Baby powder soothes earthquakes

Nature eases chafing on a tectonic level:

Researchers drilling deep into the San Andreas fault in California report in today’s Nature the presence of talc inside a relatively sedate section of the famous fault. This seems to explain why this region of the fault typically creeps slowly to relieve stress, rather than experiencing the abrupt slips that cause large earthquakes.

“It looks like the talc prevents the fault from shooting off to cause big quakes,” says Christopher Wibberley, a geologist at the University of Nice in France.