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Solid Earth Tectonic Processes News Archive


A study of the massive crater that formed when an asteroid crashed into Earth 66 million years ago, wiping out all nonavian dinosaurs and most life on the planet, is giving insights into how impacts can help shape planets and possibly even provide habitat for the origins of life. The study, published in the journal…

Earthquakes triggered by human activity have been happening in Texas since at least 1925, and they have been widespread throughout the state ever since, according to a new historical review of the evidence published online May 18 in Seismological Research Letters. The earthquakes are caused by oil and gas operations, but the specific production techniques behind…

Research published in the May 6 edition of Science indicates that slow-motion earthquakes or “slow-slip events” can rupture the shallow portion of a fault that also moves in large, tsunami-generating earthquakes. The finding has important implications for assessing tsunami hazards. The discovery was made by conducting the first-ever detailed investigation of centimeter-level seafloor movement at…

A new study in the April 22 edition of Science reveals that volcanic activity associated with the plate-tectonic movement of continents may be responsible for climatic shifts from hot to cold over tens and hundreds of millions of years throughout much of Earth’s history. The study, led by researchers at The University of Texas at…

The most comprehensive analysis to date of a series of earthquakes that included a 4.8 magnitude event in East Texas in 2012 has found it plausible that the earthquakes were caused by wastewater injection. The findings also underscore the difficulty of conclusively tying specific earthquakes to human activity using currently available subsurface data. The study,…

Researchers have for the first time been able to measure a material’s resistance to fracturing from various types of tectonic motions in the Earth’s middle crust, a discovery that may lead to better understanding of how large earthquakes and slower moving events interact. The University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG), research unit of the…

 Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed legislation authorizing funding of $4.47 million for the TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program, an initiative led by the Bureau of Economic Geology — the State Geologic Survey of Texas — at The University of Texas at Austin. TexNet will enhance the ability of the State of Texas to gather information…

The Williston Basin in north central U.S. produced fewer earthquakes caused by wastewater injection than in Texas, suggesting the link between seismicity and production activities may vary by region, according to a new study published in the journal Seismological Research Letters (SRL). Ongoing since 1950s, petroleum and gas production in the Williston Basin, underlying parts of…

A paper by Ian Dalziel of The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, published in the November issue of Geology, a journal of the Geological Society of America, suggests a major tectonic event may have triggered the rise in sea level and other environmental changes that accompanied the apparent burst of life. The…

The World in a Grain of Sand

Daniel Stockli is using zircons to reconstruct past worlds By Melissa Weber Over the quiet thrum of mass spectrometers and various lasers in a lab at the University of Texas at Austin, professor Daniel Stockli carefully aims a laser at a zircon no thicker than a human hair. The tiny mineral is one of 120,000…

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