Archive for January, 2011

I became a geology major because i wanted to be able to be outdoors working and seeing and learning about different things every day. I always told my self that i never wanted to get stuck behind a desk all day which is why i believed geology to be a good way to avoid that. What i like most about geology is how different rock outcrops you see everyday has a history about them and now after 3 years of being a geology major i can tell what kind of rocks they are composed of, how they were deposited, and possibly determining what time period they were formed. Glaciers and oceanography have also sparked an interest in my years of being a geology major.

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Yellowstone Volcano Bulging

Many people see Yellowstone National Park as a very quite peaceful place.  This is true for what lies on the surface, but underneath the ground dwells a silent monster.  The volcanic activity in the park can be seen all over in its many hot springs, geysers, and mud pits.  With the crust bulging around the volcanoes caldera, this could be a sign that Yellowstone’s volcano could be due to erupt.  The magma below the surface has become a ticking time bomb, that when it does go off, could be a very catastrophic event.

view the link:     http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/01/110119-yellowstone-park-supervolcano-eruption-magma-science/




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Bahamas Blue Holes

After reading an article on the Blue Holes of the Bahamas, I became fascinated with these underwater caverns. They were formed during a sea level recession that uncovered much of the Bahamian carbonate platform. Once exposed to the atmosphere, the limestone began to weather and erode, forming caves. When sea level rose, the cave systems were submerged. Only within the past century were these caves explored and documented.

The following is a link to the the article.

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So, we all know wine to be that alcoholic beverage that comes from crushing grapes. But after reading an article on what is said to be the world’s oldest winery, I never thought much about the history of wine. It was just recently announced that what is believed to be the oldest winery was brought back to light by archeologists from the University of California. It is all unfolding in a cave complex in Armenia. This site is dated back 6,100 years ago during the Copper Age. This was a time where the culture of humans was developing with early metal and stone tools. Many of the tools, including the jars to store the wine and carved animal horns to drink from, were found in this cave when the team began their digging. In addition, at least eight bodies have been found at this location. More in depth information, along with a descriptive news video, can be found at the following site:




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Our geology class at UPJ is planning a spring break trip to the Smoky Mountains via the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  We want to see as much geology as possible.  Does anyone have any recommendations for places to see or travel tips for us?  We’re going from March 5 to 13 and leaving from Johnstown, PA.

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Near the huge Martian volcano Olympus Mons may bear evidence of recent plate tectonic activity on Mars, new research suggests.  The many ridges and scarps on the rumpled apron of land north and west of Olympus Mons are likely signs of tectonic thrusting, according to the study.  This activity could be very recent — within the last 250,000 years or so.  We know that Earth’s surface has been shaped over the eons by giant crustal plates that pull apart, smash together and dive under one another.  An Yin (of UCLA) thinks he has found solid evidence that plate tectonics carved out many of the landforms we now see on Mars, and may still be shaping the planet today.  If true, Mars would be a better candidate for extraterrestrial life than scientists have thought. Plate tectonics could help replenish nutrients needed for life, for example, bringing carbon and other substances from the Martian interior up to the surface.  Yin thinks Martian plates were moving and grinding perhaps within the last 250,000 years, and even may be at it today.

The article is found at:



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This volcano has been erupting since 1998 and continues to have disruption in the area. There are lava flows and ash clouds covering the area, and the volcano dome is increasing by 7,000 cubic feet per day. The volcano is the most active in Mexico and has been active since the 1800’s.



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I saw these caves on a National Geographic special and was blown away by the size of the cave and the giant gypsum crystals that grow inside from all surfaces of the cave. In the small mining town of Chihuahua, Mexico scientists travel deep below the surface into the cave which is a constant 112 degrees Fahrenheit with a 90-100 percent humidity.  The explorers of the cave have to first test their phsical ability in the cave for five minutes. If they can stand the heat, they can then go back in the cave to take samples and explore the structures around them in special suits.  The suits have a layer that contain ice packs to keep the body at a safe temperature, along with other layers that keep the heat out.  They also have to wear a special oxygen mask that blows cool air on their eyes so they don’t dry out.  Scientists have taken samples of the water inside the crystals that they are testing to see if there are ancient bacterias held within.  The caves hold a lot of mistery and wonder, but may soon close because of the water being held out of the cave by the local mining companies.

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There is a “supervolcano” underground in Yellowstone National Park.  Experts say there is a magma chamber as large as Los Angeles four miles beneath the earth, waiting to erupt.  No one knows when it will erupt but when it does, it will be a thousand times more powerful than Mount St. Helens.  It has erupted before, most recently about 640,000 years ago.   It has erupted many times before this, some being even more powerful than the most recent.  This would have lead to many plant and animal species becoming extinct.  When it erupts again, it will spew ash 25 miles into the sky and could make 2/3 of the United States uninhabitable.  Scientists have been keeping track of the ground levels since 2004 and say in some areas of the park the ground has risen around 2.8 inches per year.  This is due to the magma chamber “swelling” and could mean the eruption might happen sooner than we thought.

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Modern Gold Mining

When people think of gold mining, they a lot of times think of the California Gold Rush. Upon gold being found in 1848, people flocked to the area like a stampede to get in on it. Panning for gold was the general method being used. This involved submerging the pan in water and then shaking it to separate gold from rock. However, gold mining has progressed immensely since the mid-19th century. Below is an interesting video and a link to another website which goes in depth about the Cortez Mine in Nevada.


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