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Benchmarks: April 12, 1934: Record winds buffet Mount Washington

When Jeff Masters was 5 years old, a brutish gust of wind knocked him flat. The incident transpired on top of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, a place that has long fascinated Masters — now a meteorologist and the founder of the popular forecasting site Weather Underground.

12 Apr 2015

March 29, 1936: Notes on Earth's Inner Core

On March 29, 1936, Danish seismologist Inge Lehmann wrote a letter to a colleague in which she argued that seismic waves — specifically P-waves — recorded from distant earthquakes showed some anomalous characteristics. “If you had seen so many records from these distances as I have,” she wrote, “I am sure you would not doubt that the amplitudes are abnormally small.” Within the year, Lehmann published a study based on those unusual amplitudes, work that first proposed that Earth has a solid inner core inside its liquid outer core.

29 Mar 2015

Down to Earth With: The USGS Landslide Response Team

Over the last year and a half, the Western U.S. has suffered a rash of devastating landslides. The streak began in September 2013, when heavy rains triggered widespread debris flows across the Colorado Front Range. Then came the tragic landslide that buried Oso, Wash., killing 43 people. Two months later, the West Salt Creek slide, a behemoth rock avalanche in western Colorado, killed three people as it barreled down a 5-kilometer-long path.

21 Mar 2015

Geomedia: Books: Rediscovering the science behind Thoreau's 'Walden'

Last summer, I had the opportunity to enjoy a personal tour around the world’s most famous kettle pond, Walden Pond in Concord, Mass., led by geologist Robert Thorson, who recently authored the book “Walden’s Shore: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Science.” The rainy, gray day did not diminish our hike or Thorson’s delight in sharing what he had learned from his research into Henry David Thoreau’s lifelong fascination with Walden Pond and the science behind his iconic book, “Walden.”

19 Mar 2015

Mineral Resource of the Month: Silver

Silver, one of the eight precious or noble metals, has been used extensively throughout recorded history for various medical purposes, ornaments and utensils, and for its intrinsic value as the basis for trade and monetary systems. Silver has played a significant role in world history, financing a Greek victory over the Persians in 480 B.C., helping Spain become a world power in the 16th and 17th centuries, and helping fund the Union forces during the U.S. Civil War, to give a few examples.

22 Feb 2015

Energy Notes: September 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.

22 Feb 2015

Down to Earth With: Mineralogist George W. Robinson

Many geologists understand the joyous feeling of coming across a beautiful rock in the field; George W. Robinson, who began collecting minerals at age 9, has had a lifetime full of such moments. After delving deeper into his early avocation as a teenager, he received his doctorate in mineralogy from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, in 1979. He has worked as a high school earth science teacher, field collector, mineral dealer, museum curator and professor — all occupations that shared a common focus: a love of minerals.

 
19 Feb 2015

Geomedia: Books: To Tiktaalik and beyond

In 2008, Neil Shubin penned the terrific, “Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body,” in which he explored the stories of deep time as they are written in the details of our bodily architecture. As both a professor of anatomy and the paleontologist who discovered Tiktaalik, a transitional fossil between fish and amphibians, Shubin was ideally positioned to tell this tale.

 
18 Feb 2015

Benchmarks: February 17, 1977: Hydrothermal vents are discovered

In early February 1977, as scientists aboard the research vessel (R/V) Knorr made their way across the Pacific waters off the northwest coast of South America, they had reason to suspect their expedition might find the success that had eluded others. Previous missions had identified their destination — a site on the ocean surface about 330 kilometers northeast of the Galápagos Islands, below which two tectonic plates rift apart — as a promising location from which to search for their intended target. Once there, the researchers would deploy a variety of tools, including manned and unmanned submersibles, to the ocean bottom in the hopes of directly spotting hydrothermal vents.

17 Feb 2015

Conjunction injunction: Recent and future planetary alignments

February 1962: The five planets visible to the naked eye, as well as the sun and moon, all appeared within 17 degrees of each other in the sky. A concurrent solar eclipse and new moon made it possible to view the planets.

04 Feb 2015

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