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Start Talking Science – a Philly #scicomm event

1 hour 9 min ago
Start Talking Science is a free public event where STEM researchers present posters detailing their research to a general audience, hoping to foster insightful conversations and connections, and increase public interest in the cutting-edge research taking place in Philadelphia

Science on a budget

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 9:15pm
One thing that's been taking up an inordinate amount of my time lately is the suspense about whether I'll be allowed to do my job (aka the Congressional budget process). As a postdoc on a limited-term position at the USGS, I lose valuable time if the government shuts down, and I don't get it back. The same is true of any employee, but it's especially rough on the ones who are working on fixed-duration projects or term hires.

Two Incredible Images

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 4:06pm
These two images speak for themselves. One is from the Suomi satellite, which can take images of the Earth lit by moonlight alone. and the second image needs little or no explanation…

More Pictures of Dinosaur Sculptures Amongst the Cycads in Kirstenbosch Gardens

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 4:01pm
For my “Monday Geology Picture” post yesterday I shared a picture of  a dinosaur sculpture that is currently on display at Kirstenbosch Gardens here in Cape Town, South Africa. This sculpture is one of several dinosaur sculptures on display in the gardens. Today, as I promised, I’m sharing a few more pictures of the sculptures. These large metal dinosaurs were installed in the gardens in 2015 to raise awareness about cycads, which are plants …

Can you spot the contact?

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 9:29am
There’s a formational contact in this photo, and for many years, I misplaced it completely. Let’s see how well you do: can you spot it? Submit your answers by downloading the photo (right click; ‘save as’), drawing on the contact, saving your annotated copy, and then posting your version in the comments. Need more data? Try exploring this GigaPan of the site: [gigapan src=”,hidetitle/iframe/flash.html” height=”250″ scrolling=”no” width=”100%”] Answers tomorrow.

Fingers Glacier, Alaska loses a finger to melting

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 8:28am
Landsat comparison of terminus area of Fingers Glacier 1986 and 2015 Fingers Glacier flows from the southern end of the Fairweather Range to the coastal plain, where is expands into a segmented piedmont lobe. The southernmost finger is heavily debris covered. In the Mount Fairweather B-4 quadrangle USGS map based on 1951 aerial photographs the glacier has four prominent fingers each eroding its own basin.  Here we examine Landsat imagery to …

Ozone destroyer drops mysteriously

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 5:05am
By Larry O’Hanlon Something strange has happened to the atmospheric concentration of a newly discovered, human-made, ozone-destroying gas: it has suddenly dropped and nobody knows why. The gas, HCFC-133a, is a type of hydrochlorofluorocarbon, ozone-destroying compounds used in some industrial processes, including the manufacturing of refrigerants. The use of HCFCs, which are also powerful greenhouse gases, is restricted under the Montreal Protocol. A study last year first identified HCFC-133a as …

Incredible Rainfall In South Carolina, and Yes Climate Played A Role

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 7:25pm
Make no mistake, this was a flood event unlike any other in South Carolina and while Hurricane Joaquin never hit the coast, it holds a smoking gun. This flood was the result of several factors, an upper level low over the Southeast U.S. along with a large Canadian High over Eastern Canada, and climate change is in the mix as well since the oceans over this region (and globally) were …

Monday Geology Picture: A Dinosaur in a Botanical Garden

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 6:19pm
This week’s Monday Geology Picture features a dinosaur in a botanical garden. Specifically, it features a giant metal sculpture of a dinosaur that is part of an exhibit in Kirstenbosch Gardens here in Cape Town, South Africa. The sculpture is one of several dinosaur sculptures that have been installed in the gardens as part of an exhibit to raise awareness about cycads, which are ancient plants that have been around …

Sol 1126: MAHLI selfie

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 1:00pm
The Mars Science Laboratory did well last weekend, but the Sol 1124 MAHLI images of the unsieved part of the drill sample showed that the APXS was not perfectly centered on the dump pile.  Therefore, the Sol 1126 plan includes new MAHLI images and APXS measurements, better centered on the dump pile.  Before the arm activities, ChemCam will acquire passive spectra of part of Mt. Sharp, a 5×1 LIBS raster …

Trace fossils in the Juniata and Tuscarora Formations

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 8:12am
Route 33 in Pendleton County, West Virginia cuts across the lower Paleozoic stratigraphic section. I went there this past spring on a sedimentology and stratigraphy field trip with the GMU sed/strat class. The trip was orchestrated by professor Rick Diecchio. Here are some scenes from two of the stops – the upper Ordovician Juniata formation (red sandstones and shale intepreted as Taconian molasse) and the overlying Silurian Tuscarora Formation (thick …

The seismically triggered landslide dam in Honshiyan, Yunnan, China: a review of a new paper

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 4:20am
In a just published paper, Zhang et al. 2015 describe the emergency works undertaken to mitigate the seismically triggered landslide dam at Honshiyan, Yunnan in China in 2014.

Sols 1123-1125: Drill hole and tailings

Sun, 10/04/2015 - 1:00pm
This composite image looking toward the higher regions of Mount Sharp was taken on September 9, 2015, by NASA’s Curiosity rover. In the foreground — about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the rover — is a long ridge teeming with hematite, an iron oxide. Just beyond is an undulating plain rich in clay minerals. And just beyond that are a multitude of rounded buttes, all high in sulfate minerals. The …

We Owe Europe A Lot Of Money For Letting Us See Their Weather Model

Sat, 10/03/2015 - 3:01am
Let’s assume that the European Center for Medium Range Forecasting did not exist, or perhaps that it does, but their ECMWF weather model was top- secret, and no one outside of their office was allowed to see it. That’s a real nightmare scenario because if it were not for the Euro model, we would have likely seen major evacuations, or they would have been underway, when the U.S. models finally …

Friday fold: cherts at Mount Diablo, California

Fri, 10/02/2015 - 9:04am
My former student James O’Brien recently moved out to the left coast, and posted some photos earlier this week of a hike he took at Mount Diablo State Park in the mountains east of the San Francisco Bay area of California. There are some classic-looking Franciscan cherts exposed there, as these folded examples show: Seeing these pictures reminded me of the “GoSF” series I wrote last time I went to …

Sol 1121-1122: Successful Drill at Big Sky

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 1:00pm
Success! Our drill at “Big Sky” went perfectly! On Sol 1121, the rover will transfer some of the powder from Big Sky to CheMin so that it can begin analyzing the mineralogy of the sample. Also on Sol 1121, ChemCam has an observation of the target “Minnekahta”. Mastcam will document the ChemCam location and also take a picture of the location on the ground where Big Sky material will be …

Palma Glacier, Alaska Retreat Opens Lake Passage

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 8:57am
An August 1986 and September 2015 Landsat Image of Palma Glacier, 1986 terminus yellow arrow. Palma Glacier is an unnamed glacier just west of Brady Glacier and Glacier Bay that is the principal glacier draining into Palma Bay.  Here we examined the changes in this glacier from 1986 to 2015 with Landsat Imagery.  The glacier has terminated in a lake at the head of a river draining into Palma Bay at …

Kothmale landslide in Sri Lanka: drone footage

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 3:06am
Drone footage is now available of the interesting Kothmale landslide in Sri Lanka, which killed seven people on 25th September 2015

Historic Storm Threatens the Mid-Atlantic

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:31pm
Hurricane Joaquin is now a Cat 3 storm with 115 mph winds tonight, but even if it does not turn toward the Mid-Atlantic coastline, we will see a significant coastal Nor’easter across the Mid-Atlantic from New Jersey to North Carolina including the Delaware and Maryland Beaches. This is because of a strong pressure gradient between a large Canadian high pressure over New England and a low pressure system in the Carolinas. …

Gulf Stream ring water intrudes onto continental shelf like “Pinocchio’s Nose”

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 10:00am
Ocean robots installed off the coast of Massachusetts have helped scientists understand a previously unknown process by which warm Gulf Stream water and colder waters of the continental shelf exchange. The process occurs when offshore waters, originating in the tropics, intrude onto the Mid-Atlantic Bight shelf and meet the waters originating in regions near the Arctic. This process can greatly affect shelf circulation, biogeochemistry and fisheries.