Taxonomy term

august 2013

Trans-Niño years could foster tornado outbreaks

Individual tornadoes can’t be predicted, but new research relying on both historical records and meteorological computer modeling suggests that severe tornado outbreaks may be linked to specific weather patterns during so-called Trans-Niño years.

08 Sep 2013

Building resource corridors in Afghanistan: A solution to an interminable war?

Afghanistan has been ravaged by decades-long conflicts that have left it economically depressed, but the country also holds a potentially huge natural resource base. Some estimates have put the value of the resources — copper, gold, coal, oil, gas, industrial minerals, rare earth minerals and more — between $1 trillion and $3 trillion.

02 Sep 2013

Bare Earth Elements: Rim Fire Roundup

The devasting Rim Fire has been torching a growing patch of California for the last week and a half. The latest update from Cal Fire reports that the fire has burned about 726 square kilometers (~179,000 acres), currently making it the 7th largest fire by burn area in the state's history. EARTH offers a roundup of sites where official information can be found, as well as some of the many recent news reports covering the fire.

27 Aug 2013

On the web: Mount St. Helens goes online to reach the masses

If you’ve ever felt the mysterious allure of volcanoes — both terrifying and spectacular — you can now experience the infamous eruption of Mount St. Helens from the safety of your computer. The new Mount St. Helens Science and Learning Center website (www.mshslc.org) offers exciting interactive experiences and more to volcano enthusiasts and earth science students with just a few clicks of a mouse.

25 Aug 2013

Digitizing Earth: Developing a cyberinfrastructure for the geosciences

That geoscientists are notorious hoarders should come as no surprise. After all, geoscientists collect and study nothing less than Earth itself. Over the last four decades, massive amounts of digital data have begun streaming in from a growing number of satellites and sensors unceasingly monitoring the earth, atmosphere and oceans. Geoscientists are awash in data and, at the same time, have access to ever-increasing computing power. Together, these advances have precipitated fundamental changes in the way earth science is done, leading to the proliferation of computer-based data visualization and modeling — especially 3-D and 4-D modeling.

18 Aug 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

Rescuing data from the dark

Along with the proliferation of techniques and technologies to deal with Big Data — the large volumes of data coming in from global sensors and satellites that can require supercomputers to crunch — geoscientists are also addressing the collection and integration of what could be termed small (or mainstream) data.

14 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

Mineral Resource of the Month: Kyanite

Kyanite and the related minerals andalusite and sillimanite are anhydrous aluminum silicate polymorphs with the same chemical formula, but with different crystal structures and physical properties. These minerals form during metamorphism of clay-bearing sedimentary rocks or in pegmatites. In the United States, where kyanite is prevalent, these three minerals comprise the kyanite minerals group. It is also known as the “sillimanite group” where sillimanite is more common, particularly in India. The three minerals form under slightly different conditions and rarely occur together. They are composed of about 63 percent alumina and 37 percent silica. When “calcined,” or heated to 1,250 to 1,500 degrees Celsius, they convert to about 88 percent mullite and 12 percent silica (the percentages depend on grain size, impurities present and rate of temperature increase). 

 
13 Aug 2013

Hidden graves give up their secrets to geologists

As of April 2013, more than 61,000 people were registered as missing in Colombia, many of whom are feared to be victims of the country’s narcotics-fueled gang wars and, presumably, buried in clandestine graves. Now a new study comparing the most effective remote sensing tools for finding hidden graves may help bring justice for victims and closure for families.

08 Aug 2013

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