Taxonomy term

december 2010

Energy Notes: August 2009-2010

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit

20 Dec 2010

Blogging on Earth: Driveway sealants add PAHs to environment

Winter is hard on asphalt: Water that seeps into tiny cracks freezes and expands, breaking the asphalt apart. That’s why homeowners and business owners across the U.S. use sealants to protect their driveways and parking lots.

16 Dec 2010

Blogging on EARTH: Yellow submarine robot debuts at AGU meeting

It doesn’t look like a typical robot. About half a meter across and 9 meters long, a new, super-high-tech submarine ROV, unveiled Tuesday in San Francisco at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting, strongly resembles … well, a big yellow cigar.

15 Dec 2010

Mineral Resource of the Month: Clay Minerals

Clays were one of the first mineral commodities used by people. Clay pottery has been found in archeological sites that are 12,000 years old, and clay figurines have been found in sites that are even older. One of the most famous examples is the 2,200-year-old army of terracotta (clay) warriors — 8,000 of them — found in Shaanxi Province, China. Today, the production of clays is among the largest of the world’s minerals industries, exceeding 1 billion metric tons per year. Clays are used in everything from shampoo to kitty litter to pottery to cement.

14 Dec 2010

The Sleeping Giants

After you’ve gotten a taste of what Kilauea has to offer, consider taking the time to travel to the rest of the Big Island’s volcanoes.

12 Dec 2010

Getting There and Getting Around Hawaii

Many trips to Hawaii’s Big Island involve island-hopping. From the U.S. mainland, you’ll most likely fly through Honolulu on Oahu or Kahului on Maui on your way to either of the Big Island’s airports — Hilo on the east side or Kona on the west side. However, some airlines fly directly to Kona. Once on the Big Island, renting a car is your best bet for getting around because public transportation, albeit free, is virtually nonexistent: Buses run a handful of times a day during the week, but not at all on Sundays. From Hilo, getting to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a 30-minute drive straight up Highway 11. Getting to the park from Kona is more of a trek, a two- to four-hour scenic drive depending on which route you take. 

12 Dec 2010

Travels in Geology: Kilauea: Experiencing Pele's wrath through the eyes of a young geologist

This past summer, I lived a geologist’s dream: residing in a national park and getting up close and personal with Hawaii’s infamous Kilauea volcano. For hundreds of thousands of years, Hawaii’s Kilauea has been erupting on and off. But on Jan. 3, 1983, the volcano began one of its longest (and largest) eruptions, shooting a fountain of lava hundreds of meters into the air. Twenty-seven years later, the volcano is still alive and kicking — in fact, it’s the most active volcano in the world. For volcanologists, Kilauea is a mecca: an accessible active volcano in a picturesque location. So when I landed an opportunity to volunteer at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory near Kilauea, I couldn’t refuse. 

12 Dec 2010

Highlights of 2010: Definitive statements: a new trend?

“This is the way it was.” Or: “This is what is happening.” Hmmm. Scientists don’t usually make such definitive statements, given that in science, there are almost always caveats. Yet in the last year, such statements have been issued by several large groups of scientists who have come together to support a certain point of view. Are scientists feeling the need to dig in their heels because of public pressures? Or are we actually reaching some consensus?

10 Dec 2010

Highlights of 2010: Offshore wind in Texas and the curious case of Massachusetts

Humans have harnessed wind energy throughout history for milling, pumping and transportation — in a way you could say it’s the “original” form of industrial energy. But only recently have we built massive, powerful turbines to convert that wind into electricity. As concerns about pollution, carbon emissions, resource depletion and energy security mount, wind farms are an increasingly attractive alternative for meeting growing energy demand.

07 Dec 2010

Voices: Geologists on the wrong side of the law

We live in a litigious society. Engineering and environmental geologists are no strangers to the legal system. They frequently deal with issues relating to geologic hazards such as active faults and unstable ground, the release of contaminants into the environment and numerous other circumstances. But for the most part, geoscientists tend to avoid legal battles. Is that changing?

03 Dec 2010