"I Can Feel The Boulders Rolling"

I have to admit that my first thought in the few seconds of this video was, “What the fuck are you doing, you fool? Get away from the wash!”

Then I discovered the person filming the video is a USGS hydrologic technician, and I was like, “Oh, right. Carry on, then.” This is definitely one of those don’t-try-this-unless-you’re-a-paid-professional sort of things. Much like climbing down into the craters of active volcanoes FOR SCIENCE.

These floods are scary dangerous things. Too many people don’t appreciate the power of water. But just watch that video. Look at the sediment load that water’s carrying. Listen to the roar. Consider they could feel boulders bouncing in the flow, just standing there at a relatively safe distance on the bank. Note the size of the channel these occasional floods have carved. It’s not a good place to be standing when the water comes pouring in.

And it comes fast, and hard, and without much warning. Flash floods have appeared in the desert on clear, bright, sunny days when the nearest rain is a hundred miles away. The moment you hear a rumble and a roar, it’s time to get the hell to higher ground.

Unless, of course, you’re a scientist, in which case you know how to do crazy dangerous things relatively safely. In which case, carry on.

"I Can Feel The Boulders Rolling"

Donors Choose: Final Stretch!

Right. So remember how I said I’d match two $50 donations? And remember how we had two challenges going on, so I kinda figured I’d split my fundage between the two of them?

Heh heh heh whoops. Left it too late. We are down to one unfunded challenge, thanks to your awesomeness. So I put down the complete matching donation on that one. Here ’tis:

Mah Contribution to the Cause

I also want to mention, strictly as an observation, that the only person currently beating us on Freethought Blogs is Jen McCreight, and she has traffic that is an order of magnitude greater than mine. Which, I think, just goes to prove that geologists don’t just rock, they are very gneiss, not to mention the schist.

Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

So, Ms. C’s library project only needs $97. We can do that. In fact, we don’t even need big donations to do it. Here’s a chance for those folks who can only afford tiny donations to make a huge difference. $5, $10, more, less, whatever – it all adds up. The Donors Choose Challenge ends Saturday, so time is of the essence. Get thee to my giving page.

But we’re not stopping there.

I’ve added two projects. They’re not cheap projects. But you know what? These projects will allow kids to get out in the field. They’ll get their hands on geology right out in the field, in Great Basin National Park. Field trip!

There’s nothing like a field trip for making a future geologist. I want to get these kids out in the field, people. I want to make this happen for them. And I believe you guys can do this.

So here they are:

1. Discovering the Wonders of Nevada. “Every year we take 150 fourth graders on an overnight field trip to Great Basin National Park. Our school is a Title One, 100 percent free or reduced lunch school. Our parents are hard working and very supportive, but can’t always provide the enrichment activities their children need. The fourth grade students look forward to the “Ely Trip” every year.” $1006 to go.

2. Exploring the Wonders of Nevada. “Every year we take 150 fourth graders on an overnight field trip to Ely Nevada. For many of our students, this is the first time they have been in a rural setting. Our school is in a lower working class neighborhood. Our students are well-behaved, enthusiastic kids who could use a little “boost.” Our parents are very supportive but can’t always provide the supplies needed for the school year.” $357 to go.

All right? Let’s do this thing. Again, you don’t have to be Aunt or Uncle Moneybags. Little amounts count. Every single dollar gets these kids closer to an experience with geoscience that will stay with them throughout their lives.

So. Incentives. I shall give thee incentives, because this is something we should all do together.

1. I’ll write a short story for the highest donor. You can even choose the subject, if you like, and you’ll get a paper copy complete with autograph, if you wish. You’ll have to give me until the end of the year, because I’m stupid enough to try NaNo this November, but I’ll have it written and sent to you in January. Yes, I will haul my arse to the hated post office just for you.

2. The second-highest donor will get a personally-collected hand sample. That’s right! I’ll post a list of places I’m going this summer (once I know what they are!), and you tell me what hunk o’ beautiful geology you want me to package up and mail to you.

3. I’ll match 4 (count them, 4) donations of $50. So you $50 folk get to double your money! Don’t let that stop you from donating more, of course! And if you guys manage to fund these projects before I can whip my credit card out, you can each pick a project of your own for me to donate to.

4. Starving Students Offer: Those of you too strapped for cash to manage more than small donations can still get a little something! Send me an email telling me what you’re studying, why you chose your major, and why you donated, and I’ll showcase you guys on the site. Plus, I’ll write a poem for the person whose note makes me punch the air and shout, “Yes! Science can haz future!” Same caveats apply as the short story deal.

5. I’ve also got some super-snazzy Mount St. Helens posters, so all who have donated to any of our projects and want their names in for that have a chance at winning one of Mother Earth’s great works of art. Yahoo knows me as dhunterauthor.

We’ve got until Saturday, my darlings. Make it so.

Donors Choose: Final Stretch!

Why I Love Scientists: Kraken Kraziness Edition

This exchange happened recently on Twitter, retweeted by Brian Switek, and exemplifies why geologists and paleontologists generally get along. I present it to you in its full glory: scientists making fun of the kraken story. Enjoy!

 

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/Ichnologist/status/123961276601876481″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/Ichnologist/status/123962092683395072″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/andyfarke/status/123962423689478144″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/flyingtrilobite/status/123963299690848256″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/Ichnologist/status/123963958385324032″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/Ichnologist/status/123964870692585472″]

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/andyfarke/status/123965051672596480″]

 

Why I Love Scientists: Kraken Kraziness Edition

You Call Those Evil Volcano Lairs?

They’re quasi-evil. They’re semi-evil. They’re the Diet Coke of evil…

Erik Klemetti may sneer at the Geological Society of London’s Top 5, but Mt. Erebus? Sure, he’ll have well-dressed minions, but he’ll also be too ice-bound for true evil. Jessica Ball’s on to something with Pagan Island, but her evil lair will be overrun with tourists within six months. Garry Hayes has a beautiful evil setting in Mount Shasta, but everyone knows you can’t rely on Lemurians to carry out one’s plans for world domination. Silver Fox isn’t disclosing the location of her evil lair, which is wise, but it’s not even a volcano. You can’t have an evil volcano lair if there’s no volcano.

No, the truly evil geologist knows there’s only one volcano that qualifies as an Evil Volcano Lair.

Continue reading “You Call Those Evil Volcano Lairs?”

You Call Those Evil Volcano Lairs?

Accretionary Wedge #38: Back to School (Hogwarts, No Less!)

The 38th edition of the Accretionary Wedge is up at Anne Jefferson’s place. She’s done a marvelous job, and so have all of the geobloggers who took her back-to-school theme and ran with it. There’s even a Harry Potter motif! This is the edition that inspired the post that ended up nominated for Open Lab, and there’s far better stuff than mine over there. Go enjoy!

Why are you still here? Oh. Right. Some of you have never seen the Accretionary Wedge before. A few brief explanations would appear to be in order, then.

Continue reading “Accretionary Wedge #38: Back to School (Hogwarts, No Less!)”

Accretionary Wedge #38: Back to School (Hogwarts, No Less!)

Right. I Want to Try Something.

There’s a Welsh phrase I love very much: “Like killing snakes.” Means “very busy.” I’m like killing snakes right now. The start of the Winter Writing Season is always like throwing a grenade into the middle of my life, and this time, I decided to go nuclear, what with starting the Geokittehs blog with Evelyn, joining Freethought Blogs, offering to do some of the social media work for Burien Little Theatre, and participating in the Skepticism 101 panel at GeekGirlCon. And I’m not going to tell you the major cell phone carrier I work tech support for, but I’ll put it like this: we’re getting the iPhone 4s, which means they’ve closed the vacation calendar, opened up overtime slots, and are basically expecting us to be like killing snakes at a snake farm in which some mad strange person has been giving the snakes fertility drugs.

As I said, busy.

And that won’t leave as much time as I like for in-depth research for meaty geology posts. Not that we won’t have meaty geology posts. We will, at least a few. I’ll also be highlighting my beloved geobloggers as the weeks go by, because they deserve to be known and you’ll be happy to know them. But I’ll also need topics I can do as a hit-and-run. Which brings me to a somewhat pathetic cry for help.

Continue reading “Right. I Want to Try Something.”

Right. I Want to Try Something.

Donors Choose: We're Rocking It!

Well, of course we are, we’re lovers of geology.

You, my darlings, have been remarkable. Two days in, and you’ve already got two projects funded. I can’t tell you how proud I am of you!

The teachers have sent you all lovely thank-you notes, and I shall post them here:

Project 1: Women and Hands-on Science. Funded!

Dear Karen, Mayen Davis, Anne, Yahoo! and The DonorsChoose.org Team, 

My students and I would like to thank you again for your donations to our science education. I have already told them about the donations and they are ecstatic. I believe that with the right tools we can teach our young girls that education is the key that will open many doors for them in the future. Many of the girls are convinced that science just isn’t fun. With these materials, I can show them just how fun and exciting science can be and possibly spark new ideas for their future careers!Thank you again. You are making a difference in the lives of these girls.

With gratitude,
Ms. D

You see what a difference you’ve made, there? These are young women who are about to discover what we already know: that science is incredible good fun. You’ve just given them a key to the wonders of the world.

Project 3: Geology Rocks! Funded!

Dear Andrea McCormick, Mrs. Patten,, Maureen Ilg, Nora, Joe and The DonorsChoose.org Team, 

I just wanted to express my sincere gratitude for your generous donations. The Geology Centers and activities will have a significant impact on my students. We now have the opportunity to have more interactive and engaging lessons.

I plan to use the geology kits to help students identify the three main rock types, how they are formed and the characteristics of each. The center activities will allow the students to explore geology concepts independently and reinforce what they are learning in class.

I can’t wait to show my students the rock samples and get started on some hands-on experiments and projects!

With gratitude,
Ms. B

You’ve just got some young hands on science, my darlings!

We still have two projects to fund:

Project 2: Science Rocks! $303 to go

Project #4: Rock Out: Learning About Rocks, Minerals and Geology. $254 to go

The way you lot are going, I don’t imagine it’ll take you long. Let’s do this thing!

Now, you might have noticed by now that the menfolk are vastly outnumbered by the womenfolk in the donation department. You, there, you with the Y chromosome. Yes, you! Step up and represent. Let’s get some equality going here!

Donors Choose: We're Rocking It!

At the Beginning of the Universe…

there was geology.

Oh, I know, some folks will tell you it was physics. Yes, there was that, too. And there might be a few who argue for chemistry, and we’ll grant them chemistry. Of course those things were there. Can’t have a universe without them. Not a universe like ours, anyway.

But geology was hiding within those things. As stars came together, as they began forging elements, as those elements exploded out into the universe and gravity gathered them together again, geology, like life, looked at all that lovely physics and chemistry and said, “Yum! I can do something interesting with that.” And oh, it did.

People think of geology as an earth science, and yes, earth’s where humans figured it out. Right there in the name, geo, planet earth. But other planets have rocks. And the elements that formed the earth were, like the elements that form us, born in the stars. Biology will still be biology when it’s applied to aliens. Geology is still geology when applied to other worlds, and we’ve beaten life twice now: there were rocks before critters, and we’ve gotten our hands on space rocks before space critters. So there.

So that post I linked to up above, that’s a post I want you to go read. Because my friend Ryan at Glacial Till, who is doing absolutely scrumptious things with meteorites, he’s teaching you geology from the beginning. Right from the beginning of time. And there’s another lesson within, one he didn’t state explicitly but is there, like geology at the beginning of time, hiding in plain sight all along. And the lesson is this:

You don’t have to give up the stars to study the earth.

You wanna be a geologist but study outer space? You can do that. Absolutely, you can. What are the inner planets called? Rocky planets, thankyouverymuch. What are asteroids? Rocks. Big ol’ space rocks. Moon’s got rocks. There’s rocks everywhere, all over solar systems, and sometimes, those rocks land on us. Sometimes, we land on them.

So yes, you can have your geology and whatever else you like. You can have your geology, and your astronomy, and your physics, and your chemistry, and your biology, too. You can have it all. Why do you think I love geology so very, very much? Because it’s got everything.

So get over to Ryan’s place. Let him show you where geology began, and where it will take you next.

Ryan's First Meteorite: "NWA 2965- Exposed interior of the meteorite. Also shown is a polished sample from a different portion of NWA 2965." Filched with permission of author.

 

At the Beginning of the Universe…

Tomes 2011: All Science All the Time Edition

Oh, dear. I think I just heard the sound of bookshelves screaming in anticipation. Poor overloaded darlings. They’ll just have to toughen up and take it, or rely on e-readers to lighten their load. We’ve got some excellent books on tap this edition.

Source

The Stuff of Thought

There are two things Steven Pinker always combines that I adore: the science of the mind, and language. This book delivers both in copious amounts. A few myths are dispelled, quite a few more insights given, and there’s an entire chapter on metaphor that should have any self-respecting writer screaming for joy.

The chapter on names shall greatly interest those following the Nymwars Saga.

And it’s all delivered in the gorgeous, clear, playful prose Steven’s known for. There’s absolutely nothing not to love in this book that I could find.

It’s meant to be third in a trilogy: the first two were The Language Instinct and Words and Rules. But if you haven’t read the other two, no worries. This one stands comfortably alone. That’s not to say you shouldn’t read all three, especially The Language Instinct, which is fantastic.

Source

Crater Lake: Gem of the Cascades

This is a reasonably comprehensive and utterly enthralling book on Crater Lake. I’ve read a lot about Mount Mazama and the eruption that created Crater Lake, but this book contained a lot of things those other sources didn’t. It covers everything from its discovery to its future. The color illustrations are delicious, the geologic information clearly presented and easy to understand without being melodramatic or simplified beyond toleration, and the little info boxes and explanatory diagrams add to rather than distract from the whole. I dipped into it during our Oregon trip, meaning to skim a bit. I finished it before we’d left for home. It’s that easy to read, but I didn’t finish it feeling like I’d been spoon-fed: my brain felt pleasantly full of completely intriguing information. And it certainly made visiting Crater Lake more interesting.

I really can’t recommend this one highly enough. And, bonus, the 3rd edition is practically up-to-the-minute.

Source is moi.

Where Terranes Collide

Okay, so I had to snap a photo of it to get a cover image, and it’s rather hard to find, but if you have any interest whatsoever in the North American Cordillera, then the effort to acquire this book shall be rewarded. It was written by C.J. Yorath, who worked for the Geological Survey of Canada for a great many years. The man knows his stuff. He knows it so damned well that even if you are a grammar guru, you will be able to forgive the occasional typos.

There were a lot of ups and downs in this book – up one set of mountains and down another, from the Rockies to the coast. He takes you on a field trip through the chaos of a subduction zone, and it’s one hell of a ride. Then, he introduces you to the people behind the data. I love the paeans to the geologists he’s known and worked with. And I love the inside look at the way geology happens – arguments over data, banging on rocks, the rough stuff that the public doesn’t get to see before beautifully polished results are printed. This felt like being an insider. And now I’m going to have to go hunt down his other books…

Source

Musicophilia

I dearly love Oliver Sacks. I dearly love music. I dearly loved Oliver Sacks talking about music. This book is a total treat. If you’ve ever read any of Oliver’s work before, you know his prose is like really good chocolate and that the subjects he explores are fascinating. This exploration of music and the brain caused me some difficulties, because I had things I was supposed to do and didn’t do them. Went to lie abed and read.

There are so many incredible stories in here: of how music affects people who are so damaged it seems nothing can reach them, of how music affects us, the weird things and the wonderful things music can do. I have to admit that it scared the crap out of me at times: when you’re reading Oliver Sacks, you realize just how many things can go drastically wrong with a human brain. But it also delighted me right down to my toes. If you have any love of neuroscience, music, or stories about human beings doing remarkable things, you’ll delight in this book, too.

Source

Road Guide to Mount St. Helens

I’m not actually going to say much of anything about this book. It’s not because it’s bad – far from it. It’s a wonderful, handy little guide suitable for slipping into a pocket or purse as you explore Mount St. Helens. Pick up a copy at the visitor’s center at Silver Lake on your way up.

But I won’t tell you all about it, because you can go read it for yourself, right now. Just click the link above. The authors were kind enough to put in online, for free.

So go on, then. Go have a read. Just this once, your wallet and your bookshelves will both be sighing with relief, and you’ll still get to enjoy a good book.

Tomes 2011: All Science All the Time Edition

Prelude to a Catastrophe: Silver Lake

Let’s have a road trip, shall we? Yes, I do know we were in the middle of Oregon, getting ready to shove our noses against some particularly delicious road cuts, but this is a virtual car – we can skip states in the blink of an eye.

So hop in. We’re on our way to Mount St. Helens today. The skies are very nearly clear – by Washington state standards, anyway. Warm sun mingles with a cool breeze that snickers about autumn’s imminent arrival. You’ve got your nose plastered to the car window as we drive up Spirit Lake Memorial Highway from Castle Rock. All you’re seeing at this point are low hills and a flat bit of valley, plastered with green stuff. Biology is a perennial problem for geologists round here. You can barely see the hills for the trees. And you can’t even tell we’re driving along the shore of a lake. But here it is: visible in satellite views, anyway.

View Larger Map

We turn off at the Mount St. Helens Visitor’s Center. Lovely building, quite a lot of nice displays, and a nice nature trail along Silver Lake.

And you’re just burning for your first glimpse of Mount St. Helens her own self, but the clouds aren’t cooperating. That’s quite all right, because I want you to focus on the lake for a bit. Maybe it’ll help if I tell you Mount St. Helens created it.

Continue reading “Prelude to a Catastrophe: Silver Lake”

Prelude to a Catastrophe: Silver Lake