Earth's Crust

Rescuers search for survivors following the earthquake that struck central Italy early this morning.

The Geology Behind Italy’s Catastrophic Quake

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake shook the Apennine Mountains—and given the region’s geology, that’s no surprise

This 340-Million-Year-Old Ocean Crust Could Date Back to Pangaea

Researchers believe they've found the world's oldest ocean crust


Go Deep: 5 Places on Earth to See Seriously Old Rocks

See geology "in action"—or at least as action-packed as rocks can be—at these five spots

An artist's rendering of Chicxulub, the asteroid believed to have wiped out large dinosaurs and reshaped parts of the world.

What Happened in the Seconds, Hours, Weeks After the Dino-Killing Asteroid Hit Earth?

The Cretaceous forecast: Tsunamis, a deadly heat pulse, and massive cooling.

The San Andreas Fault, cause of countless big quakes.

Seismic Slowdowns Could Warn of Impending Earthquakes

An "earthquake machine" in the lab is helping scientists understand what goes on just before a quake

Paleontologist Paul Olsen of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is co-leading a project in Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park to drill deep into rocks dating back more than 200 million years.

Defying Critics, Paleontologist Paul Olsen Looks for Hidden Answers Behind Mass Extinctions

From a childhood spent discovering fossils to tangling over questions of ancient life and death, this scientist constantly pushes the boundaries.

San Andreas fault near Parkfield, California

Tides Trigger Tiny Earthquakes Along the San Andreas Fault

The spring tides trigger small tremors deep in the fault, revealing the fault's structure

A map of gravity variations on the Earth's seafloor, which mostly correspond to underwater ridges and the edges of Earth's tectonic plates.

Study Says Earth's Plate Tectonics May Be Just a Phase

New models suggest that earth's plates could grind to a halt in about five billion years.

The scalding solution that pipes from the vents does not boil because of the mass of water pushing down from above.

Scientists Explore Breathtaking Hydrothermal Vents in Virtual Reality

With a high-tech remotely operated vehicle, a team is able to map a dark, hot and toxic vent field on the ocean floor

What Caused the 2011 D.C. Earthquake?

A thinning mantle led to the 5.8 magnitude shake in the Southeast, and more may be in store

A woman sits amid the ruins of the Great Stone Church, which collapsed in an 1812 earthquake, at Mission San Juan Capistrano.

San Andreas May Have Had Help Triggering a Historic Earthquake

New evidence about a devastating quake in 1812 hints that the San Jacinto fault may be a bigger seismic risk than anyone thought

Ellis Emmett, diving between two continents in Silfra.

Dive Between Two Continents in This Frigid Fissure in Iceland

Filled with pure glacier water, Silfra is the only place on Earth where divers can touch two continental plates at once

Nematodes (blue) wiggle inside a stalactite from a South African gold mine in this image taken with a microscope.

Inner Earth Is Teeming With Exotic Forms of Life

More than a mile below the surface, our planet supports diverse creatures that could give us clues about life across the solar system

Diamond crystal on kimberlite from Eastern Siberia

This African Plant Leads the Way to Diamond Deposits

A palm-like plant seems to grow only on top of diamond-rich deposits called kimberlite pipes

The Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the most indelible hydrothermal features in Yellowstone National Park.

Giant New Magma Reservoir Found Beneath Yellowstone

While an eruption is still unlikely, the find improves our understanding of the supervolcano underneath the national park

Scientists use underwater vehicles like these to study eruptions beneath the surface.

This is What An Underwater Volcano Sounds Like

Decoding the noises of magma and bubbles will help scientists study explosions from afar

Cavers stand amongst large gour pool walls and unique raft cone formations inside Hang Va.

These Breathtaking Photos of Vietnam’s Caves Bring Out the Armchair Spelunker in Everyone

Photographer Ryan Deboodt discovers beauty in this subterranean realm


Ask Smithsonian: What's the Deepest Hole Ever Dug?

The answer to the question, says a Smithsonian researcher, is more about why we dig, than how low you can go

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