Posts

March 04, 2015

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7:37 PM | The Geology of Star Trek: II. It is not Life as we know or understand it!
It may surprise that there is no exact definition of what “life” is -  it is often described as a system in thermodynamic disequilibrium with it´s own environment and therefore forced to actively seek, incorporate and transform matter and energy. Part of the acquired energy and matter is used by this system to create copies of itself and so to survive it´s own death.Some of these properties are however shared also by inorganic entities, like the order, growth or […]
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2:34 AM | Study: Napa Quake Should Spur Retrofits to Older Buildings
The Bay Area's worst shaker in 25 years revealed -- once again -- where the vulnerabilities are.
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12:47 AM | Geo 1095: March 2, Day 791: Pointy Grotto
As in yesterday's photo, there appears to be a correlation between tone and age in these stalactites and drapes: older ones look darker, younger ones, brighter. Also, it appears that the younger deposits are being laid down faster than in the past.Photo unmodified. May 9, 2013. FlashEarth Location. (Since we're underground, I have only a vague idea where this is with respect to the surface.)
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12:00 AM | Science Book a Day Interviews Martin Rudwick
Special thanks to Martin Rudwick for answering 5 questions about his recently featured book – Earth’s Deep History: How it Was Discovered and Why it Matters Martin John Spencer Rudwick is an emeritus professor of History at the University […]

March 03, 2015

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6:40 PM | Jaw-Dropping Photographs Show The Villarica Volcano Erupting in Chile
The Villarica volcano near Pucón, Chile erupted early Tuesday morning, spewing a spectacular fountain of lava and ash that extended hundreds of meter into the air.Read more...
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2:28 AM | Seiche and Tsunami: Geology Hazard Regulations
I have been doing some volunteer work on the Whatcom County update of the County's Critical Areas regulations. Critical areas are mandated by the Washington State Growth Management Act to be regulated. Critical areas include wetlands, flood areas, wildlife habitat, aquifer recharge areas and geologic hazard areas. I am on the technical committee due to the later part - those pesky geology troubles.One geologic risk that we recently addressed were tsunami and seiche hazard areas. Wikipedia has a […]
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1:03 AM | Geo 1095: March 1, Day 790: Drapery Regenesis
This spot is apparently called Angel Falls (page 22 of this PDF). The photographic tour doesn't mention it, so I'm speculating here, but that broken drape near the center, with the large, regrown, bright white stalactite, looks as if it might be more souvenir collecting, with the regrowth occurring in the past century or so. As we saw earlier, though, natural processes can also break these speleothems in the absence of human defacement, so that must be considered as another possibility. We're […]

March 02, 2015

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6:25 PM | The Geology of Star Trek: I. Minerals, Crystals and Alien Life Forms
„But a geological oddity to say the least. Pure silicon!“„A few trace elements, look, we didn't you call here so you could collect rocks!“ Geologists get no respect, even if vital for entire civilizations, from the episode “The Devil in the Dark”.According to Vulcan philosophy one should respond with grief only if a life was lost in vain. The loss of Mister Spock - more precisely of actor Leonard Nimoy – last week was followed by worldwide […]
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5:31 PM | A New, Stronger Tunnel to Bring Hetch Hetchy Water to the Bay Area
The San Francisco Public Utilities opened on Friday a new cement-encased, steel-lined tunnel that runs from Sunol Valley to Fremont. It will carry an average of 265 million gallons of water a day for customers of the Hetch Hetchy Water System Improvement Program, which consists of more than 80 projects to seismically retrofit and upgrade an 80-year-old water system serving 2.6 million people in the Bay Area.
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6:12 AM | Phytoplankton in Commencement Bay
I routinely look up historic photographs for work on the Washington State Department of Ecology shoreline website. The image below came up on the page when I opened it. The site is the Port of Tacoma at Commencement Bay and captures an impressive phytoplankton bloom in July 2006. Thea Foss Waterway at TacomaThe last image below suggests a source - the sediment laden Puyallup River carrying sediment from Mount Rainier provides a nutrient source for the phytoplankton.  
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12:57 AM | Geo 1095: February 28, Day 789: Aquaclude Versus Aquatard
Last Tuesday, I posted a photo of a feature I described as an "intrusive aquaclude." On Twitter, I was informed that the correct word was "aquatard." It turns out, both are terms in use, but an aquatard slows groundwater flow, while an aquaclude blocks its flow entirely. As this source points out (PDF), that distinction is difficult to make in the real world. I'm pretty sure this is the same feature as that in the Tuesday post, and once again, if you enlarge the image to full size, you'll see […]

March 01, 2015

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11:41 PM | Geo 1095: February 27, Day 788: Two Tickets to Paradise
I am not a fan of Eddie Money, but I do enjoy working rock song puns into my posts on... well, rocks. Pretty much every surface on the inside of this spire at Paradise Lost is covered with flowstone draperies. It's a breathtaking spot, and I'm awfully glad I made the effort to climb up into it, despite my misgivings.Photo unmodified. May 9, 2013. FlashEarth Location. (Since we're underground, I have only a vague idea where this is with respect to the surface.)
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12:02 AM | Geo 1095: February 26, Day 787: Paradise Lost
There is something distinctly cathedral-like about this spot, but human architects had nothing to do with it... it's all water chemistry and geochemistry.Photo unmodified. May 9, 2013. FlashEarth Location. (Since we're underground, I have only a vague idea where this is with respect to the surface.)

February 28, 2015

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11:20 PM | Geo 1095: February 25, Day 786: Limitations
Ascending into the spot named "Paradise Lost," the most heavily and spectacularly decorated portion of the cave along this tour, there are two apparent limitations. First is the limited ability of a camera flash to accurately illuminate and capture scenery in poor (or no) lighting. The rock in the lower right is way over exposed; that to the top is way underexposed. The second limitation will not be so obvious to others... I almost decided not to make this climb. My balance is not good, and […]

February 27, 2015

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11:48 PM | "I Have Been, and Always Shall Be, Your Fan."
Today is a loss... if I don't do this (and I really don't want to, but I need to work toward closure), I won't get anything else done. It was announced earlier that Leonard Nimoy has passed away.I really appreciated that Barack took a moment to respond to this sad news, and even more pleased by how perfectly he hit the notes I'd like to hit:To which I responded (from this post nearly six years ago), "Obama's statement on Spock is, of course, logical."Star Trek TOS (The Original Series) started […]
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10:20 PM | The Mohs Scale Covers Everything From Diamonds to Double Entendres
Geologists do it according to the Mohs Scale of Hardness. There. That's your "hardness" joke for the post. Now down to business, with the hardest (and softest) scale there is.Read more...
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2:57 PM | A History of the Use of Illustrations in the Geosciences: I. Seeing is Believing...
The progress made in understanding realistic landscape-views and the rediscovery of ancient encyclopedias (like the works by Pliny the Elder) inspired Renaissance naturalists to adopt an exact and systematic approach to describe the curiosities found in the natural world. As most information as possible should be associated to every studied object – compiled from the works of ancient authors, own observations, may also supposed medical and magical properties, a good description should […]

February 26, 2015

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10:43 PM | Sangay Volcano Erupts in Ecuador
In December we'd been walking on its slopes, collecting rock samples. One month after we departed, Sangay started erupting with ferocity again.
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10:43 PM | Sangay Volcano Erupts in Ecuador
In December we'd been walking on its slopes, collecting rock samples. One month after we departed, Sangay started erupting with ferocity again.
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7:28 AM | Non Washington Post: Blackhawk Landslide
Heading homebound I recognized this landscape that is familiar to many geologists: Blackhawk Landslide, Lucerne Valley, CAShreve (1959, http://thesis.library.caltech.edu/691/1/Shreve_rl_1959.pdf and 1968, http://specialpapers.gsapubs.org/content/108/1.short) suggested the slide mechanics that caused the slide of rocks to travel so far was that it was conveyed on a layer of trapped and compressed air. The slide took place 17,000 years ago and Shreve noted that there were other […]

February 25, 2015

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11:53 PM | Neil deGrasse Tyson on Climate Change What’s up with climate...
Neil deGrasse Tyson on Climate Change What’s up with climate change? In this video from Business Insider and StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the impact of burning fossil fuels and releasing carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. You’ll learn about melting icecaps, rising water levels, and the potential impact of coastal erosion on civilization. Neil also discusses the greenhouse effect and global warming, and why he doesn’t want Earth to end up like Venus. By: […]
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11:33 PM | Geo 1095: February 24, Day 785: Ground Ground Underground
I think this is in the same room as yesterday's dike, but wherever it is, I looked down and was struck by the beauty of the ground and polished stalagmite under my feet. This photo nicely shows the concentric growth pattern of these features. The light/dark variations probably represent differing crystallization habits of the calcite across the duration of its deposition. My guess would be that darker areas represent coarser crystals (think water ice), while lighter areas represent finer […]
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7:40 PM | Ceres' Mystery Bright Dots May Have Volcanic Origin
As NASA's Dawn mission slowly spirals in on its dwarf planet target, Ceres' alien landscape is becoming sharper by the day.
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4:39 PM | Gone Hiking! Main Central Thrust Goriganga Valley Kumaon Himalayas
At last!I've been waiting for this for almost 2 years. Friday, I will  be departing for the little town of Munsiyari in the Kumaon Himalayas of Uttarakhand to begin an eight day trek northwards towards the Milam and Rilam glaciers.Just take a look!Geology?The Munsiyari Thrust named after the town of Munsiyari is the lower bounding fault  of the Main Central Thrust Zone along which the High Himalayan Crystalline (HHC) rock sequences have been extruded over the Lesser Himalayan […]
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4:18 PM | Drilling deep
We’re in the Indian Ocean currently drilling the deepest of a six hole transect across the middle of the Bengal submarine fan. The fan covers the bottom of the Bay of Bengal with sediments eroded from the Himalayas. We’ll be devoting almost three weeks of our eight-week International Ocean Discovery Program expedition to drilling at this site. Our target: to reach 1,500 meters (about a mile) depth. Drilling this deep is a major challenge when you are drilling into the seafloor, […]
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7:59 AM | The mystery of the Norwegian mountains
Norwegians love their mountains. They go there for hiking in the summer, skiing in the winter, and all year round to enjoy the company of friends and family in remote, cosy cabins. But I wonder, do the Norwegians know why their mountains are there in the first place? If they do, they know more than […]Author informationVivi PedersenI am a postdoc at the Earth Science Department, University of Bergen. My main research interests are within geodynamics and quantitative geomorphology. My […]

February 24, 2015

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11:02 PM | Geo 1095: February 23, Day 784: Intrusive Aquaclude
"Aquaclude" may be an obsolete term; I seem to remember reading somewhere that there is another term that's preferred now, but I don't remeber what it is. Basically, as I learned it 30-some years ago, an aquaclude is an impermeable layer, through which ground water travels poorly, or not at all. In the photo, that darker streak is a dike that appears to have confined groundwater seepage to the lower right. Note that in the upper left, there are no stalactites or flowstone. The nature of the […]
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8:55 PM | The “Abel” mountains of Tasmania
Intro: There is something special about mountains when you are a geologist (i.e. a person who spends a good chunk of the time thinking about rocks). Their prominent peaks seem to allure and beg to be reached. From growing up in Canada I’m used to being surrounding by gorgeous glacier-caped mountain, sadly, these are missing in Australia. … Continue reading →
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7:21 PM | Behind the Photo: Inside the World’s Largest Caves
Looking at Carsten Peter’s photo of a Vietnamese cave blanketed in a mystical mist, you could be excused for thinking it was the product of Hollywood magic.
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6:14 PM | Imaging Space Rocks What are the technologies at work that help...
Imaging Space Rocks What are the technologies at work that help scientists glean information from asteroids and meteors? In this SciCafe, Museum Curator Denton Ebel is joined by Amanda White, a confocal microscopy specialist, and Ellen Crapster-Pregont, a PhD candidate conducting her research at the Museum, in a discussion of the 2 and 3-dimensional analysis of these space rocks. This is an abridged version of the lecture. For the full version, listen to the podcast here: […]
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