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Benchmarks: October 8, 1871: The deadliest wildfire in American history incinerates Peshtigo, Wisconsin

On Oct. 8, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire burned through 900 hectares of the city, killing as many as 300 people and leaving another 100,000 homeless. More than 17,400 buildings were destroyed and financial losses totaled more than $200 million at the time (equivalent to $3.7 billion in 2016 dollars).

08 Oct 2017

Mineral Resource of the Month: Strontium

Two strontium-bearing minerals, celestite (strontium sulfate, SrSO4) and strontianite (strontium carbonate, SrCO3), contain strontium in sufficient quantities to make recovery practical. Celestite occurs much more frequently and is the primary source of the world’s supply of strontium. Celestite occurs as crystals and as massive or fibrous aggregates in sedimentary rocks. It often displays a delicate blue color owing to the presence of impurities. Celestite can occur in bedded evaporite deposits in conjunction with gypsum, anhydrite and halite. It can also occur in cavities within carbonate rocks where it is precipitated from strontium-bearing groundwaters or brines.

 
02 Oct 2017

Geomedia: Radio: "Big Picture Science" aptly named

Titles can sometimes be a hard thing to live up to, but “Big Picture Science,” a weekly radio program broadcast on about 100 stations nationwide, delivers on its name. The show, which cleverly covers everything from a study of frogs in pants to efforts to create a compassionate computer, lives up to its mission of presenting a wide-angle view of science and technology.

27 Sep 2017

Benchmarks: September 23, 1806: Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery returns from the West

It’s been called the greatest camping trip of all time. Statues, counties, waterways, mountains, military vessels, and even two colleges bear the names of the journey’s leaders. Their journals are among our greatest national treasures, and their adventures have inspired generations of explorers. Two hundred and eleven years ago this month, Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and their 31-man Corps of Discovery returned to St. Louis, the frontier town where they had started their journey 28 months and nearly 13,000 kilometers of wilderness earlier on May 14, 1804.

23 Sep 2017

Down to Earth With: Paleobiologist Gregory Erickson

As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, Gregory Erickson wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He started out as an engineering major, then dabbled with getting a degree in wildlife management. In 1986, having taken numerous science courses, he happened to compare notes with his best friend, a geology major, and realized he was just a few courses shy of obtaining a geology degree himself. Eager to finish college, Erickson signed up for a class in vertebrate paleontology focusing on dinosaurs — a decision that ultimately changed his life.

22 Sep 2017

Down to Earth With: Paleontologist Lisa D. White

As a college student at San Francisco State University, Lisa D. White’s first choice of major was photography. She was drawn to landscapes, and dreamed of becoming “the black female Ansel Adams,” she tells me, surrounded by fossils. We’re in a lab at the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) in Berkeley, where she is assistant director of Education and Public Programs. She is also a micropaleontologist, and from 1990 until joining UCMP in 2012, she was professor of geology and later associate dean at San Francisco State University.

01 Sep 2017

Benchmarks: August 31, 1886: Magnitude-7 earthquake rocks Charleston, South Carolina

In late August 1886, Charleston, S.C., was in the grip of a heat wave. It was so hot during the day that many offices were closed and events were postponed until later in the evening when temperatures had cooled. So, when powerful seismic waves rippled across the city at 9:51 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 1886, people were sent scrambling not just out of homes, theaters and the opera house, but out of churches, offices and other buildings in which they might not have otherwise been at that late hour.

31 Aug 2017

Geomedia: Books: Exploring space is risky business

Space is deadly, and the explorers who risk their lives to venture farther into these depths rank among the bravest heroes of all time. In “Mankind Beyond Earth: The History, Science, and Future of Human Space Exploration,” Claude A. Piantadosi portrays the history and future of space exploration through the lens of space medicine, which reminds us of the many threats to the human body that await as we venture away from our planet.

30 Aug 2017

Mineral Resource of the Month: Silicon

Almost 30 percent of Earth’s crust consists of silicon, the second-most abundant element on Earth following oxygen. Silicon is rarely found free in nature; it combines with oxygen and other elements to form silicate minerals. These silicate minerals compose more than 90 percent of Earth’s crust. Silicates are the largest class of rock-forming minerals on Earth. Silicon dioxide, or silica, typically takes the form of quartz, the most common component of sand. Silicon is also the seventh-most abundant element in the universe.

07 Aug 2017

Down to Earth With: Cave microbiologist Hazel Barton

In the early 1990s, when Hazel Barton was pursuing her doctorate in medical microbiology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, she enjoyed exploring caves as a hobby. She never imagined that she would one day incorporate caving into her career.

04 Aug 2017

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