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First results from Rosetta landing expected to be unveiled at AGU Fall Meeting

8 hours 48 min ago
Scientists expect to present preliminary results from the first spacecraft to land on a comet at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting in December. That’s assuming, of course, that they first succeed at dropping a lander from thousands of meters away onto a tiny comet – a feat never tried before. The Rosetta mission is the first designed to orbit and land on a comet, according to the European Space Agency. The mission’s Philae lander will touch down at candidate site “J” at the head of comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 11 November, the ESA announced Monday morning after weeks of deliberation.

Monday Geology Picture(s): Cross-Bedding in Ceres, South Africa

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 2:48pm
Soon, I’ll continue with sharing more pictures from my geological wanderings in Mauritius earlier this year. However, for this week’s “Monday Geology Picture” I want to share some pictures from my recent visit to the little town of Ceres in the Western Cape of South Africa. Last Friday, I went to Ceres for the day with my husband and two friends visiting from America. Ceres is about an hour and a …

If British Airways Offered Jet Service To The Moon, How long A Flight Would It Be?

Sun, 09/14/2014 - 7:46pm
Have you ever thought about how long a commercial airline flight to the Moon would take?? It’s actually a good question, and an excellent way of getting your head around the vast distances of just our own solar system. It’s actually an easy math problem, and while not all such questions are that simple, they almost all come with surprising results. Meteorologists frequently get these type questions, and  can tell …

Chamarel Waterfall, Mauritius

Sat, 09/13/2014 - 1:02pm
Today I’m continuing with sharing some pictures from my March 2014 trip to the volcanic island of Mauritius. You can see some of my previous posts on Mauritius here, here, and here. Mauritius is a tropical island, so in many places the lava rocks, particularly the older ones, are covered by thick green vegetation. However, there are some places where you can see the lavas well. One of those places is …

Friday fold: Quartz vein in Catoctin Formation, Point of Rocks, Maryland

Fri, 09/12/2014 - 7:41am
I took this image in 2005, when I was working up a geologic history of the C&O Canal National Historical Park. It’s a vein of quartz, gracefully folded within the Catoctin Formation. The exposure is along the railroad tracks at Point of Rocks, Maryland, easternmost extent of the Blue Ridge province on the north shore of the Potomac River. The Culpeper Basin begins about 100 meters to the east of …

Seismic gap may be filled by an earthquake near Istanbul

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 11:16am
When a segment of a major fault line goes quiet, it can mean one of two things: The “seismic gap” may simply be inactive — the result of two tectonic plates placidly gliding past each other — or the segment may be a source of potential earthquakes, quietly building tension over decades until an inevitable seismic release. A new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, has found evidence for both types of behavior on different segments of the North Anatolian Fault — one of the most energetic earthquake zones in the world.

Lurching ground and bouncing bridges in the Napa earthquake

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 8:59pm
My rides along Amtrak California’s Capitol Corridor now include an eerie stretch where they pass the site at which the highest ground motions in the Napa earthquake were recorded mere weeks ago. Just at the south abutments of the I-80 bridges over the Carquinez Strait, where the Union Pacific tracks pass through the C&H refinery, a shallow borehole seismometer recorded an acceleration of 0.99g, nearly the full force of gravity lurching soil and …

Bring the field to students with live webcams

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 8:02am
If you can't get your students to the geology, bring the geology to your students via webcams.

Andy Revkin in Audubon Is Well Worth A Read

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 12:26am
The Audubon Society has released a well done report about climate change. Part of their report is a great piece by NY Times Dot Earth blogger Andy Revkin (Click the image below to read it). One thing worth noting however, and that is that you might be the idea from it that we can continue as we are for 49 years and still be ok. We almost certainly cannot, because …

Global food trade may not meet all future demand, new study indicates

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 1:09pm
As the world population continues to grow, by about 1 billion people every 12 to 14 years since the 1960s, the global food supply may not meet escalating demand – particularly for agriculturally poor countries in arid to semi-arid regions, such as Africa’s Sahel, that already depend on imports for much of their food supply. A new study, published online in the American Geophysical Union journal, Earth’s Future, examines global food security and the patterns of food trade that – until this analysis – have been minimally studied.

The Young Volcanic Landscape of Mauritius

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 6:34pm
For the next little while, I will be blogging about my recent (March 2014) vacation to Mauritius, a young volcanic island in the Indian Ocean. I recently shared a couple of pictures of volcanic basalt in Mauritius for my “Monday Geology Picture” posts here and here. In future posts, I’ll write a little more about the volcanic history of Mauritius. In brief, Mauritius is believed to have been formed by a …

Monday Geology Picture(s): Vesicular Basalt Boulder, Mauritius

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 4:05pm
Continuing with some pictures from my trip to Mauritius back in March, for this week’s “Monday Geology Picture” post I am sharing some pictures of a large boulder of vesicular basalt. This particular boulder is located in the town of Grand Gaube in northern Mauritius and is used as a decorative stone on which a plaque has been mounted. Vesicular basalt is a dark-colored volcanic rock that contains many small holes, …

Grizzly pig

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 7:31am
Archaeotherium skull, on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta: I love these beasts since I first encountered mention of them at Badlands National Park, and reading them dubbed “grizzly pigs” in the excellent book Cruising the Fossil Freeway really stuck with me – these were pigs filling a predatory ecological niche we don’t really see them in today.

The Sunkoshi landslide dam breach

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 6:05am
The Sunkoshi landslide dam in Nepal breached and drained early on Sunday morning. The discharge data suggests that the breach was initiated in response to increased river flow caused by heavy rainfall.

97 Scientists Attempt To Dispel The Greatest Scientific Myth in 97 Hours

Sun, 09/07/2014 - 8:24pm
The biggest scientific myth of today is that the science community is divided about the threat to our climate from burning fossil fuels. It is simply not true, and if you were to read the different scientific journals, you would quickly see that the consensus is overwhelming. Progress is being made, and those who refuse to accept it are increasingly being seen as out of touch with reality. The media …

Volcanic Shock Wave from Papua New Guinea

Sat, 09/06/2014 - 11:26pm
Turn up the sound, and watch. Isn’t geology cool!

Who Really Declared War on Coal

Sat, 09/06/2014 - 9:10pm
Have you seen those slick adverts about clean coal on cable TV lately? They seem to have disappeared, but I may be just missing them. If you live in the UK, you won’t be seeing them on British TV, because they’ve been banned by regulators there as misleading, and that’s the kind way of putting it. Bald faced lie is IMHO more accurate. (Here in America, you can get away …

Friday fold: Kink banding in the Arran Islands

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 7:23am
This one is in my folder of ‘structure’ images on my computer, but it’s not one of mine. I’m not sure where it came from. A TinEye search turns up nothing. Perhaps one of  you can tell me? Lovely subparallel kink bands… such gorgeous structure. Happy Friday!

Heading out to sea as a NOAA Teacher at Sea

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 8:30am
Ahoy! I'm heading out to sea with the NOAA Teacher at Sea program for a hydrographic survey and professional development opportunity.

Rugose corals in the Clearville member of the Mahantango Formation

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 7:20am
Here are some rugose coral fossils (along with some cross-sectioned articulate brachiopod shells) to be seen in the Clearville member (~80 feet thick) of the Mahantango Formation, exposed on the north side of route 55, just west of the West Virginia / Virginia border. These fossils are cool in their own right (what fossils aren’t?) but here they’re serving another purpose – they’re letting us know where we are in …