Taxonomy term

july 2012

Trash-to-treasure: Turning nonrecycled waste into low-carbon fuel

Americans produce more than four pounds of trash per person per day, amounting to 20 percent of the world’s waste. Although recycling rates have increased over the past few decades — out of the 4.4 pounds of trash (per capita) that we produce in the U.S. each day, we compost or recycle about 1.5 pounds and incinerate another 0.5 pounds — more than 50 percent of our waste still ends up buried in landfills.

31 Jul 2012

Bare Earth Elements: Welcome to the GEOlympics

 

A geological decathlon through Great Britain

The games of the 30th Olympiad officially kick off on Friday with the opening ceremony in London. Befitting Britain’s diverse landscape — both above and below ground — and its history as the birthplace of much of modern geology, EARTH’s staff has pulled together a decathlon of must-see geological sites across the host country. If you find yourself in the United Kingdom during the Olympics, or anytime for that matter, you can’t go wrong with this list as a base for your travel itinerary. We’d better give fair warning, though: It might take more than two days to complete this decathlon.

27 Jul 2012

2012: The end of the world or just another year of living in harm's way?

We live on a knife-edge, separated from an ocean of super-heated rock by a wafer-thin and perpetually rupturing crust, swinging our way through a cosmic minefield of lethal debris around a nuclear furnace prone to tantrums. For doomsayers, the end of the Mayan long-count calendar, set against such a backdrop, is a gift. Though Mayan culture never spoke of a cataclysm, Dec. 21, 2012 — the purported last day of a 5,125-year cycle in the Mesoamerican calendar — has been added to an endless list of days when the world has been predicted to end.

24 Jul 2012

School of rock: Educating educators at sea

Many things come to mind when you hear the words “School of Rock”: a bad Jack Black flick, the middle school band you were in, the guitar school down the street from you, some pun about geology … yes, all are likely candidates. But the one I’m thinking of probably didn’t cross your mind. The School of Rock I had the privilege to attend is a professional development opportunity for educators to spend a week to 10 days at sea, learning about ocean drilling, how science is conducted on a yawing ship, and how to be better science teachers.

20 Jul 2012

How the school of rock came to be

In the late 1950s, a growing interest in better understanding the structure and composition of Earth resulted in the creation of the controversial Project Mohole. Although the name may sound better suited for an Isaac Asimov novel, it was indeed a real, albeit short-lived, attempt to drill through the boundary between the crust and mantle, called the Mohorovičić (Moho) discontinuity — an engineering feat yet to be achieved. The project led to the modern-day Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) — and eventually the School of Rock.

20 Jul 2012

Down to Earth With: Geomorphologist Gregory Tucker

As an undergraduate anthropology student, Gregory Tucker thought math was a boring subject with abstract rules that didn’t relate to his life. Today, that “boring” subject provides the foundation for Tucker’s innovative research involving numerical modeling and unique field studies that recently earned him the European Geosciences Union’s 2012 Ralph Alger Bagnold Medal, one of the highest prizes in geomorphology.

13 Jul 2012

Mineral Resource of the Month: Aluminum

Aluminum is the third-most abundant element in Earth’s crust, after oxygen and silicon. In nature, aluminum is bonded to iron, oxygen, potassium, silicon and other elements in common rock-forming minerals. In tropical conditions, potassium, silicon and other elements can be naturally leached from rocks to leave behind bauxite — a rock composed mainly of aluminum hydroxide with iron oxides and clay — which is the most commonly used aluminum ore. Aluminum has also been recovered from alunite, anorthosite and clay, but the cost of producing aluminum from these sources tends to be higher than from bauxite.

 
13 Jul 2012

Karakoram glaciers buck global, regional trends

When it comes to glaciers, stability represents a refreshing change of pace. In contrast to regional and global trends — which, scientists say, have unambiguously indicated ice loss in recent decades — a team of French glaciologists has confirmed that glaciers in a portion of the northwestern Himalayas remained stable on average, or may have even grown slightly, in recent years. The results have implications for local water supplies and glacial hazards and, the team says, underscore the value of high-resolution monitoring in accurately determining regional-scale glacial changes.

09 Jul 2012

Bringing dinosaur biology into the 21st century

We may know a lot about dinosaurs, but there’s an awful lot we don’t know yet, especially about their biology. How heavy were the dinosaurs? Were they fast or slow? Recent research poses new answers to these long-standing questions.

06 Jul 2012

Off the beaten path in the north of Iceland

Although many of Iceland’s best-known geologic features are in the south — on the southwest Reykjanes peninsula, near Keflavik airport and the capital city of Reykjavik, and along the southern coast Ring Road — the north shouldn’t be overlooked. Without entering the interior highlands, which often requires four-wheel-drive, one can skirt the border of Vatnajökull National Park to take in an array of sights from geothermal to glacial.

 
05 Jul 2012

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