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Oh, The Things You Can See From On High

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 9:15pm
I spent a little while looking at today’s images from NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites with their amazing MODIS imager that sends back true colour images from an altitude of around 700 km. Here are a few things I spotted in just a short period of browsing this evening. Click any image for a much larger view. Here is a view of just some Sahara sand blowing north into Greece …

Proposed seawater-based air conditioning could benefit farmers

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 5:43pm
By Alexandra Branscombe WASHINGTON, DC – Discharged seawater pumped from the ocean and used for a renewable air conditioning system would overload surface waters with minerals that could potentially be captured instead for use in agriculture, according to a noted oceanographer. Pumps designed to move thousands of tons of water from the sea floor to a proposed Honolulu air-conditioning plant would bring up phosphates located hundreds of feet below the …

Sutherland Sky: Part V

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 2:52pm
Today I’m continuing with my series of posts about my October 2013 visit to the small town of Sutherland in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. Sutherland is home to a South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) research station that contains many telescopes, including the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT). You can read Part I of this series here, Part II of this series here, Part III of this series here, and Part IV of this series here. In my last post, …

Keep calm, carry on and prepare

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 10:01am
Written by John Schelling, Washington State Emergency Management The invitation to contribute my perspective on tsunami risk reduction efforts to “The Bridge” arrived on my tablet as I sat in the Snohomish County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Everett, Washington. There I was—working as part of the response and recovery effort to a major landslide (the Oso landslide, which occurred at 10:37 a.m. on March 22)–and presented with the question, …

Sutherland Sky: Part IV

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 3:42pm
Today I’m continuing with my series of posts about my October 2013 visit to the small town of Sutherland in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. Sutherland is home to a South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) research station that contains many telescopes, including the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT). You can read Part I of this series here, Part II of this series here, and Part III of this series here. Today I’m sharing some pictures of SALT, the most …

Monday Geology Picture: Map Pillow Decor

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 3:48pm
During a shopping trip over the weekend, I acquired a set of lovely pillows with a map of Africa on them for the sofa in our lounge. Geokitteh Zayna heartily approves of the new map pillows. She’s sleeping on one of the map pillows in the above picture. I really enjoy decorating with maps. When we have a house, I plan to frame a few maps to display in various …

More About The Guy Who Almost Poisoned The Planet (As Seen on COSMOS Sunday Night)

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 12:23am
If you saw COSMOS Sunday night, (20 April) then you might be fascinated by the story of Thomas Midgley who invented lead additives for gasoline, and formed the Ethyl Corporation. Neil deGrasse Tyson used the entire episode to tell the story Clair Patterson who discovered the age of the Earth. In doing so, he also discovered that the lead additives in the gasoline were burning slowly poisoning all plant and …

Suomi Satellite Night Vision Sees Great Lakes Ice

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 6:48pm
The CIMMS Satellite blog has posted a fantastic image of the ice cover on the Great Lakes. See my previous post for more info. This is a visible light (not IR) image made by the VIRRS sensor on Suomi is below: (click for full resolution)

What would the 1906 earthquake look like today?

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 1:15pm
Today is the 108th anniversary of the devastating M7.8 San Francisco earthquake. As with any “quakiversary” it’s a ripe opportunity for reflection on how earthquake knowledge and engineering have progressed since we learned from that disaster, and to consider how we would fare if faced with the same catastrophe today. One powerful way to consider how modern-day San Francisco would fare in a repeat of the 1906 quake is by …

Friday fold: Sideling Hill

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 7:09am
Here’s what the Sideling Hill road cut looked like last month: It’s a terrific example of a syncline. Usually I show folds in profile view, but here, the view is essentially perpendicular (not parallel) to the axis of the fold: Sideling Hill’s rocks are early Mississippian in age, made of debris shed off the late Devonian Acadian Orogeny, and they were folded during Alleghanian deformation in the Pennsylvanian-Permian.

Pathe news – historic landslide films

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 4:15am
In the last week Pathe News has uploaded 88,000 archive news films from 1910 to 1970. Some of these films feature the aftermath of landslides.

Great Lakes Ice Unprecedented? Hardly.

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 9:37pm
The headline above is on the Huffington Posts front page this evening, and it’s rather misleading. Yes, it’s been a rather cold winter around the Great Lakes and a cold spring has slowed the ice melt as well. It’s really not that big of a deal however, and the claim that this will affect the environment for years is more than dubious. The ice was worse in the cold winters …

Pseudopictographs

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 8:15am
I found this interesting looking slab of gray limestone last summer in the Bridger Range of Montana, in one of the talus slopes on the north side of Sacagawea Cirque. The high-contrast pattern reminded me of something, but I couldn’t say quite what. Then I realized: it looks like one of those indigenous pictographs, where the artist puts their hand up to the rock and spits paint all over it, …

Turitella in Buda Formation limestone

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 8:58am
Back to Texas, today. Here’s a cross-sectioned Turitella snail from the Buda Formation limestone: It’s exposed in a block of rock on the north side of Mt. Cristo Rey. You can explore these GigaPanned blocks of the Buda in search of your own Turitella… How many can you find? [gigapan src="http://gigapan.org/gigapans/129425/options/nosnapshots,hidetitle/iframe/flash.html" height="250" scrolling="no" width="100%"] link [gigapan src="http://gigapan.org/gigapans/129426/options/nosnapshots,hidetitle/iframe/flash.html" height="250" scrolling="no" width="100%"] link [gigapan src="http://gigapan.org/gigapans/129424/options/nosnapshots,hidetitle/iframe/flash.html" height="250" scrolling="no" width="100%"] link

Arroumd – an interesting rock avalanche in Morocco

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 3:34am
In a new paper, Hughes et al. (2014) have shown that there is a the remains of a large rock avalanche at Arroumd in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Dating suggests that this might have been triggered by an earrthquake on a nearby fault about 4500 years ago.

Can’t Get Enough of Cosmos? Netflix Has 6 Hours of Neil deGrasse Tyson

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 1:07am
I have mentioned the lectures you can buy from the Teaching Company before here, and one of those lecture sets is a six lecture series called The Inexplicable Universe, by Neil deGrasse Tyson. It’s worth the money IMHO, but before you buy it, Netflix has made available this entire series for its customers. That’s a pretty good deal. Now, this series does not have all the flash bang the COSMOS …

New Research Shows Asian Soot Cloud Affecting Pacific Storms

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 6:11pm
A group of researchers from Texas A & M University have a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this week that is getting a lot of attention. Cloud droplets and rain drops need something to form on, and without dust and other aerosols in the atmosphere we would see a lot less of both. Sometimes though, the addition of particulates can cause tiny cloud droplets …

Boulder blitz

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 12:59pm
Last week I got to spend a couple of days in lovely Boulder, CO for a meeting (fortunately right before Sunday’s snow). The meeting (which was for the Thriving Earth Exchange’s Advisory Board – keep an eye out for updates!) kept us inside a lot, but the NCAR facility that hosted us has some fantastic views of Colorado’s Front Range and the famous Flatirons. The boulders in the foreground and …

Bloomsburg Formation exposed near Elizabeth Furnace

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 8:04am
As noted previously, I live in a regional scale fold: the differential erosion of the Massanutten Synclinorium has produced the ridge of Massanutten Mountain, which separates the Fort Valley from the Shenandoah and Page valleys on either side. The Fort is “fort” like because the strata which underlie it are relatively friable, soluble, or otherwise erode-able. The ridge-forming layer is the Massanutten Sandstone, a Silurian-aged quartz arenite. Here’s a boulder …

Monday Geology Picture: Hermanus Beach Rocks

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 3:41pm
  This past weekend my husband and I and some friends visited the little seaside town of Hermanus, which is located about an hour and a half drive from our home in Cape Town, South Africa. Normally, the weather in April in South Africa is starting to become somewhat cold. However, we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather this past weekend. Thus, we spent plenty of time walking along the seashore and …