Category » Earth

Undersea Eruptions Led to Massive Landslide
February 1, 2011

Undersea Eruptions Led to Massive Landslide

An erupting undersea volcano near Guam in the western Pacific continues to reshape the seafloor. In March 2010, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and OSU led another in a series of expeditions to NW Rota-1 in the Mariana Arc. Eruptions have been practically continuous since first discovered in 2003, says Bill Chadwick, […]


Lionfish Outcompete the Natives on Coral Reefs
February 1, 2011

Lionfish Outcompete the Natives on Coral Reefs

Lionfish memo to coral reefs in the Bahamas: There’s a new predator in town. Native to the South Pacific, the invasive lionfish is reducing the abundance of native fishes on coral reefs in the Bahamas (see “Deep Ecology,” in Terra, spring 2008). OSU zoologist Mark Hixon leads a team of graduate students and other collaborators […]


Hope Rides on Tagged Gray Whale
February 1, 2011

Hope Rides on Tagged Gray Whale

An electronic tag attached to a single western gray whale may lead to conservation of one of the world’s most endangered whale populations. Bruce Mate, director of Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute, affixed the tag to the animal, a male known as “Flex,” last summer off Sakhalin Island, Russia, in the western Pacific. Mate […]


Tipping Point
February 1, 2011

Tipping Point

West Coast research consortium tackles ocean acidification

In the summer, you may have to go 20 miles out to sea to find it, but close to the seafloor, near the edge of Oregon’s continental shelf, is a preview of the future: water as acidic as what the world’s oceans may be like in 50 to 100 years. “The future of ocean acidification […]


Cascadia Roulette
January 25, 2011

Cascadia Roulette

The odds are good that a major earthquake will strike the Pacific Northwest in the near future. We're overdue, says Robert Yeats.

Bob Yeats has spent his career preparing people for the possible: a catastrophic earthquake


First Oregon ShakeOut
January 25, 2011

First Oregon ShakeOut

On January 26, Oregonians will participate in the state’s first Oregon ShakeOut to raise earthquake awareness. What they learn could save lives when the next Big One hits.


Big mouths, glowing spines
December 8, 2010

Big mouths, glowing spines

Dragging a net through the water, Ricardo Letelier and Angel White come up with bizarre creatures: animals with long antennae and others with a mouth twice the size of their bodies. Plants with spines. Some with tails that propel them like tiny rockets. The scientists’ net is standard equipment in oceanography, but the microbes they […]


In Earth’s deep crust, microbes abound
November 30, 2010

In Earth’s deep crust, microbes abound

Near a mid-Atlantic Ocean ridge called Atlantis, scientists have discovered a rich microbial ecosystem in the deepest crustal rocks ever explored.


Model Maker, National Medal Winner
November 17, 2010

Model Maker, National Medal Winner

OSU alumnus Warren Washington received the National Medal of Science in a White House ceremony on Nov. 17, 2010.


Power Wave
October 30, 2010

Power Wave

Thanks to a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy, Oregon State University and the private sector, wave energy is moving out of the lab and into the ocean. And none too soon. In the race for carbon-free sources of electricity, this one may make a real difference for Oregon and the nation. There are […]


OSU’s Next Gen Nuclear on Green Science Oregon
October 26, 2010

OSU’s Next Gen Nuclear on Green Science Oregon

There are a lot of ways to boil water. Nuclear energy does it without emitting as much carbon as coal, oil or gas. In the search for safer and more efficient nuclear technology, Oregon State University operates one of the few nuclear reactors on a college campus in the United States. A new production by […]


Light on Leaves
October 20, 2010

Light on Leaves

Lasers reveal forest structure in HD

Not long ago if you wanted to measure the height of a tree, you had to do trigonometry on the ground — or gear up for a climb. But these days you have a more sophisticated option: beaming lasers from the sky. A revolutionary airborne technology called LiDAR (“light detection and ranging”) is making it […]


October 10, 2010

Land “evapotranspiration” taking unexpected turn: huge parts of world are drying up

The soils in large areas of the Southern Hemisphere, including major portions of Australia, Africa and South America, have been drying up in the past decade.


Countdown on the Columbia
October 2, 2010

Countdown on the Columbia

Deadline looms for the river that turned darkness to dawn

More than 400 dams produce power and control floods in the nation’s fourth largest river basin. The U.S./Canada treaty that established responsibilities for water flow and power sharing is due for renewal.


Uncharted Waters
July 23, 2010

Uncharted Waters

Communities, engineers and scientists prepare for the next tsunami

It may come like it did the last time, in the middle of a cold and blustery January night. Suddenly the ground will begin to shake, windows will shatter, bridges collapse, the electricity will go out and parents will frantically try to find a flashlight and dig sleepy kids out of bed, ignore everything else […]


Living on the Fault
April 23, 2010

Living on the Fault

On a computer generated diagram of seismic profiles from Nepal and Tibet, John Nabelek traces a thin blue line. “That’s the interface between the Indian and the Eurasian tectonic plates,” he says. The earthquake-prone, mountainous terrain above it is home to an estimated 40 million people. “It is very steep. In earthquakes, landslides come tumbling […]


Depths of Discovery
February 22, 2010

Depths of Discovery

A young oceanographer carries on a legacy of epic seafloor science.

The colossal clamshells caught the young scientist’s eye soon after he arrived at Oregon State University in the late 1970s. Giant bivalves the size of footballs were piled in the corners of offices and cradled in the arms of researchers walking the halls of the School of Oceanography. “I realized pretty quickly that they weren’t […]


Committed to a Fault
January 24, 2009

Committed to a Fault

Ajeet Johnson is digging into Central Oregon's violent past

Growing up in Central Oregon’s spectacular landscape, Ajeet Johnson challenged the backcountry of the Cascades. She pulled herself hand-over-hand up Smith Rock and carved down slopes at Mt. Bachelor, but over time, she became curious about the forces that shaped the terrain and will influence its future.


Wired Watershed
January 23, 2009

Wired Watershed

Fiberoptics bring new precision to ecosystem sensing

It took a potato launcher, a canoe and a helium-filled balloon to propel a high-tech scientific enterprise during an international workshop at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest.


Acid Ocean
July 19, 2008

Acid Ocean

New study finds increasing acidification along the West Coast

Water that upwells seasonally along the West Coast of North America is growing increasingly acidic, according to a survey conducted in 2007 by an international team of scientists. In June, they reported finding acidified ocean water within 20 miles of the shoreline, raising concern for marine ecosystems from Canada to Mexico. Deep-ocean currents take years […]


Cyberforest Unplugged
July 23, 2007

Cyberforest Unplugged

OSU undergrad team designs wireless sensor system

The science of mountain airsheds requires a strong back as well as a sharp mind — especially when you’re lugging a 65-pound golf-cart battery in your pack. An interdisciplinary team of OSU students spent 10 weeks this summer scaling the steep slopes of H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest to enable researchers to unplug their high-tech gear […]


Dreaming of Hurricanes
July 23, 2007

Dreaming of Hurricanes

When Kim Johnson was 8 years old, she would race through her school work so she could watch the Weather Channel. Her favorite show was “Weather in the Classroom,” and Johnson was in love with the subject. Seeing weather in action gave her a thrill. Now, the OSU senior and Honors College student from Beaverton, […]


Glass Half Full (roughly speaking)
July 23, 2007

Glass Half Full (roughly speaking)

It takes a model to measure subsurface water

The next time you sip a glass of spring water, consider this: Before it got to your lips, that water was soaking through soil, creeping along basalt crevices or flowing through porous volcanic rock. It nurtured microbes, carried dissolved minerals and may have spread the byproducts of human activities. Its pivotal role in the environment […]


July 23, 2007

Grasping for Air

Nighttime breezes may be key to mountain forests

Under a blue sky in mid-March, an Oregon State University research team left Corvallis to collect data in a valley deep in Oregon’s western Cascades. The two-hour ride to the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest gave the technicians and graduate students time to catch up before arriving at the facility’s headquarters near Blue River. They would […]


Winds of Change
July 22, 2007

Winds of Change

Scientists link air and water currents as shifting conditions take their toll on the Oregon coast

In his 32 years as a crab fisherman off the central Oregon coast, Al Pazar has pulled up a lot of strange things in his pots: wolf eels, skates, huge starfish, fossilized rocks, octopi, fish that rarely stray south of Alaska, and others that prefer the warm subtropical waters off Mexico. But until July 2002, […]


April 1, 2007

Fishing for Life

Every spring, the Umatilla people of northeastern Oregon join other Columbia River tribes in celebrating the return of the salmon. Growing up on the reservation in the foothills of the Blue Mountains east of Pendleton, Patrick Luke learned to appreciate the bond between fish and people. When he wasn’t helping to tend the family’s horses, […]


April 1, 2007

Grinding Out Lessons From the Earth

When Jeremiah Oxford, a master’s student from Coos Bay, Oregon, isn’t in class or writing a paper, he puts his mind to that most unacademic of tasks: grinding rocks. Tedious as it might sound, his work in Robert Duncan’s lab in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences isn’t a punishment. Instead, he is preparing […]


April 1, 2007

A Student’s View

To become a research scientist and a teacher — that’s Sam VanLaningham’s goal. The OSU Ph.D. student from Ellensburg, Washington, received his master’s degree working with Andrew Meigs in the Department of Geosciences. For his Ph.D., VanLaningham walked next door to study with Bob Duncan and Nick Pisias in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric […]


April 1, 2007

Lessons From the Zumwalt Prairie

Grazing for nature

When Marcy Cottrell Houle headed to the Zumwalt Prairie in the 1980s with her topo maps, tree-climbing gear and raptor leg bands to study hawks, she assumed wildlife and cows were incompatible. After all, that was the prevailing view — and there were millions of overgrazed acres across the West to prove it. So when […]


February 1, 2007

Genes of Autumn

“Its leaves have been asking it from time to time, in a whisper, ‘When shall we redden?’” Henry David Thoreau Autumnal Tints, 1862 The magical transformation of autumn leaves inspires poets and awes observers. But the genetic triggers that produce those stunning colors have long baffled scientists. Until now. OSU researchers, studying aspens with scientists […]