Saturday, November 27, 2010

Geological Literature Quote of the Week

After all of the geology articles I have been reading sometimes I find I come across a quote that is either laugh out loud funny or so ridiculous that I have to pass it on. Well, now this has morphed into my Geological Literature Quote of the Week. Check out previous quotes here:
Whale of a Theory

To give a little bit of a background, the reason this is the quote for the week is that when reading the abstract I came across the term "preadaptation", at which I shuddered and told my wife "I hate that word". Well then we came to the quote:
"I can often produce a wave of nausea in some evolutionary biologists when I use the word (preadaptation) unless I am quick to say what I mean by it."
Now for those that don't understand, preadaptation gives the connotation of Intelligent Design, in the regards that features were preexisting for a specific trait. Kind of like a bunch of feathers evolving for flight before birds could fly. They were preadapted to flight.

Gould, S. J. and Vrba, E. S. 1982. Exaptation - a missing term in the science of form. Paleobiology. 8:4-15.


Friday, November 26, 2010

GeoJeopardy! Fridays

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because you're still working off the tryptophan today.

- Rocks and Minerals -

Originally these were quartz pebbles found in the Rhine River


There are deposits of this type of coal under half of West Virginia


Some of these fine-grained laminated sedimentary rocks are a source of oil


Connemara, Ireland is famous for the green-streaked variety of this stone

Now under the Coronation Chair, this stone came to England from Scotland


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

News of the Day

Well since I am taking my PhD qualifying exams in a few months I have made it a point to check out recent scientific news articles and keep up to date. Well many of them I find really interesting and I figured I would pass them on to the blogging world. I can't guarantee this will be a daily thing but I will try to do it as often as possible.


Squidworm found in the ocean depths. A new organism (a polychaete named Teuthidodrilus samae) has been found floating around the deep sea. It is rather cool looking (like many of the deep sea life) and since I studying deep sea I figured I should check it out. Also check out another story here.

Discovered in 2007, the squidworm makes its way around by relying on frilly organs on its head for smell and what seem to be structures at the tips of its appendages specialized for touch.

Friday, November 19, 2010

GeoJeopardy! Fridays

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because you know you're not doing anything next week.

- Dinosaurs -

Many now think that unlike modern reptiles, dinosaurs were homeothermic, meaning this


Edmontosaurus, discovered in this Canadian province in 1917, was almost defenseless & was preyed upon by the T-rex


Despite its great size, this "plated lizard" had a brain the size of a walnut


This city's Carnegie Museum of Natural History has the first Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, found in 1902


This name of the ferocious predator seen in "Jurassic Park" means "one who seizes quickly"


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guest Post - The 5 Largest Earthquakes Ever Recorded

So I was contacted a little while ago by someone wanting to write a guest blog post that would fall in line with the essence that is the Geoscience Education angle that the blog goes for. So I agreed after I heard her idea and this is what we have today, our first guest post from a fellow blogger in her own right, Alvina Lopez.


The rigid crust of the Earth and the tectonic forces that stress them can cause some seriously powerful seismic waves, which in turn result in what we know as earthquakes. Though earthquakes may seem like a rare occurrence for those who do not live in earthquake-prone areas like Alaska and California, they are actually more common than you may think. In fact, more than one million earthquakes occur every year, though the majority of them are imperceptible beneath our feet, according to the Center for Earthquake Research and Information at the University of Memphis (CERI). But while most earthquakes barely register at all on seismometers, once in a while, the planet will dole one out that crumbles buildings and splits the Earth as if it were torn at the seams. These are the 5 worst earthquakes ever recorded.

1. The Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960. On May 22, a regular mid-afternoon day was abruptly halted by a 9.5 magnitude earthquake that ripped across the country. More than 2,000 people were killed and 3,000 were injured. A second earthquake shook the area before help could even be mobilized for those affected by the first quake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. This particular quake also triggered landslides in the Andes, tsunamis off the coasts of Chile, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, and the Aleutian Islands, as well as the volcanic eruption of Cordon Caulle in the Andes. In addition to this, seismographs recorded that the seismic waves from the quake continued to rattle the entire planet for days due to the free oscillation effect.

2. The Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake of 2004. The day after Christmas, an undersea quake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia was recorded on the seismograph, registering at a magnitude of somewhere around 9.1 and 9.3. Approximately 230,000 people lost their lives due to the quake and the devastating tsunamis it caused, which swamped Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and India. The resulting tsunamis from this quake were responsible for thousands of deaths as the waters flooded towns or wiped them away altogether. Like in the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960, seismometers also recorded that the planet shuddered for days after the initial earthquake struck.

3. The Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964. On the evening of March 28, the ground began to rumble and buildings started to shudder, then collapse in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Registering at a magnitude of 9.2, this particular earthquake is in the record books as the largest recorded quake to hit the United States. That night, more than 115 died due to the earthquake and the tsunamis it generated off the coasts of Alaska, Oregon, and California. The earthquake itself was felt for an astonishing 7 minutes. The ground split and ruptured, causing some surfaces to be lowered as much as 17 meters, according to the CERI, and most of the damage fell on the city of Anchorage.

4. The Kamchatka Earthquake of 1952. The Kamchatka area, which is a peninsula in Russia, is no stranger to powerful earthquakes. In 1737, a magnitude 8.3 earthquake was recorded, and in 1923, a magnitude 8.5 earthquake was recorded. However, it was in 1952 when the most powerful earthquake struck the area, registering as a 9.0 magnitude quake. Tsunamis arose from the quakes, causing expensive property damage and causing several deaths, though no official death toll figures have been reported. The quake triggered tsunamis off the coast of Japan, Hawaii, Alaska, Chile, and New Zealand, though luckily with no reported deaths.

5. The Arica Earthquake of 1868. Arica, Peru (now Chile) experienced a terrifying 9.0 magnitude earthquake on August 13. Between the Nazca Plate and South American Plate, the quake sent buildings toppling and the subsequent tsunami ripped anchored ships from the docks. Coastal towns were completely decimated, or came close to it as huge tsunami waves crashed into and flooded the streets. Hundreds of aftershocks, with about 400 recorded, were felt until about August 25, a little under two weeks after the initial quake struck. Approximately 25,000 casualties were reported due to the quake itself and the tsunamis it triggered.

Resources cited:

This guest post is contributed by Alvina Lopez, who writes on the topics of accredited online schools.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


So, I have been reading some evolution papers for one of my classes and this is the second time this has popped up so I figured I would post it. The paper this is from is listed on the bottom of the post.

The classic objection to hopeful monsters - that a pig with wings has no chance of finding a similarly endowed mate - misses the point that if you have one pig with wings, there are more where that came from - in the developmental pathways of the relatives of Archaeoptopig.
when pigs fly

Rachootin, S. P., Thomson, K. S. 1981.Epigenetics, paleontology, and evolution. Proc. 2nd. Int. Congr. Syst. Evol. Biol. Evolution Today, ed. G. G. E. Scudder, J. L. Reveal, pp. 181-93. Pittsburgh: Carnegie-Mellon Univ. Press

Friday, November 12, 2010

GeoJeopardy! Fridays - Presenting our 100th Question

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because work is overrated. So today presents our 100th question. Let us see how long we can keep this going.

- Geology -

It's a circular hollow often formed by volcanic action or by a meteor strike


It's a valley formed between 2 parallel faults; there's a "Great" one in the Eastern Hemisphere


Name of the type of formation seen here:


A moraine is the rocky material left behind by one of these


When discussing sedimentary rock, this term means formed of layers or beds


All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.  Images used in the questions are not the ones originally presented in the clue but are my interpretation of what they might have been and still get across the intent of the clue. Images used are linked to their sources.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Geologists House - To the Extreme

So looking at one of my favorite blogs, Lovely Listings, I see this house pictured:

The house, with windows, an apparently rusty roof and a chimney, is sandwiched between two bulbous rocks

Now, I don't know about you but this looks awfully fake to me. But looking further into it and at the links on the website it appears that this is an actual house that is built between and perhaps within two boulders. Definitely a geologist's house.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Teaching Lab that puts the Alternative in P.A.G.E.

So Matt over at Research at a Snail's Pace recently put up this lab that I feel puts the Alternative in the "Presenting Alternatives in Geoscience Education (P.A.G.E.)". He is measuring the thickness of tombstones and determining the amount of weathering based on the difference in the thickness at the top and bottom of the tombstone and using the date on the tombstone as the starting point of weathering.

Fantastic lab and make sure you head on over to check it out. Now if it didn't creep me out so much maybe I could do this as well.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Accretionary Wedge #29 - Call For Posts

The next Accretionary Wedge (#29) Call for Posts is up at the newly formed Ann's Musing on Geology and Other Things. The topic for the month of November is:

"What Geological features about the area you call 'home' do you love? and what do you not like?"

Deadline is November 30th. Head on over.

Friday, November 05, 2010

GeoJeopardy! Fridays

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because the weekend is only a day away.

- The Earth -

An ocean wave's speed largely depends on the speed of this phenomenon in the air above


The Mer de Glace is the 2nd longest of these in the Alps


The Greek & Latin words for this fuel were "anthrax" & "carbo"


You find one of these at the point where an aquifer intersects the slope of a hillside


Geologists named the material of the Earth's crust "sial'" because of these 2 main elements


Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Accretionary Wedge - #28: Deskcrop Trick-or-Treat

So, being rather busy lately I noticed the Accretionary Wedge this month a little late and went "OH OH, I have the perfect sample for that". So here is the premise of this months Accretionary Wedge over at Research at a Snail's Pace:
"October's theme is going to be "Desk-crops." This can be any rock or other geological* specimen that you have lying around your office/desk/lab that has a story to tell. The spookier the better. Photos and/or illustrations are very important (although not absolutely required)."
The main post is already up (linked above) but I hope to be added late.

So here is my sample for this Trick-or-Treat surprise. Most geologists would be able to identify this off the bat but let me go into it's story before I give away the surprise ending.

It all started when I moved down to Texas to go to Texas Tech for my Masters degree. My friend from undergrad, Steve, also was going to Texas Tech at the same time. We got moved into offices next door to each other in a very very old building (one of the oldest on campus I believe). My current office mate had another office in the seismo lab and Steve hated his office mate so I got Steve moved into my office with me. Well we were in there 2 years together before I moved on after my Masters. Steve decided to stay at TTU to do his PhD so I had to move all my stuff out and give him a little more free space. Well it turns out there was a bunch of stuff already in the office when we moved in, we just never paid it much attention. So we decided to split it up among ourselves (since it was basically free) and add some extra rocks and maps to our collection. Well in the back of this one cabinet I pull out this tray with the pictured above mineral on it just sitting in the open. And Steve and I both go "S*#T!!", we have been sitting in the office for 2 YEARS with an open specimen of chysotile basically open to our breathing air.

And now for those of you who don't know what chrysotile is, it usually goes by its more common name of Asbestos.

Well now we have this open thing of asbestos in front of us and we do what any good geologist would do. We both wanted it so we split it in half, stuck it in a tupperware container and added it to our respective collections.

So that is how I happened to have and keep this cancer inducing agent in my drawer at my desk.

Trick-or-Treat? You decide.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Darwin Awards - Geology Strikes Back 5

We took a little break but now back to the Darwin Awards.

Geology strikes back against this person as he continually digs for "treasure" even though the ground became wetter and wetter as he dug through the water table.

Article courtesy of Chase Sundquist

All other Darwin Awards - Geology Strikes back can be found at my website.