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Benchmarks: June 1,1840: Setting out for the Copper Country

On the morning of June 1, 1840, Michigan’s first state geologist, Douglass Houghton, stepped onto a small barge about to set sail on Lake Superior. The step marked the beginning of the first geological survey of the Keweenaw Peninsula — the northernmost portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which juts out into the center of the lake. Houghton and his crew would spend the summer exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and recording the region’s geologic resources, including rich copper deposits known only locally at the time. That would change, however, after Houghton’s team detailed its findings in an 1841 report that spurred the nation’s first major mining boom.

01 Jun 2015

Mineral Resource of the Month: Iron oxide pigments

Iron oxide pigments, natural or synthetic, are inorganic materials commonly used as coloring agents. They are valued for their resistance to color-change (especially from exposure to sunlight), chemical resistance, stability under ambient environmental conditions, nontoxicity and relatively low cost.

 
29 May 2015

Geomedia: On the web: Personalizing drought data with digital tools

With drought, people feel the heat while it’s happening, but understanding how current droughts fit into past trends — and what they mean for the future — is harder to grasp. Several online tools are available to help the public and decision-makers make sense of drought data. Viewers can see current and historical droughts superimposed on maps, focusing in on specific locations or broadening the view to larger regional, national or global droughts. 
28 May 2015

Down to Earth With: Marine Geophysicist Maya Tolstoy

Growing up in Scotland, Maya Tolstoy was drawn to the theater, and even briefly considered majoring in the subject in college. Instead, she chose to follow another lifelong passion and became a marine geophysicist.

21 May 2015

Energy Notes: October 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.

 
18 May 2015

Mineral Resource of the Month: Graphite

Graphite is one of four natural forms of crystalline carbon, along with carbon nanotubes, diamonds and fullerenes. It is gray to black in color, opaque and usually has a metallic luster, although it sometimes exhibits a dull earthy luster. Graphite is soft, flexible, low-density, chemically inert and highly refractory. It is the most electrically and thermally conductive of the nonmetals. 

 
12 May 2015

Benchmarks: May 8, 1902: The deadly eruption of Mount Pelée

At the turn of the 20th century, the town of St. Pierre was known as the “Paris of the Caribbean.” Nestled into the northwest coast of the French island of Martinique, it boasted a bustling harbor where ships hauled away precious loads of sugar and rum, and it had usurped the official capital — Fort-de-France — as the colony’s cultural center. But St. Pierre had a problem: it lay in the shadow of a massive volcano.

 
08 May 2015

Down to Earth With: Brian Tucker

Some of the world’s most densely populated cities are at highest risk for earthquake-related disasters. Geophysicist Brian Tucker has spent the last two-plus decades trying to help the developing world avoid such disasters, and in 1991, he founded the nonprofit GeoHazards International (GHI) to bring the developed world’s risk-mitigation techniques to high-risk communities in the developing world.

27 Apr 2015

Down the Earth With: Clive Oppenheimer

North Korea is perhaps the most isolated country in the world, with a people, culture and landscape largely veiled from outside observation, which rarely hosts few Westerners. However, in recent years a smattering of western scientists have visited the country, including volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer from the University of Cambridge in England. In 2011, Oppenheimer was invited by North Korean scientists who were concerned about a sleeping giant of a volcano on the northern border with China that had shown signs of restlessness. A few weeks later, he found himself on the imposing but beautiful mountain, known as Paektu-san to the Koreans (or Changbaishan in China), with a small team trying to unravel the volcano’s past and potential future activity. He has returned to North Korea twice since, and is looking to extend the rare collaboration further.

17 Apr 2015

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