Earth Science

Captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, the heliosphere of a young star, LL Orionis, collides with an interstellar medium of dust. A similar event with our own sun, researchers say, might have occurred between two and three million years ago.

A Giant Interstellar Cloud May Have Once Enveloped Earth, Potentially Causing Ice Ages

Astronomers suggest this cold, dense cloud compressed our sun's protective field between two and three million years ago, leaving the Earth exposed to cosmic material

A couple of atypically colorful logbook pages from the Bengal of Salem, Massachusetts, housed at the Providence Public Library. The ship sailed around the Pacific Ocean from 1832 to 1835.

How a Trove of Whaling Logbooks Will Help Scientists Understand Our Changing Climate

Researchers are examining more than 4,200 New England documents to turn descriptions of the wind into data

A helicopter photographs lava and ash from the May 29 eruption in Iceland. The surrounding area has been evacuated.

Another Volcanic Eruption Hits Iceland, Launching Lava More Than 160 Feet Into the Air

It's the fifth eruption near the town of Grindavik since December, signaling a new era of volcanic activity for the region

An illustration of some of the underwater creatures that lived during the Ediacaran Period, roughly 635 million to 541 million years ago.

Earth's Magnetic Field Nearly Collapsed 600 Million Years Ago. Then, Weird and Complex Life Evolved

A new study suggests more solar radiation reached Earth while the magnetic field weakened, leading to a rise in oxygen that drove an explosion of multicellular organisms during the Ediacaran Period

The earthquake on March 27, 1964, dropped Anchorage’s Fourth Avenue and some cars on it roughly 20 feet below normal.

How the Great Alaska Earthquake Shook Up Science

Sixty years ago, the largest earthquake in U.S. history shocked geologists. It’s still driving scientific discoveries today

The Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station. Geothermal power has long been popular in volcanic countries like Iceland, where hot water bubbles from the ground.

Is Geothermal Power Heating Up as an Energy Source?

Long confined to regions with volcanic activity, the method of harnessing energy from the Earth promises to become much more versatile thanks to new technologies

Piles of coal sit in front of a power plant in Utah. Such coal-fired power plants emit greenhouse gases that drive climate change.

What Myths About the Anthropocene Get Wrong

These ten misconceptions underplay how much we have altered the global environment and undermine the new perspective we need to deal with a drastically changed world

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What Happens When Animals Cross the Road

Our byways are an unnatural incursion into the natural world, especially when they’re allowed to fall into disuse. Meet a roadkill scientist and a journalist tracking how roads mess with nature—and what we can do about it

Lava erupts from a nearly two-mile-long fissure on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula in the fourth eruption for the region since December.

Iceland Volcano Spews Lava in Fourth and Most Powerful Eruption in Three Months

Officials detected signs of an eruption only 40 minutes before fountains of lava burst from the ground

A volcanic eruption moves toward the outskirts of the evacuated town of Grindavik on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula.

Iceland's Recent Volcanic Eruptions Are Unleashing Deep Secrets

Each dramatic episode over the past few years has led to fresh geologic revelations, and researchers think another bout is on the way

Returning Rapids Project investigator Chris Benson examines old photos of the Colorado River to see how it has changed over time.

Citizen Scientists Document a Recovering Colorado River

The Returning Rapids Project charts a resurgent waterway and its surrounding ecosystems

Costa Rica's Arenal volcano spews geysers of lava, ash and toxic gases

Why Central American Volcanoes Are Ideal for Studying Earth's Evolution

The volcanic arc extending from Mexico to Costa Rica expels a variety of magma types that make for a geological paradise

Meteorological records from USS Pennsylvania, seen here off the Virginia coast in 1927, helped fill a gap in 20th century marine weather records.

How Citizen Scientists Rescued Crucial World War II Weather Data

Newly declassified documents from the Pacific theater have been digitized and could improve climate models

An artist's rendition of the collision between Earth and the protoplanet Theia, which, according to the prevailing theory, resulted in the moon's formation.

Mysterious Lumps in Earth's Mantle May Be Remains of the Crash That Formed the Moon

Chunks of a protoplanet called Theia became lodged within Earth after the two worlds smashed together, new computer simulations suggest

Dust from the Chicxulub impact may have plunged the planet into a cold, dark winter and halted photosynthesis.

Dust May Have Triggered the Global Winter That Killed the Dinosaurs

A new study, based on modeling, suggests fine silicate particles could have blocked sunlight and shut down photosynthesis across the globe

A shot of Hurricane Ian, taken from the International Space Station on September 28, 2022

Atlantic Hurricanes Are Getting More Dangerous, More Quickly

If such changes are in response to climate change, the future may feature more sudden, daunting storms

Warming spurred by Earth's next supercontinent could lead to widespread desert conditions, a new modeling study suggests. Pictured is the Tengger Desert in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of China.

Earth's Next Supercontinent Could Wipe Out Mammals in 250 Million Years

Termed “Pangea Ultima,” the predicted future landmass might be extremely hot, plagued by volcanoes and largely inhospitable, per a new modeling study

A quarry in the Cerro Blanco Forest in southern Ecuador, which is facing threats from construction and deforestation.

Humans Have Exceeded Six of the Nine Boundaries Keeping Earth Habitable

Scientists find we are “well outside the safe operating space for humanity” in a new study meant to assess the health of our planet

"Cellphone: Unseen Connections" at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History walks through every aspect of the technology.

How Cellphones Connect Us All

A new Natural History Museum exhibition explores how the devices link us to Earth and to a network of people worldwide involved in their supply chain

Apparatus for administering nitrous oxide and other anesthetic gases

These Objects Tell the Story of Human-Driven Climate Change

Smithsonian curators dig into the collections to find artifacts that illustrate how we arrived at this moment

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