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Benchmarks: October 10, 1913: Atlantic and Pacific waters meet in the Panama Canal

On Oct. 10, 1913, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson pressed a button in his Washington, D.C., office. At that moment, more than 6,400 kilometers away, about seven metric tons of dynamite exploded, clearing the final obstruction in the Panama Canal. Deep within the Culebra Cut, waters from the Atlantic Ocean finally met waters from the Pacific Ocean, marking the end of major construction on the 77-kilometer-long canal.

09 Oct 2014

Benchmarks: October 9, 1963: The Vajont Landslide kills 2,500 in Italy

In 45 seconds, everything changed. What had been a towering mountainside collapsed into a pile of rubble; what had been a deep reservoir of placid water became a lethal flood; what had been a valley of small Italian villages was leveled to a barren outwash plain.

09 Oct 2014

Energy notes: May 2013-2014

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit www.api.org.

01 Oct 2014

Mineral Resource of the Month: Vermiculite

Vermiculite comprises a group of hydrated, laminar magnesium-aluminum-iron silicate minerals resembling mica. They are secondary minerals, typically altered biotite, iron-rich phlogopite or other micas or clay-like minerals that are themselves sometimes alteration products of amphibole, chlorite, olivine and pyroxene. Vermiculite deposits are associated with volcanic ultramafic rocks rich in magnesium silicate minerals, and flakes of the mineral range in color from black to shades of brown and yellow. The crystal structure of vermiculite contains water molecules, a property that is critical to its processing for common uses.

16 Sep 2014

Energy Notes: April 2013 - 2014

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit www.api.org.

 

16 Sep 2014

On the Web: Personalizing drought data with digital tools

One of the hardest parts of hazard mitigation is communicating risk to the public. With drought, people feel the heat while it’s happening but understanding how the current drought fits into past trends — and their implications for the future — is harder to grasp. Now, several online tools are available to help the public and decision-makers look at drought data.

04 Sep 2014

Benchmarks: September 1, 1957: Fossil Cycad National Monument is dissolved

On Sept. 1, 1957, with the stroke of a pen, the U.S. Congress declared Fossil Cycad National Monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota to be no more. At one time, the site held the world’s largest collection of rare fossil cycad-like plants that thrived during the Cretaceous. Over the years, mismanagement, vandalism and theft left the site barren of fossils — the site never had a staff or visitor center, and was never opened to the public. The site’s initial designation as a national monument, in October 1922, had been brought about by the crusading of one man, Yale University paleobotanist George R. Wieland; in the end, he was also responsible for its demise.

01 Sep 2014

Down to Earth With: Kerry Sieh

After more than 30 years as a professor and researcher at Caltech, earthquake geologist Kerry Sieh (pronounced “sea”) surprised his colleagues when he pulled up stakes in 2008 for a rare opportunity in Southeast Asia to be the founding director of the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
 

28 Aug 2014

Down to Earth With: Tom Malloy

Butte, Mont., is home to one of the nation’s largest Superfund sites — a 300-meter-deep lake of acidic, heavy metal-contaminated water known as the Berkeley Pit. As the reclamation manager of Butte-Silver Bow County, it’s Tom Malloy’s job to help clean it up.

27 Aug 2014

Down to Earth With: Chris Strong

Being a weatherman is sometimes a thankless job, particularly when forecasts don’t pan out as expected. But the two-fold task of meteorologists — predicting the course and severity of impending weather events, and clearly communicating those predictions to a broad audience — is a vital one. This is especially true when you’re part of the group that so many people, including other forecasters, turn to as the primary source for weather information and insight: the National Weather Service (NWS).

18 Aug 2014

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