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Bechmarks: June 1, 1873: The Modoc-Lava Beds War Ends

Under the banner of manifest destiny and with the enticements of natural resources and vast unsettled lands, the western United States saw explosive population growth in the latter half of the 19th century. People flocked to California, especially, following the mid-century dawn of the gold rush. Between 1850 and 1870, the state’s population ballooned six-fold to roughly 560,000, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures. And with the increasing number of non-native settlers came increasing contact and, often, conflict with Native Americans.
03 Jun 2013

Energy Notes: January 2012-2013

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.

 
19 May 2013

Down to Earth With: James Balog

Photographer James Balog is known for his groundbreaking environmental photography that examines intersections of humans and nature. His work has appeared in publications ranging from National Geographic and Smithsonian to Audubon and The New Yorker. He has also authored eight books, including the recently released “Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers,” and he has been honored with dozens of awards, including the Heinz Award and PhotoMedia’s Person of the Year.

17 May 2013

Mineral Resource of the Month: Barite

The mineral barite (barium sulfate), also known as barytes, is most commonly found in hydrothermal veins and as veins in limestone. It is very dense (it has a high specific gravity) and is relatively soft. Those properties make it an excellent weighting agent in drilling muds for petroleum wells. In fact, worldwide, oil and gas drilling account for 85 to 90 percent of barite consumption. In the U.S., about 95 percent of barite is used by petroleum well-drilling markets; the remaining 5 percent in such industrial end uses as barium chemicals (which, for example, a person might drink prior to a medical procedure), filler in paint and plastics, powder coatings, friction products such as brake pads for cars and trucks, and heavy aggregate for radiation shielding. 

 
13 May 2013

Benchmarks: May 12, 2008: Earthquake devastates western China

Just before 2:30 p.m. local time on May 12, 2008, a magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Sichuan province in Western China. One eyewitness recalls seeing a mountain “blowing up” and boulders two-stories tall crashing into gorges. Another recalls thinking there had been a natural gas explosion, while a third described a hill split in half. It was the country’s largest earthquake in more than 50 years, and it left 18,000 people missing and presumed dead, nearly 375,000 injured and more than 69,000 confirmed fatalities. 
 
12 May 2013

Energy Notes: December 2011-2012

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.

 
19 Apr 2013

Down to Earth With: The Lava Cap Winery

During a long career at the U.S. Geological Survey  (USGS) and the University of California at Berkeley, paleontologist David Jones, who died in 2007, made fundamental contributions to understanding the geologic history of western North America, particularly the evolution of California’s puzzling Coast Ranges.

14 Apr 2013

Mineral Resource of the Month: Diatomite

Diatomite is a soft, friable and very fine-grained siliceous sedimentary rock composed of the remains of fossilized diatoms. Chalky to the touch and often light in color, diatomite can be white if pure, but more commonly it is buff to gray in situ, or sometimes black. Because of its low density and high porosity, it is extremely lightweight, and it is essentially chemically inert. Its properties make diatomite very useful as a filtration medium as well as a component in cement. 

 
13 Apr 2013

Benchmarks: April 1916: "Jingo the Stegosaurus" campaigns to keep the U.S. out of World War I

One side effect of the discovery and popularization of dinosaurs in the latter half of the 19th century was their introduction into the vernacular as a metaphor, particularly concerning international politics and war. For example, just prior to World War I, one writer compared Russia to Diplodocus, “a vast inert creature,” only saved from extinction because of English expansionists. To French paleontologist Pierre Marcellin Boule, however, Diplodocus provided a more dangerous comparison, at least in reference to Germany: “an overgrown brute, specialized in strength, mad with its own might.” 
 
10 Apr 2013

Energy Notes: November 2011-2012

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

 
19 Mar 2013

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