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november 2014

2014 Commentaries

For our 2014 year-end issue, we decided to continue a new tradition begun last year, once again asking the EARTH editorial team and several of our regular contributors to offer short commentaries on topics that caught their fancy or ideas they’ve been mulling over the course of the year. The topics are often very personal and are quite varied, although many of the contributions seem to tie into one of two themes: lists and family.

01 Dec 2014

Polar dino tracks show full ecosystem

Researchers recently uncovered a new dinosaur tracksite in Alaska’s Denali National Park. The well-preserved Late Cretaceous footprints were left by duck-billed dinosaurs called hadrosaurs. Most of the tracks are incredibly detailed, and some even show some skin impressions; they represent animals of various ages. Given the wealth of data, the tracks provide insight into the herd dynamics and paleobiology of the greenhouse-world Arctic.

28 Nov 2014

Inland earthquake triggers distant tsunami

On Sept. 24, 2013, a magnitude-7.7 earthquake struck southern Pakistan, killing more than 800 people. The quake made global headlines in part due to the birth of a small island it triggered just off the coast — a mound of mud dubbed Quake Island that has since washed away. A new study has found evidence of another curious event linked to the quake: a small tsunami that appears to have been remotely triggered by a submarine landslide far from the earthquake’s inland epicenter.

26 Nov 2014

Geologic Column: Get busy living!

Whether imprisioned literally or figuratively, one has a choice: Get busy living or get busy dying. A recent stint with temporary invalidity got the author thinking about how he has rekindled the creative fires and enthusiasm at various times throughout his life and career, and his keys to getting busy living again. 

24 Nov 2014

Mineral Resource of the Month: Mica

The mica mineral group includes 34 phyllosilicate minerals, all with a layered, platy texture. The mineral has been known for millennia: Mica was first mined in India about 4,000 years ago, where it was used primarily in medicines. The Mayans used it for decorative effect in stucco to make their temples sparkle in the sun. Today it is used in everything from electrical products to makeup.

22 Nov 2014

Energy Notes: June 2013-2014

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.

22 Nov 2014

Comment: How much hazard mitigation is enough?

Given society’s finite resources, communities face the tough challenge of deciding how much mitigation is enough. Prioritizing is always hard, but it is especially difficult because of the limited ability to forecast future natural hazards. But there are ways to figure out the optimal amount of mitigation.

20 Nov 2014

Down to Earth With: CEO and Geo-Data miner Nicole Barlow

Miners are the classic geo-entrepreneurs. Nicole Barlow is a new kind of geo-entrepreneur: She also mines — but instead of rocks, she digs into dark data. That’s all the information stored away in file cabinets, boxes and geological survey store rooms. And instead of finding gold or silver, she uncovers nuggets of information and digitizes old documents.

18 Nov 2014

Living mountains and wild places

Mountains often boast a strong literary tradition, and the legendary Cairngorms are no exception. Two of the Highlands’ most geo-minded authors are Nan Shepherd and Robert Macfarlane. Shepherd was born in 1893 and spent her whole life in Aberdeen, exploring the Cairngorm Mountains. Among the first female mountaineers, Shepherd also wrote novels, poetry and one nonfiction ode to the Cairngorms called “The Living Mountain.”

 
16 Nov 2014

Getting there and getting around Scotland

To visit Scotland, fly into Edinburgh or take a train from London. Arthur’s Seat is within walking distance of the Royal Mile and downtown Edinburgh. Scotland has a good train and bus system with routes to the Highlands, but traveling between the smaller villages is easier by private car, if you can handle driving on the left-hand side of the road. The Cairngorm Mountains are best approached from Braemar, Tomintoul, Aviemore or Kingusse, all small towns with hotels and restaurants that cater to tourists visiting the park.

16 Nov 2014

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