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Monday Geology Picture: Granite Boulder in the Forest

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 4:38pm
For this week’s “Monday Geology Picture” here’s a shot of a pretty granite boulder that I spotted during a forest hike in the Constantia region of the Cape Town, South Africa. No doubt, this boulder consists of ~550 million year old Cape Granite. There’s no scale in this picture, but the boulder is about 2 meters wide.

3D models to spin and twist

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 8:54am
More 3D models: digital facsimiles of real rock samples. Check them out and explore! Clinker from the Powder River Basin, Wyoming: [sketchfab id=”afb351be49f04c8eab1acc29a8a2bcfb” start=”0″ spin=”” controls=”0″] Ripple marks from the Rose Hill Formation, West Virginia: [sketchfab id=”6b56924ee2f84dd2821c4cb30e4869f9″ start=”0″ spin=”” controls=”0″] Meta-komatiite from the Red Lake Greenstone Belt, northern Ontario, Canada: [sketchfab id=”53dc4d161c974d7b86f70639062551e0″ start=”0″ spin=”” controls=”0″]

Songs of the Earth: Using music to connect students to the geosciences

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 8:30am
By Jennifer Beauregard I distinctly remember a conversation I had as a graduate student. It was with a faculty member in my department and he was lamenting about how scientifically illiterate his undergraduate students were. I asked him why he did not include certain topics in his classes to address this issue. His response was that he was only going to talk about his area of expertise, not geosciences in …

The location of the Kyrgyzstan loess landslide, as caught on that amazing video

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 4:54am
Using Google Earth it is possible to track down the location of the Kyrgyzstan loess landslide. This is an area with many similar landslides, some of which have also displayed high levels of mobility.

Sols 1326-1329: Wrapping Up at Lubango

Sun, 05/01/2016 - 7:00pm
After a nice rest on Sol 1325, Curiosity was charged up and ready for lots of science! On Sol 1326, we started off with multispectral Mastcam observations of the pile of dumped powder from the “Lubango” drill target and the targets “Rubikon” and “Ebony.” Then ChemCam had a passive observation of the dump pile, followed by active observations using the laser on Rubikon as well as “Ida” and “Lorelei.” Mastcam …

KwaZulu-Natal Holiday: The Midlands

Sun, 05/01/2016 - 5:10pm
Today I’m sharing some more pictures from our recent holiday in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa. You can see my first post about an impressive waterfall here. Today I’m sharing some pictures from an area known as The Midlands. This region is located inland of Durban and Pietermaritzburg and consists of rolling green hills, a gentle landscape located in between the low-lying, flat coastal area and the elevated, steep landscape of …

North Fork Grand Plateau Glacier, Alaska-Spectacular 3 km Retreat 2013-15

Sun, 05/01/2016 - 7:54am
North Fork Grand Plateau Glacier comparison in 2013 and 2015 Landsat images.  Illustrating the rapid retreat and lake expansion in just two years. Pink arrow is 1984 terminus, red arrow is the 2013 terminus and yellow arrow 2015 terminus. The orange dots are the 2013 terminus.  The Alsek Glacier is a large glacier draining into Alsek Lake and the Alsek River in southeast Alaska  Its neighbor the Grand Plateau Glacier has one fork  flows north and …

Do not miss this: video of a catastrophic landslide in loess in Kyrgyzstan

Sun, 05/01/2016 - 5:24am
An astonishing video has appeared on Youtube showing a video in, I assume, loess in Kyrgyzstan a few days ago. The landslide killed a teenage boy.

April Data Digest

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 2:00pm
Three stories published during April describe the ways remotely sensed data and machine learning are changing how Earth is studied and understood; while a fourth shows the beauty of our planet through images captured by one of the satellites imaging the Earth.

Too Hot To Handle?

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 8:19am
There’s a reason why people are hesitant to walk over burning coals. Barring those who have congenital analgesia, everyone can feel heat, and unless you live above the Arctic Circle like me, it is not a feeling we often relish. In fact, heat sensitivity can invoke serious fear and has fueled mankind’s most sadistic tortures and punishments. Nonetheless, it is vital for survival. Because we can sense heat, we can avoid it and prevent harming our bodies.

The Consensus on the Consensus Is Itself Overwhelming

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 9:45pm
My friend Ed Maibach at George Mason Univ. emailed me some interesting abstracts today that show how overwhelming the consensus is on climate change among scientists working in the field. Researchers like Ed and Dr. Oreskes (among others) have shown that the consensus now is nearly unanimous among those in the field. The belief that scientists are divided over the question must be the greatest scientific myth in the United …

New study explains source of mysterious radar echoes

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 11:18am
After 50 years, scientists think they may have cracked one of atmospheric science’s most persistent mysteries. Every day at dawn, an unknown phenomenon appears. Radar waves bounce off of it and return to radar receivers like an echo. Now, a pair of researchers at Boston University hypothesize that the sun could be causing the inexplicable echoes.

Krayniy Glacier Retreat, Novaya Zemlya

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 7:09am
Krayniy Glacier (Ky) comparison in 1990 and 2015 Landsat images.  Red arrow is 1990 terminus and yellow arrow is the 2015 terminus.  Purple arrows indicate upglacier thinning and green arrow a location of a glacier dammed lake. Krayniy Glacier is an outlet glacier that drains the northern side of the Novaya Zemlya Ice Cap into the Barents Sea. This outlet glacier is just southwest of Tasija Glacier (T) and like that glacier …

Forecasting the time of failure: the Preonzo rockslide

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 3:21am
In a wonderful new paper in the journal Landslides, Simon Loew and collagues describe the use of monitoring data to forecast the failure of the 2012 Preonzo rockslide in Switzerland

Sol 1325: Taking it Easy

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 7:00pm
It’s been a busy few days of drilling and related activities, so the plan for sol 1325 is a pretty simple one to allow the rover’s batteries to recharge. There is a short science block with a ChemCam observation of the drill tailings at “Lubango” along with Mastcam documentation. After that, MAHLI will take a closer look at the targets “Lianshulu” and “Rubikon.” Other than routine environmental monitoring measurements by …

Properly Communicating a Forecast Is Just As Important as Accuracy

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 6:14pm
The Storm Prediction Center’s outlook for severe weather verified fairly well yesterday. There were not that many tornadoes and the reason for this was likely that the wind shear was not that favorable in spite of an extremely unstable airmass. Still, the graphic above shows where the reports of wind damage, hail, and tornadoes were, and it matches well with the forecast outlook. The storms forecasted for New Jersey developed, …

An opportunity to help in Canoa

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 12:58pm
As I mentioned last week, I have family in one of the coastal towns in Ecuador that was hardest hit by the magnitude 7.8 earthquake the previous weekend. Don and Wendy have asked me to share this opportunity to help: The James Dean Byrd Foundation runs a school in Canoa, La Escuela Bilingue los Algarrobos, whose campus is currently being used as a staging ground for the military’s assistance in …

All Aboard!

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 9:57am
Much like the deep sea hydrothermal vents we study, no light penetrates into the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) control room. Here, the ROPOS team operates the submersible, helping scientists collect samples and conduct analyses. Working 12-hour shifts, a ROPOS pilot may spend a full day in this room, lit only by glow of ~22 computer screens showing video feeds of all the cameras mounted on ROPOS used to navigate and observe the deep sea.

Oceans, policy, and high school students

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 9:30am
By Shane M Hanlon & Lexi Shultz “Our Changing Ocean: Science for Strong Coastal Communities.” That was the theme this year for the Finals of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB), an “education competition that tests students’ knowledge of ocean-related topics, which include cross-disciplines of biology, chemistry, policy, physics, and geology.“ NOSB fills a gap that exists in many schools across the nation as ocean sciences are not a core part of many high …

Back Again

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 9:02am
Over a decade ago, we established 19 long-term study sites in four different vent fields here on the Eastern Lau Spreading Center. We placed small, floating markers on each of these sites in the hope that one day we would return to see how they had (or had not) changed. And now, here I am again, floating over our long-term study sites and preparing to launch the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to visit one of my favorite environments on the planet: an active hydrothermal vent field.