Archive for March, 2009


Today we went to Hughes Bore Hole outside Portage PA.  We couldn’t have picked a better day. The weather was perfect and we had the pleasure to hang out with Dr. K.  This and Zion NP are my favorite field trips this semester.  I tried to upload video of the actual discharge but the web browser crashed several times.  The red substance is iron precipitating out of the acid mine drainage and there is plenty of it. Correct me if I’m wrong but the PH level today was 3.83.   We were able to walk on the thick layer of iron without sinking more than an inch or two.  The White substance in the photo is aluminum  precipitate. Good job Matt!


Read Full Post »

Oh  Centralia and all your smoggy glory! Since I live only about 6 miles as the crow flies from this place it seems only appropriate to tell the story.  It is a small town on the edge of the Anthracite region only a few miles away from Ashland and Shamokin. In short there was an abandon strip mine, somebody was burning garbage, and set an exposed coal seam on fire. After many attempts to put out the fire the Commonwealth determined it was cheaper to buy out the property of landowners than to further attempt to stop the burning coal. The mine fire has resulted in part of Route 61 being permenantly closed and then rerouted as the fire burned a seam underneath the road resulting in some serious subsidence.  In the winter the ground of centralia always has bald spots where no snow can lay because the ground stays warm and after the snow melts or after a rain event the entire area is loaded with steam vents from the water percolating into the ground and then being heated and turned to hot water vapor. Also on long dry spells in the region,  gypsum and sulfur deposits can form near vents  (I’ve collected several of these in the past).  Despite the fire and unstable ground hazards a few people still live in this town.

Read Full Post »

Predator X

A new sea going reptile has been crowned king of the carnivores: Predator X.  This is the code name for the animal, found in Svalbard by a Norwegian team of scientists.  The creature is thought to be around 147 million years old and is a member of the pliosaur family.  The creature was 15 metres (49 ft) long, 45,000 kilograms (99,000 lb) in weight and had teeth 30 centimetres (12 in) long. The animal was discovered by Jorn Hurum of the University of Oslo Natural History Museum, on a two week expedition in 2006.  This is not the first massive sea predator from the Jurassic, another pliosaur called Liopleurodon also hunted in the shalow seas over Europe.

Read Full Post »

Working in Antarctica

mc1sitting in K-252 looking at job opportunities in Antartica  while listening to some south park in the background. Professor Goeke just handed me the link to view the jobs available and I’m thinking of applying.  Nana  runs the contract services for Raytheon Polar services Company.  Food and janitorial services, recreational management, commissary operations and other services that bring some of the comforts of home to remote sites throughout the world are what they offer.  I do not see any jobs related to the sciences available through this website but I’m sure you can find out through other sources.  I think it would be one hell of an adventure to work there and add the whole experience under your belt.  The picture is of Mcmurdo Station…..the biggest station on the continent.

Read Full Post »

I found this article on geology.com and thought it was really neat, mainly it answers some questions that I have always had about bottled water.  People started using spring water in the 1700’s to drink out of and bathe in and in 1767 a company started bottling the water.  During this time mineral water and spring water were popular, and people believed that mineral water had a medicinal effect and spring water had a special purity because it had never been used because it just came right out of the ground.
But how do we know that the water we are drinking out of the bottles is tap or spring water?  All bottled water is regulated byt the FDA and they require bottlers to identify what type of water is in every bottle.  If the water is composed of tap water, the labe will say either “from a community water system” or “from a municipal source”.
Some of the bottled waters are produced from the ground or from a natural water source, and they are known as mineral water, well water, artesian water, spring water, and sparkling water.  Mineral water is produced from a well or spring and contains around 250 ppm dissolved solids.  It is unknown if these impurities have any health benefits or the opposite.  Well water is produced from a well that penetrates the water table.  Artesian water is obviously produced from an artesian well, in which the water in the aquifer needs to be under pressure to force it up the well to a levelthat is higher than the aquifer.  Spring water is produced from an area where water flows naturally to earth’s surface.  Sparkling water is well water that contains dissolved carbon dioxide.
Whatever route you choose to drink your water, if you are using bottles, don’t forget to recycle!



Read Full Post »

This is an interesting article talking about profitable mining in New Zealand. In 2001  In 2001, 2.7 million tons of ironsand (titaniferous magnetite) was extracted and exported to Japan. Iron ore in the form of titanomagnetite-rich sand derived from the coastal erosion of the Mount Taranaki volcanics was mined from beach and dune sands, concentrated at two sites along the western coast of North Island. 

Check out this article.  New Zealand is a country full of mining opportunites and this article is a brief look into what is available.



Read Full Post »

The Sinnemahoning Portage Creek is located in McKean and Cameron County and is regionally famous for its excellent trout and smallmouth bass fishing. My family has a cabin in the nearby area and my father lived in the area for his entire childhood. So needless to say this accident really hit me hard. On June 30, 2006 in a tributary of the Sinnemahoning Portage Creek a train derailed releasing 45,000 gallons of liquid sodium hydroxide (NaOH).  This highly alkali chemical turned the streams pH from around 7 to 14 causing a devastating aquatic kill which in all reality sterilized the stream of all life. The damaged continued to spread as the contaminated water flowed into Driftwood Branch of Sinnemahoning Creek. In an assessment of the damage from the Sinnemahoning-Portage Creek and Driftwood Branch from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, a total of 517,041 fish (everything from minnow to trout) were killed. Another unfortunate loss was the discovery of 36 dead Hellbenders a unique salamander that can grow to lengths up to 29 inches.

The railroad company responsible for the spill paid $7,350,000 to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Good News:

Despite this fact, life rebounded from this catastrophe. On May 12, 2007 I checked the Sinnemahoning Portage Creek for macro invertebrates and was surprised to see the amount of life. Furthermore I managed to hook a native brook trout which gives evidence that fish moved from the small, unharmed tributaries like Four-mile Run and Cowley Run. I also noticed hundreds of Smallmouth Bass fingerlings which I assumed were stocked by the PA Fish & Boat Commission.





Read Full Post »

Older Posts »