Taxonomy term

historical geology

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

Benchmarks: October 4, 1915: Dinosaur National Monument Founded

While moving across the country from California to Michigan two years ago, I stopped at Dinosaur National Monument, or “Dinosaur,” which today covers 85,000 hectares and straddles the northern portion of the border between Colorado and Utah. I camped at the Green River Campground on the Utah side, and from there, Split Mountain, on the western margin of the east-west-trending Uinta Mountains, glowed violet-pink in the sunset light. 
 
04 Oct 2015

Benchmarks: July 22,1960: Mineral discovery ends Meteor Crater debate

In 1923, Daniel Moreau Barringer stood on the edge of a vast bowl-shaped depression in the Arizona desert, watching a drill rig bore into the floor of the crater. Barringer had spent more than two decades exploring the massive hole, which lies on the Colorado Plateau 65 kilometers east of Flagstaff, Ariz. And although he had sunk dozens of drill holes, collected scores of samples, and carefully mapped the piles of talus that draped its concave walls, Barringer still hadn’t found what he was looking for, and he was getting nervous.
 
22 Jul 2015

Kamikaze typhoons spared Japan from Kublai Khan

Like any good conqueror, Kublai Khan just wanted to expand his empire. So in the late 13th century, the grandson of Genghis Khan launched a mythic fleet to seize control of Japan. According to Japanese legend, however, the Mongol ships met with typhoons of equally mythic proportions, which quashed their repeated invasions — twice.

01 Apr 2015

Lidar reveals Roman gold mines

The Romans’ thirst for gold was legendary, fueling mining operations that rival the scope and scale of modern mines. The Las Médulas mines, for example, near what is now León in northwest Spain, were massive, extending for many kilometers along the Erica River Valley. A new look at this region using lidar has revealed the extent of the ancient mining works, as well as the complex hydraulic systems used by the Romans in the first century B.C. to extract the gold.

07 Mar 2015

Clues to limestone weathering written in Western Wall

Builders and masons take note: When it comes to the durability of limestone, grain size matters. New research combining field and lab data shows that fine-grained limestone is more susceptible than its coarser-grained cousins to a one-two punch of chemical and mechanical weathering. The findings, which arose in part from observations of Jerusalem’s historic Western Wall, could have implications for Earth’s carbon cycle and landscape — as well as for architectural preservation.

16 Oct 2014

Benchmarks: July 15, 1806: Zebulon Pike launches Southwest expedition

Of America’s early 19th-century western explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark typically garner the most attention. But there was a third military man who, along with a detachment of U.S. Army troops and volunteers, also trekked into the newly acquired reaches of the young United States in the same era: Zebulon Pike.

15 Jul 2014

The history, science and poetry of New England's stone walls

The story of New England’s iconic landform — romanticized by Robert Frost and Henry David Thoreau — highlights the intersections of geologic and human history.
 

19 May 2014

Old landscapes see the light thanks to improved imaging

Archaeology has come a long way from the days when the only way to find something was to dig it up. These days, in addition to shovels and brushes, many researchers also use noninvasive imaging techniques to look into the past without disturbing a site.

05 Jun 2013

The past is key to the future: Historical observations strengthen modern science

 

Written records of natural phenomena come from personal journals and diaries, newspaper accounts, ship logs and government documents, among other sources. Such accounts often offer descriptive details and context that cannot be matched by other methods, and they can prove extremely useful in broadening records both temporally and geographically. Given that they predate the sort of widespread instrumental readings that scientists have come to depend on, sometimes there is simply — and literally — no substitute for historical data. Despite their advantages, historical records are used infrequently in modern physical sciences. That may be changing, however.

29 May 2013

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