Geology

Three giant rocks—Tokia, Rebua, and Kamatoa—sit in the ocean south of Makin Island in the Republic of Kiribati.

How Indigenous Stories Helped Scientists Understand the Origin of Three Huge Boulders

Legends spurred researchers to form a theory about Makin Island's distinctively out-of-place rocks

Researchers estimate that ancient builders used roughly 226,085,379 square feet of rock, dirt and adobe to construct the three main pyramid complexes in Teotihuacán's city center. Pictured here is the Pyramid of the Sun.

Mexico's Ancient Inhabitants Moved Land and Bent Rivers to Build Teotihuacán

Architects of the Mesoamerican city transformed the landscape in ways that continue to impact modern development today, a new study finds

A view of the Aghileen Pinnacles & Pavlof Volcano from the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.

Three Volcanoes Are Erupting Simultaneously in Alaska

Scientists continue to monitor activity in Aleutians, other U.S. sites

A present-day orange demosponge (Agelas oroides) can be found off the coast of Corfu, Greece. Research suggests sponges may have lived on Earth 890 million years ago.

This Sponge Fossil May Be the Earliest Record of Animal Life

The 890-million-year-old relic predates periods of extreme cold and the planet’s second oxygenation spike

The megaripple features have average wavelengths of 1,968.5 feet and average wave heights of almost 52.5 feet, making them the largest ripples documented on Earth.

Mile-High Tsunami Caused by Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Left Behind Towering 'Megaripples'

Seismic imaging data depicts 52-feet high waves 5,000 feet below Louisiana

Rain, waves, and seeping groundwater can destabilize seaside bluffs, making them prone to collapse.

The Science of Predicting When Bluffs in Southern California Will Collapse

Researchers are using lidar to better understand the erosional forces that cause oceanfront cliffs to crumble

An explosion seen off the Caspian Sea on July Fourth was attributed to a mud volcano eruption.

Azerbaijan Mud Volcano Erupts in Fiery Display

The flames towered an impressive 1,600 feet into the air

A radar image of Venus' largest block of crust, located in the planet's lowlands and identified by the authors of a new paper.

New Research

Venus May Still Be Geologically Active

Radar images of the planet’s surface suggest large sections of its crust appear to have moved in the geologically recent past

An artist’s illustration shows an asteroid hitting Earth. Large impactors hit the planet every one to three million years.

New Research of Impact Crater Blows Away Previous Estimates of Its Age

Scientists say the Boltysh crater in Ukraine formed well after the impact in Mexico that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct

Zircons are the oldest minerals in the world and come in colors like the rich blue above. Researchers have now used these gemstones to identify when modern plate tectonics began.

Smithsonian Voices

Earth's Oldest Minerals Hold Clues About the Likely Start of Plate Tectonics

New research reveals how one of Earth’s defining geologic features likely formed—and set the stage for the emergence of life

The dunes of White Sands National Monument stretch for hundreds of miles in New Mexico.

How Extreme Temperature Swings in Deserts Stir Sand and Dust

Understanding the movement of particles, some of which enter the atmosphere, may help scientists improve climate models and forecast dust storms on Mars

Many organisms like coral—and even people—create their own minerals to perform basic life functions. Geologists can study these biominerals to learn more about Earth.

Smithsonian Voices

How Biominerals are Stepping Stones for Climate Change Research

Geologists are providing key insight into how the Earth might transform in the coming decades from climate change

An ear of corn sits on topsoil in Nebraska, part of the nation’s Corn Belt. Scientists estimate the region has lost about 35 percent of its topsoil.

The Nation's Corn Belt Has Lost a Third of Its Topsoil

Researchers used satellite imaging and surface soil color to find out how much of the nutrient-rich earth has eroded away

These polished stones collected in Wyoming may have been carried some 600 miles from Wisconsin inside the stomachs of sauropods.

New Research

Stones Hint at Possible 600-Mile Dinosaur Migration From Wisconsin to Wyoming

Some 150 million years ago, prehistoric plant-eaters may have carried the rocks in their bellies to aid digestion

The Wheeler Geologic Area in Colorado's La Garita Wilderness was once a national park.

You Can Still Visit These Six Former National Parks

Despite being delisted by the NPS, these spots are worth exploring thanks to their rich history and sheer beauty

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Smithsonian Voices

How the World's Largest Aquamarine Gem Came to Be

The Dom Pedro Aquamarine is one of the largest mineral crystals found inside Earth's rocks

A fulgurite made of fused quartz found in Florida

Ancient Lightning May Have Sparked Life on Earth

More than a billion strikes a year likely provided an essential element for organisms

The meteorite is a carbonaceous chondrite. There are only 51 similar samples out of 65,000 meteorites in collections around the world.

Rare Meteorite Found in U.K. Driveway Could Hold Secrets of the Early Solar System

Thousands of people spotted the fireball on February 28, and more fragments may still be scattered in Gloucestershire

The ring-shaped coral islands known as atolls, like this one in the Maldives Islands in the Indian Ocean, may trace their formation to sea levels repeatedly rising and falling over hundreds of thousands of years, geologists say.

Why Some Geologists Say Charles Darwin's Theory of Coral Atoll Formation Is Wrong

Sea levels rising and falling over hundreds of thousands of years may have helped build the oceanic structures

The study begins with fossilized Kauri trees (pictured) that died over 41,000 years ago.

New Research

Did an Ancient Magnetic Field Reversal Cause Chaos for Life on Earth 42,000 Years Ago?

The study links new, detailed data about Earth’s atmosphere to a series of unfortunate events that occurred around the same time

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