how ecosystems function.

    • Mark A. Cochrane
  • News & Views |

    Differences between earthquake sequences in the crust and adjacent uppermost mantle at oceanic transform faults are revealed by a seafloor seismic experiment at the Blanco Transform Fault.

    • Jeffrey J. McGuire
  • News & Views |

    Atmospheric levels of chloroform, an ozone-depleting substance not part of the Montreal Protocol, have risen. The increase may be attributable to industrial emissions in Eastern China.

    • Susann Tegtmeier
  • News & Views |

    Mangrove canopy heights vary around the world in response to rain, storms and human activities, suggests a global analysis of mangrove canopy height. How tall the trees are matters for estimating global mangrove carbon storage.

    • Daniel A. Friess
  • News & Views |

    Seismic data during the time interval between larger earthquakes could contain information about fault displacements and potential for future failure, suggest analyses of data from laboratory and real-world slow-slip earthquakes using machine-learning techniques.

    • Kenneth C. Creager
  • News & Views |

    Most of the net water transferred over the past 15 years from non-glaciated land to the oceans has originated from landlocked basins, according to satellite data. This source of sea-level rise is often overlooked.

    • Tamlin M. Pavelsky
  • News & Views |

    Extreme temperature swings and deteriorating environments are perhaps what killed most life in the end-Permian extinction, suggest climate model simulations. Siberian Traps volcanism probably triggered the events.

    • Ying Cui
  • News & Views |

    During flat subduction, material is scraped off the base of the continental mantle lithosphere, building a migrating keel. This testable mechanism for flat subduction recreates features of the Laramide orogeny.

    • Marc-André Gutscher