Posts

March 24, 2015

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3:09 AM | To Ski…Or Not To Ski?
Spring has sprung at last, but it seems as though it has been here for months already. Usually, snow can linger well into summer, up on the high plateaus of southern Utah. Several weeks ago, two friends and I hoped it would last at least through the middle of March. We wanted to ski, and we wanted to ski at Bryce Canyon. To ski you need snow, and there has been a noticeable lack of it this winter. Temperatures have been higher than average here in Utah, with conditions great for hiking but […]
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1:35 AM | UA and ASU geology and earth science programs top ranked
The earth sciences program at the University of Arizona (Geosciences Dept.) was ranked #7 in the U.S. by US News & World Report in new rankings.   ASU ranked #16 (School of Earth & Space Exploration).UA Geosciences' Geology program ranked #3 and was #8 in Geophysics and Seismology.

March 23, 2015

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11:55 PM | Geo 1095: March 23, Day 812: Baffling Bedrock
There is talus raveling down the small gullies to the left and upper right, and the base of a larger talus cone in the lower right. Note that most of the plants are rooted in that talus, which can hold small amounts of moisture later into the dry season. In the lower middle of the photo, there are some angular, larger cobbles of rock, which I suspect have fallen from the overlying lahar deposits. The remainder of what is seen here is a fairly light rock, overall, but with many much darker small […]
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10:55 PM | The Foram’s Song
Are you fed up with boring graphs? What about listening to your data instead of starring at them for hours? It is possible thanks to the sonification of data. Above, an example of the sonification played by physicists of CERN … Continue reading →
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10:42 PM | Water in the West MOOC
Anne Gold and Eric Gordon at the University of Colorado are doing what looks like a very cool MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Water in the West: We begin our journey with an overview of the geography of the Interior West and its extreme contrasts, from snow-capped high mountain peaks to bone-dry deserts. We ...Continue reading ‘Water in the West MOOC’ »
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10:19 PM | Prometheus, Pandora, and the braided F ring in motion
Cassini recently took a long, high-resolution movie of the F ring, catching a view of its ringlets, clumps, and streamers, and two potato-shaped moons, Prometheus and Pandora.
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8:52 PM | Winter Storm Deaths Are Drastically Underestimated
Official reports of deaths due to winter storms are misleadingly low, according to a study by two University of Georgia scientists. Continue reading →
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8:00 PM | The clothes don’t make the scientist
Those of you who saw my somewhat exasperated tweets last week know that I was reacting to this story on the Scientific American Voices Blog about how female scientists are portrayed in media coverage. (Answer: Superficially and with far too much attention to appearances).
Editor's Pick
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7:36 PM | A History of Geological Maps: I. From Outcrop to the first Map
March 23, 1769 marks the birthday of pioneering stratigrapher William Smith, who is also credited as author of the first modern geological map, however like many other great accomplishments also Smith’s idea of depicting the distribution of rocks on a topographic map didn’t materialize out of nowhere.The German mining engineer Georgius Agricola (1494-1555) dedicated in his “De re metallica” (1556) -  an early  textbook on mining technologies – an entire […]
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4:30 PM | Telling Time with Paleomagnetism
Paleomagnetism is the study of the Earth’s ancient magnetic field. Such studies have helped lead to important discoveries like seafloor spreading and plate tectonics. Here on the JOIDES Resolution during Expedition 354, one of the main uses of this tool is to find out the age of sediments from the Bengal submarine fan. So how do we actually do that? read more
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4:16 PM | jfleck’s water news – are we over we overreacting to California drought?
Succeeded in hitting my Monday morning target for this week’s water news. One of my readers complained that I’m writing too much to keep up with these days (I’ve got a lot of ideas, which I bake halfway and then slop onto Inkstain. You’re my test market.) The newsletter was an attempt to provide a ...Continue reading ‘jfleck’s water news – are we over we overreacting to California drought?’ »
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4:00 PM | Q&A with journalist-turned-geologist Rex Buchanan (Part 2): Walking a political tightrope
About the first of October, we had a ... I think it was a 4.2 [magnitude earthquake]. We had to go down to where the earthquake was and meet with the county commission. It was open to the public. All the Wichita television stations were there. [Many of us] had lunch together, and I said, “I know when I walk in that room, everybody's going to say, ‘well I'm sure glad I'm not that guy.’” And everyone at the table pretty much agreed with me.
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3:32 PM | Road Trip on the High Plains of Eastern Washington
Navigating across the high plains of eastern Washington provides a sense of adventure and exploration while in the comfort of the cushioned seat of the car. While taking a short cut from one place to the next, one needs to stay alert to precise location and the fact that roads on a map may no longer exist and new roads may have been cut. Google maps is only of marginal help in this landscape.  The paved routes are the easy part, but if there is a shorter route to my destination I […]
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3:30 PM | Imaggeo on Mondays: Escullos
This picture shows a Quaternary aeolianite fossil dune at the Escullos beach, in the Nature Reserve of Cabo de Gata (Almeria, Spain). Originally a soft accumulation of sand grains, shaped by the wind into large mounds and ridges, the dunes eventually turn into rock. As the sediments compact under their own pressure and expel any moisture and fluids retained within them, they become lithified and become the structure seen in this week’s Imaggeo image. This particular example is a richly […]
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3:00 PM | Desert Moon, Narrated by Former Astronaut Mark Kelly, Now Available Online
Desert Moon, a 35-minute documentary that tells the story of Dr. Gerard Kuiper and the dawn of planetary science, is now available online.
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2:01 PM | Preparing for Seven Weeks at Sea
For our spring expedition, NBP1503, to the margin of East Antarctica we will live and work on board the United States icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer. Together we are eight scientists, 10 science support staff and 19 crew members of the ship’s crew. As of today, March 22, all cargo and food for the journey has [...]
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2:00 PM | Wells Reserve at Laudholm Marks Solar Milestone
WELLS, Maine, March 23, 2015 — On Friday, the Wells Reserve at Laudholm celebrated becoming the first nonprofit in Maine to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs with solar energy. Over the past two years, the reserve installed 248 solar panels that are expected to generate 73,000 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy while preventing 45 tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere each year. “This action moves us toward full energy independence, lightens our carbon footprint, and […]
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1:47 PM | New Mexico water policy: on muddling through
My former newspaper colleague Win Quigley came over to the UNM Water Resources Program offices the other day to talk to Bruce Thomson and I about central New Mexico’s water problems and the virtue (or inevitability) of muddling through: “We know how to do this. Humans are adaptable,” Fleck said. “When people have less water, ...Continue reading ‘New Mexico water policy: on muddling through’ »
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1:04 PM | Yeager Airport slope failure: deformation for two years prior to collapse
It is now clear that the Yeager Airport slope failure was preceded by two years of deformation, with some signs of an increase in rate with time
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11:00 AM | Earth Shots: Must-See Planet Pics (March 23)
As spring kicks in, our planet pics take a decidedly green hue, from the northern lights, to a verdant Alaskan park and a river that turns color in a flash.
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9:00 AM | Book Review: Natural Resources in Afghanistan – Geographic and Geologic Perspectives on Centuries of Conflict
This article was originally published online by Geoscientist, the independent fellowship magazine of the Geological Society of London. Afghanistan has been in the news for as long as I can remember, normally as a place of conflict and almost never as a place of diverse landscapes, resources and culture. In 2011, however, I was invited to join a workshop in Leicester on higher education in Afghanistan, meeting a number of geoscience academics from Kabul and beyond. Since then I’ve been […]
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7:00 AM | Puzzles posed by a chilly northern winter
Scientists disagree over the cause of the massive US snowstorms.
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7:00 AM | How the chameleon glows in technicolour
Chameleons employ a masterful trick of nanotechnology.
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7:00 AM | Latest from our blog
The most read articles from the Cosmos news blog over the past week.
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7:00 AM | Pulling back the curtain on the Universe
The James Webb Space Telescope will be able to look further back in time than we have ever seen.
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7:00 AM | Evolution of an icon
The "March of Progress" was first published 50 years ago and has become a meme.
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7:00 AM | Caffeinated flowers give bees a buzz
Flowers lace their nectar with caffeine because bees like it.
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2:46 AM | Neil deGrasse Tyson Rocks 60 Minutes
In case you missed it, Neil deGrasse Tyson was profiled on CBS’s 60 Minutes Sunday, his attention grabbing interview explaining in itself why he is America’s best science communicator. He mentions at the start something I wrote about back in 2009, the most famous photo ever taken, and the stunning impact it has had on how we see ourselves since. The interview on 60 Minutes is below, in case you missed …
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12:08 AM | Geo 1095: March 22, Day 811: Badlands Close-Up
Here we have a closer look at how the lower unit has weathered and eroded into an (albeit small-scale) example of badlands morphology (described in more detail a few posts back). It was about this point I realized this rock was not what I expected it to be, which was a more or less homogenous, uniformly composed, ash bed. Having driven by this outcrop probably nearly a hundred times, I was assuming an unwarranted degree of familiarity. Pro-tip: Never make assumptions about rock you haven't […]

March 22, 2015

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9:53 PM | Into the Third Dimension: using Google Maps to know what’s underground
Much of the earth’s surface is covered by sedimentary rocks. These form as sediment settles on the surface. As the types of sediment change – sand to mud to sand again – different layers are formed, some hard some soft. The … Continue reading →
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