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Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: A crinoid calyx from the Lower Carboniferous of Iowa.

Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: A crinoid calyx from the Lower Carboniferous of Iowa. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
In honor of Echinoderm Week for my Invertebrate Paleontology course, we have a beautiful crinoid calyx (or crown, or just “head”) on a slab from the Burlington Limestone (Lower Carboniferous, Osagean) found near Burlington, Iowa.
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10 Most Incredible Plunge #Waterfalls On Earth | SCIENCE - billnye

10 Most Incredible Plunge #Waterfalls On Earth | SCIENCE - billnye | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
10 Most Incredible Plunge Waterfalls on Earth Plunge waterfalls are waterfalls that drop vertically while losing contact with the underlying cliff face, or bedrock, behind them.
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New PhD Studentships for 2014 | News | The James Hutton Institute.

New PhD Studentships for 2014 | News | The James Hutton Institute. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it

New opportunities for 2014 PhD projects at the James Hutton Institute are now being advertised on FindAPhD.com. PhD projects are being offered by all five of our Science Groups covering many aspects of our work. All projects are funded jointly between the Institute and participating universities.

In Friday's Scotsman Professor Colin Campbell, who chairs our Postgraduate School, spoke about the importance of training the next generation of scientists in his articleHelping to feed the world in future (15 November 2013).

At the James Hutton Institute we value the important contribution students make to the development of our scientific excellence and the expertise, talent and knowledge graduates bring to our research community. The Institute provides a research environment where technical and intellectual competency can flourish.

Throughout their studies PhD students receive support and mentoring from their Institute supervisors and our Postgraduate Student Liaison Team to ensure students achieve a high degree of intellectual freedom, whilst equipping them with the comprehensive range of scientific and transferable skills demanded of today's scientists.

Full details of the projects offered can be viewed on FindaPhD.com. Closing date for applications is 17 January 2014.

Please apply using our PhD application form (Word file 103 KB). Completed applications and enquiries should be sent to postgraduate@hutton.ac.uk.

Cell and Molecular Sciences PhD Projects

Rhythms of Resistance - The Circadian Control of Plant ImmunityThe Role of Alternative Splicing and Nonsense-Mediated-Decay on the Regulation of Resistance Genes in Potato Upon Challenge with Phytophthora InfestansNuclear Effects of the Potato Cyst Nematode Globodera PallidaPre-Parasitic Plant Nematode BehaviourMolecular Infection Processes of Tree Pathogenic Phytophthora SpeciesThe Molecular Cell Biology of Potato Late BlightEffector-Medicated Virulence of Enterobacterial Soft-Rot Plant PathogensStructural Analysis of Viral Movement ProteinsThe Role of Social RNA in the Development and Parasitic Process of Globodera PallidaHost and Habitat Adaption of Escherichia ColiRegulation of (1, 3; 1, 4)-Beta-Glucan (MLG) Synthesis in BarleyReactive Oxygen Signalling in Local and Systemic Plant Defence Against AphidsIdentifying Quantitative Trait Loci for Transformability and Regeneration Potential in Barley Identification and Functional Validation of APETALA2 Co-Factors that Influence Internode GrowthConstruction of Transcriptional Regulation Networks in the Bacterial Phytophathogen Genus DickeyaSolaneosl: Added Value from Solanaceous Waste

Ecological Sciences PhD Projects

Environmental Persistence and Virulence of Naturalised E. Coli Populations in SoilA Community Genetics Approach to Understanding Tri-Trophic in Potato CropsThe Agroecological and Human-Health Potential of the Grain Legumes Vicia Faba L Minor (Field Bean) and Pisum Sativa (Pea) Processed for BrewingEvaluating Peatland Management and Restoration for Multiple Outcomes

Environmental and Biochemical Sciences PhD Projects

Assessing the Climate Change Mitigation Potential and Ecosystem Service Provision of Tropical Wetlands (ACCLIMIT)Bioavailability of Petroleum Hydrocarbons and Heavy Metals in SedimentsOptimising Designs for Diffuse Pollution Mitigation Using Sediment Fences and Other StructuresAssessing the Significance of Soil Erosion to Arable Weed Seedbank Composition and Biotic FunctionPrevalence and Behaviour of Clostridia in the Environment

Information and Computational Sciences PhD Projects

Web-Based Modelling and Visualization of Ecosystem Services for Food and Water SecurityDeveloping Virtual Games to Investigate the Spread of Infectious DiseasesOptimising SNP Discovery in Next Generation Sequencing Data From Cultivated and Wild BarelyProtecting Knowledge Diversity and Promoting Resilience: Modelling Mexican Marginal Farmers Climate AdaptionComparative Genomics of Foodborne Microbial PathogensGenetic Marker Discovery for the Analysis of Environmental Adaption in Potato Species

Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences PhD Projects

Perceptions of Soil as Drivers of Soil Management and DegradationAssets or Burdens? Exploring Rural Older People's Community Contributions and ResilienceSocio-Economic Aspects of Climate Change Mitigation Through Multifunctional Forestry in Scotland Realising Land's Potential Through Biomass Production in Scotland Examining the Role of Scenario-Building Processes for Promoting Sustainable Resource ManagementClimate Change, Encouraging Sustainable Travel, and Enhancing Wellbeing

Macaulay Development Trust Phd Projects

The Economic Impacts of Land Use Planning on the North East Scotland Housing MarketMeta-Omic Approaches to Understanding and Predicting Soil Biodiversity Ecosystem Function RelationshipsLinking Arbuscular Mycorrhizal (AM) Fungal Morphology with Genes and Functional Traits in Managed EnvironmentsThe Impacts of Habitat Modification on Avian Food Web Structure and ResilienceHost Identity and Climate as Determinants of Ectomycorrhizal Fungal Distribution in ScotlandIdentification of Species Limits: Clarifying Taxonomy and Ecology of BAP Lichens Developing Molecular Approaches to Elucidate the Ecology and Function of Oribatid Mite Communities
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Geology-store, buy #Geologists Gifts. Retrouvez tout l'univers de la géologie en produits dérivés.

Geology-store, buy #Geologists Gifts. Retrouvez tout l'univers de la géologie en produits dérivés. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
Retrouvez tout l'univers de la géologie en produits dérivés (T-Shirts, Mugs, Stickers etc.) / Shop our large selection of geology gifts (T-Shirts, Mugs, Stickers etc.)

 

El administrador de la tienda de camisetas es el único responsable de los contenidos de las tiendas de camisetas, así como del diseño de la tienda de camisetas. Abre tu propia tienda de camisetas gratuita en Spreadshirt y ofrece ropa personalizada, desde camisetas hasta delantales de cocina. ¡Abre ahora tu propia tienda de camisetas!

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LOOK: These Rainbow Mountains Actually Exist! China's #Danxia Landform Geological Park Are Very, Very Real.

LOOK: These Rainbow Mountains Actually Exist! China's #Danxia Landform Geological Park Are Very, Very Real. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
Yes, we had a hard time believing that this insane mountain formation was actually real, because we haven't fallen down the rabbit hole. But, believe it or not, this technicolor range actually exists.
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Earthquake Facts and Statistics Graphs.

Earthquake Facts and Statistics Graphs. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
USGS Earthquake Hazards Program, responsible for monitoring, reporting, and researching earthquakes and earthquake hazards
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#Tranquillityite: The last lunar mineral comes down to Earth.

#Tranquillityite: The last lunar mineral comes down to Earth. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it

Tranquillityite [Fe2+8(ZrY)2Ti3Si3O24] was first discovered in mare basalts collected during the Apollo 11 lunar mission to the Sea of Tranquillity. The mineral has since been found exclusively in returned lunar samples and lunar meteorites, with no terrestrial counterpart. We have now identified tranquillityite in six dolerite dikes and sills from Western Australia. Terrestrial tranquillityite commonly occurs as clusters of fox-red laths closely associated with baddeleyite and zirconolite in quartz and K-feldspar intergrowths in late-stage interstices between plagioclase and pyroxene. Its composition is relatively uniform, comprising mostly Si, Zr, Ti, and Fe, with minor Al, Mg, Mn, Ca, Nb, Hf, Y, and rare earth elements. Its habit and chemistry are consistent with tranquillityite in lunar basalts, and it has a face-centered-cubic subcell, similar to that of annealed lunar tranquillityite. Unlike coexisting baddeleyite and zirconolite, it is commonly altered to a secondary intergrowth of submicron phases comprising mainly Si, Ti, and Ca, with minor Zr. In situ sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe (SHRIMP) U-Pb geochronology of tranquillityite from sills intruding the Eel Creek Formation, northeastern Pilbara Craton, yields a 207Pb/206Pb age of 1064 ± 14 Ma. This age indicates that the previously undated sills belong to the ca. 1070 Ma Warakurna large igneous province, extending the geographic range of this mafic complex. The date also provides a new minimum age (>1.05 Ga) for the intruded sedimentary rocks, which were previously thought to be Neoproterozoic. Examination of dolerite from Western Australia suggests that tranquillityite is a relatively widespread, albeit volumetrically minor, accessory mineral and, where sufficiently coarse, it represents an exceptional new U-Pb geochronometer.

Received 2 June 2011.Revision received 25 August 2011.Accepted 30 August 2011.© 2012 Geological Society of America

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The beautiful nature » The cave is huge crystals.

The beautiful nature » The cave is huge crystals. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
The cave huge crystals opened in 2000 at a depth of 300 meters drilling shafts in the Mexican town of Nike’s Chihuahua state. The main room contains a large crystals of selenite (a form of gypsum), some of which are the largest natural crystals ever found on earth. In cave is huge crystals is very hot: the temperature reaches 58 ° C with 90-99% humidity. Therefore  this cave not fully explored, because without serious protection here can be no more than 10 minutes. 
Under the cave is the underground volcanic hearth. Magma heats groundwater, and they are saturated with minerals, including gypsum. During 500,000 years the cavity of the cave was filled the hot mineral waters. The temperature here stable  more than 50 ° C, and these conditions are allowed to form crystals and grow to enormous size. 
In fact the first was discovered another cave. He located on a 120-meter deep underground, over cave is huge crystals. Found a cave called the Cave of balls, because of the characteristic crystals, reaching a meter in length. The relatively small size of the crystals of selenite say, that during the growth in the Cave of the balls a temperature fell much faster than in the Cave of large crystals, resulting in the growth stopped, and stopped about 1 meter. The cave is huge crystals represents horseshoe-shaped cavity in the limestone. Its floor is covered the perfectly faceted crystal blocks. Hence, too, act and huge crystals. The largest crystal cave has the dimensions: 12 m long, 4 m in diameter and weighs 55 tons.
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New map reveals what lies beneath the frozen continent.

New map reveals what lies beneath the frozen continent. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
Scientists at British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have produced the most detailed map of underneath Antarctica -- its rock bed.
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Meteorite Types |

Meteorite Types | | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it

Meteorite TypesStony

Stony meteorites, the most common type of meteorite, are generally composed of approximately 75 to 90 percent silicon-based minerals, 10 to 25 percent nickel-iron alloy, and trace amounts of iron sulfide. Stony meteorites account for 94 percent of observed meteorite falls.

Warden; an ordinary (H5) chondrite from Western Australia.  Photo © D. Ball, ASU

Chondrites

Chondrites, the most abundant type of stony meteorite, contain some of the first objects to have formed in the solar system, such as calcium-aluminum-rich particles and chondrules (from which chondrites get their name), and have never undergone melting. Their chemistry is very primitive because they have had very few chemical interactions with other objects since their formation. Chondrites are the most common meteorites found on Earth, accounting for approximately 86 percent of all meteorites recovered.

Mezö-Madaras, Romania, ordinary chondrite. This cut and polished face measures about 7 centimeters across. Chondrites are named for the nearly spherical, silicate rich particles called chondrules, which are clearly visible in this close-up and were among the first objects to have formed in our solar system. Photo by D. Ball, ASU.

Achondrites

Achondrites originate on differentiated planetary bodies, such as asteroids, Planets, or moons, and were reformed from molten fragments that were flung into space as the result of another collision. Because achondrites closely resemble terrestrial rocks to the naked eye, they are less commmonly encountered as finds. Most achondrites in the Center's collection were observed falls.

Johnstown, CO, diogenite. Diogenite achondrites are primarily composed of orthopyroxene, a silicate mineral. The Johnstown meteorite is brecciated—composed of many sharp fragments that were naturally cemented together—and contains large grains of orthopyroxene held together by crushed and broken orthopyroxene. This specimen is about 13 centimeters long. Photo by D. Ball, ASU.

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Iron

Most iron meteorites likely originate in the cores of large asteroids, and are composed almost entirely of nickel-iron alloy, which is also a primary component of the Earth's core. Even though they account for only five percent of observed falls, they are more easily recognized than other types of meteorites.

Rancho Gomelia, Mexico, octahedrite. This iron meteorite has been cut, polished, and etched with acid on one face to reveal an interlocking crystal structure of nickel-iron alloys of varying composition. Photo by D. Ball, ASU.

Stony-Iron

Stony-iron meteorites contain approximately even amounts of silicates and nickel-iron alloy.

Pallasites

Pallasites are believed to form in between the silicate mantle, or outer shell, and molten metal core of an asteroid. The primary silicate mineral in pallasites is olivine, distinguishable by its greenish hue.

Albin, WY, pallasite. This slice, which is about 18 centimeters long, has been illuminated from behind to distinguish its olivine content from the surrounding metal. Photo by D. Ball, ASU.

Mesosiderites

Mesosiderites are likely formed by collisions of metal-rich and silicate-rich asteroids.

Hainholz, Germany, mesosiderite. This cut and polished face, which is about 9 centimeters across, reveals the complex mixture of metal and pyroxene, a silicate mineral, that is typical of mesosiderites. Photo by D. Ball, ASU.

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Indonesia raises volcano alert level - SBS.

Indonesia raises volcano alert level - SBS. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
SBS
Indonesia raises volcano alert level
SBS
The alert status for one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes has been raised to the highest level after it repeatedly sent hot clouds of gas down its slope following a series of eruptions in recent days.
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Corundum Mineral | Uses and Properties - GEOLOGY.COM

Corundum Mineral | Uses and Properties - GEOLOGY.COM | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
Corundum is frequently used as an abrasive and is world famous as the mineral of rubies and sapphires

Made Famous by Rubies and Sapphires 

Most people are familiar with corundum; however, very few people know it by its mineral name. A gemstone-quality specimen of corundum with a deep red color is known as a "ruby". A gemstone-quality corundum of with a blue color is called a "sapphire". 

Rubies and sapphires are famous throughout the world, but most people do not know that they are color varieties of the same mineral, corundum. 


Properties and Occurrence of Corundum 

Corundum is an exceptionally hard and tough form of aluminum oxide (Al2O3). As a primary mineral it is found in igneous rocks such as syenite, nepheline syenite and pegmatite. It is also found inmetamorphic rocks in locations where aluminous shales or bauxites have been exposed to contact metamorphism. Schist, gneiss andmarble produced by regional metamorphism will sometimes contain corundum. 

Corundum's toughness, high hardness and chemical resistance enable it to persist in sediments long after other minerals have been destroyed. It thereby becomes concentrated in alluvial deposits. These deposits are sources of rubies and sapphires in several parts of the world. Notable deposits of alluvial rubies and sapphires occur in: Burma, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, India, Afghanistan, Montana and other areas. 


Hardness and Use as an Abrasive 

Corundum is very hard. It serves as the index mineral with a hardness of nine on the Mohs Hardness Scale. It is the third hardest mineral known, with diamond and moissanite being the only minerals with a greater hardness. 

This high hardness makes corundum especially useful as an abrasive. Crushed corundum is screened to produce uniformly-sized grits and powders. These are used as grinding media and used to manufacture polishing compounds, sand papers, grinding wheels and cutting tools. 

The costs of manufacturing abrasives have been declining through innovation. Synthetic corundum is increasingly being used as an abrasive instead of natural corundum. Some of it is manufactured from calcined bauxite which yields Al2O3 with the same Mohs Scale 9 hardness as natural corundum. 


Emery 

Emery stone is a granular metamorphic or igneous rock that is rich in corundum. It is a mixture of oxide minerals, typically corundum,magnetite, spinel and/or hematite. It is the most common form of natural corundum used to manufacture abrasives. 

The use of corundum as an abrasive has declined in the last few decades. It is being replaced by manufactured abrasives such assilicon carbide. Silicon carbide has a Mohs hardness of 9 to 9.5. It is inexpensive and often performs better than natural abrasives made from corundum or emery. 
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Understanding Earth's Planetary Interior Through Observation of Magnesium Oxide.

Understanding Earth's Planetary Interior Through Observation of Magnesium Oxide. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
A team of scientists observed magnesium oxide in extreme pressures and temperatures to understand what is happening deep within the Earth's layer and found some surprising results.

The mantle of the Earth is a layer of thick rocky substance and is found between the crust of the Earth and the Outer Core. It is around 2,900 km (1,800 miles) thick and makes up about 84% of the total weight and mass of the Earth. 

Temperatures in the mantle range between 500 to 900 °C (932 to 1,652 °F) at the upper boundary with the crust; to over 4,000 °C (7,230 °F) at the boundary with the core.


The mantle is divided into sections:

Upper Mantle - Base of crust to 410kmTransition Zone - 410 km to 660 kmLower Mantle - 660km to 2891 kmAnomalous Core-Mantle Boundary - 2891km to ~3000kmMagnesium oxide In The Mantle The mantles of Earth and other rocky planets are rich in magnesium and oxygen. Due to its simplicity, the mineral magnesium oxide is a good model for studying the nature of planetary interiors. New work from a team led by Carnegie's Stewart McWilliams studied how magnesium oxide behaves under the extreme conditions deep within planets and found evidence that alters our understanding of planetary evolution. It is published November 22 by Science Express.

Magnesium oxide is particularly resistant to changes when under intense pressures and temperatures. Theoretical predictions claim that it has just three unique states with different structures and properties present under planetary conditions: solid under ambient conditions (such as on the Earth's surface), liquid at high temperatures, and another structure of the solid at high pressure. The latter structure has never been observed in nature or in experiments.

McWilliams and his team observed magnesium oxide between pressures of about 3 million times normal atmospheric pressure (0.3 terapascals) to 14 million times atmospheric pressure (1.4 terapascals) and at temperatures reaching as high as 90,000 degrees Fahrenheit (50,000 Kelvin), conditions that range from those at the center of our Earth to those of large exo-planet super-Earths. Their observations indicate substantial changes in molecular bonding as the magnesium oxide responds to these various conditions, including a transformation to a new high-pressure solid phase.

In fact, when melting, there are signs that magnesium oxide changes from an electrically insulating material like quartz (meaning that electrons do not flow easily) to a metal similar to iron (meaning that electrons do flow easily through the material).

Drawing from these and other recent observations, the team concluded that while magnesium oxide is solid and non-conductive under conditions found on Earth in the present day, the early Earth's magma ocean might have been able to generate a magnetic field. Likewise, the metallic, liquid phase of magnesium oxide can exist today in the deep mantles of super-Earth planets, as can the newly observed solid phase.

"Our findings blur the line between traditional definitions of mantle and core material and provide a path for understanding how young or hot planets can generate and sustain magnetic fields," McWilliams said.

"This pioneering study takes advantage of new laser techniques to explore the nature of the materials that comprise the wide array of planets being discovered outside of our Solar System," said Russell Hemley, director of Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory. "These methods allow investigations of the behavior of these materials at pressures and temperatures never before explored experimentally."


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ScienceShot: A Crystal a Million Years in the Making | Science/AAAS | News.

ScienceShot: A Crystal a Million Years in the Making | Science/AAAS | News. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it

Javier Trueba/MSF/Photo Researchers Inc.

First discovered about a decade ago, the largest known cave crystals—single hunks of gypsum as much as 11 meters long, 1 meter thick, and weighing 55 tons—could have taken up to 1 million years to grow, a new study suggests. The cavern in the Mexican silver and lead mine where the crystals were found was filled with mineral-rich waters until 1975, when it was drained to provide miners with access to new ore veins. Lab tests indicate that the gypsum hunks crystallized at temperatures between 54°C and 58°C, researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. By immersing a hunk of gypsum in a sample of the cave's waters and using a microscopic imaging technique that allowed the scientists to directly measure crystal growth, the team found that at 55°C, near the temperature at which the crystals would have grown most slowly, it would take around 990,000 years for a gypsum crystal 1 meter in diameter to form. At water temperatures of 56°C, the same crystal could have formed in about 500,000 years.

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5 things you wouldn't expect to find at a geology conference.

5 things you wouldn't expect to find at a geology conference. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
One of the things that I realised whilst at EGU last week was how broad the subject of geology actually is and how we don’t always appreciate the breadth of our subject. Some of this obviously come from the influence of interdisciplinary studies like my own, but some it comes from the unique and innovative ways that geoscientists are attempting to broaden our understanding of the planet. To highlight this I have picked out 5 things you wouldn’t expect to see at a geology conference –

 

1- Astronaut photographs


‘Automatic Georeferencing of Astronaut Auroral Photography: Providing a New Dataset for Space Physics‘ from Multi-scale Plasma Processes in the Earth’s Environmentsession (ST2.2) – using data from recent space missions to advance our understanding of space physics.

Recently, the work of astronaut Commander Hadfield brought the activities of the people who get strapped to a rocket and propelled beyond our atmosphere to learn more about our planet back into the public eye. But although the images they produce are beautiful, inspiring and humbling all at the same time, they are often not very useful because there is no way for scientists to tell the scale of the image or where exactly it was taken. The work of Reichart, Walsh and Taylor addresses this problem by using ‘starfield recognition software‘ to calculate the height and location of the images. Now I don’t know about you, but there is something so romantic sounding about starfield recognition software. It makes me think that the software we so often associate with catching criminals can actually be used for something uplifting and will, once fully developed, improve our understanding of how the Auroras (both Australis and Borealis) work.

 

2- Willow tree root growth patterns


‘Root Growth Studies of Willow Cuttings using Rhisoboxes‘ from How Vegetation Influences Soil Erosion and Slope Stability: Monitoring and Modelling Eco-hydrological and Geo-mechanical Factors session (SSS2.10/BG9.7/GM4.8/HS8.3.9/NH3.9) – the relationship between vegetation and how soil behaves, especially focussing on land restoration projects and management plans.

When you think of geology, willow is probably not the first thing that springs to mind. However, when you think about landslides – which are most definitely geological – the presence, absence or behaviour of plants is very important. In Central Asia (amongst other places) willow is vital in facilitating the colonisation of other tree species in forests that help protect the soil from erosion. This study, although it seems like it belongs in a botany (or at least biology) conference is actually examining the material necessary to mitigate the effects of erosion, which can lead to lots of other geological problems.

 

3- Fluid dynamics of cars


‘A Preliminary Numerical Model on the Incipient Motion Conditions of Flooded Vehicles‘ from Flood Risk and Uncertainty session (NH1.6) – predicting current and future flood risk using state of the art flood risk assessment methodologies.

This had to be one of my favourite posters – mostly due to the obvious/unexpected dichotomy of the contents. If you picture a flood, what do you see? Rushing muddy brown water tearing away at the countryside, carrying the odd tree? Perhaps. But more and more often nowadays floods are affecting our urban areas, and the thing the floodwater is likely to be dragging is a car not a tree. This work by Arrighi, Castelli and Oumeraci takes a closer look at how vehicles are affected by flood water and how they affect the flow themselves. It’s also a sobering look at how easy it is to loose control of a vehicle in a flood and explains why most studies identify the greatest cause of deaths from drowning in a flood to be a car.

 

4- Coffee residue


‘Biochar from Coffee Residues: A New Promising Sorbent‘ from Novel Sorbent Materials for Environmental Remediation session (SSS9.8) – the use of sorbent materials (a material that can collect molecules of another substance) for environmental applications.

If the conference last week was attended by over 12,000 delegates, how many cups of coffee were drunk do you think (added to the fact that it was nigh on impossible to get a good cup of tea)? Now imagine you could take the dregs of all that coffee and do something useful with it! Well that is precisely what Fotopoulou, Karapanagioti and Manariotis were exploring- how to use coffee residues to make biochar. Biochar is a carbon-rich substance that is added to soils in order to sequester carbon, improve the quality (fertility) of the soil and assist in environmental remediation. Who knew an old cup of coffee could be so useful?!

 

5- Wind patterns in the Pacific


‘Origin of Wind Events in the Equatorial Pacific‘ from ENSO: Dynamics, Predictability and Modelling session (NP2.1) – ENSO stands for the El Niño Southern Oscillation and includes all studies of El Niño and La Niña.

So wind may not be that disconnected from geology – but wind patterns? Over water? Yes at a geology conference a geoscientist’s awareness of the processes that shape our planet extends even to the climate. Which is not all that surprising really when you consider that one of the biggest issues and areas of study that geologists deal with nowadays is climate change.

These are only the posters that I came across and thought interesting during the conference –I’m sure there were many many more! Did you see any examples of a poster or a presentation that you wouldn’t expect to see at a geology conference?!

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Mount Sinabung Volcano Erupts in Indonesia, Displaces 20,000.

Mount Sinabung Volcano Erupts in Indonesia, Displaces 20,000. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
Photo in the news: A volcano in Indonesia erupts 220 times in one week, spraying hot ash and poisonous gas on local villages.

 

Mount Sinabung—a volcano in Indonesia—has erupted 220 times in the past week and displaced more than 20,000 local villagers.

The 8,530-foot-high (2,600-meter-high) volcano has been erupting since September 2013. Even though the volcano has been active for several months, local authorities have confirmed that the eruptions are intensifying.

 

On Sunday, Mount Singabung released a plume of hot ash measuring 4,000 meters high.

The Indonesian government has evacuated residents living near the volcano, displacing more than 20,000 villagers living within the danger zone, currently defined as a radius of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) around the volcano's peak.

It has recently been extended to 7 kilometers (4 miles) southeast of the volcano where, according to the Wall Street Journal, volcanic activity is reported to be much higher.

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Earth's poles are shifting because of climate change - environment - 13 December 2013 - New Scientist.

Earth's poles are shifting because of climate change - environment - 13 December 2013 - New Scientist. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it

Climate change is causing the North Pole's location to drift, owing to subtle changes in Earth's rotation that result from the melting of glaciers and ice sheets. The finding suggests that monitoring the position of the pole could become a new tool for tracking global warming.

Computer simulations had suggested that the melting of ice sheets and the consequent rise in sea level could affect the distribution of mass on the Earth's surface. This would in turn cause the Earth's axis to shift, an effect that has been confirmed by measurements of the positions of the poles.

Now, Jianli Chen of the University of Texas at Austin and colleagues have shown that melting due to our greenhouse-gas emissions is making its own contribution to the shift.

The wobble in Earth's axis of rotation is a combination of two major components, each with its own cause. One is called the Chandler wobble and is thought to arise because the Earth is not rigid. Another is the annual wobble, related to Earth's orbit around the sun.

Additional wobble

Remove these wobbles, and you are left with an additional signal. Since observations began in 1899, the North Pole has been drifting southwards 10 centimetres per year along longitude 70° west – a line running through eastern Canada.

This drift is due to the changes in the distribution of Earth's mass as the crust slowly rebounds after the end of the last ice age. But Chen's team found something surprising. In 2005, this southward drift changed abruptly. The pole began moving eastwards and continues to do so, a shift that has amounted to about 1.2 metres since 2005.

To work out why the pole changed direction, Chen's team used data from NASA's GRACE satellite, which measures changes in Earth's gravity field over time. The data allowed them to calculate the redistribution of mass on Earth's surface due to the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and mountain glaciers, and the resulting rise in sea level. It correlated perfectly with the observed changes in the mean pole position (MPP).

"Ice melting and sea level change can explain 90 per cent of the [eastward shift]," says Chen. "The driving force for the sudden change is climate change."

Greenland thaw

Chen's team calculated that the biggest contribution is coming from the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which is losing about 250 gigatonnes of ice each year. Another big factor is the melting of mountain glaciers, which contributes about 194 gigatonnes per year. The contribution from Antarctica adds up to 180 gigatonnes per year, but there is considerable uncertainty here because changes in the gravity field due to Earth's crust rebounding are less well understood over Antarctica than elsewhere.

Since the MPP can be accurately measured using multiple independent techniques, its position and drift can be used to gauge the extent of ice sheet melting, especially in between the end of the ageing GRACE mission and the launch of the next generation of gravity-field-measuring satellites, says Chen.

Jean Dickey of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who was not associated with the study, agrees. "It's a way to monitor climate change by continuing to measure the deviation [of the MPP] from what we have seen in the past," she says.

Chen presented his findings this week at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

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RDFRS: Yellowstone supervolcano 'even more colossal'

RDFRS: Yellowstone supervolcano 'even more colossal' | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it

Our mission is to support scientific education and critical thinking to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering.

 

Yellowstone supervolcano 'even more colossal'

by Rebecca Morelle posted on December 14, 2013 07:50PM GMT 

 

Thanks to Alan4discussion for the link!

 

The supervolcano that lies beneath Yellowstone National Park in the US is far larger than was previously thought, scientists report.

A study shows that the magma chamber is about 2.5 times bigger than earlier estimates suggested.

Yellowstone hot spring Hot springs are surface evidence of the huge magma chamber that sits beneath Yellowstone

A team found the cavern stretches for more than 90km (55 miles) and contains 200-600 cubic km of molten rock.

The findings are being presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco.

Prof Bob Smith, from the University of Utah, said: “We’ve been working there for a long time, and we’ve always thought it would be bigger... but this finding is astounding."

If the Yellowstone supervolcano were to blow today, the consequences would be catastrophic.

The last major eruption, which occurred 640,000 years ago, sent ash across the whole of North America, affecting the Planet’s climate.

 

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Libyan Desert Glass: Diamond-Bearing Pebble Provides Evidence of Comet Striking Earth | Space Exploration | Sci-News.com

Libyan Desert Glass: Diamond-Bearing Pebble Provides Evidence of Comet Striking Earth | Space Exploration | Sci-News.com | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it

The comet entered the atmosphere above Egypt about 28.5 million years ago. It exploded, heating up the sand beneath it to a temperature of about 2,000 degrees Celsius, and resulting in the formation of a huge amount of yellow silica glass, called the Libyan Desert Glass.

A magnificent specimen of the Libyan Desert Glass, polished by ancient jewelers, is found in Tutankhamun’s brooch with its striking yellow-brown scarab.

Prof Jan Kramers from the University of Johannesburg, a lead author of thepaper published online in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, and his co-authors analyzed the diamond-bearing pebble ‘Hypatia,’ named in honor of the first well known female mathematician, astronomer and philosopher,Hypatia of Alexandria.

After conducting highly sophisticated chemical analyses on this pebble, the team came to the inescapable conclusion that it represented the very first known specimen of a comet nucleus, rather than simply an unusual type of meteorite.

“It’s a typical scientific euphoria when you eliminate all other options and come to the realization of what it must be,” Prof Kramers said.

“The impact of the explosion also produced microscopic diamonds. Diamonds are produced from carbon bearing material. Normally they form deep in the earth, where the pressure is high, but you can also generate very high pressure with shock. Part of the comet impacted and the shock of the impact produced the diamonds.”

This is an artist’s impression of the comet exploding above Egypt. Image credit: Terry Bakker.

Comet material is very elusive. Comet fragments have not been found on Earth before except as microscopic sized dust particles in the upper atmosphere and some carbon-rich dust in the Antarctic ice. Space agencies have spent billions to secure the smallest amounts of pristine comet matter.

“NASA and ESA spend billions of dollars collecting a few micrograms of comet material and bringing it back to Earth, and now we’ve got a radical new approach of studying this material, without spending billions of dollars collecting it,” Prof Kramers said.

“Comets contain the very secrets to unlocking the formation of our Solar System and this discovery gives us an unprecedented opportunity to study comet material first hand,” said co-author Prof David Block of Wits University.

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2013: The Year in #Volcanic Activity.

2013: The Year in #Volcanic Activity. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
This been a particularly eventful year for the world's volcanoes. Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava. In 2013, erupting volcanoes included Italy's Mount Etna, Alaska's Mount Pavlof, Indonesia's Mount Sinabung, Argentina's Volcán Copahue, and a new island emerging off the coast of Nishinoshima, Japan. In Hawaii, the famed Kilauea volcano continued to send lava flowing toward the sea. Collected below are scenes from the wide variety of volcanic activity on Earth over the past year. [36 photos]
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This Image Really Puts the Size of #Antarctica Into Perspective.

This Image Really Puts the Size of #Antarctica Into Perspective. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it

Seen above is a view of the Earth on September 21, 2005 with the full Antarctic region visible. The composite image shows the sea ice on September 21, 2005, the date at which the sea ice was at its minimum extent in the northern hemisphere. The colour of the sea ice is derived from the AMSR-E 89 GHz brightness temperature while the extent of the sea ice was determined by the AMSR-E sea ice concentration. Over the continents, the terrain shows the average land cover for September, 2004. The global cloud cover shown was obtained from the original Blue Marble cloud data distributed in 2002. [Source]

Due to the position of Antarctica in relation to our Sun it would not look like this to the naked eye. This is a composite that shows what Antarctica looks like if the entire continent were illuminated.

Click here for the full resolution 8400×8400 pixel TIFF version (63 mb) and click here for the 8400 x 8400 px JPG version.

Antarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 14.0 million km2 (5.4 million sq mi), it is the fifth-largest continent in area after Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. About 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice that averages at least 1 mile (1.6 km) in thickness, which extends to all but the northernmost reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula. [Source]

Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of only 200 mm (8 inches) along the coast and far less inland. The temperature in Antarctica has reached −89 °C (−129 °F). There are no permanent human residents, but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent. [Source]

Below are other images of our beautiful planet by NASA that show other continents and areas of the globe for comparison.

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Stunning Map Reveals World's Earthquakes Since 1898.

Stunning Map Reveals World's Earthquakes Since 1898. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it

If you've ever wondered where — and why — earthquakes happen the most, look no further than a new map, which plots more than a century's worth of nearly every recorded earthquake strong enough to at least rattle the bookshelves.

The map shows earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater since 1898; each is marked in a lightning-bug hue that glows brighter with increasing magnitude.

The overall effect is both beautiful and arresting, revealing the silhouettes of Earth's tectonic boundaries in stark, luminous swarms of color.

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Deep-sea rocks point to early oxygen on Earth (3/25/2009)

Deep-sea rocks point to early oxygen on Earth (3/25/2009) | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it

Red jasper cored from layers 3.46 billion years old suggests that not only did the oceans contain abundant oxygen then, but that the atmosphere was as oxygen rich as it is today, according to geologists.

This jasper or hematite-rich chert formed in ways similar to the way this rock forms around hydrothermal vents in the deep oceans today.

"Many people have assumed that the hematite in ancient rocks formed by the oxidation of siderite in the modern atmosphere," said Hiroshi Ohmoto, professor of geochemistry, Penn State. "That is why we wanted to drill deeper, below the water table and recover unweathered rocks."

The researchers drilled diagonally into the base of a hill in the Pilbara Craton in northwest Western Australia to obtain samples of jasper that could not have been exposed to the atmosphere or water. These jaspers could be dated to 3.46 billion years ago.

"Everyone agrees that this jasper is 3.46 billion years old," said Ohmoto. "If hematite were formed by the oxidation of siderite at any time, the hematite would be found on the outside of the siderite, but it is found inside," he reported in a recent issue of Nature Geoscience.

The next step was to determine if the hematite formed near the water's surface or in the depths. Iron compounds exposed to ultra violet light can form ferric hydroxide, which can sink to the bottom as tiny particles and then converted to hematite at temperatures of at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

"There are a number of cases around the world where hematite is formed in this way," says Ohmoto. "So just because there is hematite, there is not necessarily oxygen in the water or the atmosphere."

The key to determining if ultra violet light or oxygen formed the hematite is the crystalline structure of the hematite itself. If the precursors of hematite were formed at the surface, the crystalline structure of the rock would have formed from small particles aggregating producing large crystals with lots of empty spaces between. Using transmission electron microscopy, the researchers did not find that crystalline structure.

 

"We found that the hematite from this core was made of a single crystal and therefore was not hematite made by ultra violet radiation," said Ohmoto.

This could only happen if the deep ocean contained oxygen and the iron rich fluids came into contact at high temperatures. Ohmoto and his team believe that this specific layer of hematite formed when a plume of heated water, like those found today at hydrothermal vents, converted the iron compounds into hematite using oxygen dissolved in the deep ocean water.

"This explains why this hematite is only found in areas with active submarine volcanism," said Ohmoto. "It also means that there was oxygen in the atmosphere 3.46 billion years ago, because the only mechanism for oxygen to exist in the deep oceans is for there to be oxygen in the atmosphere."

In fact, the researchers suggest that to have sufficient oxygen at depth, there had to be as much oxygen in the atmosphere 3.46 billion years ago as there is in today's atmosphere. To have this amount of oxygen, the Earth must have had oxygen producing organisms like cyanobacteria actively producing it, placing these organisms much earlier in Earth's history than previously thought.

"Usually, we look at the remnant of what we think is biological activity to understand the Earth's biology," said Ohmoto. "Our approach is unique because we look at the mineral ferric oxide to decipher biological activity."

Ohmoto suggests that this approach eliminates the problems trying to decide if carbon residues found in sediments were biologically created or simply chemical artifacts.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by the Penn State.

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6 North American sites hold 12,900-year-old nanodiamond-rich soil (1/2/2009)

6 North American sites hold 12,900-year-old nanodiamond-rich soil (1/2/2009) | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it

Abundant tiny particles of diamond dust exist in sediments dating to 12,900 years ago at six North American sites, adding strong evidence for Earth's impact with a rare swarm of carbon-and-water-rich comets or carbonaceous chondrites, reports a nine-member scientific team.

These nanodiamonds, which are produced under high-temperature, high-pressure conditions created by cosmic impacts and have been found in meteorites, are concentrated in similarly aged sediments at Murray Springs, Ariz., Bull Creek, Okla., Gainey, Mich., and Topper, S.C., as well as Lake Hind, Manitoba, and Chobot, Alberta, in Canada. Nanodiamonds can be produced on Earth, but only through high-explosive detonations or chemical vaporization.

Last year a 26-member team from 16 institutions proposed that a cosmic impact event, possibly by multiple airbursts of comets, set off a 1,300-year-long cold spell known as the Younger Dryas, fragmented the prehistoric Clovis culture and led to the extinction of a large range of animals, including mammoths, across North America. The team's paper was published in the Oct. 9, 2007, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (News release on the 2007 paper is available at:http://tinyurl.com/82988t, with link to a copy of that paper.)

Now, reporting in the Jan. 2 issue of the journal Science, a team led by the University of Oregon's Douglas J. Kennett, a member of the original research team, report finding billions of nanometer-sized diamonds concentrated in sediments -- weighing from about 10 to 2,700 parts per billion -- in the six locations during digs funded by the National Science Foundation.

 

 

"The nanodiamonds that we found at all six locations exist only in sediments associated with the Younger Dryas Boundary layers, not above it or below it," said Kennett, a UO archaeologist. "These discoveries provide strong evidence for a cosmic impact event at approximately 12,900 years ago that would have had enormous environmental consequences for plants, animals and humans across North America."

The Clovis culture of hunters and gatherers was named after hunting tools referred to as Clovis points, first discovered in a mammoth's skeleton in 1926 near Clovis, N.M. Clovis sites later were identified across the United States, Mexico and Central America. Clovis people possibly entered North America across a land bridge from Siberia. The peak of the Clovis era is generally considered to have run from 13,200 to 12,900 years ago. One of the diamond-rich sediment layers reported sits directly on top of Clovis materials at the Murray Springs site.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by the University of Oregon.

 

 

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Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: A crinoid calyx from the Lower Carboniferous of Iowa.

Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: A crinoid calyx from the Lower Carboniferous of Iowa. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
In honor of Echinoderm Week for my Invertebrate Paleontology course, we have a beautiful crinoid calyx (or crown, or just “head”) on a slab from the Burlington Limestone (Lower Carboniferous, Osagean) found near Burlington, Iowa.
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Earthquake Facts and Statistics.

Earthquake Facts and Statistics. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it

The USGS estimates that several million earthquakes occur in the world each year. Many go undetected because they hit remote areas or have very small magnitudes. The NEIC now locates about 50 earthquakes each day, or about 20,000 a year.

As more and more seismographs are installed in the world, more earthquakes can be and have been located. However, the number of large earthquakes (magnitude 6.0 and greater) has stayed relatively constant. See: Are Earthquakes Really on the Increase?

Number of Earthquakes Worldwide for 2000 - 2012 
Located by the US Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center
(M4.5+ for most of the world; doesn't include US regional network contributions)
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An Iceberg the Size of Singapore Just Broke From Antarctica.

An Iceberg the Size of Singapore Just Broke From Antarctica. | Why Geology Rocks | Scoop.it
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