Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Inner Core

Hemispherical anisotropic patterns of the Earth’s inner core in PNAS.
It has been shown that the Earth’s inner core has an axisymmetric anisotropic structure with seismic waves traveling ∼3% faster along polar paths than along equatorial directions. Hemispherical anisotropic patterns of the solid Earth’s core are rather complex, and the commonly used hexagonal-close-packed iron phase might be insufficient to account for seismological observations. We show that the data we collected are in good agreement with the presence of two anisotropically specular east and west core hemispheres. The detected travel-time anomalies can only be disclosed by a lattice-preferred orientation of a body-centered-cubic iron aggregate, having a fraction of their [111] crystal axes parallel to the Earth’s rotation axis. This is compelling evidence for the presence of a body-centered-cubic Fe phase at the top of the Earth’s inner core

Ultrasmall Archaea

Enigmatic, ultrasmall, uncultivated Archaea in PNAS.
Metagenomics has provided access to genomes of as yet uncultivated microorganisms in natural environments, yet there are gaps in our knowledge—particularly for Archaea—that occur at relatively low abundance and in extreme environments. Ultrasmall cells (< 500 nm in diameter) from lineages without cultivated representatives that branch near the crenarchaeal>/euryarchaeal divide have been detected in a variety of acidic ecosystems.