Monday, October 31, 2011

IR image of bats in flight...

just in time for Halloween:
Image credit: Live Science.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Don't snicker when you learn...

that there's a mysterious spot on Uranus.

The regulated plumbing system...

that we call the Columbia River:  The High-Stakes Math Behind the West's Greatest River.

Continuing avalanches...

caught in the act on Mars (click to enlarge):
Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Curiosity is critical...

to academic performance.

Yes. Absolutely.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Aftershocks continue to rattle...

eastern Turkey today, as this screen grab shows a series of 4+ magnitude events centered around the area of the main shock (click to enlarge):
This is the Android Earthquake! app, running on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet.  It's also optimized for phones.  It's free, and it works well.

This minor blip...

on the seismometer at EWU doesn't begin to reflect the unfolding tragedy in eastern Turkey where a 7.2 magnitude quake struck early today (click to enlarge):

Happy birthday, Earth...

according to Archbishop James Ussher who determined the "time and date of the creation as the night preceding Sunday, 23 October 4004 BC."

Party on.

Dodged two bullets...

this weekend:
I guess it's back to work as usual on Monday. That's OK - I enjoy my job.

Note to my GEOL 360 students:  Looks like the exam will indeed occur tomorrow morning as scheduled.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The geohazards field trip...

this Saturday morning was chilly and rainy, but we braved the elements and managed to visit a number of interesting sites in the Spokane area related to mass wasting, stormwater management, stream bank erosion and meander migration.

This image was acquired on a previous field trip, but it illustrates a location where Hangman Creek is impinging on a high cut bank consisting of unconsolidated outburst flood deposits, triggering several slump failures in the 1990s (click to enlarge):

Chicxulub simulated...

Impact Study: Princeton Model Shows Fallout of a Giant Meteorite Strike

Friday, October 21, 2011

Settled science...

It's field work Friday...

on the Rathdrum Prairie, and this time environmental science/geology student SD will accompany me on my monthly rounds.  We'll measure groundwater levels in four irrigation wells this morning now that they've shut down for the season.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pebble counts are underway...

at a local sand and gravel pit by students in my sedimentology and stratigraphy class in order to quantify the compositional variation of the deposit (click to enlarge):
It was a delightful autumn afternoon in the field, and opportunities like this will quickly diminish in the weeks ahead.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The perfect holiday gift...

for the geo-geek in your life: 2012 Calendar of Utah Geology.

I just ordered a bunch to give to my geo-geek friends. Oops. I hope they don't read this.

Dead German...

satellite will fall to Earth this week.  Yes, another defunct spacecraft will spiral out of orbit in a fiery re-entry.  Déjà vu all over again.

Launched in 1990 by NASA, and operated by the German Aerospace Center, ROSAT will re-enter Earth's atmosphere around the 22nd or 23rd of October according to best estimates. As many as 30 individual pieces could survive, with the largest single fragment likely being the telescope's mirror, weighing as much as 1.7 metric tons.  Updates on the decaying orbit are available here: ROSAT re-entry

I wonder if the high-risk insurance underwriter Lloyds of London offers policies for falling space debris?  There seems to be a growing market these days.  (Here's a related previous post.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

And you put that thing...

near your mouth: Fecal Matter Lurks On 1 In 6 Mobile Phones.  Eww.

I'm putting mine in the dishwasher tonight.

El Hierro eruption continues...

but not likely to form new island.

Previously related posts here and here.

Beachcombing no fun anymore...

Report: All The Good Seashells Taken

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Despite the chilly temperature...

and gray skies on Friday afternoon, a number of geology students and most of the faculty and staff gathered together to bid farewell to Mr. Chuck Strout (standing in center; our departmental technician for 30 years) and wish him well in his retirement (click to enlarge):
Fortunately it never rained.  And the food was hot and plentiful.  And free.

Judgement Day, take two...

Mark Your Calendars: End of World Coming Oct. 21.

Remember that we were all doomed in May, so I have no real expectations this will come to pass either.  But the occasion does provide another excuse to have a party.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Over analyzing rock v. paper...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Update on the submarine eruption...

at El Hierro in the Canary Islands. There are a couple of good images at the link.

UPDATE:  Here's a short video.  And another.

Megaripples on West Bar...

on the Columbia River, south of Wenatchee, Washington, were generated by surging floodwaters from the mouth of Moses Coulee during the Pleistocene (click to enlarge):
A close-up view shows that the enormous bedforms sit on a terrace more than 150 ft above the present day river, and are 300 to 350 ft long and about 25 to 40 ft high.  The floodwaters are estimated to have been between 700 to 900 ft deep at this location during their deposition:
I snapped the images above on Wednesday morning, following my presentation the night before about the geology of Mars, where I compared them to similar sedimentary structures found on the red planet in Athabasca Vallis (click for larger image at higher resolution):
Image credit: MOC camera on Mars Global Surveyor, Malin Space Science Systems.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The welcoming barbeque...

this Friday from noon to 2 pm in the Science Building courtyard is hosted by the faculty and staff of the EWU Department of Geology.  All majors, potential majors, and friends of the program are invited to attend.  We'll say goodbye to Chuck Strout, our capable technician for the last 30 years, and introduce the new staff and faculty.

Hey, it's free food!  What more do you want?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Heading to Wenatchee today...

after I get my sed/strat students started on their afternoon lab exercise to present my illustrated lecture about the geology of Mars and how it relates to the outburst flood geology of eastern Washington.  Apparently it's true that little green men (and women, I presume) are invited to attend according to the newspaper announcement.  Can't wait to meet 'em.

Exciting developments underway...

at El Hierro in the Canary Islands where a submarine eruption is likely occurring after a prolonged period of seismic activity.

This event is providing considerable fodder for my on-board lectures during a voyage with Zegrahm Expeditions in the spring 2012.  I'm very much looking forward to exploring this part of the active Atlantic.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Spectacular perspective view of Ares Vallis...

outflow channel on Mars has just been released showing streamlined landforms sculpted by an enormous flood of water early in the red planet's history (click image to enlarge):
Here's the related article that includes a context map and more fantastic images.  The terrestrial analog is, of course, the Channeled Scablands in eastern Washington.  Just in time to incorporate this into my talk in Wenatchee this Tuesday evening.

Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ice Age Floods trail creation...

is proceeding at a glacial pace.

Although it's certainly a worthwhile project, in these difficult economic times one should understand that it's not exactly a state or federal funding priority.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Earthquake science...

still a shaky business.  The linked article includes a discussion of the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquake swarm, for which the 200th anniversary is only a couple of months away.

The most common mistakes...

people make in the desert, from the survival guru at Outside.

And don't forget to carry a sharp knife.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Breathtaking time lapse...

Upcoming geology lecture in Spokane...

is one not to miss:

"The Orphan Tsunami of 1700" will be presented by Dr. Brian Atwater, USGS, University of Washington - Department of Earth and Space Sciences.  Brian will summarize his research in the likelihood of large earthquakes in the Cascadia subduction zone, especially relevant given the recent disaster in Japan.

The talk is sponsored by the Society of Inland Northwest Environmental Scientists at 7 pm at Luigi's Italian Restaurant in Spokane.  Social hour begins at 6 pm.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Did pumice provide the foundation...

for early life on Earth?

Here's the on-line article (.pdf) published in Astrobiology, but it's only freely available for the next several days, so take a look while you can.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Geology lesson...

Credit: The Wall Street Journal.

Little green men...

will be admitted to my upcoming lecture about the geology of Mars according to the press release:
Wenatchee Valley Erratics Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute will meet 7:00 P.M. Tuesday October 11, at Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center, 127 South Mission, Wenatchee.

To Mars, without a rocket or space suit! In our backyard! Dr. John P. Buchanan, Professor of Geology at Eastern Washington University, will present “The Geology of Mars and the Scablands Connection.” By comparing Martian and terrestrial landforms with copious illustrations and photographs of both, Dr. Buchanan will examine the geology of Mars and how it relates to the Channeled Scablands in eastern Washington. He will also tell the history of Mars exploration, and include recent scientific findings in his discussion.

The program is free and open to the public. Little green men also admitted.
This will be about the eighth time I've presented this popular talk, and I am working at including new information regarding the upcoming launch of the Mars Science Laboratory (the Curiosity rover) and its landing site in Gale Crater.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Trial over L’Aquila earthquake...

focuses on risks and panic.  Pull quote:
“If you want to sell earthquake preparation in a way that it affects human behavior,” he said, “you have to sell it like Coca-Cola.”
Related previous post.

Meet my crazy neighbors...


jumping into their residence in Castle Valley, Utah, with eight friends during what is becoming an annual autumn skydiving event - the Moab Boogie.  That's JW, my crazy neighbor with the crazy wig (and hula hoop!) leaping from the balloon in the early seconds of the video, filmed by her main dude MM (and my Zegrahm buddy).  Enjoy!

Note:  Be patient to let the video load if you don't have a fast broadband connection. Also, it's best viewed full screen, of course. (Click on the lower right-hand corner button in the video window.)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Paper wasps have been busy...

this summer, building an impressive nest on my roll-off roof astronomical observatory behind my home in the pines:
It's a work of natural art, but, unfortunately, I won't be able to collect it since it is so interleaved within the wooden cross-braces for the rails:

Fastest mammal muscles on Earth...

are the basis for echolocation in bats. Here's the technical abstract.

Remember, bats need friends.