October 30, 2014

7:49 PM | With Residential Retrofit Scheme, Oakland Enters Next Phase of Quakeproofing
Oakland gains character as well as affordable housing from its stock of small and mid-sized apartment buildings. A retrofit plan is being prepared to strengthen this crucial part of the city's fabric against earthquake damage.
7:21 PM | Geo 730: October 30, Day 668: Panoramic Cross Beds
There's quite a lot going on in this photo of the base of Elephant rock at Seal Rock State Park. Directly below the lens cap (52 mm diameter) is a bundle of simple laminar beds, then below that is the featured feature, so to speak, a beautiful set off cross-bedded layers. In that set, below and a bit to the left of the lens cap is an example of soft sediment deformation; I'd call that a ball-and-pillow structure. In that same horizon, but about halfway between directly below the lens cap and […]

October 29, 2014

10:07 PM | Geo 730: October 29, Day 667: Cross Bedded Astoria Formation
I'm told that the rock here, sediments under Columbia River Basalt of Elephant Rock at Seal Rock State Park, are also Astoria Formation. The tide was out far enough at this point that we could get down to beach level to get a good look at them. I was immediately struck by the terrific cross bedding visible below and to the right of the lens cap. In fact, I need to assemble a series of photos of these beds into a panorama for tomorrow.Photo unmodified. July 15, 2014. FlashEarth Location.
8:54 PM | Is our climate headed for a mathematical tipping...
Is our climate headed for a mathematical tipping point? Scientists have warned that as CO2 levels in the atmosphere rise an increase in Earth’s temperature by even two degrees could lead to catastrophic effects across the world. But how can such a tiny, measurable change in one factor lead to huge, unpredictable changes elsewhere? Victor J. Donnay uses billiards to illustrate tipping points, chaotic motion and their implications on climate change. View full lesson: […]
8:35 PM | Geo 730: October 28, Day 666: Seal Rock Sea Shore
Looking along the northward extent of the invasive dike(s) at Seal Rock State Park. There's a tombolo developing on the shoreward side of the large stack to the left. The stack blocks much of the incoming wave energy from the open ocean, which means the area behind it becomes a sediment trap. In this case the sediment is course cobbles and boulders; in other it might be sand. The odd light on the salal (which I mentioned a few days ago) in the foreground is the result of my camera flash, which […]
7:09 PM | Geo 730: October 27, Day 665: Muddy Waters
We were quite taken by the visible wave-caused sediment transport from this vantage point. It's particularly obvious as the backwash pushes into the advancing wave. Out of frame to the left is a nice little sea cave Dana and I visited on our first visit to this park, at a much lower tide (direct link to relevant photo).Photo unmodified. July 15, 2014. FlashEarth Location.
5:27 PM | Geo 730: October 26, Day 664: Beverly Beach
Even though the Willamette Valley, about 50 miles inland, is generally in the 80's to low 90's in mid-July, the coast is often foggy, or as here, hazy. And cool. With the wind, it's not unfair to describe it as cold. We're looking to the south, toward Beverly Beach. The graceful bridge near the middle of the shoreline is the pedestrian walkway under Route 101 from the day use/camping areas out to the beach access area. The southern stretch, beginning maybe 150 yards south from the bridge, is […]
3:13 PM | Activists Push for Public Review of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant
An environmental group claims there are unanswered questions about the seismic safety of the Central Coast plant.

October 27, 2014

6:31 PM | How The Air We Breathe Was Created By Earth's Tectonic Plates
By Simon Redfern, University of CambridgeHow is it that Earth developed an atmosphere that made the development of life possible? A study published in the journal Nature Geoscience links the origins of Earth’s nitrogen-rich atmosphere to the same tectonic forces that drive mountain-building and volcanism on our planet. It goes some way to explaining why, compared to our nearest neighbors, Venus and Mars, Earth’s air is richer in nitrogen. read more
4:00 PM | Alma Mater’s Other Secret: a Way Forward on Climate
Sitting on the iconic front steps of Low Library, Alma Mater opens her arms to all who would learn. The plinth on which she rests sends a different message -- clues to one possible method of carbon sequestration, which could prove to be a vital technology for addressing our problem of too much CO2.
2:00 PM | Three California Counties Vote on Fracking Bans this November
Santa Barbara, Mendocino and San Benito counties will vote on hydraulic fracturing this November. San Benito activists were the first to qualify a ballot initiative to ban the controversial oil- and gas-extraction technique.
3:34 AM | Orcas Island Tectonic Zone on East Sound
Mount Constitution and East Sound on Orcas Island East Sound and fishing boatEast Sound is a fjord on the south side of Orcas Island. It consists of a deep bay with Mount Constitution rising to over 2,400 feet to the east as well as other steep slopes and cliffs much of it on private land. The small town of Eastsound (note the spelling) is located at the north, upper end of the inlet. Several major tectonic thrust fault zone structures cut across the Sound and are exposed […]

October 25, 2014

9:45 PM | Geo 730: October 25, Day 663: Surfing USA
I know squat about surfing, but I do know it has been getting more popular along the Oregon Coast over the last couple decades, and I've noticed that it's often on the south sides of major headlands. A woman I know- though I can't remember who- was dating a man who came to this spot, south of Devils Punchbowl, frequently. I'm guessing here, but my suspicion is that longshore drift, which is often north to south along the coast, moves sand away from the headland, deepening the water and allowing […]
8:28 PM | Geo 730: October 24, Day 662: Faulty Tower
In the Devils Punchbowl area, the Astoria Formation is shot through with numerous, nearly vertical faults with small offsets- generally, just a couple inches. They're not obvious at the above photo scale, but more so in the full-size image. For a fracture to be declared a fault (as opposed to a joint), one must be able to show there was offset parallel to the plane of the fracture. Even in the full-size photo, many of the cracks in this view are questionable as faults, but it's much easier to […]

October 24, 2014

6:31 PM | Erupting Bardarbunga Volcano In Iceland Sits On A Massive Magma Hot Spot
 Massive amounts of erupting lava have connected with the fall of civilizations, the destruction of supercontinents and dramatic changes in climate and ecosystems.  Since August 31st, Bárðarbunga volcano in central Iceland has been spewing spectacular amounts of lava. A new paper finds that high mantle temperatures miles beneath the Earth's surface are essential for generating such large amounts of magma - and  Bárðarbunga volcano lies directly above the […]

October 23, 2014

8:52 PM | South Napa Quake Offers Key Test for Real-Time GPS Detection
The familiar GPS system is being enlisted to help improve earthquake shaking alerts; an experimental system is now operating at the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory.
7:49 PM | Geo 730: October 23, Day 661: Craggy Headland
A bit farther south on the path from the Punchbowl proper, we had some lovely views of the seaside cliffs. Spots like this are glorious in heavy winter storms. However, even though the wind was gusting wildly on this day, the lack of a sustained direction meant there was not much in the way of heavy surf. Though as we'll see in a few days, there was enough in the way of swells to provide entertainment for a fair number of people.Photo unmodified. July 15, 2014. FlashEarth Location.
7:01 PM | The World's Continents Weren't Always Created In The Way That We Thought
How many continents can you count on one hand? Image: ChonesBy Nick Rawlinson, University of Aberdeen read more

October 22, 2014

5:59 PM | Geo 730: October 22, Day 660: Punchbowl Strata
All three major components of the stratigraphy at Devils Punchbowl are visible here: the Astoria Formation forms the bedrock of the punchbowl itself. Contemporaneous Columbia River Basalt forms Otter Rock, offshore, as well as the headland on the far right horizon. Finally, flat-lying, probably Pleistocene, terrace sands have created the eroding bluff along the right and bottom edges. The role of plant cover in assisting the latter unit maintain some degree of coherence is evident in the grassy […]

October 21, 2014

8:07 PM | Geo 730: October 21, Day 659: Full Punchbowl
I've mentioned Devils Punchbowl quite a number of times, but shown a photo of it only once before in this series. That one was at a low-ish tide, though clearly not unusually low. At negative tides, the interior is easily accessible on foot, and it looks as if in that photo, there's water in the right portal, where one would enter. But here we see it at high-ish tide, and in relatively calm conditions. Even calm, you wouldn't want to get stuck in here; the water is extremely cold. I don't […]
5:38 PM | The Structure of Earth by jtotheizzoe: Human beings have only...
The Structure of Earth by jtotheizzoe: Human beings have only been able to drill down a third of the way into Earth’s crust. That’s only about 0.3% of the radius of the Earth. So how we know so much about its internal structure? In this week’s It’s Okay To Be Smart, you’ll earn why the Earth is organized like an onion filled with sizzling magma and metal as hot as the sun, plus how it got to be that way. You’ll also discover how the leftovers from dying […]
4:14 PM | Meteorite Impact May Have Triggered Largest Pulse Of Deccan Basalt Eruptions
What caused the mass extinction 65 million years ago?a) It was a meteorite impact and the resulting environmental crises.b) No,  it was the Deccan basalt eruptions and the resulting environmental crises.c) It was both, the meteorite impact and the eruptions.The two mechanisms were distinct. One, a calamity from space and the other a gigantic eruption whose cause was from deep within the earth. Now, it seems they may be more intimately linked. The meteorite impact may have triggered the […]
3:08 PM | The north pole moved to the North Pole in a single human lifetime
New record shows last flip of Earth’s magnetic poles happened quickly.
3:05 PM | Great Earthquakes Doubled In The Most Recent 10 Year Period - What That Means
Since December 2004 there have been 18 quakes of 8.0 or greater on the moment magnitude (Mw) scale – a rate more than twice that seen from 1900 to mid-2004. Some of that difference could be due to unprecedented advances in technological and scientific capacity to detect earthquakes. Like the distance of Babe Ruth's homeruns, anecdotes about past earthquakes have the mist of legend shrouding them, but modern earthquakes have a variety of ways they can be understood - and that […]
5:22 AM | Sunday dispatches from GSA: Vancouver
View the story “GSA Day 1″ on Storify

October 20, 2014

11:57 PM | Antarctica 2014: Success at Lewis Bay
Join Ken Sims as he tackles perilous ice-encrusted volcanoes in the attempt to study their geological past in Antarctica.
11:18 PM | October 19, 2014: Creating Electricity From Food Waste, Arresting Poachers and More
This week on National Geographic Weekend radio, join host Boyd Matson and his guests as they unearth the habits of the world's largest-ever carnivore, digest kitchen waste to cook dinner, eat like a 500 year old king, stalk Chernobyl's ruins, trace tree rings' roots, write a novel about elephants with a plot twist, kayak to protest dams, prosecute poachers in Mozambique, and see the unseen as a large format film.
10:40 PM | New Evidence Suggests Hawaii Could Be Hit By A Massive Tsunami
The discovery of a massive debris pile in a giant sinkhole in the Hawaiian islands suggests that the region was hit by a mammoth tsunami about 500 years ago. It was larger than any in Hawaii's recorded history, so scientists are now worrying that a similar disaster could happen again.Read more...
7:20 PM | The Supervillain's Guide to Causing Natural Disasters
For the new supervillain starting out, there are endless choices when it comes to tools of world domination. But nothing works better than natural disasters. That's why you need our essential guide to harnessing the powers of the Earth to rule puny humans with volcanoes, landslides, earthquakes, and more.Read more...
6:43 PM | Geo 730: October 20, Day 658: Looking Back
This is the view from Devils Punchbowl, looking back north to the site of yesterday's photo, Otter Crest. That headland and the next one beyond are composed of Columbia River Basalt. The yellow to gray tilted beds in the middle promontory are Astoria Formation, which was deposited but not yet lithified when the basalt arrived. Those beds, in turn, were beveled off to create a flat marine terrace, upon which the much lighter, flat-lying sands were deposited. The the whole kit and kaboodle was […]
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