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Earth Sciences - Computer Science - 22.09.2020
Thousands of seismometers on a single cable
Thousands of seismometers on a single cable
Fibre-optic cables are emerging as a valuable tool for geoscientists and glaciologists. They offer a relatively inexpensive way of measuring even the tiniest glacial earthquakes - plus they can also be used to obtain more accurate images of the geological subsurface in earthquake-prone megacities. Today's fibre-optic cables move data at tremendous speeds, enabling us to stream films and TV shows in HD or even 8K resolution.

Earth Sciences - Physics - 17.09.2020
Detaching and uplifting, not bulldozing
Detaching and uplifting, not bulldozing
Researchers have used a computer model to test a new hypothesis about the formation of the Alps while simulating seismic activity in Switzerland. This will help improve current earthquake risk models. For a long time, geoscientists have assumed that the Alps were formed when the Adriatic plate from the south collided with the Eurasian plate in the north.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 11.09.2020
Worldwide loss of phosphorus due to soil erosion quantified for the first time
Worldwide loss of phosphorus due to soil erosion quantified for the first time
Phosphorus is essential for agriculture, yet this important plant nutrient is increasingly being lost from soils around the world. The primary cause is soil erosion, reports an international research team led by the University of Basel. The study Communications shows which continents and regions are most strongly affected.

Astronomy / Space Science - Earth Sciences - 28.08.2020
Space debris observed for the first time during the day
Space debris observed for the first time during the day
Researchers at the University of Bern are the first in the world to succeed in determining the distance to a space debris object using a geodetic laser in daylight. The distance was determined on June 24, 2020 at the Swiss Optical Ground Station and Geodynamics Observatory Zimmerwald. The number of measurements can be multiplied thanks to the new possibility of observing space debris during the day.

Earth Sciences - 24.07.2020
Lockdown reduces seismic noise worldwide
Lockdown reduces seismic noise worldwide
Research recently published in the journal "Science" has shown that lockdown measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 lead to a 50% reduction in seismic noise observed around the world in early to mid-2020. By analysing month-to-years long datasets from over 300 seismic stations around the world, the study, led by Thomas Lecocq from the Royal Observatory of Belgium, was able to show how the seismic noise decreased in many countries and regions since the start of the lockdown measures.

Earth Sciences - 20.07.2020
The Venus 'ring of fire'
The Venus ’ring of fire’
Researchers used computer simulations to classify the current activity of corona structures on the surface of Venus. To their surprise, they found a previously undiscovered ring of fire on our neighbouring planet. Years ago, planetary researchers discovered unusual circular structures on the surface of Venus when observing high-resolution images from NASA's Magellan mission.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 16.07.2020
New map for radioactive soil contamination in Western Europe
New map for radioactive soil contamination in Western Europe
An international consortium of scientists has refined the map of caesium and plutonium radionuclide concentrations in soils in Switzerland and several neighbouring countries. Using an archive of European soil samples, the team led by Katrin Meusburger from the University of Basel, now at the WSL research institute, was able to trace the sources of radioactive fallout between 1960 and 2009.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 07.07.2020
1.5 Billion People Will Depend on Water from Mountains
1.5 Billion People Will Depend on Water from Mountains
Global water consumption has increased almost fourfold in the past 100 years, and many regions can only meet their water demand thanks to essential contributions from mountain regions.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 01.07.2020
Making geothermal energy safer through simulation
Making geothermal energy safer through simulation
Researchers from the Swiss Seismological Service SED and ETH Zurich are working with the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre CSCS to develop a way of utilising geothermal energy safely with the help of supercomputers. According to Switzerland's Energy Strategy 2050, the plan is for deep geothermal energy to contribute to the expansion of renewable energies in the country.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 30.06.2020
Climate change is altering terrestrial water availability
Climate change is altering terrestrial water availability
The amount and location of available terrestrial water is changing worldwide. An international research team led by ETH Zurich has now proved for the first time that human-induced climate change is responsible for the changes observed in available terrestrial water. Water is the lifeblood of ecosystems and one of the most important natural resources for human beings.

Astronomy / Space Science - Earth Sciences - 08.06.2020
First global map of rockfalls on the Moon
First global map of rockfalls on the Moon
A research team from ETH Zurich and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen counted over 136,000 rockfalls on the moon caused by asteroid impacts. Even billions of years old landscapes are still changing. In October 2015, a spectacular rockfall occurred in the Swiss Alps: in the late morning hours, a large, snow-covered block with a volume of more than 1500 cubic meters suddenly detached from the summit of Mel de la Niva.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 21.05.2020
Millions of people drink groundwater contaminated with arsenic
Millions of people drink groundwater contaminated with arsenic
Today, one third of the world's population obtains its drinking water and water for irrigation from groundwater reserves. Global population growth and water scarcity due to climate change mean that the pressure on this resource is continually increasing. However, many wells are contaminated with naturally occurring arsenic.

Earth Sciences - 15.05.2020
Monitoring glaciers with optical fibres
Monitoring glaciers with optical fibres
Seismic monitoring of glaciers is essential to improving our understanding of their development and to predicting risks. SNSF Professor Fabian Walter has come up with a new monitoring tool in the form of optical fibres. The fibres are capable of monitoring entire glaciers. Glaciers are constantly moving and they therefore need monitoring.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 14.05.2020
Observing how fissure systems are formed - thanks to the
Observing how fissure systems are formed - thanks to the "gas sniffer"
The rock laboratory on the Grimsel Pass in the Bernese Oberland lies 400 metres deep in the mountain. There, geophysicists from the ETH Zurich have installed an experimental setup with which they agitate the rock, thereby systematically causing it to break. They want to find out how geothermal energy projects in Switzerland, for example, can be implemented safely in the future.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 14.04.2020
Cleaner air with geothermal energy
Cleaner air with geothermal energy
The use of dirty coal as a heat source makes life tough in the Mongolian winter. ETH geophysicists are helping to develop geothermal energy as a clean alternative. Many Europeans have an idyllic view of Mongolia as a land of wide, empty spaces and pristine nature. But the truth is more complicated, especially in winter.

Astronomy / Space Science - Earth Sciences - 24.02.2020
The seismicity of Mars
The seismicity of Mars
Fifteen months after the successful landing of the NASA InSight mission on Mars, first scientific analyses of ETH Zurich researchers and their partners reveal that the planet is seismically active. The recorded data enables a better understanding of the interior of Mars, the primary goal of the InSight mission.

Earth Sciences - Environment - 10.02.2020
Geothermal energy: drilling a 3,000 metres deep well
Geothermal energy: drilling a 3,000 metres deep well
Researchers from the University of Geneva have studied the seismic activity recorded during the drilling of a geothermal well and shown that it did not spark any major earthquake. Although stopping climate change is challenging, it is imperative to slow it down as soon as possible by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 30.01.2020
Rivers are warming at the same rate as the atmosphere
Rivers are warming at the same rate as the atmosphere
Researchers at EPFL and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL) have found that the temperature of Swiss rivers is rising steadily. This situation is straining ecosystems and could limit the use of this water in Switzerland's nuclear and hydropower industries. For a long time, meltwater from snow and glaciers has limited the warming of the Swiss rivers, allowing them to maintain a relatively low temperature throughout the year.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 16.01.2020
Predicting hydraulic fracture propagation more accurately
Predicting hydraulic fracture propagation more accurately
Researchers at EPFL have developed a new model to calculate hydraulic fracture propagation. Acclaimed for its accuracy by experts, the model better predicts fracture geometry and the energy cost of hydraulic fracturing - a widely used technique in areas such as CO2 storage, hydrocarbon extraction, dams and volcano hazard monitoring.

Earth Sciences - 14.01.2020
No need to dig too deep to find gold!
No need to dig too deep to find gold!
A UNIGE researcher has discovered the particularities of porphyry copper and gold deposits, providing mining companies with a new tool to maximise the extraction of these two metals. Why are some porphyry deposits - formed by magmatic fluids in volcanic arcs - rich in copper while others primarily contain gold? In an attempt to answer this question, a researcher from the University of Geneva investigated how the metals are accumulated over the time duration of a mineralizing event, looking for a correlation between the amounts of copper and gold extracted from the deposits.
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