Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sounds about right...

Radon in Spokane Homes More of a Risk Than Milk.

RELATED: Minimal levels of radiation detected in area milk during federal testing.

Launch viewing tickets...

arrived today, plus a vehicle placard that allows access to the Kennedy Space Center, for the day of the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour:
This. Will. Be. Exciting.

RELATED:  To catch up with this developing story, here's a previous post.

STS-134 MISSION STATUS:  Spaceflight Now.

2011 Darcy Lecturer in Spokane...

next week, speaking about salt water intrusion in the Godomey aquifer, Cotonou, Benin, West Africa.  The lecture is free and open to the public:
Thursday, April 7th, 2011, 5:30—7 pm
Dr. Steve Silliman
Gonzaga University, Jepson 108

Dr. Silliman directs a research program to manage the sole‐source aquifer for the 2 million people of Cotonou, Benin.  The groundwater wells serving this population are located about 6 km north of the Atlantic coast and as close as 1 km to a large lake, and withdraw water from partially confined portions of this complex aquifer system. This vital water resource is threatened by saltwater intrusion from the lake and the ocean, and anthropogenic contamination. The presentation will cover numerical modeling, hydraulic testing, water quality characterization, and electrical resistivity surveys. Discussion of a number of technical and social/cultural issues encountered during this research effort illustrates the value of close cooperation with in‐country collaborators in technical and social science disciplines.

The most complex cocktail...

is the Bloody Mary.  Don't believe it?  Here's some guidance from the American Chemical Society.

Hmm.  Who knew?  I'll have to give this some serious attention, and one shouldn't overlook the health benefits.  Better living through chemistry!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Newly discovered natural arch...

in Afghanistan is one of the world's largest.


Eastern Washington Hires Whitworth’s Hayford for Men’s Basketball Position.

At a time with a statewide hiring freeze and major budget deficit, where EWU will likely face a $23 million budget reduction this coming biennium, get this: "...became just the 17th head coach in the history of EWU basketball, signing a five-year contract worth about $99,500 annually."

Nice work if you can get it.  Meanwhile, university staff have taken a 3% salary reduction and many critical faculty positions remain unfilled.  We're in the very best of hands, with clear priorities set by the administration.  Sheesh.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tragic flotsam...

Tsunami debris could wash ashore in Oregon.

Here's a diagram of the currents involved, and a bunch of it will certainly end up in the North Pacific gyre.

First snapshot of Mercury...

captured from orbit by NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft (click to enlarge).  Read more here.

Yeah, that's what I think too.  Kinda bland.  Looks like the Moon.  I much prefer Mars.  (Maybe that's why I'm so enamored with southern Utah?)

Milestone reached...

This is the 2,000th post on this silly blog, initiated in mid-January 2009.

Wise words...

Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.

--Will Durant

Monday, March 28, 2011

Digging for riches...

in the world's deepest gold mine.

I've been more than a mile deep in the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho, examining sedimentary structures in Belt Supergroup rocks, but this is twice as deep. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My field class was blown away...

by the spectacular landscape, fascinating geology, and wind gusts to 40 miles per hour during our excursion to Moab, Utah last week. Despite the periodic blustery hardship, we were all smiles at Arches National Park for the group photo (click to enlarge).A brief recap of the trip will follow shortly. Stay tuned.

Rocks are people too...

I See Rock People: Mimetoliths of the World

Friday, March 18, 2011

Heading out to southern Utah...

on a geo-adventure with 15 eager students during spring break week for my GEOL 455 field class.  Wish us good weather and warm nights.  Will resume blogging with an illustrated trip report when we return.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another concern in the digital age...

What Happens To Your Online Data When You Die?

Simply breathtaking...

Best viewed full screen on a nice HD monitor.  No fancy or faked computer graphics here.  This video is compiled from real, high resolution images taken by the Casinni spacecraft.

Both sublime and surreal.  Enjoy.

Is water flowing...

on Mars?  There are some pretty compelling images in the linked article.

Wise words...

Man can't help hoping even if he is a scientist. He can only hope more accurately.

-- Karl Menninger

Geologic evidence for great quakes...

and tsunamis along the Cascadia subduction zone comes in a variety of forms, one of which is sunken or drowned forests, where stands of living trees were abruptly lowered into the tidal zone during earth movements. Here's a site near Coos Bay, Oregon, visited during an EWU field course (click to enlarge):
And another in Willapa Bay, Washington, where a myriad of tree stumps are exposed during low tide:
While the trees themselves have long died and weathered away, the large stumps still sit in growth position:
Here's a good, but now dated, general article (.pdf format) that describes the work of Brian Atwater and others who have figured out this geologic story.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Camera traps...

reveal secret animal worlds.  I particularly like the blood pheasant and the jaguar.

I've considered purchasing a trail camera, not for hunting, but for capturing images of nocturnal visits by animals to my feeding stations.  Someday.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Youthful rocketeer...

That's the Bu bro on the left, and your geeky blog writer on the right, with our science fair projects in elementary school.  He's now an MD and I'm still fantasizing about getting into space.

Perhaps now you understand my excitement at seeing a launch of a space shuttle.


Ice Age Floods Institute lecture...

sponsored by the Cheney-Spokane Chapter, will take place this Wednesday (16 March) at 7 pm in the Lair Auditorium at Spokane Community College:

"In the Wake of the Flood"
presented by Jack Nisbet
and Gene Kiver

The first fur traders who came to the Inland Northwest were guided along tribal trails that naturally followed landforms scoured by the Ice Age Floods. This presentation gathers the earliest art and mapwork done in the Spokane vicinity to search for flood features and comments on the event. Featured artists include David Thompson (1807- 12), Henry James Warre (1845-46), Paul Kane (1846-47) and Gustavus Sohon (1853- 58). Landscape clues to the past geologic events in the Pacific Northwest are apparent in the wonderful paintings and sketches of the early explorers. That connection will be discussed by the presenters.

Here's a list of upcoming events sponsored by the IAFI.

The most recorded tsunami...

in history, where anyone with a cell phone is a citizen reporter.  Some of the the most impressive videos, at least to me, follow below.  Click the button in the lower right corner of each window for full screen viewing.

The first arrival of the tsunami on-shore:

Well engineered buildings sway in response to the earthquake:

Liquefaction occurring in real time:

The tsunami arrives at Santa Cruz, California:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

We're all losers tonight...

when we push the clock ahead one hour as we transition to Daylight Saving Time.

The NASA ticket lottery...

for the opportunity to purchase up to six tickets to close-in viewing sites on the Kennedy Space Center grounds for the launch of STS-134, the final mission for Endeavour (shown above rolling out to pad 39A), was won by the Bu bro!   (I had entered the lottery too, but am a big loser.)

So, cross your fingers that the mission will lift off as scheduled (a 40% probability based on all shuttle launch records) as we're Florida-bound for several days in mid-April to hopefully witness a bit of history.

RELATED:  STS-134 mission status (with live streaming web cam).

UPDATE:  The Bu bro snared four tickets when they went on sale Monday morning, and we'll even dine with an astronaut the day of the launch!

Photo credit: Ben Cooper/Spaceflight Now.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Media alert...

I'm just getting back from Spokane where I taped interviews for all three local network affiliates: KXLY, KREM and KHQ6. Who knows how they'll slice and dice my juicy sound bites, but we'll see. Segments should air on broadcasts this evening.

I hope I look sufficiently unkempt and grizzled to be a credible geologist.

UPDATE: I'll also appear live tomorrow morning, from 9:30-10 am, on KHQ.


Here's a snippet that aired on KREM at 5.

Here's the bit that aired at 6 on KHQ6.

And this aired at 6 on KXLY:

NOTE: Be patient for the videos to load, and they are often preceded by an advertisement, sometimes with no visible video.

Field work Friday...

arrives again, as regularly as the phases of the Moon. Off to the Rathdrum Prairie to make my morning measurements, then return to Spokane for a barrage of interviews regarding the earthquake in Japan and the tsunami hazard along the Pacific rim.

Massive 8.9 mag earthquake...

and accompanying tsunami strikes Japan, triggering warnings throughout the Pacific region.  And here are the details of the tremor from the USGS, the fifth largest recorded in the world.

RELATED:  Here's the latest tsunami warning for the west coast of the US, and a forecast map of wave height:

UPDATE: Here's the seismogram of the tremor as recorded at EWU:

Lastly, here's a photogallery of the horrific destruction.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Oh, the joy...

I just received formal notice that my professional leave for spring quarter 2012 has been approved.  This will allow me time to wrap up a guidebook project, and summarize research related to a shallow freshwater aquifer in a collapsed salt-cored valley in southern Utah.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Useful "how to"...

Back Up Your Data on a Windows PC.

Just do it.

Space Shuttle Discovery returns to Earth...

with a safe landing early this morning, and when the landing gear wheels stopped rolling it had completed its final mission, never to fly again.  While the mission was a success, it's nevertheless a melancholy day for manned American spaceflight.

So what do you do with the retired spacecraft?  Learn more about its ultimate fate: What Destiny Awaits Discovery?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It appears that I'll be Baltic-bound...

in early summer, having just been asked to join the Zegrahm Expedition to the Baltic Sea region as a staff member in June 2011 (click map to enlarge).  I'll need to brush up on the geology of the Baltic Shield for this voyage, and am hopeful that I may be able to spend a day near Edinburgh, Scotland before we set sail, examining outcrops at Siccar Point that inspired James Hutton.

What if the biggest solar storm...

on record happened today?  The so-called Carrington Event in 1859, if repeated in more modern times, would cripple communication networks and power grids.

Think about it.  No power. No Internet. No cell phones.  No GPS. No television.  Life would be dreadful.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Vigorous new eruptions...

are occurring at Pu`u `Ō `ō and Napau Crater on Kilauea's east rift zone.  Track the latest at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory web site.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Amazing view of shuttle launch...

from cameras mounted on the solid rocket boosters during the liftoff of STS-133 last week. Very cool, and worth viewing the entire video at full screen.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

They came from outer space...

Fossils of Cyanobacteria in CI1 Carbonaceous Meteorites: Implications to Life on Comets, Europa, and Enceladus. Let's cut to the chase by peeking at the conclusion:
"It is concluded that the complex filaments found embedded in the CI1 carbonaceous meteorites represent the remains of indigenous microfossils of cyanobacteria and other prokaryotes associated with modern and fossil prokaryotic mats."
This is certainly groundbreaking work if it stands up to scrutiny.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lecturer position in structural geology...

for the 2011-2012 academic year in the EWU Department of Geology is being advertised

The mandatory pre-trip meeting...

for my Colorado Plateau field course (GEOL 455) meets Monday, 7 March, at noon in SCI 118. If you're a student registered for the field trip please go to the EWU Blackboard site and enroll in the course so you can get the latest announcements.

It's never too early...

to hype a juicy disaster story:  Could the massive quakes of 200 years ago happen again?

RELATED: Here's a good analysis of the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

Arctic muck boots...

won't likely be needed for three trips with Zegrahm Expeditions in 2012 for which I've been retained as the geologist field guide/lecturer.  The calendar in the right-side bar reflects the future adventures.

My prior excursions with the adventure travel company have all been high latitude affairs, so this will be a nice change to experience more equatorial and Mediterranean climates.  I think the final itinerary for the third expedition will be particularly interesting.

Useless statistic of the day...

17,000 USB Sticks Left at Dry Cleaners in 2010