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Archive for March, 2011

Extreme Geology

I don’t know how many of you guys have seen this, but it left me speechless.  I would love for this to be a future job of mine.  Two scientists rappel into one of Iceland’s volcanoes to map the inside of an ancient magma chamber.  The spectacles are absolutely amazing!  They use a surveying device that shots a laser and puts out a 3D image of the chamber.  Do yourself a favor and watch this amazing documentary.

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/expedition-week/5782/Videos/09879_00#tab-Videos/09879_00

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Scientists in Australia may have discovered the oldest animal fossils ever found.  These sponge-like creatures are suggested to be around 650 million years old, which is almost 70 million years more than the preexisting record.  The fossils were found under 635 million year old glacial deposits.  This changes how geologists thought when the first animals appeared on Earth.  The oldest known sponges prior to this finding were 520 million years old.

 

http://geology.com/press-release/worlds-oldest-animal-life/

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Blue Knob

After an excursion this weekend, I ended up the in the mountainous Allegheny front region of western Pennsylvania near Blue Knob. I was amazed at how an area so close was completely foreign to me. After some investigation, I discovered that Blue Knob was a mere 67’ short of being the highest peak in PA. The entire state part is composed of Devonian and Mississippian formations, with the top being capped by a blue-gray stone which gives it the name Blue Knob. I hope to explore this area during the summer and provide further reports

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Spring Break Redo

As we all know spring break was the time of our life’s but for some of us it had a few geological mishaps.  My stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway were canceled due to the weather so I had to come back to Johnstown and muster up a new trip for us.  Being from the area I almost instantly knew where I would take us, Wolf Rocks.  Just a hop, skip and a jump from where I grew up, I’ve been there countless times but never really thought about the geology of it until recently.  At the top of Babcock Ridge the woods are littered with boulders and rocks that are shantily strewn about.  The key to understanding why this is, is Wolf Rocks, a large sandstone outcrop that is evidence of a higher ridge that during the Pleistocene broke apart and sent boulders downslope.  Due to glaciers in the north this area had a climate similar to that of present day Greenland near the ice caps with constant freeze thaw conditions.  For thousands of years the periglacial effects created the boulder fields we see today.  So within the next week or so we will finally get to use our rock hammers and see what Wolf Rocks has to offer us geologists.

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why geology?

After highschool, I thought I knew what I wanted to do in college. Then college happened and I was so lost as a chemistry major, I felt like I had no purpose or direction in chemistry.  Then I met Pam.  She was my neighbor in the dorm I was living in and she was an earth science education major.  She suggested that I take a physical geology class to see if I liked geology.  I quickly fell in love with geology! I had always liked hiking and exploring the world around me, but it’s much more interesting when you know more about the world around you. I don’t know what I would be doing had I not found geology… but I can’t imagine that becoming a chemist sitting in a lab in the same spot day after day, dripping a chemical into a tube for the next however many years would have been fulfilling.  But being out in nature, finding fossil, making connections between past and present, seeing how the world is changing around you…that is fulfilling! So, why did I become a geology major? Why not become a geology major?! We’re awesome!

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Racetrack Playa is a large almost perfectly flat dried up lake bed. There are rocks on the lake bed that have trails behind them indicating movement, but the mystery is that there are no tracks that would show animal or human contact. So, how could these rocks move along a dried up lake bed? Well, this is that question researchers have been trying to answer for a while. There are a few theories but the most accepted one is that the few inches of rain that the lake gets creates a very slick mud that once a breeze comes the rocks can slide. The sediment for the lake bed is silt and clay, and when they get wet the mud can be slick. Wind is the motive in all theories because the rocks need some kind of energy to get them moving. Another theory is that a layer of ice forms under the rocks and the wind blows and pushes the rocks along. Racetrack Playa is a great mystery that researchers want to solve completely, with tracks everywhere there is a good chance the mystery will be solved.

http://geology.com/articles/racetrack-playa-sliding-rocks.shtml

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Yosemite Falls

As many of you are already aware, I will be moving to Yosemite National Park in May to work there for the summer.  I visited the park two summers ago and since that day, I’ve been yearning to go back.  One of the trails my friends and I hiked was to the top of Yosemite Falls.  This will surely be one of the first places I revisit.  Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in the U.S. and has a vertical drop of over 2,400 feet.  It is the 5th largest in the world.  The falls empty out an area of approximately 50,000 square miles north of Yosemite Valley.  The water then spills over the shear cliffs of the glacially carved granitic valley via joints in the rock.  This spectacle is absolutely remarkable and draws in tourists from around the world.  Come see me this summer in the valley!

More on the falls here – http://www.yosemite.ca.us/yosemitefallsfacts.html

Yosemite Falls

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