Into the Earth

Explore underground mysteries, new discoveries, and the future of earth science education with professors, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers from the earth and planetary sciences department at Washington University.

Image Flickr: Don Brubacher, K. Chastain

April 9, 2015

A Meeting of the Sciences, from Geochemistry to Geobiology

Into the Earth: Episode #6

Throughout our series "Into the Earth," we've heard how Earth science topics cross between different disciplines like geology, physics, and chemistry. This has been true for postdoctoral research associate Steven Chemtob, whose recent research looks closely at a type of rock called banded iron formations. These rocks were created some 2.5 billion years ago, before there was oxygen in Earth's atmosphere and oceans. To understand how rocks like these formed, researchers like Chemtob approach the ancient formations from a variety of fields.

April 2, 2015

The Politics of Teaching Climate Change

Into the Earth: Episode #5

Michael Wysession, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences and contributor to the Next Generation Science Standards, continues his commentary from last week's podcast about science education. When the NGSS were released in 2013, state governments reacted to lessons about climate change in varying - and sometimes surprising - ways. In the second of two episodes featuring Wysession, he discusses the intersection of politics, education, and what scientists understand about Earth's climate.



March 25, 2015

High-School Students Should Study Earth Science. Here's Why.

Into the Earth: Episode #4

Ever wonder why some subjects are taught in high school while others are not, or why students spend so much time memorizing facts? According to geophysicist Michael Wysession, science curricula in the US are based on standards that are more than 120 years old, and being stuck in the past has had serious consequences. Wysession, the Earth and space science writing team leader for the Next Generation Science Standards, believes in a new approach to science education.

March 20, 2015

A Volcanic Mystery

Into the Earth: Episode #3

Aubreya Adams, a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, describes the Cameroon Volcanic Line as "one of the most interesting features in Africa that most people have never heard of." These volcanoes are something of a mystery, even to geologists - nobody knows exactly how they were created. However, Adams' research is shedding light on the mystery. Here she discusses her findings and shares some of the process behind seismology fieldwork.

March 5, 2015

Discovery in the Lau Basin

Into the Earth: Episode #2

Deep under the ocean, enormous tectonic plates push against one another and spread apart. Shawn Wei, a doctoral student and McDonnell Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis, wants to understand what's really going on down there. Deep in the Pacific Ocean, how do rock, magma, and water interact? To find out, Wei analyzed data collected at the famous Lau Basin, one of the most geologically active places on Earth - and his results surprised all the experts. Here, Shawn describes his discovery, his methods, and how science isn't always like what you seen in the movies.

February 25, 2015

Stories in Rocks

Into the Earth: Episode #1

In his rock deformation laboratory here at Washington University in St. Louis, Phil Skemer applies huge amounts of heat and pressure to rock samples. Crushing rocks may sound just like fun, but he and his team are seeking answers to fundamental questions about how Earth works. Why does our planet have plate tectonics, when neighbors like Venus do not? To look for clues, Skemer uses - and builds - instruments that replicate the intense conditions found deep in the interior of the Earth.