Taxonomy term

terri cook

Oceanic crust in all its glory

Our loop drive through the high Hajar Mountains boasted excellent exposures of every oceanic crustal layer. One good exposure of the sequence of mantle rocks is found in the hills surrounding Oman’s capital city Muscat. They consist of a variety of peridotite called harzburgite, which is the pyroxene-depleted residue left behind after basaltic magma is extracted. That extracted magma forms the oceanic crust, whose characteristic rock sequence is, from bottom to top: 1) dark, layered gabbro overlain by massive gabbro (the intrusive equivalent of basalt that comprises solidified magma chambers); 2) sheeted basaltic dikes (the conduits that transported lava from the magma chambers up to the ocean floor); and 3) bulbous pillow lavas, which form when basalt erupts directly into seawater.

06 May 2018

Getting there and getting around Oman

Oman’s main gateway is Muscat International Airport (MCT), which offers service to most major Middle Eastern and European cities. There are no direct flights to Oman from North America; it’s usually most convenient to fly through Dubai, Doha, Bahrain or a major European city. Emirates, Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, Oman Air and Turkish Airlines are among those that offer connecting service.

06 May 2018

Travels in Geology: Northern Oman: Stunning canyons, towering dunes and the world's largest ophiolite

The small, politically stable sultanate of Oman hosts the world’s biggest and most intact ophiolite — a rare slice of oceanic crust emplaced on land — as well as stunning canyons, turquoise swimming holes, lush palm oases, Bronze Age tombs, endangered sea turtles and endless fields of sand dunes.
 
06 May 2018

Down to Earth With: National Park Service senior paleontologist Vincent Santucci

When Vincent Santucci was hired in 1985 to work as a seasonal ranger in South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, he assumed the most formative part of the experience would be sharing his unbridled enthusiasm for fossils with park visitors. But as Santucci explored the colorful badlands on his days off, he sometimes stumbled across people who were illegally collecting fossils. Following the first of these encounters, Santucci raced back to headquarters to report the illicit activity with the expectation that the chief ranger would rush out and arrest the perpetrator. Much to Santucci’s surprise, the ranger instead put a hand on his shoulder and drawled, “You ain’t from around here, are you, boy?” After several repeat episodes, Santucci learned that when rangers had previously caught illegal collectors and brought them before the local magistrate, the judge had refused to prosecute, citing a lack of fencing or signage that clearly informed the fossil hunters they’d been on federal land.

30 Apr 2018

Travels in Geology: Corsica: A fusion of cultures on the Mediterranean's most mountainous isle

The rugged topography of the island of Corsica, off the coast of France and Italy, is a blend of rocks of very different ages and origins thrust together during one of Earth's great tectonic uphevals. 
09 Mar 2018

Getting There & Getting Around Corsica

The two largest of Corsica’s four airports, Ajaccio (AJA) and Bastia (BIA), are located on the island’s southwestern and northeastern coasts, respectively. There are no direct flights from the U.S. to Corsica, so it’s usually cheapest and most convenient to fly into Paris and then catch a 1.5-hour flight to the island. Air France and Air Corsica operate connecting flights year-round from most major French cities. During the bustling summer months, other carriers, including the budget airlines EasyJet and Ryanair, offer direct service from numerous European cities. If you prefer to arrive by ferry, several lines, including Corsica Ferries and Moby Lines, offer year-round transport from Marseille, Nice and Toulon, as well as summer routes from several Italian ports.

 
09 Mar 2018

Down to Earth With marine geoscientist Harold Tobin

As a boy growing up on the East Coast, Harold Tobin loved being outdoors but was not all that excited by geology or the region’s ancient rocks. But the catastrophic eruption of Washington state’s Mount St. Helens in 1980, when Tobin was 15, and the notion that tectonic plates must be moving beneath the Pacific Northwest, captured his imagination. A few years later, while a student at Yale University, he volunteered as a summer intern at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. That experience, along with his undergraduate curriculum, convinced Tobin to become a geologist.

02 Mar 2018

Travels in Geology: Las Vegas: The scenery beyond the slots

Beyond the Strip lie southern Nevada’s craggy limestone peaks, colorful sandstone canyons, and enormous conservation areas that, despite the searing desert heat, harbor a tremendous diversity of plants and wildlife. From soaring summits and graceful bighorn sheep to prehistoric petroglyphs, this desert oasis has a lot to offer the geo-minded traveler.
14 Feb 2018

Getting there and getting around Las Vegas

McCarran International Airport is the main gateway for exploring Las Vegas and the surrounding area. Except for sights along the Strip, it’s necessary to rent a car to see the attractions described here. If you fly in, you can rent a vehicle at the airport or take a shuttle or taxi into the city and rent a car as needed. Although all of these sites are open year-round, the best times of year to visit are in the spring and fall. In winter, it’s not possible to hike high in the Spring Mountains due to snow, and in summer the valley heat can be stifling. There are currently no visitor facilities or infrastructure at Tule Springs National Monument, but you can catch a glimpse of the fossil beds near one of two National Park Service signs, one located at the intersection of Moccasin Road and Durango Drive, and the other where North Decatur Boulevard meets Horse Drive.

14 Feb 2018

Arizona road hazard has surprising source

Blowing dust is one of Arizona’s deadliest weather-related hazards. Between 1955 and 2011, brownout conditions created by dust storms caused more than 1,500 motor vehicle accidents across the state, resulting in 157 fatalities and more than 1,300 injuries, according to a 2016 NOAA Technical Memorandum.

25 Jan 2018

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