ETH News

10.05.2017 | News

Continental crust thanks to the right mixture

For the first time, ETH scientists have successfully recreated the formation of continental crust in the Archean using a computer simulation. The model helps us to better understand processes that took place three to four billion years ago. Read more 

24.04.2017 | News

Little Ice Age displaced the tropical rain belt

Even small changes in global temperature can trigger a migration of the tropical rain belt. This can also lead to climate change, as described by a team of researchers from ETH Zurich and other universities. Read more 

22.03.2017 | News

Sunbathing meteoroids

When a meteoroid travels in space, solar radiation leaves distinctive imprints on its outer layer. Together with colleagues, ETH researcher Antoine Roth has developed novel analytical techniques to detect these imprints, allowing the team to reconstruct meteorites’ space journeys. Read more 

06.03.2017 | News

Earth is bombarded at random

Asteroids don’t hit our planet at regular intervals, as was previously thought. Earth scientists from ETH Zurich and Lund University in Sweden have reached this conclusion after analysing impact craters formed in the last 500 million years, concentrating on precisely dated events. Read more 

16.02.2017 | Zukunftsblog

Voyage to the base of the food chain

On the second leg of the journey around the Antarctic, the research vessel Akademik Treshnikov sets out from Tasmania to the frozen edge of Antarctica, before heading on eastwards to Chile. An oceanographer, whose knowledge of the Southern Ocean was previously limited to theory, blogs from on board. Read more 

13.02.2017 | News

Tapping into underground urban heat islands

Cities are heat islands – not only above ground but below ground too, and therein lies the enormous potential to better harness this energy through geothermal heat exchangers. A group of researchers demonstrated this in a case study conducted in the city of Zurich. Read more 

07.02.2017 | News

Tiny organisms with a massive impact

Although diatoms are incredibly small, they have a significant impact on the dispersal of nutrients and trace elements in global marine waters. This is the conclusion of a study recently published in the scientific journal “Nature Geoscience ”. Read more 

11.01.2017 | Zukunftsblog

Geothermal storage for our cities

Geothermal probes and heat pumps provide an effective alternative to oil heating, but they aren’t suitable for use in densely populated areas where probes in close proximity extract too much heat from the ground. However, using probes for heat storage as well could unlock their considerable potential. Read more 

07.11.2016 | News

Earth’s magnetic field under the ‘simulation magnifying glass’

Earth’s magnetic field has reversed direction hundreds of times in the course of our planet’s history. But the cause of those reversals remains unclear. 4 million CPU hours of simulations on the ‘Piz Daint’ supercomputer at CSCS offer fresh clues that point to a phenomenon called ‘dynamo waves’ playing a possible role. Read more 

30.09.2016 | Zukunftsblog | 1 Comment

Twin glacier collapse in Tibet

Giant ice avalanches caused by catastrophic glacier failures are rare events. The collapse of two neighbouring glaciers within two months – as just witnessed in Tibet – was never seen before. The timely analysis of satellite images enabled scientists to issue a warning prior to the second collapse. Read more 

11.08.2016 | News

Fewer low clouds in the tropics

With the help of satellite data, ETH scientists have shown that low-level cloud cover in the tropics thins out as the earth warms. Since this cloud cover has a cooling effect on the climate, the two-degree warming target may therefore be reached earlier than many models have predicted. Read more 

15.07.2016 | News

Eight professors appointed at ETH Zurich

Upon application of ETH President Lino Guzzella the ETH Board appointed a total of eight professors and awarded the title of professor to one individual. Read more 

11.07.2016 | News

A most irregular puzzle

Thanks to a complex interplay between the earth’s mantle and the lithosphere, the earth’s surface consists of tectonic plates of varying sizes. ETH researchers and their colleagues have now developed a numerical model for this relationship. Their model indicates that if the lithosphere had a different rigidity, the earth would look quite different. Read more 

03.06.2016 | Zukunftsblog | 2 Comments

It’s time to go geothermal!

Swiss authorities and society at large are actively discussing the national future energy strategy. We have still not solved the basic problem: how will we produce the electricity we need in the near future after the decommissioning of our nuclear power plants? Read more 

13.04.2016 | News | 1 Comment

Bubbles lead to disaster

Why are volcanologists interested in vapour bubbles? Because they can accumulate in a magma reservoir underneath a volcano, priming it to explode. Researchers at ETH Zurich and Georgia Institute of Technology have now discovered how bubbles are able to accumulate in the magma. Read more 

16.02.2016 | Zukunftsblog

Rohstoffreichtum – Segen oder Fluch?

Mit Ländern reich an Rohstoffen verhält es sich ähnlich wie mit Lottomillionären: Die einen verlieren sich hoffnungslos und enden auf dem Sozialamt, die anderen starten durch und schaffen sich die Basis für eine erfolgreiche Zukunft. Nur: Warum blühen die einen auf, während andere darben? Read more 

09.02.2016 | News

Traces of life discovered in mantle rock

An international expedition, led by ETH Professor Gretchen Bernasconi-Green, has discovered traces of life in a core sample. The geologist explains what this means. Read more 

08.02.2016 | News

Migration routes of mantle plumes discovered

Mars’s southern hemisphere has a tumultuous past that was marked by significant volcanism. Now an ETH researcher has discovered that these many volcanoes are not distributed randomly but in fact lie along specific lines. These could well correspond to different paths taken by mantle plumes. Read more 

05.02.2016 | Zukunftsblog

Rohstoffe aus dem Weltraum

Rohstoff-Abbau im All klingt nach Sciencefiction. Tatsächlich entwickeln verschiedene US-Firmen Technologien, um Energie- und Mineralrohstoffe im Weltraum zu erschliessen. Mehrweg-Raketen und ein internationaler Weltraumrohstoff-Vertrag könnten den Weg ebnen zu schier unerschöpflichen Quellen. Read more 

03.12.2015 | Press release

Successful launch of LISA Pathfinder

After the successful lift-off of the Vega rocket in French Guiana, the LISA Pathfinder satellite uncoupled from its booster rocket at approximately 7.00 a.m. this morning. The satellite will spend the next 9 months floating in space. There it will enable scientists to test key measurement techniques for the detection of gravitational waves, which Albert Einstein predicted about 100 years ago in his general theory of relativity. Read more 

11.11.2015 | News

Plate tectonics thanks to plumes?

It is common knowledge that the Earth's rigid upper layer called lithosphere is composed of moving plates. But just what mechanism first set plate tectonics into motion still remains a mystery. A team of researchers led by ETH professor Taras Gerya has now come up with one possible answer by using simulations. Read more 

20.09.2015 | Globe magazine

Treasures from the deep

People are going to ever greater depths to find workable ore deposits. ETH geologist Christoph Heinrich conducts research into how to find these. Read more 

26.08.2015 | News

“An extra expenditure that paid off!”

Ten years ago, ETH Zurich began collaborating with TU Delft and RWTH Aachen on a trinational Joint Master Programme in Applied Geophysics. We asked Professor of Geophysics Hansruedi Maurer what ETH Zurich has learned from the pioneering project. Read more 

11.08.2015 | News

Some like it even hotter

Scientists in Iceland have drilled into a reservoir of extremely hot water that has the potential to greatly expand geothermal electricity output. Now ETH geoscientists have for the first time been able to produce a realistic simulation of how such reservoirs are created. They predict that these natural phenomena are widespread in volcanic areas. Read more 

01.06.2015 | News | 1 Comment

A man who pushes boundaries

Johan Robertsson is a professor of geophysics at ETH Zurich, a specialist in seismic wave propagation, an amateur historian and an outdoor enthusiast. For his work in development of a new method of acquiring seismic data, he has now been honoured with the ‘New Frontiers of Hydrocarbons’ Eni Award, the world’s most prestigious prize in the field of energy sector. Read more 

16.05.2015 | News | 1 Comment

Pockmarks on the lake bed

An unusual and unexpected discovery: on the floor of Lake Neuchâtel, geologists have happened upon huge underwater craters – some of the largest in the world to be found in lakes. They are not volcanic in origin, but were caused instead by giant freshwater springs. Read more 

04.05.2015 | News

Supercycles in subduction zones

When tectonic plates collide, they produce earthquakes like the recent one in Nepal. Researchers at ETH Zurich are providing new ways to explain how and why superquakes occur in zones where one plate moves under another, such as off the coast of Japan. Read more 

02.05.2015 | News

ETH earth sciences best in the world

ETH Zurich's earth scientists performed especially well in the QS Rankings by Subject, achieving the top ranking among all universities worldwide. ETH's environmental sciences faculty also rank among the best in the world. Read more 

22.04.2015 | News

The creation of Shangri-La

Geoscientists are using a new simulation to condense a period lasting millions of years to explain the formation of the high-lying valleys in the south-eastern end of the Tibetan Plateau: the true Shangri-La. In doing so, they are turning previous ideas on their head. Read more 

17.02.2015 | Zukunftsblog

Darwin's worms, our worry

Around 150 years ago, Charles Darwin championed the role of earthworms in maintaining healthy soils. Since then, much topsoil has been lost and soil biodiversity degraded. Urgent action is required in 2015, the International Year of Soils, to readdress this immense problem. Read more 

02.02.2015 | News

Inhospitable climate fosters gold ore formation

South Africa’s Witwatersrand is the site of the world’s largest and richest gold deposit. In order to explain its formation, ETH professor Christoph Heinrich took a look back into the Earth’s early climatic history. Read more 

29.01.2015 | News | 6 Comments

The two faces of Mars

A moon-sized celestial object that crashed into the south pole of Mars: ETH geophysicists have conducted a three-dimensional simulation that shows for the first time how the Red Planet came to have two different hemispheres. Read more 

22.01.2015 | Zukunftsblog | 5 Comments

Is geoengineering research going outdoors?

Geoengineering research has so far been confined to modelling and laboratory studies. Serious research outside of these limits has been a taboo because of the serious risks this may pose for ecosystems and society. However, two recent publications are breaking the ice and bringing the discussion of field experiments into the limelight of the scientific community. Read more 

19.01.2015 | News | 1 Comment

A voyage from the Earth’s crust to its mantle and back

Uranium isotopes leave a distinct ‘fingerprint’ in the sources of volcanic rocks, making it possible to gauge their age and origin. Geologists have gained a new understanding of how the Earth’s crust is recycled back into its interior based on these uranium isotopes. Read more 

16.10.2014 | Zukunftsblog

Sand (Teil 2): nachhaltige Alternativen

Der massive Abbau natürlicher Sandvorkommen in Küstengebieten, Flüssen und Seen hat gravierende Folgen für unsere Umwelt. Um die Abhängigkeit von der endlichen Ressource Sand zu verringern, braucht es insbesondere im Bausektor neue Alternativen. Hier können wir die Nachfrage grundsätzlich durch Recycling, Substitution oder Synthese entlasten. Read more 

14.10.2014 | Zukunftsblog

Sand (Teil 1): eine endliche Ressource

Sand ist der meist gebrauchte feste Rohstoff unserer Welt. Er findet sich in Beton, Glas, Computer-Chips, Putzmitteln, ja sogar in Zahnpasta. Doch die Sandvorkommen sind endlich: Was durch Verwitterung und Sedimentation während Jahrmillionen entsteht, baut der Mensch heute an Flussläufen und Küsten in einer noch nie dagewesenen Geschwindigkeit ab. Read more 

27.05.2014 | Zukunftsblog

Städte als Rohstoffminen der Zukunft

In der Stadt der Zukunft wird die Entsorgung zur Versorgung – dieser These gehen wir seit einiger Zeit an unserem Lehrstuhl für Architektur und Konstruktion am Future Cities Laboratory in Singapur und Zürich nach. Wir haben so ein weites Feld entdeckt, das alternative Perspektiven für unsere Disziplin eröffnet. Read more 

24.04.2014 | Zukunftsblog | 1 Comment

Die Erde als Werkstoff (Teil 2)

Lehmhaltige Erde ist weltweit verfügbar, billig und daher ein ideales Baumaterial insbesondere für Länder der Dritten Welt. Dort aber gilt das Material als rückständig und unmodern. Dieser Ruf verhinderte bis anhin, dass lehmbasierte Bautechniken in diesen Gebieten weiterentwickelt werden und so neues Wissen entstehen kann. Read more 

22.04.2014 | Zukunftsblog

Die Erde als Werkstoff (Teil 1)

Gemäss UNESCO wohnen weltweit ca. 40 Prozent aller Menschen in Bauten aus lehmhaltiger Erde oder erdverbundenen Materialien. Erstaunlich ist, dass dieser Werkstoff trotz einer Jahrtausende alten Verarbeitungstradition und niedrigsten Preisen vor allem in Entwicklungsländern einen sehr negativen Ruf hat, obwohl er sich hervorragend für die Bauindustrie eignet. Read more 

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