Taxonomy term

departments

Benchmarks: Sept. 26, 1912: Birth of Preston Cloud, geologist who deciphered banded iron formations

Banded iron formations (BIFs) represent some of the earliest, and most controversial, evidence that the early Earth was devoid of oxygen. These deposits were recognized for their economic value in the mid-1800s, but it wasn’t until the late 1960s when Preston Cloud focused his intellect on  the origins of (BIFs).

26 Sep 2013

Down to Earth With: Tanya Atwater

When Tanya Atwater began graduate school in marine geology in 1967, it was considered unlucky for women to be aboard ships. Undaunted, Atwater signed up to work on the first research cruise to take a close look at a seafloor spreading center. Voyage after voyage, she and her mentors fought for her right to work on oceanographic vessels, and it is fortunate they did. Atwater has since had a remarkable career studying plate tectonics and was instrumental in piecing together the evolution of the San Andreas Fault plate boundary.

16 Sep 2013

Down to Earth With: Neil Armstrong: First astrogeologist on the moon

One year ago this month, Neil Armstrong died in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the age of 82. Armstrong will be forever remembered for that historic first step he took on the moon on July 20, 1969, but he also held another distinction: He was the first person to explore the geology of another planetary body.

President John F. Kennedy mandated in his famous 1961 speech at Rice Stadium in Texas that the primary goal of the Apollo program was to land humans on the moon and return them safely to Earth before the end of the decade. The science mission was an important, but secondary, goal.

04 Aug 2013

Benchmarks: August 3, 1769: The La Brea Tar Pits are described

Long before Los Angeles’ infamous traffic packed the pavement of Wilshire Boulevard, the area teemed with hundreds of species of Ice Age animals that became trapped in an asphalt quagmire of a different sort: the La Brea tar pits.

03 Aug 2013

July 28, 1996: Kennewick man is discovered

On the evening of July 28, 1996, archaeologist James Chatters received an unexpected call at his home in Richland, Wash., from the local coroner. Two spectators at the local hydroplane races had found a skull in Columbia Park on the banks of the Columbia River near Kennewick, Wash. The coroner wanted Chatters, a paleontologist and forensic anthropologist affiliated with Central Washington University who often consulted for Benton County, to look at the skull and determine if it belonged to a recent murder victim. When the coroner arrived with the skull in a 5-gallon bucket, Chatters had scant notion that the discovery would end up challenging the reigning theory of the origins of the first Americans and would embroil scientists in a protracted, precedent-setting legal battle against the federal government.

27 Jul 2013

Down to Earth With: James White

]James White contends that he has one claim to fame: He grew up just 50 kilometers from Dolly Parton in eastern Tennessee. His father worked as a chemist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, an enclave of science west of Knoxville. Now a chemist himself, White actually has more claims to fame than he is willing to admit. He has co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications; he is the director of the University of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR); and he has been named an Institute for Scientific Information highly cited scientist — an honor bestowed on less than 0.5 percent of all publishing researchers.

17 Jun 2013

Down to Earth With: James Balog

Photographer James Balog is known for his groundbreaking environmental photography that examines intersections of humans and nature. His work has appeared in publications ranging from National Geographic and Smithsonian to Audubon and The New Yorker. He has also authored eight books, including the recently released “Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers,” and he has been honored with dozens of awards, including the Heinz Award and PhotoMedia’s Person of the Year.

17 May 2013

Benchmarks: May 12, 2008: Earthquake devastates western China

Just before 2:30 p.m. local time on May 12, 2008, a magnitude-7.9 earthquake shook Sichuan province in Western China. One eyewitness recalls seeing a mountain “blowing up” and boulders two-stories tall crashing into gorges. Another recalls thinking there had been a natural gas explosion, while a third described a hill split in half. It was the country’s largest earthquake in more than 50 years, and it left 18,000 people missing and presumed dead, nearly 375,000 injured and more than 69,000 confirmed fatalities. 
 
12 May 2013

Down to Earth With: The Lava Cap Winery

During a long career at the U.S. Geological Survey  (USGS) and the University of California at Berkeley, paleontologist David Jones, who died in 2007, made fundamental contributions to understanding the geologic history of western North America, particularly the evolution of California’s puzzling Coast Ranges.

14 Apr 2013

Benchmarks: March 1913: The first complete geologic timescale is published

Ask a geologist when the Paleogene Period started and odds are very good the answer will be about 65.5 million years ago. Ask about the Carboniferous and you’ll likely hear 359 million years ago. Ask how old Earth is and the answer will almost invariably be 4.55 billion years, give or take a few tens of millions of years. Today, most geologic ages are well established and widely agreed upon. But the geologic timescale wasn’t always so settled.
 
08 Mar 2013

Pages