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Updated: 2 hours 31 min ago

Arroumd – an interesting rock avalanche in Morocco

5 hours 36 min ago
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

8 hours 3 min ago
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 …

Shadblow (serviceberry)

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 8:58am
A sure sign of the advent of spring in Fort Valley is the blooming of the shadblow, an understory tree species with clusters of white flowers: My wife and I took our son for a hike yesterday, and the shadblow was pretty much the only tree with anything on its branches: I infer that shadblow is named for the fact that its flowers “blow” (bloom) when the shad swim upstream …

Dart River (Te Horo) landslide complex in New Zealand

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 5:14am
The Dart River landslide in New Zealand is an unusual case of a complex landslide that has generated valley-blocking debris flows. A new GNS Science report provides the details.

Sutherland Sky: Part III

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 3:00pm
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 and Part II of this series here. Today I’m going to share some pictures from our visit to the SAAO Visitor …

Friday fold: kink from the Billy Goat Trail

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 8:52am
My student James O’Brien took this image of a kink band along the Billy Goat Trail, downstream of Great Falls in Maryland’s metamorphic Piedmont province. A lovely little structure, don’t you think? Thanks, James! Happy Friday, all.

Bet You Did Not Know This

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 9:02pm

Mapping fantasy: The story behind the Game of Thrones geologic maps

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 2:41pm
Science fiction can be a really cool gateway for sharing science fact. Earth science is imaginative, and can draw on pop culture, like the HBO show Game of Thrones. My graduate school friend and Generation Anthropocene co-producer, Miles Traer, recently brought science fact and science fiction together over this show in a hilariously awesome and super fun project.

Fusulinids and stylolites, Hueco Formation

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 8:16am
My colleague Joshua Villalobos shared this image with me the other day – it’s a thin section of fusulinid-bearing limestone of the (Permian aged) Hueco Formation, from the Tom Mays Unit of Franklin Mountains State Park, Texas. Click to enlarge Note the scale bar at lower left. The big fusulinid in the middle is 3mm in diameter! And that’s not even it’s longest axis! Fusulinids were big honking burrito-shaped protists …

The Most Pervasive Scientific Myth

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 1:12am
I’ve written before here about how pervasive the myth is that science is divided about the reality of and the threat of man-made interference with our climate system. It truly is the number one science myth out there. Just by writing this post, I’ll get the usual comments with links to the usual rabid political sites (with unflattering pictures of Al Gore) telling me that thousands of scientists disagree, and …

Faults disrupting the contact between the Muleros Andesite and Mesilla Valley Formation shale

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 8:51am
Hark! What gleams on yonder contact? Well, there’s no glaciers to polish anything ’round these here parts (southernmost New Mexico + westernmost Texas), so I reckon it must be fault polish. Let’s test that hypothesis by looking for slickensides… Sure enough! There they are! Unlike the deformation we saw yesterday, this faulting of the contact between the Muleros Andesite (Eocene) and the Mesilla Valley Formation shale (Cretaceous) into which it …

Game of Thrones Geologic Map

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 4:28pm
Update: See this AGU Plainspoken Scientist blog post Mapping fantasy: The story behind the Game of Thrones geologic maps. The fourth season of the TV series Game of Thrones recently starting airing. I haven’t watched the first episode of the new season yet, but I plan to once my husband is back from a business trip. A friend of mine just sent me a link to this geologic map for …

Deformation associated with the intrusion of the Muleros Andesite

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 8:55am
Yesterday, I showed off a few views of the contact between the Cretaceous aged Mesilla Valley Formation shale and the hypabyssal Muleros Andesite which intruded into it during the Eocene at Mt. Cristo Rey (on the US/Mexico border where Texas meets New Mexico). Today, I’d like to look at some of the structure associated with the contact zone. First off, take a look at this image, which is looking orthogonal …

Monday Geology Picture(s): A Few More Pictures from Rondevlei

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 2:40pm
For this week’s “Monday Geology Picture” post I thought I would share a few more pictures from my recent visit to Rondevlei Nature Reserve here in the Western Cape of South Africa. I shared one picture last week. As a quick reminder, Rondevlei is a vlei or marsh that is home to the Western Cape’s only population of hippos. When I visited the vlei a little over a week ago, …

How climate modelers became calendar models

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:13am
With some trepidation, we knocked on the first climate scientist’s door. Although we’re seasoned science writers at major research institutions, the request we were about to make was far different from our usual ones for interviews or images from field expeditions. We had decided to create a 2014 Climate Models wall calendar, using climate scientists as models, in the belief that humor can be used to deliver serious messages in a less serious, but still meaningful way.

Contact between Muleros Andesite and Mesilla Valley Formation shale at Mt. Cristo Rey

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 9:07am
There are two rock units in this photo. One is igneous, one is sedimentary. Can you find the contact between them? It’s somewhere along this dashed line… The Mesilla Valley Formation is Cretaceous shale with some sandstone. The Muleros Andesite (pretty much identical to the Campus Andesite you find at UTEP) is Eocene. Here’s a closer, more precisely-constrained, look at it: …but that one is in the shade. It’s bolder …