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Bare Earth Elements: EARTH's Top 10 online stories of 2013 ... (Yes, it's a list)

Although there have been a lot of “best of 2013” and "year-in-review" lists posted recently, there haven’t been many focusing specifically on stories the geosciences. EARTH's staff hopes you find time to enjoy one more list with this quick look back at some of our popular pieces from the past year.

31 Dec 2013

Energy 360: Moving energy - No easy feat, but a vital conversation

Trucks, trains, planes and boats move food, clothing, cars, wood, steel, medical products, smartphones, bicycles, organic milk, free-range chickens—basically all consumer goods. And energy is no exception. Coal is mined and then carried to where it is burned. Oil and natural gas are moved from where they are produced to where they can be refined into transportation fuels and myriad other products, and then moved again. Uranium is mined and transported to create fuel rods for nuclear power plants or nuclear-powered ships.

23 Dec 2013

Geologic Column: Beer's secret ingredient: geology

Geologists have a long history with beer. Earlier this year, I decided to raise my own beer appreciation to the next level and take a class on the subject. I attended the beer school at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis. A few minutes into the class, our instructor noted that the beer-brewing process uses clean water, which, he said, is basically the same no matter where you are. Unfortunately, that got us off on the wrong foot.

20 Dec 2013

Tackling "Boundary Faults" across the Alaska-Yukon border: A report from the field

Our two dusty trucks roll across the airstrip, casting long, late-May shadows down the runway. We spot our colleagues from the Yukon Geological Survey and realize we’ve found the right place after an exhausting 12-hour drive from Anchorage punctuated by several U-turns to find the right unmarked access driveway off the Alaska Highway at the south end of Kluane Lake. The evening air is crisp, and the towering peaks to the south are capped with snow.

15 Oct 2013

A personal plea

On Oct. 29, Gary Szatkowski, the meteorological chief at the National Weather Service office in Mt. Holly, N.J., issued this personal plea to residents in his area:

13 Sep 2013

Energy 360: Leaving our corners for the radical middle: New Zealand sets an example

Energy underpins every aspect of modern life, yet it is often a source of conflict in society. Thus, considering the political ramifications of energy policies is both inevitable and important. But separating politics from science and economics can be difficult, in part because everyone, including me, has biases. Bias in and of itself is not bad; some might even consider it an unavoidable byproduct of knowledge (or the lack thereof). The challenge with energy policy discussions is to manage bias and potential conflicts of interest and conscience.

13 Sep 2013

Rescuing geologic maps during a coup

The author shows a map of the geomorphology of northern Afghanistan to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and others at the University of Nebraska in Omaha in 2005.

02 Sep 2013

Geologic Column: Assessing energy and mining workforce needs

In his 1971 book, “Encounters with the Archdruid,” John McPhee quoted Charles Park, an economic geologist who worked at the U.S. Geological Survey and then Stanford University, who said, “People seldom stop to think that all these things — planes in the air, cars on the road, Sierra Club cups — once, somewhere, were rock. Our whole economy — our way of doing things, most of what we have, even our culture — rests on these things.” Although McPhee’s emphasis was on the balance between environmental protection and our societal need for raw materials, the book highlighted the fundamental importance of energy exploration and mining, an idea that implies still another significant message: Our society needs scientists, engineers and skilled laborers who can locate and extract raw materials and energy sources from the rocks beneath our feet in order to power our economy and our way of life.

16 Aug 2013

Core skills in the geosciences: The geoblogosphere chimes in on what students need to know

Last April, I had a discussion with some of my fellow graduate students in the geology department at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York (SUNY Buffalo) about teaching. One topic raised by those of us working with senior undergraduates was the skills our students would need to have by the time they left the department.

13 Aug 2013

Blogging on EARTH: A letter from field camp

Bryce Mitsunaga, a recent graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., is currently attending field camp at the Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Association camp located in the Beartooth Mountain Range outside of Red Lodge, Mont. In honor of EARTH's August feature on field camps, Bryce wrote in with some reflections on his experiences so far.

24 Jul 2013

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