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Mineral Resource of the Month: Soda Ash

Natural soda ash, sodium carbonate, is an alkali chemical refined from the mineral trona or from naturally occurring sodium carbonate-bearing brines. Synthetic soda ash is sodium carbonate that has been manufactured from one of several chemical processes. Whether natural or synthetic, soda ash is an essential raw material in the production of flat glass and fiberglass — both of which are used by the domestic automotive and construction industries. Soda ash is also used to produce chemicals, detergents and other important industrial products. 

 
13 Dec 2012

Benchamrks: December 4, 1992: The Seattle Fault Zone is described

Since the early 1900s, scientists, boaters and residents have known that a ghostly, submerged forest of dead trees lurked just below the surface of Lake Washington, on Seattle’s eastern edge. The trees were mostly too deep to bother anyone until the Lake Washington Ship Canal opened in 1916, connecting the lake and Puget Sound and dropping the level of the lake three meters. Then the dead trees — many of which were still upright — became hazardous to boaters. In response, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blasted and chained down 186 trees in one submerged forest. Forty years later, when a diver visited a different underwater forest in 28 meters of water, he found himself in a dense grove of dead trees — predominately Douglas fir — the largest of which had a circumference of 9 meters. 
 
04 Dec 2012

Energy Notes: July 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 Nov 2012

Down to Earth With: Jacob Haqq-Misra

Jacob Haqq-Misra is all but addicted to music, which is why the astrobiologist balances his time between research and performing as a percussionist and vocalist with the psychedelic jam band, Mysterytrain.

18 Nov 2012

Mineral Resource of the Month: Mercury

Since at least Roman times, mercury has been used for amalgamation with gold. The Romans used mercury from cinnabar — the most important ore of mercury — from Almadén, Spain, home to the world’s oldest producing mercury mine. That use continued through the Middle Ages and the Colonial era. Mercury from Almadén was used mainly for Spanish colonial silver processing in the New World until the discovery of rich cinnabar deposits at Huancavelica, Peru, which provided a regional source for the vital metal. The Spanish site is still important. Since 1927, in conformance with the system used at Almadén, the “flask” has been the unit for measuring and pricing mercury. One flask weighs 34.5 kilograms; 29 flasks are contained in a metric ton.

 
13 Nov 2012

Benchmarks: November 29, 1991: The Interstate 5 dust storm injures hundreds

It was about 2:30 p.m. on the day after Thanksgiving and traffic was heavy on Interstate 5, which connects Northern and Southern California. A 31-year-old substitute teacher was traveling southbound on I-5 with her husband, 32, and their two sons, ages 4 and 1. They were a little north of Coalinga, a farming town in the San Joaquin Valley about 250 kilometers south of San Francisco. 
 
01 Nov 2012

Energy Notes: June 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 Oct 2012

Down to Earth With: Lawson Brigham

Lawson Brigham, a Distinguished Professor of Geography and Arctic Policy at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and retired U.S. Coast Guard captain, has worn many hats in his career. He has been the deputy director and Alaska Office director of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission in Anchorage; chair of the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum of the eight Arctic nations; vice chair of the Arctic Council’s working group on Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment; and a contributing author to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.

18 Oct 2012

Mineral Resource of the Month: Dimension Stone

Dimension stone is not actually any one type of rock. Instead, it is any natural rock material quarried for the purpose of obtaining blocks or slabs that meet certain size (width, length and thickness) and shape specifications needed for building. Color, grain texture and pattern, surface finish, durability, strength and the ability of the stone to take a polish are also important selection criteria.

 
13 Oct 2012

Benchmarks: October 1, 1960: Camp Century, a cold war ice fortress is built

The soldiers who staffed Camp Century enjoyed many of the same accommodations as their fellow soldiers at bases around the world. They had a mess hall, a chapel, a theater, a dispensary, an emergency room and even a hobby shop, all onsite. Just like their counterparts elsewhere, Camp Century’s soldiers got out of bed, shaved, showered and went to work. However, when Camp Century personnel opened the door and walked from their quarters, they saw only one thing: snow. No sun, no moon, no sky, and no distant horizon. Just a corridor with walls, floor and ceiling made of snow.
 
02 Oct 2012

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