Recent posts

Building Stones of Clifton - A Walking Trail

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Published on October 30, 2014 by Charly Stamper

In my opinion, there aren't many finer ways to spend an autumnal afternoon than ambling round the historical suburb of Clifton in Bristol. Bounded to the west by the dramatic limestone cliffs of the Avon Gorge and the bucolic open downs of Clifton and Durdham, Clifton Village is a Bristol rarity, in only having been only partly subsumed by the neighbouring metropolis. Clifton is home to many fine Georgian mansions, remnants of the development of a fashionable spa resort that sought to exploit the health properties believed to be present in the Hotwell spring water. So if you're new to Bristol, or ...more

How the air we breathe was created by Earth's tectonic plates

An Atom's-Eye View of the Planet - Published on October 29, 2014 by Simon Redfern

Volcanism, driven by plate tectonics, built Earth’s atmosphere to make a habitable planet. How is it that Earth developed an atmosphere that made the development of life possible? A study published in the journal Nature Geoscience links the origins of Earth’s nitrogen-rich atmosphere to the same tectonic forces that drive mountain-building and volcanism on our planet. It goes some way to explaining why, compared to our nearest neighbours, Venus and Mars, Earth’s air is richer in nitrogen. The chemistry of the air we breathe is, at least partly, the result of billions of years of photosynthesis. Plant life has transformed our ...more

After a busy summer, we have returned to the blogosphere...

Geology Jenga - Published on October 26, 2014 by Daniel Schillereff

Well, it has been a while since either of us has produced a GeologyJenga post, so first of all apologies on this front. We both have the same excuse – finishing our PhD theses! Our mutual deadline was 30 September 2014, and thankfully we both made it. The last few months were challenging at times and we both agreed that the feeling upon submission is hard to describe: certainly wonderfully joyous, coupled the tremendous relief, but tinged with no small amount of surrealism! We intend to put together a more comprehensive piece in the near future outlining the positives (and ...more

Soil wind erosion is influenced by soil inherent properties

G-Soil - Published on October 27, 2014 by Antonio Jordán

Carlos M. Asensio Grima casensio@ual.es Department of Agronomy University of Almería, Spain Soil wind erosion is influenced by soil inherent properties, different wind characteristics and surface vegetation cover. For a better understanding of this process is necessary to explain the effect and consequences of wind erosion on the ground and especially in agricultural areas of southern, eastern and northern Europe. In fact, this process usually occurs very slowly and its impact on soil quality and productivity fails to be detected until several years later. In addition, conventional farming practices may mask long term wind erosion effects on productivity by the intense and deep soil ...more

Missing Maps - A London Event

Geology for Global Development - Published on October 27, 2014 by Joel Gill

Information about an external event that may be of interest to some of our readers: "You are warmly invited to attend the launch of the Missing Maps Project, a collaboration between the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) , the British Red Cross, the American Red Cross, and Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) . This exciting project will draw on a massive force of volunteers to create accurate, up-to-date, permanently open source maps of locations vulnerable to disease outbreaks, epidemics, natural disasters and conflict. This article from the Guardian gives more information about the mapping process, and the aims and the ideals ...more

Images of soil erosion

G-Soil - Published on October 27, 2014 by Antonio Jordán

Frans Kwaad, physical geographer Soil erosion is the removal of soil from cultivated land at a rate that is (much) higher than the rate that would occur under the natural vegetation at the considered site. Besides the loss of fertile topsoil, soil erosion entails the dissection of cultivated land by rills and gullies and the deposition of eroded soil material on roads, in residential areas, rivers, ponds, lakes and reservoirs, and it can be accompanied by flooding. Guly erosion is the formation of gullies that are too deep to be removed by normal tillage. Gullies are formed in unconsolidated soil material. ...more

Images of Guatemala (3) - Lahar Deposits at Fuego

Geology for Global Development - Published on October 24, 2014 by Joel Gill

Lahars at Volcan de Fuego, Guatemala. This image captures a lahar deposit close to Volcan de Fuego. These deposits are formed when rain mobilises ash and pyroclastic material on the volcano to form a fast moving, powerful mudflow with the ability to transport material including large boulders. As the energy dissipates, the sediment is deposited as we see above. Difficult to see in this image, but a tragic reality, is that this lahar destroyed a road. This road was a vital piece of infrastructure to allow evacuation from an erupting volcano, and without it many people will find evacuation very difficult. Lahars, alongside ...more

I'm on TV!!

GeoSphere - Published on October 21, 2014 by Matt Herod

About a year ago I was asked to appear as a guest on a kids television show about rocks and minerals called Finding Stuff Out. I was asked to come an talk about rocks, minerals, geology in general and how I got interested in geology. The show is for 8-10 year olds and it is truly fantastic! It has a really interesting format where kids actually ask questions and the host, Harrison, answers them with the help of experts (me), goes to places to find the answers or does experiments. In the end the show concludes with an answer to ...more

Alumnus profile #6 – Dr Sam Engwell

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Published on October 20, 2014 by Charly Stamper

Dr Sam Engwell Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher, INGV PhD title "Dynamics and Deposits of Large Explosive Eruptions"     1) The Twitter Challenge: Describe your PhD in 140 characters Investigation of eruption processes during supereruptions by analysis of deposits in deep-sea sediments. Deposits from the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption can be found over 1000km away from the eruption source in deep sea cores. Photo credit: Sam Engwell 2) Where are you now? What are you doing? I am a postdoctoral researcher at Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) in Pisa, the Italian national institute for geophysics and volcanology, as part of the Marie Curie Initial Training ...more

Images of Guatemala (2) - Pyroclastic Flow Deposits

Geology for Global Development - Published on October 17, 2014 by Joel Gill

Pyroclastic Flow Deposits close to Volcan de Fuego, Guatemala. The scale of these deposits, formed in 2012, can be seen against the scale of the person standing in the background . Pyroclastic flows, alongside lahars, are two of the most significant and destructive volcanic hazards associated with Volcan de Fuego. You can read more about Fuego and its secondary hazards online here. (Credit: Geology for Global Development, 2014) ---- Every Friday we are publishing an image from Guatemala to promote our '100 x 100' fundraising campaign. We are working with students, recent graduates and others in the UK to raise money to support efforts to reduce the ...more

Lakes and lahars at Mt Ruapehu

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Published on October 23, 2014 by Charly Stamper

Mt Ruapehu is the largest mountain on the North Island of New Zealand. As well as being a popular ski resort, Ruapehu is an active andesitic stratovolcano. Formed approximately 200,000 years ago, activity is currently confined to the Crater Lake vent; this deep depression fills with water from snow melt between eruptive episodes. Skiing on Mt Ruapehu, North Island, New Zealand. The name 'Ruapehu' is Māori for ‘exploding pit’. Photo credit: Airflore Similarly to the recent eruption of Mount Ontake in Japan, Ruapehu has been known to erupt without warning. In September 2007, the volcano produced a sudden blast of steam ...more

Are the days of parsimony numbered? Probably.

Green Tea and Velociraptors - Published on October 8, 2014 by Jon Tennant

April Wright recently published a cool paper looking at how to bring morphological analyses of evolutionary relationships into the Bayesian realm. This is her take on it - enjoy!  Author Bio: My name is April Wright, and I'm a graduate student in David Hillis' lab at the University of Texas at Austin. I'm largely interested in the estimation and use of phylogenetic trees to answer questions about evolution. Particularly, I'm investigating how we can make the best possible use of our fossils in an era increasingly dominated by genome-scale data. You might say I'm a little bit of a 'small data' ...more

IPC Day 2 – The evolution of giants

Green Tea and Velociraptors - Published on October 3, 2014 by Jon Tennant

This is a slightly delayed summary of the sauropod symposium on day 2 of IPC4, following sessions the previous day on vertebrate taphonomy and diversity and extinction in the fossil record. This is also the final of these little summaries, and for that I apologise – my laptop is a bit kaput atm, and needs power sockets to run and which were not available in some of the rooms. I might be a little cheeky and ask a couple of the attendees to write personal summaries for here, but we’ll have to wait and see! Make sure you’re keeping a ...more

Environmental Management Centre Research Group

G-Soil - Published on October 1, 2014 by Antonio Jordán

Paulo Pereira pereiraub@gmail.com Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania The Environmental Management Centre The Environmental Management Centre (EMC) was founded in 2013 at Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania. The group is composed by young and proactive researchers from the entire world. The centre has an interdisplinary vision of science and aims to connect environmental, sociological and economical questions, in order to understand environmental questions from a wide perspective. The areas of research of the centre are, land use management and territorial planning, environmental economics, sustainable development, climate change and urban environment. The EMC members have experienced in the organization of international events as the 4th International Meeting of ...more

IPC4 Day 1 – Death is the road to awe

Green Tea and Velociraptors - Published on September 30, 2014 by Jon Tennant

Following on from the previous post, the afternoon symposium was all about the applications and implications of vertebrate taphonomy. Matt Carrano kicked things off with a great talk on how microfossil bonebeds help to guide our understanding of terrestrial palaeoecosystems. Using sites from the well-known but poorly understood Cloverly Formation, he provided a key insight from abundances from terrestrial microsites into the composition of faunas. This was a particularly appealing talk for me as it contained atoposaurids! Carina Colombi asked what the effect was of atmospheric CO2 on the evolution and preservation of the terrestrial fauna of the famous Ischigualasto Formation. It ...more

What's geology got to do with it? 5 - Scottish Independence Referendum

Four Degrees - Published on September 11, 2014 by Flo Bullough

Flo summarises 5 geo-relevant policy issues that are likely to impact on the Scottish Independence Referendum. Sooooo apologies for the long blog holiday we've been on of late, Marion and I have had a fairly hectic summer, but fear not, we will be updating on a more regular basis from now on! Source - Wikimedia Commons, Credit: Smooth_O. Hitting the headlines in the UK this week is the impending referendum for Scottish Independence taking place on the 18th September. Latest polling suggests that the vote outcome is on a knife-edge. Either way, the build-up and inevitable political wrangling after the result undoubtedly ...more

A much shorter review of flood stratigraphies in lake sediments

Geology Jenga - Published on August 8, 2014 by Daniel Schillereff

Earlier this year my PhD supervisors and I (Daniel) had a paper accepted for publication in Earth-Science Reviews entitled ‘Flood stratigraphies in lake sediments: A review’ (Schillereff et al., 2014). It’s been fairly popular in terms of downloads but it occurred to me the other day that many of those prospective readers may be put off somewhat by its hefty word count. Thus, putting together a shortened version outlining the main points and conclusions seemed wise! The review stems from my PhD research investigating whether sediment cores extracted from UK lakes contain distinct layers deposited by severe floods that occurred in ...more

GeoPoll #3 - What got you interested in geology?

GeoSphere - Published on August 7, 2014 by Matt Herod

After a bit of an opinion hiatus I am back with the third geopoll. Every day I go to work at a university department filled with geologists. All of us are tackling different questions, but in the beginning we all started at the same place. Namely, not knowing anything about geoscience. In my conversations with colleagues over the years it appears that there is no single way to get into geology. We all entered the field from different avenues. For example, some people found it through a first year course, others, like me, started out as mineral and fossil collectors when they were ...more

10 Minute Interview - The new Science of Geocognition

Geology Jenga - Published on July 24, 2014 by Laura Roberts-Artal

We are back! After a few weeks without posting, we thought it was about time we blogged! I have a HUGE backlog of 10 minute interviews that I have to transcribe from EGU 2014. The General Assembly was a great place to meet lots of young scientists doing all sorts of diverse and extremely interesting research. I've already posted a couple of interviews I carried out at EGU 2014 (you can read the one with Cindy Mora Stock here and the one with Young Scientist Representative Sam Illingworth here), but there are many more to come. Today is the first of ...more

The Search for Ithaca

GeoSphere - Published on July 21, 2014 by Matt Herod

This post unifies two of my absolutely favourite topics: geology and classical Greek history. I have always had a soft spot for the classics. In fact, when I started my undergrad I was planning on doing a double major of geology and classics. I decided to focus on geology, but I have not lost my love of ancient civilizations particularly the ancient Greeks and Romans. Odysseus (Source: Wikipedia) Most of us are familiar with the story of the Odyssey, but I'll recap it here briefly. The Odyssey is the tale of Kind Odysseus's journey back from Troy to his home island of Ithaca. ...more

Untangling EU Research Funding and Science Policy

Four Degrees - Published on April 29, 2014 by Flo Bullough

In this week's post, Flo talks us through the basic workings of the European Commission and how EU policy relates to science and research.  While the great and the good of academia are reaping the benefits of international research collaboration at EGU this week, and with the upcoming European elections in May I thought it was worth trying to write something on the EC and science policy. Especially as today's theme at EGU was the role of geoscientists in public policy. Now I realise that I say 'untangling EU science policy' in the title but this is no mean feat!  The ...more

EGU 2014: Air pollution in the Anthropocene

Polluting the Internet - Published on May 1, 2014 by Will Morgan

One of the key strands of the EGU so far this year has been discussion of the proposed new geological time period known as the Anthropocene. This concept was first proposed by the ecologist Eugene Stoemer in the 1980's, with Nobel Prize Winner and atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen bringing renewed attention to the term in the early 21st Century. It refers to the concept that the impact of humans on our environment is worthy of its own epoch. I attended the EGU press conference 'Are we living in the Anthropocene?' on Tuesday, where atmospheric chemist John Burrows presented work on how ...more

Sand gets everywhere

Polluting the Internet - Published on June 6, 2014 by Will Morgan

Saharan dust is currently escaping the confines of the desert and making a break for it over the Atlantic Ocean towards South America. Below is a true colour image from the MODIS instrument on the TERRA satellite from this morning (6th June). You can see the dust from the desert over the ocean; note the constrast between the darker blue ocean surface and the lighter shade where the dust resides. Image of the dust plume on 6th June 2014 from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on the TERRA satellite. Image courtesy of NASA. The strip of bright light across ...more

What's geology got to do with it? 4 - Tennis!

Four Degrees - Published on May 30, 2014 by Flo Bullough

 As part of the 'What's geology got to do with it?' series, Flo takes us on a tour of the links between geology and tennis! Warning: You may not want to read this if you have no interest in Geology OR tennis....  Now the disclaimer's out of the way, I thought it was about time I married two of my greatest loves in life, Geology and Tennis. These two interests may seem completely at odds in terms of relevance, but as is the beauty with geology, it relates to just about everything! So, summer in the northern hemisphere and therefore the two ...more

Global warming increases risk of winter flooding

An Atom's-Eye View of the Planet - Published on May 2, 2014 by Simon Redfern

Britain’s warm, wet winter brought floods and misery to many living across southern England, with large parts of Somerset lying underwater for months. When in January rainfall was double the expected average over wide areas, many people made cautious links between such extreme weather and global climate change. There were nay-sayers at the time but it now seems that there is evidence for those links. Speaking at the European Geosciences Union annual meeting here in Vienna, Myles Allen, a professor of geosystem science at the University of Oxford, presented his take on the issue. At the gathering of more than 12,000 ...more

EGU 2014: Measuring aerosol climate impacts from Space

Polluting the Internet - Published on May 4, 2014 by Will Morgan

In order to understand past climate change and to better project future changes, we need to understand how humans disturbed the radiative balance of our planet. Aerosols are one component of this disruption. The final report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) physical science basis concluded that aerosols dominate the uncertainty in the total anthropogenic radiative forcing. Radiative forcing refers to the change in the energy balance of the climate system; carbon dioxide traps energy within our atmosphere, which leads to a warming effect. Aerosols on the other hand stop sunlight from reaching the surface of the Earth, which leads to less energy ...more

Submarine eruptions create huge floating islands

An Atom's-Eye View of the Planet - Published on April 30, 2014 by Simon Redfern

Floating pumice. Jeff Butterworth A team of scientists from the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand have modelled the fate of a huge floating raft of volcanic rocks that formed in 2012 during a submarine eruption of a Pacific volcano. Described in this month’s edition of Nature Communications, they show how satellite images of the floating-rock raft’s passage across the Pacific can be used to test models of ocean circulation. Their results could be used to forecast the dispersal of future pumice ...more

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