Monday, December 28, 2009

Various Fragments of Geology News

Really? An SO2-H2S based cologne? Flickr image (larger, if you feel like you need it, at the link) via The Geology News Blog.

I've been sitting on this one for a while; if you make a habit of following science news, there's a good chance you've already seen it. But I have to say, the issue here is not so much fascinating science (though it is), but my initial reaction.

The mental image of a fanged turkey swooping out of a tree and biting me on the shoulder just cracks me up; even more so when I try to picture the turkey as a velociraptor. From The NYT (Came in RSS today, I think it'll be published tomorrow):
While the NYT article is current, this news has been popping up for about a week.
Nat. Geo. 12/21
BBC 12/21
The Guardian 12/21 (This article has a lovely photo of the prepped pair of jaws)
New York Daily News 12/22 (Wouldn't have to my attention but for two intermediaries: Matt at DinoGoss, who posted an amusing bit of snark on the incompetence of the author of the article in NYDN, and ReBecca, who put this post in her shared items, where I read it.)

The first four links all say pretty much the same thing, and it does sound like a great creature to add the dinosaur pantheon, but still... "OMG! That goddamned turkey just bit me!" Ah, Ha, Ha! We'll just cook it up for dinner. That'll learn'em.

Dave Hone, in his blog Archosaur Musings, offers some pointed insight into why professionally trained scientists have a jaundiced view towards pop media's (especially TV's) idea of "documentaries," and offers some comments on ways the producers of such shows could try to get it better. I heartily support the popularization of science, but it is frustrating and infuriating when they (again, television, I'm looking at you particularly) get simple things just plain wrong. The instance that probably led to the post is described by Dave here, but the problem is rampant and egregious; this is just one of the worst offenses.

As I was assembling this post and getting ready to move on to Mayon, Nat. Geo. posted a nice gallery of photos of current and recent activity at this Philippine volcano. As always, the most up-to-date and authoritative sources are the two volcano bloggers, Eruptions (here's today's Mayon Update, and the link to posts with the Mayon tag, which will pick up past and future posts on this volcano), and The Volcanism Blog, which I just realized has been on break since last week. The author says in his last post that he'll be back tomorrow, so again, this link will pick up future and past posts on this beautiful, but dangerous, peak.Above is an image from NASA's image of the day gallery (click the pic to double up, or follow the link for more info and other size formats), acquired on 12/15 and posted on 12/23. You can see a small plume of gas and ash drifting toward the WNW, but more important to note are the densely populated areas at the mountain's foot. This will be a case study in the difficulties of eruption forecasting. It was recognized early that the mountain posed a terrible danger, and roughly 50,000 nearby residents were evacuated. As time goes on without a major eruption, the evacuees are getting frustrated and returning to their homes... and idiotic tourists are trying to get in for that "once in a lifetime" photo op. Which could well end up with a "last of a lifetime" photo op.

Speaking of eruptions, an Oregon State University researcher was in the group that captured video footage of the deep sea eruption I mentioned a while back. I'm not terribly surprised; OSU has a world class College of Oceanography, and as you might guess, quite a number of skilled volcanologists. However, I find this interesting for a couple of reasons: first, as I mentioned before, I have seen quite a few outcrops of rock similar to that (texturally, not compositionally) created in this eruption, and it's a thrill to see that the eruption is quite similar to what I had envisioned. Second, this is, to me, so much more valid a reason to be proud of one's Alma Mater, than, oh, let's say, its football team. I always get a little bit of a boost in my self esteem from stories like this.

Followup, 12/29: Another lovely photo of Mayon in today's online edition of Der Spiegel.

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