Featurette

Geohazard: Giant sinkholes near West Texas oil patch towns are growing — as new ones lurk

Two giant sinkholes that sit between two West Texas oil patch towns are growing — and two new ones appear to be lurking, say geophysicists at Southern Methodist University, Dallas. Satellite radar images reveal substantial ground movement in and around the infamous sinkholes near Wink, Texas — suggesting expansion of the two existing holes, with subsidence in two other nearby areas suggesting new ones may surface. Continue reading

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Wildfire on warming planet requires adaptive capacity at local, national, int’l scales

Industrialized nations that view wildfire as the enemy have much to learn from people in some parts of the world who have learned to live compatibly with wildfire, says a team of fire research scientists.

The interdisciplinary team say there is much to be learned from these “fire-adaptive communities” and they are calling on policy makers to tap that knowledge, particularly in the wake of global warming. Continue reading

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Early armored dino from Texas lacked cousin’s club-tail weapon, but had a nose for danger

First-ever CT scans of the early armored dinosaur Pawpawsaurus campbelli reveal that although the Texas dino lacked its cousin’s club-tail it had a sharp nose for danger.

A relative of Ankylosaurus, Pawpawsaurus’s saving grace from predators may have been an acute sense of smell, says SMU vertebrate paleontologist Louis Jacobs. Pawpawsaurus lived 100 million years ago, preceding Ankylosaurus by 35 million years. Continue reading

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SMU physicists: CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is once again smashing protons, taking data

Following its annual winter break, the most powerful collider in the world has been switched back on.

Geneva-based CERN’s Large Hadron Collider has been fine-tuned using low-intensity beams and pilot proton collisions. Now the LHC and its experiments are ready to take an abundance of data.

The goal is to improve understanding of fundamental physics, driving future innovation and inventions. Continue reading

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17 million-year-old whale fossil provides 1st exact date for East Africa’s puzzling uplift

Whale, fossil, kenya, Great Rift, Africa, Jacobs, WichuraUplift associated with East Africa’s Great Rift Valley and the environmental changes it produced have puzzled scientists for decades because the timing and starting elevation have been poorly constrained.

Now paleontologists have tapped a fossil from the most precisely dated beaked whale in the world — and the only stranded whale ever found so far inland on the African continent — to pinpoint a date when the mysterious elevation began. Continue reading

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SMU analysis of recent North Texas earthquake sequence reveals geologic fault, epicenters in Irving and West Dallas

Locations of seismic instruments as of Jan. 30, 2015, with revised earthquake locations in dark red. (USGS)Initial results from the seismology team at Southern Methodist University reveal that a recent series of earthquakes near old Texas Stadium in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were relatively shallow and concentrated along a narrow two-mile line that indicates a fault extending from Irving into West Dallas. SMU and the United States Geological Survey have shared an interim report with the mayors of Dallas and Irving. Continue reading

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Scientists issue call to action for archaeological sites threatened by rising seas, urban development

Western%20Site%20Margin%20400x300.jpgShould global warming cause sea levels to rise as predicted in coming decades, thousands of archaeological sites in coastal areas around the world will be lost to erosion.

With no hope of saving all these sites, an SMU archaeologist and others call for scientists to assess the sites most at risk.

Photo: A site at Anacapa Island, southern California, is in danger of eroding into the ocean. (Credit: Reeder)
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