Thursday, June 24, 2010

GeoJepardy! - Part 6

Some new questions. This time a recent one from last week.

Destination Earth

The hardest substances in nature are wurtzite boron nitride & lonsdaleite; this gem is actually third


Despite their name, spring these, caused by alignment of the Sun, Moon & Earth, happen in the ocean in every season


On the Earth's surface, it's 24,901 miles long


The 4 types of these waves are primary, secondary, Rayleigh & Love


The axial this of the Earth is 23.5 degrees

You can either google the answer or find it out at my new GeoJeopardy! portion of my website.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rock Shop Rant

I have not done a commentary in some time and this issue has been nagging me for some time so I figured I would write this up while I had a few seconds.

So, one of my pet peeves in geology is the existence and persistence use of these things termed "rock shops". Rock shops are geologic rape shops. The people that run them, either themselves or through contract work obtain large amounts of rocks, minerals, fossils, and other natural items from nature and either hoard them or sell them at a preferred usually exorbitant price.

So what exactly is a "rock shop" per say? Well they are these places, often found in the western US (I'm not sure about the rest of the world) where pound upon pounds of rocks, minerals, and fossils come broken up to be sold to the general public.

The problem I have with them is that they are in essence stripping the natural beauty from nature and auctioning it up for sale. Who needs to go to a pristine outcrop of beautiful petrified wood and find it bulldozed over with all the geologically significant materials stripped out so someone could make a profit? Not I for one, and not most of the scientists I know.

Your probably thinking "What do I loose because of this? I'm not going to go out to this remote location and look at the petrified wood out there so what harm does it do."

A lot.

The problem is they are removing the scientific relevance of the specimens they sell. The rocks and fossils don't mean anything apart from their surroundings, so a rock in a rock shop is essentially useless except as a pretty accent piece. They also remove it from the public because, say one day these items, be them rocks, minerals, or fossils, should be found to be significant. Not only are they gone from study but you removed them from the public. Perhaps in the form of a museum piece or such. Now I know that many "collectors" of such items eventually donate them to museums or schools but my point is still valid since those materials have lost all context. They are useless in the eyes of a scientist.

Now your thinking (hopefully) "But what can I do?"

You can do what I do. Don't go. Don't give them money. And convince others to do the same. They are in it for the money more than likely and when the money factor is removed, they will have no choice but to move on. Let the natural land be natural.

I have no problems with people collecting stuff from the places they visit.I have samples of rocks, minerals, and fossils from many places I have visited. The difference is I don't take every last one. I take one small sample, often as a teaching tool, and leave the rest for the people that come in the future.

I would like to preserve and convince other to preserve our natural spots, wherever they may exist because you never know what will happen in the future.

Monday, June 07, 2010

GeoJeopardy! Part 5

Nicknamed Sue, the largest of these, the "King of the Dinosaurs", was uncovered in South Dakota in 1990

This plant-eater named for the 3 horns on its face was at least 25 feet long

The 75-foot-long Apatosaurus has also been known by this name, which means "thunder lizard"

The Mamenchisaurus could really stick this out -- it had the largest of any dinosaur, about 36 feet

Found even in dinosaurs, this world's oldest known disease is still considered incurable

You can either google the answer or find it out at my new GeoJeopardy! portion of my website.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

New Accretionary Wedge - Photo Glossary Edition

So the new Accretionary Wedge is up and the folks over at Highly Allochthonous (Chris and Anne) have outdone themselves this time. The title this time around is An Illustrated Glossary of Cool Geological Things. The purpose was:

to amass a gallery of all of your favorite geologically themed pictures

So head on over there. I'm sure you'll enjoy all the pretty pictures.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Teaching Earthquake hazards - Using Jello and Rice Crispy Treats

I wanted to teach my students about earthquake hazards and I always mention how unconsolidated sediment acts like Jello in an earthquake. Well I figured I would show them this time. Below is a video I made demonstrating this. Hopefully I will get time to write it up a little better but for now I think it is pretty self explanatory.