Taxonomy term


Energy Notes: November 2011-2012

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

19 Mar 2013

Mineral Resource of the Month: Tellurium

A relatively rare element, tellurium is tied with platinum and palladium as the 71st most abundant element in Earth’s crust. Tellurium belongs to the chalcogen chemical family, along with oxygen, sulfur, selenium and polonium. Oxygen and sulfur are nonmetals, polonium is a metal, and selenium and tellurium are metalloids. However, selenium and tellurium are often referred to as metals when in elemental form, and have semiconducting electrical properties that make them suitable in electronic applications. 

13 Mar 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

Down to Earth With: Terry Plank

“You’re a genius! Now here’s half a million dollars to use however you please.”

That, in essence, was what geochemist and volcanologist Terry Plank was told when she received a surprising phone call early last October. The voice on the other end of the line was that of Robert Gallucci, president of the MacArthur Foundation, who was calling to inform her that she’d been selected to receive one of the foundation’s 23 fellowships — the so-called “genius grants” — for 2012. The prestigious, “no strings attached” grants award $500,000 over five years to innovative individuals to allow them the flexibility to pursue creative, often otherwise out-of-reach interests.

18 Feb 2013

Energy Notes: October 2011-2012

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

18 Feb 2013

Mineral Resource of the Month: Beryllium

Beryllium is a lightweight, gray-colored metal. Its physical and mechanical properties — high stiffness-to-weight and strength-to-weight ratios, one of the highest melting points of all light metals, excellent thermal conductivity, outstanding dimensional stability over a wide range of temperatures, reflectivity and transparency to X-rays — make it useful for many applications. 

13 Feb 2013

Benchmarks: February 3, 1953: Jacques Cousteau's "The Silent World" is published, opening a window on the underwater world for millions

Few names are as evocative as Jacques Cousteau. The sunlight-infused blue glow of the marine subsurface, the endless array of otherworldly creatures that populate the ocean, and masked divers stealthily easing through the sea — trailed, of course, by glittering streams of bubbles emanating from Cousteau’s famed contraption — are morsels of the vivid imagery that his name often brings to mind. And with good reason: After all, he’s the one who introduced us to the real world below the waves, long before Bob Ballard found the Titanic or the Discovery Channel showed us what it’s like to swim with the sharks.
03 Feb 2013

Energy Notes: September 2011-2012

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

18 Jan 2013

Mineral Resource of the Month: Vanadium

Vanadium was first discovered by Andrés Manuel del Río in Mexico City in 1801. He called it erythronium, from the Greek word erythros, meaning red, for the color that it turned when it was heated. However, it wasn’t immediately accepted as a new element. Four years later, French chemist Hippolyte Victor Collet-Descotils declared that del Río’s new element was only impure chromium. Accepting Collet-Descotils’ assessment, del Río withdrew his claim. In 1831, Swedish chemist Nils Gabriel Sefström rediscovered vanadium in a new oxide while working with iron ores. In the same year, German chemist Friedrich Wöhler reinvestigated del Río’s original sample and found that Sefström’s vanadium was identical to del Río’s erythronium. In 1867, the metal was first isolated by Sir Henry Enfield Roscoe by reducing vanadium trichloride with hydrogen gas. The vanadium mineral, roscoelite, was named in honor of Roscoe’s work.

12 Jan 2013

Benchmarks: January 1, 1960: The Discovery of "Extinct Radioactivity" The quest to date the elements that formed the solar system

On June 30, 1918, Leo Kern saw a fireball blaze across the sky above his farm near Richardton, N.D., lighting up the night sky as if it were daytime and then exploding with a deafening boom that shook houses and rattled windows. Kern ducked behind a telegraph pole as fragments that sounded like “whistling bullets” struck his barn, he later reported to geologist T.T. Quirke of the University of Minnesota. What Kern and other witnesses all over  the southwestern corner of the state had seen was a 90-kilogram meteor entering Earth’s atmosphere and breaking up 100 kilometers above the surface. Kern had no way of knowing it at the time, but he had also witnessed the arrival of a message from the dawn of the solar system — one that scientists wouldn’t decode for another 42 years. 
01 Jan 2013