Posts

March 18, 2015

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7:19 PM | Another Cool California Roadcut: Dike and Sill on Highway 190 near Panamint Springs
Dike (vertical brown rock) and sill (horizontal brown rock) along Highway 190 near Panamint SpringsI've been working through my memories of beautifully instructive roadcuts in California. Some, like the Big Pumice Cut and the Charlie Brown Outcrop, are quite famous to geologists and generations of field studies students. Others have received less attention, and today I'm showing a particularly nice spot to learn about the difference between a dike and a sill.A dike is an intrusion of molten […]
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6:20 PM | Add Climate Change in Disaster Planning, FEMA Urges
States that fail to consider climate change in emergency planning won't qualify for some FEMA grants.
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5:00 PM | Solar Storm Leads to Stunning Aurora Displays: Photos
A solar eruption was strong enough make the Aurora Borealis much more dramatic than usual and was seen over a much wider area. See photos from the show on March 17.
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4:44 PM | Drought: the waiting
Faith Kearns has a smart look at an under-covered piece of the problem of drought – the psychology of waiting: [W]hile waiting for uncertain news, people often focus on preparing—emotionally and logistically—for any possible outcome. People tend to shift between optimism and pessimism, and both states can help increase readiness. Optimism engenders people to take ...Continue reading ‘Drought: the waiting’ »
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4:34 PM | On the Edge of the Sahara: a guest post by Ann Lingard
At the edge of the Sahara, I stood for a while and watched a dune move. It pushed out its toes, testing the flat ground in front of it; a small trickle of sand cascaded down the lee side and...
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3:59 PM | Sacramento Delta 101, and sharing water
Emily Green has written a great primer for Southern Californians on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the distant geography from which a big chunk of their water emerges: [W]hat makes the Delta the Delta is water. After winter rain and snow, roughly half of California’s fresh water arrives in this quirkily engineered, mis-named place. Twenty five ...Continue reading ‘Sacramento Delta 101, and sharing water’ »
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3:56 PM | Remote Data Team Helped Put Haiti Back on the Map
Before the Haiti earthquake, few publicly available maps of the country existed. When the earthquake hit in 2010, some of the little data that existed was destroyed. Then a team at Tufts University went into action, and from afar, helped build updated maps of roads and earthquake damage to help humanitarian organizations deal with the crisis.
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2:39 PM | Inspiring Designs: Expedition 354 Logo Contest
It’s a tradition on the JOIDES Resolution to hold a contest to design the expedition logo, which will be printed on t-shirts and featured on a wall onboard. The Bengal Fan expedition received six entries from the Science Party and Education Officers. The designs were displayed in the galley for two days so that everyone could vote for their favorite. The winner was this beautiful design submitted by Kimberly Rogers. Here, each […]
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12:54 PM | The Voices of Women in STEM via podcasts [Women's History Month]
For the month of March, in honor of Women’s History Month, I am dedicating my weekly blog posts to the outstanding organizations, resources, and inspiring stories about women in STEM. Be sure to check out my first two posts on the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) and Wikipedia edit-a-thons.
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11:55 AM | DNews: How New Islands Bubble into Being
Landmasses gurgle up out of the ocean with surprising frequency. But how do these baby islands break the surface in the first place, and which ones get to grow into the trendy hotspot of future generations?
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11:30 AM | Presenting at the Assembly: A quick ‘how to’ from the EGU
The schedule is out, presentation slots have been assigned and it’s time to start thinking about putting yours together. Whether you have an oral, poster or PICO slot, we have a suite of simple guidelines to get you ready for the conference! Orals The guidelines for oral presentations are online. All oral presentations should have the dimensions 4:3 and last about 12 minutes, with 3 minutes for questions. Oral presentations take place over four 90-minute time blocks. Make sure […]
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9:32 AM | Seeker Daily: Svalbard Seed Vault Has the Future in Mind
Norway's Svalbard seed vault is essentially a bunker in the side of a mountain in the Arctic. It houses seeds from all over the world and is kept at a well-below freezing temperature of 0 degree fahrenheit to insure preservation.
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7:52 AM | Yeager airport fill slope failure: the landslide history
Historical accounts and recollections by local residents suggest that the site of the Yeager Airport fill slope failure may have a history of landslides
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7:33 AM | Why Dennis Mersereau at Gawker is Wrong About Fahrenheit Being A Better Temperature Scale
  I enjoy Dennis Mersereau’s pieces on Gawker, and I suspect his piece touting the wonder’s of the OLD Fahrenheit scale was covertly designed to get a thousand nasty comments from those of us who live metrically, and from the comments so far, it worked. Now, I suspect that most of Fahrenheit’s dwindling number of supporters are the type who have trouble remembering if 0.04 is 4 tenth’s or 4 …
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5:25 AM | Fossil fuels are way more expensive than you think
A new paper published in Climatic Change estimates that when we account for the pollution costs associated with our energy sources, gasoline costs an extra $3.80 per gallon, diesel an additional $4.80 per gallon, coal a further 24 cents per kilowatt-hour, and natural gas another 11 cents per kilowatt-hour that we don’t see in our fuel or energy bills.  Levelized generation costs for new US electricity generation and environmental damages by fuel type. Source: Climatic […]
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1:30 AM | Prionocyclus macombi Ammonite Fossil
This Prionocyclus macombi (Meek, 1876) ammonite fossil is on display at the Mesa Verde National Park as of August 2014. The ammonite existed in the Late Cretaceous Period (Campanian). The area is rich in geological history going back 2 billion years. The national park was founded in 1906 to protect the Anasazi Native American sites found on the mesa tops, cliffs, and canyons. The exposed areas
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12:15 AM | Triple creek junction
A while ago I featured the casting ponds at McCrea Memorial Park, in the valley of upper Lion Creek. I didn’t poke further downstream at the time, but since then I have. The creek runs alongside a pair of small concrete “trout ponds,” cunningly made with cobble-lined runnels that would send a lifegiving trickle through […]

March 17, 2015

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11:20 PM | The Community Hates Science SO MUCH (not). A Weekend at the Mineral Show
As we all know, science has no hold on the imagination of the young and old in our society, nobody cares about rocks, minerals, fossils, and all that stuff. I mean, one could offer a show with that stuff, and we simply realize that no one would show up.Or maybe not. Every year, events seem to prove the opposite. For many years, our local Mother Lode Mineral Society has held their Rock and Mineral Show at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in Turlock and did so this last weekend. Thousands of […]
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11:13 PM | Geo 1095: March 17 Day 806: Green and Gray, Green and Gray
Not the title I'd been planning, but it is Saint Patrick's Day. This is the outcrop I'd been eyeballing for literally decades, hoping to have an opportunity to stop sometime. That may sound like an easily-remedied problem, but there are a number of issues. First, of the almost exactly 35 years I've been in Oregon, I've owned a car for fewer than three of them. Second, I've often not been in control of where stops were made. Third, on what likely amounts to the majority of my trips, the […]
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10:14 PM | Geo 1095: March 16, Day 805: Reverse Grading
On the approach to Tombstone Pass, on Route 20 east of Corvallis, in the Western Cascades, there are a number of appealing roadcuts, some of which have convenient pullouts. Despite having sailed merrily past them many times, I had never had time or opportunity to stop and look more carefully at them prior to a trip to the area with Dana on  October 9, 2012.Though this was not the droid outcrop I was looking for, it did have some interesting features, and the one I was looking for was just […]
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10:01 PM | Severe Geomagnetic Storm May Light Up the Sky with Irish Green Tonight
Two coronal mass ejections over the weekend have arrived at Earth, and are producing a severe geomagnetic storm this evening. Besides causing long-range radio/GPS communication problems, it is already lighting up the aurora, and there is a decent chance of seeing the sky dance with a colorful display of the northern lights later tonight. A good measure of your chance to see the lights is the Kp index, and as …
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7:35 PM | An economist’s view of California’s water problems
David Zetland: [W]e see a total lack of vision or action to address the REAL drivers of scarcity — retail prices too low to notice, permissive overuse of groundwater, failing water-as-charity policies, and the blinders of a historic pretension that water rights are properly allocated (nope) in the correct volumes (NOPE). Taken together, the excess ...Continue reading ‘An economist’s view of California’s water problems’ »
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7:12 PM | Celebrating the Irish-Geological Heritage
According to a popular myth, long time ago lived a giant named Finn McCool on the shores of the county of Antrim in Ireland. On the opposite shores lived the Scottish giant Benandonner. One day Benandonner challenged McCool to a battle. McCool started to build a bridge, made of large columns of black rocks, to cross over the Irish Sea. Soon the bridge was completed and seeing his furious opponent approaching, Benandonner became afraid of the battle. So he asked advice to his wife. The […]
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5:00 PM | El Nino Can Predict Tornado Season's Severity
This year's El Niño may deliver a quiet tornado season.
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4:27 PM | The economics of California’s drought
Jeff Michael at the University of the Pacific’s Center for Business and Policy Research summarizes data on economic recovery in California suggesting that the impact of the drought has not, at least to date, been as significant as some might suggest: Focusing just on the Central Valley, there is a geographical pattern from north to south. ...Continue reading ‘The economics of California’s drought’ »
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4:00 PM | How the Chicago River Turns Green on St. Patrick's
For more than 40 years, the Chicago River has been dyed green on St. Patrick's Day. After the river is colored by an eco-friendly powdered vegetable dye, it can take several days for the green to dissipate.
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3:18 PM | Technical Help Needed – IRMS Instrumental Quandry
This is a technical post. I’m writing for other scientists who use the same (or similar) instrument as I do to ask a technical question. I’m having a problem with the mass spectrometer and need the advice of others. If … Continue reading →
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3:04 PM | Museum transfer bill passed by Arizona House committee
The Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee passed the museum transfer bill, SB1200, by 9-0 on Monday.  It now goes to the full House for approval and then on the to Governor for signature.SB1200 transfers the building that housed the former Mining and Mineral Museum from the Arizona Historical Society to the Arizona Geological Survey to be converted to a Mining, Mineral, and Natural Resources Education Museum.The building has been vacant and unused since it was closed in 2011 […]
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2:10 PM | You can predict how rabbits run by looking at their skulls (using this one weird trick!)
I have a new paper out today in PeerJ: “Ecological correlates to cranial morphology in leporids (Mammalia, Lagomorpha)”, with coauthors Brian Kraatz, Emma Sherratt, and Nick Bumacod. Get it free here. I know, I know, I have fallen from grace. First Aquilops, now rabbits. And, and…skulls! I know what you’re thinking: that maybe I’m not just […]
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1:36 PM | Intractable Conflict: Can We End ‘Endless’ Wars?
Intractable conflicts such as the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East or long-term civil wars in central Africa are among the world’s most destructive social ills, and the most difficult to solve. Over the past decade, Peter Coleman, director of the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia University, has been developing an innovative way of understanding intractable conflicts — and potentially resolving them.
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