Reviews & Analysis

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  • Megathrust earthquakes along subduction zones present significant hazards. Evidence from the South Chile subduction zone suggests that the structure and fluid distribution of the megathrust interface governs the size and timing of large earthquakes.

    • Mohamed Chlieh
    News & Views
  • Marine microfossil assemblages refine sea surface temperature patterns and yield insights into discrepancies between paleoclimate models of the last ice age and observations.

    • Marci M. Robinson
    News & Views
  • Three decades of meteorological observations show that Himalayan glaciers have been cooling because of intensified downslope winds, in contrast to the warming observed elsewhere in the region.

    • Jesse Norris
    News & Views
  • A geochemical study of an ancient mass-extinction event shows that only moderate expansion of oxygen-deficient waters along continental margins is needed to decimate marine biodiversity. This finding provides a stark warning of the possible consequences of human-driven ocean deoxygenation on life in Earth’s shallow oceans.

    • Brian Kendall
    News & Views
  • Analysis of sea temperatures using a four-dimensional spatio-temporal framework has revealed a great number of marine heatwaves occurring globally below the sea surface. These extreme events, which threaten the ecologically important epipelagic zone, have occurred increasingly frequently during the past three decades owing to ocean warming.

    Research Briefing
  • Identifying the metal micronutrients required by early life could help to illuminate how primitive organisms arose, but which metals were biologically available in ancient seawater has not been determined. A new experimental framework suggests how the precipitation of iron minerals from seawater reduced the availability of key metals, particularly zinc, copper and vanadium.

    • Jena E. Johnson
    News & Views
  • H2, which is formed by the oxidation of iron in rocks, was likely a critical source of energy for early life. Analysis of natural rock samples from 3.5–2.7 billion-year-old komatiites, combined with geochemical data from a global database, quantifies the amount of H2 likely to have been produced in Earth’s ancient oceans.

    Research Briefing
  • Accurate estimates of the land carbon sink are vital for informing climate projections and net-zero policies. Application of a strict filtering method to microwave satellite data enabled the evaluation of global vegetation biomass carbon dynamics for 2010–2019. The results highlight the role of demography in driving forest carbon gains and losses.

    Research Briefing
  • There are two competing hypotheses for the origin of oceanic plateaus: plume versus plate. Thermodynamic modelling of magmatism at Shatsky Rise, in the Pacific Ocean, now suggests that neither mechanism is adequate on its own and in fact plume–ridge interaction is required to explain the formation of this ocean plateau.

    Research Briefing
  • Exoenzymes produced by heterotrophic microorganisms early in Earth history helped unlock previously unavailable organic matter and transformed ocean geochemistry.

    • Nagissa Mahmoudi
    • Andrew D. Steen
    • Kurt O. Konhauser
    Perspective
  • Phosphorus from intensive agriculture contributes to increased algal blooms, threatening ecosystems and drinking water sources. We found increasing dissolved phosphorus concentrations in more than 170 Great Lakes Basin streams, despite stable or decreasing total phosphorus levels. Higher latitudes experienced greater relative increases, potentially due to warmer winters and altered flow pathways.

    Research Briefing