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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Gold Mining and the Damage Wrought
28 October 2013 3:00 pm
There’s a gold rush going on in the Peruvian state of Madre de Dios, resulting in deforestation, runoff, and, as Science reported last month, mercury pollution. But because most of this mining is small-scale, clandestine, and illegal, researchers have had a hard time calculating its true extent. Now, a team of scientists has collaborated to accurately map Madre de Dios’s gold mines in space and time. The image above, created with new high-resolution satellite mapping techniques, shows the spread of gold mining along the Madre de Dios River between 1999 and 2012. Pink represents mines present before 1999; blue and green illustrate the spread during the middle of the 2000s; and yellow, orange, and red capture the mining that has sprung up since 2008. In 13 years, small-scale mining operations increased by 600% and the amount of land in the state affected by gold mining quadrupled, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Today, gold mining gobbles up an average of 6145 hectares of rainforest per year in Madre de Dios—more than three times the rate before the 2008 financial crisis drove up the demand for gold. And as another paper in PNAS this week shows, it’s nearly impossible to clean up after gold mining: Mercury pollution from the 19th century California gold rush will likely persist in the environment for more than 10,000 years.