The best of Geology and Earth Science on the web
Welcome to


Bright fireball meteor seen over Southern California.

Sciency Thoughts | 30 April, 2016
The American Meteor Society has received reports of a bright fireball meteor being seen over much of southern California slightly at about 9.30 pm local time on Monday 23 April 2016 (about 4.30 am on Tuesday 24 April GMT). The fireball has been described as being greenish in colour, which may indicate it was caused by the explosion of a small meteorite with a high iron content, and was seen from the northern Baja California as far north as Mendocino County, and east to western Arizona, though the majority of sightings were in Southern California. A fireball is defined as a meteor (shooting star) brighter than the planet Venus. These are typically caused by pieces of rock burning up in the atmosphere, but can be the result of man-made space-junk burning up on re-entry.
Categories: Asteroids; California; Fireball; Meteorites; Meteors; Near Earth Asteroids; North America; Solar System; US;

George Lucas Had It Wrong. A Day of Fierce Pride at MJC

Geotripper | 30 April, 2016
No, I'm not talking about the prequels to Star Wars! It was something much earlier. People could be forgiven for not knowing this, but Star Wars was not George Lucas's first successful film. He was known for another great movie, American Graffiti, a semi-autobiographical film that recalled his days as a young man in Modesto, California. Yes, Lucas is perhaps our most famous native son. He also attended Modesto Junior College for a time.
Categories: American Graffiti; George Lucas; Graduation; Modesto Junior College;

Curiosity update: Wrapping it up at Lubango

Red Planet Report | 30 April, 2016
Sol 1326-29, April 29, 2016, update from USGS scientist Ryan Anderson: After a nice rest on Sol 1325, Curiosity was charged up and ready for lots of science! On Sol 1326, we started off with multispectral Mastcam observations of the ... Continue read...
Categories: Reports; Aeolis Mons; Curiosity; Ebony; Gale Crater; Ida; Lorelei; Lubango; Mars Science Laboratory; Mount Sharp; MSL; Murray Formation; Nara Valley; NASA; Naukluft Plateau; Ovitoto; Rubikon; Stimson Formation;

Understanding the role of Bears in enabling a Cherry tree to migrate up mountains.

Sciency Thoughts | 29 April, 2016
The Earth's climate is known to fluctuate over time, requiring animals and plants to move in order to find suitable habitats. For animals this is a fairly easy task, since most animals constantly move in search of the optimum environments during their lives, however for plants this is much more problematic, as they live the majority of their lives rooted to a single spot, with dispersal only occuring during the seed stage. One way to track optimum conditions in a changing climate without traveling vast distances is to move up and down slopes, since on average a 100 m rise in altitude coresponds to a -0.65 °C drop in temperature. However, while a seed can easily move downslope throgh gravity or water dispersal, seeds cannot fall upslope, requiring the plant to find more creative ways to move seeds uphill.
Categories: Angiosperms; Bears; Biodiversity; Botany; Carnivora; Cherries; Climate Change; Dicotylodons; Ecology; Flowering Plants; Japan; Martens; Mustids; Plants; Rosaceae;

Talking about earthquakes and landslides with "Rosie on the House" this Saturday, April 30

Arizona Geology | 29 April, 2016
I'm scheduled to be on the syndicated radio show "Rosie on the House" with host Rosie Romero, tomorrow morning, April 30, starting at about 7:10 a.m., to talk about the recent swarms of earthquakes in Arizona, and the AZGS project to identify all the landslides in the state.   [Right, map of known landslides in Arizona. Credit, AZGS]   
Categories: None

Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development Fall 2016 Teaching Assistant Positions

State of the Planet | 29 April, 2016
The Undergraduate Program in Sustainable Development is currently accepting applications for Fall 2016 teaching assistant positions. Applicants must be current full-time Columbia University students enrolled in a degree granting program. Applications...
Categories: General Earth Institute; Job Opportunities; undergraduate major in sustainable development; undergraduate program in sustainable development news; undergraduate special concentration in sustainable development;

Future High-Resolution Imaging of Mars: Super-Res to the Rescue?

Planetary Society Weblog | 29 April, 2016
HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen explains an imaging technique known as Super-Resolution Restoration (SRR), and how it could come in handy for high-resolution imaging of the Red Planet....
Categories: None

Wooster Geologists in the 2016 Wooster Senior Research Symposium

Wooster Geologists | 29 April, 2016
WOOSTER, OHIO-A dozen Wooster Geologists participated today in the annual Wooster Senior Research Symposium: A Celebration of Independent Study! All did superb presentations that were very well received. The geology portion began in the morning with talks from Team Utah 3.0, led by Dr. Meagen Pollock and Dr. Shelley Judge. Michael Williams ('16) gave his talk entitled "Emplacement Processes and Monogenetic Classification of Ice Springs Volcanic Field, Central Utah". Here's a link to Michael's field work.
Categories: Uncategorized; Independent Study; Wooster;

Lacustrine Gastropods from the Late Miocene Turiec Basin of Slovakia.

Sciency Thoughts | 29 April, 2016
The Turiec Basin of the Slovakian Carpathian mountains was home to a closed freshwater lake for several million years during the Late Miocene, a lake that developed in a half-graben system (an area where tectonic movements are drawing rocks apart at the surface, causing thining of the crust and subsidence) and which developed a unique flora and fauna of endemic species (species not found elsewhere). This has been studied since the nineteenth century, with some groups from the lake (such as Ostracods) being very well understood, while others are less well known. Mollsuscs from Lake Turiec were first recorded in the 1860s, and have been intermittently described ever since; however the group has been the subject of few systematic reviews and the work on it is known to contian many imprecise descriptions and misidentifications.
Categories: Biodiversity; Carpathian Mountains; Freshwater Gastropods; Gastropods; Lake Turiec; Malacology; Miocene; Molluscs; Palaeobiodiversity; Palaeontology; Slovakia; Snails; Taxonomy; Turiec Basin;

Maars on Mars: Valuable sites in the search for traces of past Martian life

Red Planet Report | 29 April, 2016
Planetary Geomorphology Image of the Month, April 29, 2016: Sandro Rossato (University of Padova, Italy). Terrestrial maar-diatremes are small volcanoes (see this previous post for a general description) which have craters whose floor lies below the ...
Categories: Reports; diatremes; life; maars; volcanic vents; volcanics;

April Data Digest

Geospace | 29 April, 2016
By Rebecca Fowler This is part of a new series of posts that highlight the importance of Earth and space science data and its contributions to society. Posts in this series showcase data facilities and data scientists; explain how Earth and space sci...
Categories: Featured; big data; data; featured;

HiRISE: Okavango Valles system

Red Planet Report | 29 April, 2016
Okavango Valles system. Beautiful Mars series....
Categories: Reports; Beautiful Mars; channels; High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment; HiRISE; Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; MRO; NASA; Okavango Valles; University of Arizona;

Food System Shock: Climate Change's Greatest Threat to Civilization

The greatest threat of climate change to civilization over the next 40 years is likely to be climate change-amplified extreme droughts and floods hitting multiple major global grain-producing "breadbaskets" simultaneously. A "Food System Shock" repor...
Categories: None

As Predicted: A Rising Tide of Migration

State of the Planet | 29 April, 2016
"With sea levels on the rise, several island nations are scrambling to stay above water and ensure citizens will have a place to go when the ocean engulfs their homeland. The humanitarian-crisis phase of climate change has officially begun."...
Categories: Climate; #earthhistory; climate change; Climate Policy; Communicating Climate; Developing Countries; Infrastructure; Sabin Center for Climate Change Law; sea level rise; Sustainability;

THEMIS: Coprates Chasma – false color

Red Planet Report | 29 April, 2016
THEMIS Image of the Day, April 29, 2016. Today's false color image shows part of Coprates Chasma. The THEMIS camera contains 5 filters. The data from different filters can be combined in multiple ways to create a false color image. ... Continue rea...
Categories: Reports; Arizona State University; ASU; Coprates Chasma; landslides; Mars Odyssey; mass wasting; NASA; THEMIS; Thermal Emission Imaging System;

Changing links in lots of files

scottishsnow | 29 April, 2016
I've recently changed my cloud storage provider; from the, now defunkt, to ownCloud. It's generally been a smooth transition, and I'm really pleased I've taken the leap to open source cloud infrastructure! I've gone with a paid (but good value) host, in the hope it's a more sustainable business model and will last longer than Ubuntu One and, cloud providers I've previously used.
Categories: Computing; Linux; bash;

Girl Power

Open Mind | 29 April, 2016
Agnodice (in ancient Greek, Aγνοδίκη) came from a wealthy family in ancient Athens. She wanted to be a doctor because she saw so many women suffering and even dying from childbirth. But Athenian law gave the death penalty to a ... Continue rea...
Categories: Global Warming;

Too Hot To Handle?

Geospace | 29 April, 2016
This is the latest in a series of dispatches from scientists and education officers aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute's R/V Falkor. This April scientists aboard the research vessel are exploring the life around hydrothermal vent systems 2,400 meters beneath the surface of the South Pacific. Read more posts here, and track the Falkor's progress here.
Categories: Ocean sciences; featured; ocean science;

How exploring Mars could help us fight climate change on Earth

EAG Blog | 29 April, 2016
Image copyright courtesy of ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum): Mars showcase
Categories: General; New worlds, new perspectives; Carbon; Carbon capture; CCS; climate; climate change; Earth; global warming; Mars; Mineral carbon sequestration; Rovers; Satellites;

Graceful Migration

"In principle, coastal defenses could be built to protect the densest cities, but experts believe it will be impossible to do that along all 95,000 miles of the American coastline, meaning that immense areas will most likely have to be abandoned to...
Categories: Uncategorized;

Paleo Profile: Mexico’s Mystery Dinosaur

Laelaps | 29 April, 2016
A few years back, while crashing at my apartment for the night during a long trip west, a friend of mine asked me "Haven't paleontologists found all the dinosaurs already?" Museums from coast-to-coast seem well-stocked with primordial reptiles, and, really, when dealing with such giants, how many species could there possibly be? I had to chuckle at my friend's question. Not only were there more dinosaur species than we ever imagined, but we're still a long way from finding them all.
Categories: Anatomy; Dinosaurs; Evolution; Fossils; Paleontology; centrosaurine; ceratopsian; dinosaur; mexico;

Mystery Flora: Sweet Spring Stars

En Tequila Es Verdad | 29 April, 2016
Here's a bit of Frivolous Friday fun with flowers! Aoife came at the exact right time of year. Springtime in Seattle is filled with blooms: it seems like absolutely everything wants to put on a display. Even on a short walk around the neighborhood, you can see thousands of lovely blooms in all shades. These delicate pink stars were falling over a fence, and so we of course had to stop to get a closer look.
Categories: bit o' fun; science;

Asteroid 2016 HO passes the Earth.

Sciency Thoughts | 29 April, 2016
Asteroid 2016 HO passed by the Earth at a distance of 808 600 km (2.10 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 0.54% of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly before 12.30 pm GMT on Sunday 24 April 2016. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though had it done so it would have presented no threat. 2016 HO has an estimated equivalent diameter of 14-45 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 14-45  m in diameter), and an object of this size would be expected to explode in an airburst (an explosion caused by superheating from friction with the Earth's atmosphere, which is greater than that caused by simply falling, due to the orbital momentum of the asteroid) in the atmosphere between 28 and 10 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface.
Categories: 2016 HO; Amor Group Asteroids; Asteroids; Near Earth Asteroids; Solar System;

Dödös get a mönögraph

Here's an awesome thing that just landed in my mailbox: the new monograph on the Thirioux dodos by Leon Claessens and his collaborators. They've done a better job describing what's cool about these specimens than I could, so for the rest of th...
Categories: dodo; Gratuitously awesome images; stinkin' theropods;

De-Mystifying the Process of Writing a Scientific Paper

Watershed Moments | 29 April, 2016
Writing science papers can be a challenge, especially given that scientists aren't really trained in how to write. I have a guest post up at Canadian Science Publishing that outlines some best practices for writing a scientific paper, and provides ...
Categories: Watershed Moments 3.0; best practices; editing; journal article; research papers; science editing; science writing; scientific paper; writing;

Latest: Snapshots of the Middle Cuyahoga River on World Water Day

Latest: Unifying Theory of Geology Class

Latest: A sedimentologist’s guide to volcanic particle grain size (and foetal development)

Latest: Stirring tales from the deep past.

- The new timelapse timesink

- Are geologists mostly lefties?