Monday, December 27, 2010

Sand Through the Hourglass: Bits of Geoscience

I'm feeling pretty uninspired. Between staying up too late reading (for several nights running) and what might be a mild cold- which may or may not be part and parcel with the weird, mild headaches that make me feel as if my skull is deforming like a kneaded lump of clay- I just want to go home and go to bed. But I have a backlog of interesting geology and earth science posts I've been meaning to get to, plus a couple more that came up today, so with a minimum of fuss here are some recent bits from the geoblogosphere and related news.
  • Silver Fox spent much of the weekend tracking down the original Dutton quote poetically describing Basin and Range as an army of caterpillars crawling north out of Mexico. Like Ron Schott, I'm most familiar with this from the sign at Dante's View in Death Valley, but this has clearly been misquoted many more times than quoted.
  • Callan has a slew of mashed-up rocks (what I personally think of as metacrappite, in my own mental categorization of rock groups, without the slightest bit of derogatory intent), in his continuing series on the geology of San Francisco. Also check out the mashed cherts; these are some of the hardest and most competent sedimentary rocks that exist, and to see them folded, spindled and mutilated like taffy should give you a profound respect for the power of the earth.
  • Christmas day's EPOD was a stereopair of a beautiful snowflake. I've been meaning to transform this into a wobble-gif, but haven't got to it. I may not. Like I said at the outset...
  • Cian at Point Source summarizes her highlights from the recent AGU conference. I'm intrigued by the emphasis I've seen, and not only in her post, on scientists taking a lead role in communicating on their disciplines. As I and numerous others have repeatedly noted, the journalists just aren't getting it done.
  • Evelyn at Georneys has a wonderful post about a wonderful map. As familiar as this beautiful bit of cartographic art is to me, I had never realized its importance, nor how recently (alright, okay, I get it, I'm old.) it had been completed. Heartfelt thanks for clarifying, Evelyn.
  • Bryan at Hot Topic summarizes a recent interview of James Hansen by Bill McKibben, highlighting the degree of confidence felt among climate scientists regarding global warming, its consequences, and how to ameliorate its effects.
  • NatGeo has a gallery of images of what are thought to be collapse pits over lava tubes... on Mars.
  • The Guardian has the most complete article I've seen on the reopening of Molycorp's Mountain Pass rare earths mine.
  • In a semi-related bit of economic news, Krugman's column today deals with rising commodity prices in a recovering economy, on a finite planet. As I've noted before, geology and economics are much more intimately related than I think most people recognize.
  • Also at The Guardian, an article that largely dismisses concerns over the recent news about Cr VI in US drinking water. He makes some valid points, and in my reading, I had already come to much the same conclusion- that the panicky reaction was overblown. However, I think the middle ground is more appropriate here. There's no reason to panic, but his level of dismissiveness is unwarranted as well. This should be of concern, and should be studied more carefully.
  • Louisiana will be coming to Oregon to study hurricane storm surges. Huh? Oregon State University has one of the largest wave tanks in the world: The Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory.
  • The explosion and subsequent destruction of the Deepwater Horizon, and the ensuing oil spill, made the new chairman of The House Science and Technology Committee, Ralph Hall (R-Texas), feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
    "As we saw that thing bubbling out, blossoming out – all that energy, every minute of every hour of every day of every week – that was tremendous to me," he said. "That we could deliver that kind of energy out there – even on an explosion."
    You probably don't want to read that entire article if you would prefer to be optimistic regarding science in the US in the near future.

1 comment:

Dana Hunter said...

Hope you feel better soon, my dear! Thanks for pushing through the pain to deliver us goodies!