Taxonomy term

allison mills

Due diligence in river incision data

As great equalizers of topography, rivers and streams whittle down landscapes by alternately scouring away broad flat swaths of sediment and rock, and incising deeply through them. If a landscape — a mountain range, for example — is being uplifted by tectonic forces, this whittling occurs even faster. River incision rates in particular are thus often used to infer past rates of rock uplift. But determining incision rates themselves is not clear-cut. In a new study in Geology, scientists look at one complicating factor in such calculations, what the authors call the “unappreciated effects of streambed elevation variability” on measuring river incision rates.
21 Nov 2015

Ice sheet has had lasting effect on European earthquakes

“Modern Germany is not known for its earthquakes,” says Christian Brandes, a geoscientist at the University of Hannover in Germany. The country, after all, is in the middle of a tectonic plate, he says, away from any plate boundaries or other features that would cause tectonic strain to build up in underground faults. 
10 Nov 2015

Fossil fuels diluting atmospheric radiocarbon

Radioactive carbon-14, or radiocarbon, is used to date fossils and artifacts and study ecosystems, as well as to solve crimes and run medical tests. But these applications could be in jeopardy, according to new research illustrating how atmospheric radiocarbon will be diluted by fossil fuel emissions in the coming century.  
05 Nov 2015

Down to Earth With: Industrial Archaeologist Fred Quivik

Fred Quivik is no ordinary historian. Though he likes dusty books and archives to be sure, Quivik looks at history through objects, specifically the equipment, buildings and landscapes of industrial sites. He’s an industrial archaeologist, digging into the past of former mine sites, factories and other environmentally degraded places to see how they are connected to people and companies today. Quivik has done this sleuthing as a historic preservation consultant and as an expert witness in lawsuits dealing with Superfund sites. He has looked at sites across the U.S., focusing especially on the West, and now teaches at Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Mich. 
18 Jul 2015

Benchmarks: June 1,1840: Setting out for the Copper Country

On the morning of June 1, 1840, Michigan’s first state geologist, Douglass Houghton, stepped onto a small barge about to set sail on Lake Superior. The step marked the beginning of the first geological survey of the Keweenaw Peninsula — the northernmost portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which juts out into the center of the lake. Houghton and his crew would spend the summer exploring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and recording the region’s geologic resources, including rich copper deposits known only locally at the time. That would change, however, after Houghton’s team detailed its findings in an 1841 report that spurred the nation’s first major mining boom.

01 Jun 2015

Geomedia: On the web: Personalizing drought data with digital tools

With drought, people feel the heat while it’s happening, but understanding how current droughts fit into past trends — and what they mean for the future — is harder to grasp. Several online tools are available to help the public and decision-makers make sense of drought data. Viewers can see current and historical droughts superimposed on maps, focusing in on specific locations or broadening the view to larger regional, national or global droughts. 
28 May 2015

March 29, 1936: Notes on Earth's Inner Core

On March 29, 1936, Danish seismologist Inge Lehmann wrote a letter to a colleague in which she argued that seismic waves — specifically P-waves — recorded from distant earthquakes showed some anomalous characteristics. “If you had seen so many records from these distances as I have,” she wrote, “I am sure you would not doubt that the amplitudes are abnormally small.” Within the year, Lehmann published a study based on those unusual amplitudes, work that first proposed that Earth has a solid inner core inside its liquid outer core.

29 Mar 2015

Down to Earth With: Mineralogist George W. Robinson

Many geologists understand the joyous feeling of coming across a beautiful rock in the field; George W. Robinson, who began collecting minerals at age 9, has had a lifetime full of such moments. After delving deeper into his early avocation as a teenager, he received his doctorate in mineralogy from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, in 1979. He has worked as a high school earth science teacher, field collector, mineral dealer, museum curator and professor — all occupations that shared a common focus: a love of minerals.

19 Feb 2015

Benchmarks: December 26, 2004: Indian Ocean tsunami strikes

On Dec. 26, 2004, a magnitude-9.2 earthquake ruptured the seafloor off Indonesia, sending the most destructive tsunami in recorded history across the Indian Ocean. A wall of water and debris slammed the shores of South Asia; some witnesses described it as sounding like a freight train. Tourists and locals alike scrambled to safety inland and atop tall hotels, recording videos of the surging water that inundated their communities. Many were unable to reach higher ground.

26 Dec 2014

When science meets film at MIT

Across the Internet, science shows abound, such as “Crash Course,” “The Brain Scoop” and “Vsauce.” A good educational video is like watching a professional ballerina — if the dance is done well, it looks effortless. Of course, neither ballet nor film is actually easy, especially when the medium is meant to carry a message. A new class at MIT is helping students break down the steps and twirls of video and having them choreograph their own short educational films — with the goal of teaching them to better communicate, and deepen their own sense of the science, by explaining complex ideas like the Big Bang, the architecture of the Wheatstone Bridge or the chemistry of bread.

13 Dec 2014