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Bare Earth Elements: Rim Fire Roundup

The devasting Rim Fire has been torching a growing patch of California for the last week and a half. The latest update from Cal Fire reports that the fire has burned about 726 square kilometers (~179,000 acres), currently making it the 7th largest fire by burn area in the state's history. EARTH offers a roundup of sites where official information can be found, as well as some of the many recent news reports covering the fire.

27 Aug 2013

Geologic Column: Assessing energy and mining workforce needs

In his 1971 book, “Encounters with the Archdruid,” John McPhee quoted Charles Park, an economic geologist who worked at the U.S. Geological Survey and then Stanford University, who said, “People seldom stop to think that all these things — planes in the air, cars on the road, Sierra Club cups — once, somewhere, were rock. Our whole economy — our way of doing things, most of what we have, even our culture — rests on these things.” Although McPhee’s emphasis was on the balance between environmental protection and our societal need for raw materials, the book highlighted the fundamental importance of energy exploration and mining, an idea that implies still another significant message: Our society needs scientists, engineers and skilled laborers who can locate and extract raw materials and energy sources from the rocks beneath our feet in order to power our economy and our way of life.

16 Aug 2013

Blogging on EARTH: A letter from field camp

Bryce Mitsunaga, a recent graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., is currently attending field camp at the Yellowstone-Bighorn Research Association camp located in the Beartooth Mountain Range outside of Red Lodge, Mont. In honor of EARTH's August feature on field camps, Bryce wrote in with some reflections on his experiences so far.

24 Jul 2013

Bare Earth Elements: The field camp experience in photos

For the August issue of EARTH, I wrote about some of the ways in which geology's longstanding rite of passage — field camp — has changed over the years, as well as how it has remained the same.

22 Jul 2013

Blogging on EARTH: Behind the scenes with a storm chaser (part 3)

This past May, Nick Luchetti, an undergraduate meteorology student at Virginia Tech, chased supercell storms and tornadoes across the U.S. Great Plains as part of a field course offered by the school. In this series of three posts, he describes the thrills and emotions he experienced while fulfilling a personal dream.

26 Jun 2013

Blogging on EARTH: Behind the scenes with a storm chaser (part 2)

This past May, Nick Luchetti, an undergraduate meteorology student at Virginia Tech, chased supercell storms and tornadoes across the U.S. Great Plains as part of a field course offered by the school. In this series of three posts, he describes the thrills and emotions he experienced while fulfilling a personal dream.

25 Jun 2013

Blogging on EARTH: Behind the scenes with a storm chaser (part 1)

This past May, Nick Luchetti, an undergraduate meteorology student at Virginia Tech, chased supercell storms and tornadoes across the U.S. Great Plains as part of a field course offered by the school. In this series of three posts, he describes the thrills and emotions he experienced while fulfilling a personal dream.

24 Jun 2013

Blogging on EARTH: New lessons from antiquity, this time on construction

Each year, millions of visitors flock to Italy to wander among the remains of ancient Rome, where Cicero strolled and Augustus celebrated his expanding empire. Vestiges of the historic city center lie sprawled around the forum grounds like the abandoned playthings of a distracted giant: vertebrae of toppled columns, a crossword puzzle of ancient foundations, towering doorframes granting access to long-gone buildings. Above everything soars the lopsided profile of the Roman Colosseum, a structure as tough and stubborn as the gladiators that once battled in its ring.
 

20 Jun 2013

Scripps launches Twitter carbon dioxide-meter

Back in January 2013, it became clear to Ralph Keeling, a scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography who studies carbon dioxide, that sometime in the not-too-distant future, the concentration of this potent greenhouse gas in Earth’s atmosphere would creep above 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human history.

17 May 2013

Bare Earth Elements: Cool time-lapse shows movement of ice and animals in Antarctica's Ross Sea

Has anyone else been obsessed with Antarctica lately? As an erstwhile scientist with a lasting interest in the life that inhabits what we think of as extreme environments (not to mention the physical environments themselves), I’ve been gleefully soaking up details from the myriad news reports, blog entries and scientific studies coming out of the icy continent of late. The latest bit of fodder for my Antarctophilia is a 5-minute time-lapse video (below) taken from the icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer during a recent two-month stint in the Ross Sea.

14 May 2013

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