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Benchmarks: December 16, 1811-February 7, 1812: The New Madrid earthquakes strike the Heartland

This winter marks the bicentennial of a series of powerful intraplate earthquakes that occurred in the central United States over a two-month period beginning on Dec. 16, 1811. Named for New Madrid, one of the settlements on the Mississippi River, these tremors were among the largest historic earthquakes to occur east of the Rocky Mountains.

16 Dec 2011

Mineral Resource of the Month: Garnet

Garnet, the birthstone for the month of January, has been used as a gemstone for centuries. Garnet necklaces dating from the Bronze Age have been found in graves, and garnet is found among the ornaments adorning the oldest Egyptian mummies. However, garnet’s characteristics, such as its relatively high hardness and chemical inertness, make it ideal for many industrial applications.

 
13 Dec 2011

Down to Earth With: Pat Pringle

After finishing a master’s degree in geology at the University of Akron in 1982, Pat Pringle left the relative flatlands of Ohio’s Allegheny Plateau and went west to pursue his passion. More specifically, he went northwest, to the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Cascades Volcano Observatory, lured by the steaming vents and layered debris flows of the recently awakened giant, Mount St. Helens. He was smitten.

 
12 Dec 2011

Energy Notes: July 2010-2011

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.

 
20 Nov 2011

Down to Earth With: Matt Kuchta

Matt Kuchta is the geology program at the University of Wisconsin at Stout (UW-Stout), located in Menomonie, Wis. It’s a young program: Kuchta is in just his second year as a tenure-track assistant professor, after working as an adjunct instructor at the undergraduate instruction-focused school for two years while pursuing a doctorate in geology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, which he received in 2009.

15 Nov 2011

Mineral Resource of the Month: Tin

Tin was one of the earliest-known metals. Because of its hardening effect on copper, tin was used in bronze implements as early as 3500 B.C. Bronze, a copper-tin alloy that can be sharpened and is hard enough to retain a cutting edge, was used during the Bronze Age in construction tools as well as weapons for hunting and war. The geographical separation between tin-producing and tin-consuming nations greatly influenced the patterns of early trade routes. Historians think that as early as 1500 B.C., Phoenicians traveled by sea to the Cornwall district of England to obtain tin. The pure metal was not used unalloyed until about 600 B.C.

 
13 Nov 2011

Benchmarks: November 7, 1940, and November 25, 1990: Washington suffers a pair of debilitating bridge failures

Washington’s Puget Sound comprises an intricate network of rivers, lakes, inlets and islands, many of which are traversed by bridges that safely carry more than 100,000 cars each day. With November upon us, however, civil engineers and Department of Transportation officials in Washington must be holding their collective breath. Historically, the 11th month has not been kind to area bridges.
 
07 Nov 2011

Energy Notes: June 2010-2011

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.

 
20 Oct 2011

Mineral Resource of the Month: Potash

Potash is the generic term for a variety of mined and manufactured salts, all of which contain the mineral potassium in a water-soluble form. Together with nitrogen and phosphate, potash is one of three essential plant nutrients. Potash is used in everything from fertilizers to soaps and detergents, glass and ceramics, dyes, explosives and alkaline batteries. Minor amounts are also used in water softening, sidewalk deicing, and as a table salt substitute. About 85 to 90 percent of potash, however, is consumed for agricultural products.

 
13 Oct 2011

Down to Earth With: The Swindling Geologist

When Clarence Dutton spoke, people listened. As one of the most famous geologists of the late 1800s, he regularly attracted large crowds to his talks. He also had a way with women. The president of an Indiana literary society once wrote to Dutton to confirm a lecture and assured the speaker that “the ladies would be delighted to see him again.”

 
10 Oct 2011

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