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Caltech Geologist Investigates Canyon Carved in Just Three Days in Texas Flood

Kathy Svitil

In the summer of 2002, a week of heavy rains in Central Texas caused Canyon Lake—the reservoir of the Canyon Dam—to flood over its spillway and down the Guadalupe River Valley in a planned diversion to save the dam from catastrophic failure. The flood excavated a 2.2-kilometer-long, 7-meter-deep canyon in the bedrock. According to a new analysis by Caltech assistant professor of geology Michael Lamb, the canyon formed in just three days. 


Edwin S. Munger, 88

Jon Weiner

Edwin S. Munger, professor of geography, emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), passed away peacefully June 15 at his home in Pasadena, California. He was 88 years old.


East African Human Ancestors Lived in Hot Environments, Says Caltech-led Team

Lori Oliwenstein

East Africa's Turkana Basin has been a hot savanna region for at least the past 4 million years—including the period of time during which early hominids evolved in this area—says a team of researchers led by scientists at Caltech. These findings may shed light on the evolutionary pressures that led humans to walk upright, lose most of our body hair, develop a more slender physique, and sweat more copiously than other animals.


Cassini's Ringside Seat

Linda Doran

Saturn's rings aren't just planetary bling—they have a lot to teach us about how solar systems could coalesce from disks of debris orbiting other stars. For the last six years, a school bus–sized spacecraft named Cassini has been orbiting Saturn, sending back astonishing pictures of the rings and the moons that help shape them. The more closely we look, the more complex things get. 


Caltech-Led Team First to Directly Measure Body Temperatures of Extinct Vertebrates

Lori Oliwenstein

Questions about when, why, and how vertebrates stopped relying on external factors to regulate their body temperatures and began heating themselves internally have long intrigued scientists. Now, a team led by researchers at Caltech has taken a critical step toward providing some answers. They describe the first method for the direct measurement of the body temperatures of large extinct vertebrates—through the analysis of rare isotopes in the animals' bones, teeth, and eggshells.


Aseismic Slip as a Barrier to Earthquake Propagation

Lori Oliwenstein

A research team made up of scientists from Caltech and their partners in Peru and France report on their analysis of GPS data from the 2007 Pisco quake in Peru. They found, in part, that 50 percent of the postseismic slippage is aseismic—movement along a fault that occurs without any accompanying seismic waves.



Diving for Microbes

Marcus Woo

Caltech scientists are diving into the sea to study methane-eating microbes. A thousand meters deep on the sea floor, with no light and little oxygen, these critters sustain an entire ecosystem. The researchers are learning that the bugs support life on Earth, preventing methane—a greenhouse gas—from further warming the planet and ensuring the global flow of nutrients. Sharing DNA with the first lifeforms, they may reveal something about Earth’s history.


Elementary School Students Tour Caltech's Tectonics Observatory and Seismo Lab

Sixty sixth graders from Hamilton Elementary School in Pasadena recently visited campus to tour of Caltech's Tectonics Observatory and Seismological Laboratory.




Caltech Receives More than $33 Million from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Jon Weiner

Research in genomic sciences, astronomy, seismology, and neuroeconomics are some of the many projects being funded at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).


Watson Lecture: Creating Laboratory Earthquakes

Deborah Williams-Hedges

Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have demonstrated that high-speed intersonic ruptures exist and could occur during the next major earthquake. The researchers now have the ability to create laboratory earthquakes of varying force and magnitudes that mimic actual quakes.  By triggering laboratory earthquakes, researchers can study the behavior of quakes and their potential force and destructiveness—without a real quake actually occurring.