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Scientists shed light on Burgess Shale preservation for first time

Scientists shed light on Burgess Shale preservation for first time

Earth sciences MPLS

Fossils that preserve entire organisms (including both hard and soft body parts) are critical to our understanding of evolution and ancient life on Earth. However, these exceptional deposits tend to decay before they can be fossilised, and are extremely rare. As a result little is known about the environmental conditions which stop this process. However, new Oxford University research suggests that the mineralogy of the surrounding earth is key to conserving soft parts of organisms, and finding more exceptional fossils. Part-funded by NASA, the work could potentially support the Mars Rover Curiosity in its sample analysis, and speed up the search for traces of life on other planets.

Mars: Not as dry as it seems

Mars: Not as dry as it seems

Earth sciences Research

Two new Oxford University papers have shed light on why there is no life on Mars.

The volatile processes that shaped Earth

The volatile processes that shaped Earth

Earth sciences Research

Oxford University scientists have shed new light on how the Earth was first formed.

Icelandic volcanic ‘plumerang’ could be bad for your health

Icelandic volcanic ‘plumerang’ could be bad for your health

Earth sciences Research

An Oxford University collaboration has found previously undetected health risks contained in the boomerang-like return of an Icelandic volcanic plume.

Professor Alex Halliday receives 2016 Harry H. Hess Medal

Professor Alex Halliday receives 2016 Harry H. Hess Medal

Award Earth sciences

Professor Alex Halliday from the Department of Earth Sciences was recently awarded the 2016 Harry H. Hess Medal, a significant honour of the American Geophysical Union.

Huge helium discovery 'a life-saving find'

Huge helium discovery 'a life-saving find'

Earth sciences Research

A new approach to gas exploration has discovered a huge helium gas field, which could address the increasingly critical shortage of this vital yet rare element.

Rapid formation of bubbles in magma may trigger sudden volcanic eruptions

Rapid formation of bubbles in magma may trigger sudden volcanic eruptions

Earth sciences Research

It has long been observed that some volcanoes erupt with little prior warning. Now, scientists have come up with an explanation behind these sudden eruptions that could change the way observers monitor active or dormant volcanoes.

Scientists pinpoint unbroken section of Nepal fault line and show why Himalayas keep growing

Scientists pinpoint unbroken section of Nepal fault line and show why Himalayas keep growing

Earth sciences Research

An international team of scientists has shed new light on the earthquake that devastated Nepal in April 2015, killing more than 8,000 people.

Isle of Skye fossil makes three species one

Isle of Skye fossil makes three species one

Earth sciences Research

The discovery of a tiny, 170-million-year-old fossil on the Isle of Skye has led Oxford University researchers to conclude that three previously recognised species are in fact just one.

Early life hunt inspired by oldest fossils debate

Early life hunt inspired by oldest fossils debate

Earth sciences Research

The resolution of a decades-old debate about the oldest fossils on Earth can reinvigorate the search for early life and open up a window on the strange world of ancient microorganisms.