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Benchmarks: January 10, 2013: Pinnacles National Park is founded

On Jan. 10, 2013, when President Barack Obama signed legislation granting national park status to the former Pinnacles National Monument — designated as such by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908 — the land became the country’s 59th national park. Tucked away in California’s Coast Ranges about an hour’s drive inland from Big Sur, Pinnacles covers almost 11,000 hectares of wilderness near Paicines, Calif., and is one of the main refuges for the critically endangered California condor, which nearly went extinct in the 1980s. Recently, with conservation programs like the one that exists at Pinnacles, the birds are on their way toward recovery.
 
10 Jan 2016

Benitoite: A rare gemstone

The tectonic forces that formed Pinnacles also helped form one of the world’s rarest gemstones: benitoite. Gem-quality specimens are only found in San Benito County where Pinnacles National Park is located. Benitoite, which is California’s state gemstone, has a deep azure color, a pyramidal crystal habit, and a light-blue fluorescence under ultraviolet light. 
 
10 Jan 2016

Down to Earth With: GEO Secretariat Director Barbara Ryan

When Barbara Ryan enrolled as a freshman at the State University of New York in Cortland, she enjoyed athletics so much that she planned to pursue a career in physical education and coaching. Then her roommate convinced her to take a class in paleontology. She was hooked, and within months Ryan changed her major to geology, launching herself down an entirely different path. 
 
18 Dec 2015

Benchmarks: December 10, 1930: Seattle’s Denny Hill disappears

Few cities in the United States can rival Seattle for the scale of reengineering to its landscape. Not only did its citizens make more than 890 hectares of new land in its harbor, but they also replumbed the city’s largest lake, completely changing its drainage pattern and drying up its main outlet, and regraded tens of millions of cubic meters of its hills. The most famous of these projects was the elimination of Denny Hill, a 73-meter-high hill that stood at the north end of Seattle’s central business district.
 
10 Dec 2015

Mineral Resource of the Month: Lime

Lime is the common term for several chemicals in three major categories: quicklime, hydrated lime and refractory dead-burned dolomite. Lime is almost never found naturally. It is primarily manufactured by burning limestone in kilns, followed by hydration when necessary. 

08 Dec 2015

Energy Notes: May 2014-2015

U.S. Oil & Petroleum Imports (million of barrels per day)

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.
 

08 Dec 2015

Down to Earth With: Paleobiologist Nigel Hughes

I first met Nigel Hughes, a paleobiologist at the University of California at Riverside (UCR), in 2010. He took me on a brisk walk through the UCR Botanical Gardens, where the trees kept us cool in the hot Southern California sun while he told me all about trilobites. 
 
03 Dec 2015

Geomedia: Gifts: Holiday Gift Guide

Science is definitely the new chic, so we’ve tracked down the latest and greatest science accessories and furnishings to help you find the perfect gift for home or office. From agate nightlights to fun science jewelry, this list is sure to have something your science lover will enjoy. Plus, we have some suggestions for great presents for the budding young scientists in your life.
 
28 Nov 2015

Geomedia: Television: 'NOVA: Making North America' Is Flashy, But Fails on Storytelling

A new three-hour-long documentary, “NOVA: Making North America,” airing in November, purports to tell the geological, biological and anthropological story of North America. Unfortunately, it falls short on many counts.

17 Nov 2015

Benchmarks: November 1, 1755: Earthquake destroys Lisbon

Today, the Carmo Convent in Lisbon, Portugal, stands half destroyed; the walls remain, but the roof has been gone for 260 years. On the morning of Nov. 1, 1755, the church was packed with people attending mass for All Saints’ Day, a Catholic holiday. At about 9:30 a.m., the ground heaved, and the church’s roof fell. A magnitude-8.7 earthquake had struck. Churchgoers not crushed by falling debris fled into the streets. Across the city, candles, stoves and oil lamps fell, igniting fires that eventually burned down about half the city. Along with the shaking, the fires drove people to the banks of the Tagus River — Lisbon’s main river — and to the city’s harbor, where many boarded ships in search of safety. About 45 minutes after the shaking began, however, a 5- to 10-meter-tall tsunami entered the Tagus from the Atlantic Ocean, smashing ships against one another and against the sea walls surrounding the city.
 
01 Nov 2015

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