August 31, 2014

9:31 PM | Geo 730: August 31, Day 608: Cinder Pit
As indicated by the topo map I posted yesterday, this was an active gravel pit until fairly shortly before I started visiting the area in the early 80's. It was only getting started being recolonized by vegetation the first few times I stopped here, and it was easy to spot from the road. But on moist to wet ground, such as we have here on the north side of the cinder cone, alders move in fast, and can get big surprisingly quickly. As you're driving the road up toward the historical town site, […]

August 30, 2014

4:52 PM | Geo 730: August 30, Day 607: Dana Being Cool
In the very left bottom of the topo map below, you can see a three-way intersection, with one road following Quartzville Creek off the bottom, one following Canal Creek ~north, and one running diagonally up the hill between the other two, and toward the center of the map.After leaving Yellowbottom, head up Quartzville road to that three-way intersection and take the middle gravel road (the other two are paved) up the hill.The spot near the center marked "Gravel Pit" is the location for the […]
2:42 AM | Coal and Drinking Water
Coal has been a bit of a topic in Washington State and Oregon as well with several coal export terminal schemes proposed. Coal has been portrayed as a toxic substance by some opponents to coal export terminals. But there is a lot of variability in coal toxicity and quality. Powder River coal, the primary coal that is being railroaded across Washington State is low in sulfur relative to most other coal, but is not particularly high in energy content. That low sulfur content makes it an […]

August 29, 2014

7:29 PM | Geo 730: August 29, Day 606: Deleted Dike
Photo by Dana Hunter.This is a photo Dana shot of Aaron Barth and me poking through one of several channels cut through the diorite mass, where dikes of basalt have been preferentially eroded out by floods. During high water, these rocks are entirely submerged, a fact that's difficult to grasp during the dry season when one is more likely to visit. But after the great flood of winter 1996, there were some substantial logs, 2-3 feet in diameter, stranded on the high points of these rocks, which […]
6:00 PM | Snail's Tales: The Rise And Fall Of The Tibetan Plateau
The rise of the Tibetan plateau, the largest topographic anomaly above sea level on Earth, is important for both its profound effect on climate and its reflection of continental dynamics. For a new study, Katharine Huntington and colleagues employed a cutting-edge geochemical tool - "clumped" isotope thermometry - using modern and fossil snail shells to investigate the uplift history of the Zhada basin in southwestern Tibet. read more
6:00 PM | Why Aren't We Fully Monitoring These Active Volcanoes in the U.S.?
The U.S. is one of the most volcanically rich countries in the world, with 169 active volcanoes. 57 of them are deemed high threats. But efforts to predict potential eruptions are being hampered by outdated equipment and lack of funding for scientific monitoring.Read more...
5:26 PM | Whether in Iceland or on Mars, Follow the Water
Bethany Ehlmann is touring with students in Iceland to learn more about the dynamic geological processes that mold and carve our planet in order to gain insight on other planets, particularly Mars. Crystals and underground rivers speak of the cycle of fire and ice.
2:20 PM | Iceland Moves To Red Alert After Small Volcanic Eruption [Updated]
Authorities in Iceland have raised its alert level to maximum after a small eruption occurred overnight in the Bárðarbunga volcano system. Airspace is now closed over the region up to 18,000 feet (5,486 meters) as a cautionary measure, despite no ash being detected by the radar system.Read more...

August 28, 2014

11:32 PM | Now That the Shaking’s Over from the South Napa Earthquake, Read This Comic
Among the helpful advice and resources that government agencies are sharing after the South Napa earthquake, the most effective product may be the newly released comic book "Without Warning."
7:52 PM | Geo 730: August 28, Day 605: Swimmin' Hole
The upper end of the larger and much deeper (15-20 feet) hole is visible as the dark green area in the upper left center of this photo. It's not clear to me just why there's a resistant ledge out to the sheer drop off of the hole, which is quite evident in the FlashEarth view. I suspect the gap between the two prominent knobs of diorite indicates the presence of another, wider, basalt dike- that trend continues as a narrowing notch behind me and to the right. Unfortunately, the last few times […]
7:27 PM | Breaking Down Rocks in the Deep Ocean
When I witness adults cooing over Eocene-era rocks, or tasting 15 million-year-old ocean sediments, I instantly wonder what their childhood was like. Were they kids that didn’t want to leave the sandbox after recess? Were they shy and looked at the ground more than they looked at the sky? Why curiosity for inanimate objects over, say, plants or something with eyes and a heart?
2:00 PM | Dating Drought in the Nebraska Sandhills
Could the Nebraska Sandhills resemble the Sahara? They have before. Join QUEST as we explore dating and recreating drought in dunes.
11:39 AM | Iceland volcano: why a repeat of the 2010 flight chaos is unlikely | Dr Andy Hooper
Geologist Andy Hooper explains why the chances of a huge eruption of the Bárðarbunga volcano in Iceland and massive disruption of air travel are lowThe heightened seismic activity at the Bárðarbunga volcano in Iceland, which began on 16 August, shows no sign of abating. The Icelandic Met Office has issued an orange flight warning, the second highest alert on its scale. This means Bárðarbunga, which is part of a large volcano system underneath the several hundred […]
1:51 AM | Boistfort Valley Mound - Random Land Form Curiosity
During a visit to the Boisfort Valley I noted this isolated small hill rising from the floor of the valley. I had no time to visit the hill, but noted it is the site of a cemetery. Small hill in the Boistfort ValleySame Boisfort hill from the southwestThe Boistfort Valley is located in the east Willapa Hills. The Boisfort Valley is one of the earliest Euro/American settlement areas in Washington State with some of the earliest donation land claims as well as the oldest public school […]

August 27, 2014

9:11 PM | Geo 730: August 27, Day 604: Basalt Dike
This is where we generally have lunch- it's not frequented by others, it's nice to have the music of the water in the background, and whether you like sun or shade, you can find a spot that suits you. On top of that, on the bare rock, you don't need to worry about dirt or bugs very much. You can also contemplate the sights and geology as you munch away. In this case I was contemplating the dike beyond Dana's feet. It's easy to get the impression that sills are horizontal tabular (sheet-like) […]
2:59 PM | Bardarbunga: Jokulhaups Alert!
In Iceland, Bethany Ehlmann is touring with students to learn more about the dynamic geological processes that mold and carve our planet in order to learn about other planets, particularly Mars. As the recent earthquakes around Bardarbunga intensify and eruption appears imminent, warnings of Jokulhaups ring from the dells.
1:32 PM | When human activity can ‘trigger’ earthquakes
Many centuries ago, human activity was believed to result in earthquakes – If we did not sufficiently appease the gods, mighty Tepeyollotl, heart of the mountains, would vent his calamitous rage with a terrifying, tumultuous upheaval of the earth itself. Nowadays most of us know better (although that still doesn’t stop some religious nuts from…

Mulargia, F. & Bizzarri, A. (2014). Anthropogenic Triggering of Large Earthquakes, Scientific Reports, 4 6100. DOI: 10.1038/srep06100


August 26, 2014

11:08 PM | Geo 730: August 26, Day 603: The Heart of the District
In a very real sense, this spot is the heart of the Quartzville mining district. The most intense and valuable mineralization is still several miles away, around the historic town site, but the intrusive rock here, diorite, was the source of heat that created the hydrothermal system that mineralized the area in the first place. The rock is dated at about 18 million years, so that was when the alteration took place. I suspect a fault created a weak spot that allowed erosion along the fairly […]
9:30 PM | Composition Of Earth's Mantle Revised
The makeup of the Earth's lower mantle, which makes up the largest part of the Earth by volume, is significantly different than previously more
6:07 PM | Cutting through the dust: Radar shows moon’s true face for first time
We’ve seen a serious series of super moons this summer and the show’s not over yet. Mark your calendars: the next one will light up […] The post Cutting through the dust: Radar shows moon’s true face for first time appeared first on Smithsonian Science.
4:15 PM | Weird Microscopic Structure Found In Martian Meteorite
Scientists have found a strange structure resembling a microbial cell inside a Martian meteorite, but they're not claiming that it's evidence of Red Planet life.Read more...
2:02 PM | The Weight of Mountains Here’s a short film by a...
The Weight of Mountains Here’s a short film by a children’s book illustrator about “the processes by which mountains are created and eventually destroyed, based upon the work of British geographer L. Dudley Stamp.” It’s eye-meltingly gorgeous and starkly scientific. The tone is meditative and incantatory, turning geological terms into epic poetry. If you’ve ever wanted to read John McPhee’s “Annals of the Former World” but only have 11 […]
10:00 AM | Weird Microscopic Structure Found in Mars Meteorite
Scientists have found a strange structure resembling a microbial cell inside a Martian meteorite, but they're not claiming that it's evidence of Red Planet life.
6:23 AM | Intrigued by Earthquakes and Volcanoes? It’s Easy to Become Geologically Literate
Meteorologists in general do not know much about Geology, but broadcast mets are usually the first person newsroom producers (and the public) turn to when there is an earthquake, tsunami, meteor showers etc.  I had a couple of great courses in Geology working on my masters, and a field trip to the Washington State was a fantastic learning experience, and it left me with a lifelong fascination of rocks and …

August 25, 2014

10:26 PM | Geo 730: August 25, Day 602: Yellowbottom Falls
The next stop after the quick pull-off to see the Boulder Creek boulder (which, depending on time constraints, I more often than not didn't do with middle-schoolers) is Yellowbottom Falls. This spot is not really visible from the road, but it's about 0.2-0.3 miles up the road from the Yellowbottom Campground and day use area (The latter has parking and vault toilets, and we'd generally stop there first for a bathroom break. If you choose to swim here- highly recommended for people who don't […]
9:35 PM | What Caused California's Napa Earthquake?
High-tech instruments and old-fashioned groundwork remain important in the aftermath of an earthquake.
7:23 PM | Inside the science of sinkholes
Sinkholes aren’t new, but they certainly make news, causing millions of dollars of damage, contaminating water supplies, and even claiming lives. This latest monster under the bed appears often without warning and with potentially catastrophic results, as evident in a sampling of actual headlines: “Ground swallows man sleeping in his bed,” …
3:43 PM | Curiosity Does Drilling U-Turn on Wobbly Mars Rock
Despite its name, one Mars rock isn't about to enrich NASA's Mars rover Curiosity with a cascade of science. Continue reading →
1:30 PM | South Napa Quake: What Scientists Know So Far
Scientists are still trying to find out more about the fault where Sunday’s earthquake occurred. They are focusing on the small West Napa Fault.
12:49 AM | Notes from Ross Dam
Ross Dam is the uppermost and highest dam of the three Seattle Light dams on the Skagit River. It is the key dam for controlling flows and power production on the Skagit. Two additional dams are located down river. Ross Dam from the southNote the high steep cliff on the far side of the dam and the fact that the slope from the vantage of where the picture was taken are steep as well. At one time there was a scheme to have an even higher dam matching those higher slopes. A higher […]
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