Recent posts

Training and Development Questionnaire

Geology for Global Development - Published on July 22, 2014 by Joel Gill

Could you give us 5 minutes of your time this week? We'd really appreciate your help in completing this short questionnaire, helping us to understand requirements for future GfGD training and development programmes (workshops, summer schools, conferences). You can access the questionnaire by clicking the image ...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

Science snap (#31): Mammatus clouds

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Published on July 21, 2014 by Elspeth Robertson

After all the thunderous weather this weekend and being British, I thought I’d do a weather themed science snap. Don’t bolt yet; it’s a volcanic-weather themed! Volcanic mammatus clouds forming after the eruption at Mount St. Helens. Copyright: Douglass Miller This is a picture of mammatus clouds following the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. These clouds are pretty rare, unusual and distinctive. Formally, the Glossary of Meteorology defines mammatus clouds as “hanging protuberances, like pouches, on the undersurface of a cloud”. The definition is aptly descriptive, but in essence mammatus are a series of bulges at the base of ...more

Science snap (#30): Aust Cliff, Gloucestershire

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Published on July 17, 2014 by Charly Stamper

One of the most fascinating things about geology is its ability to reveal global events from evidence contained within a single outcrop. The cliff exposure at Aust in Gloucestershire, UK, is a spectacularly colourful example of this. Located beneath the original Severn Bridge, and running alongside the Severn Estuary, the 40m tall rock face records the drowning of an ancient desert by rising sea levels. In the Triassic, the SW of England sat 30ºN of the equator (the position of modern-day northern Africa). As the supercontinent Pangea rifted apart, the land was flooded by Jurassic oceans. Aust cliff, near the Severn ...more

Jobs and Conferences

Geology for Global Development - Published on July 14, 2014 by Joel Gill

A few jobs, internships and events that have caught our interest... **International Conference: Analysis and Management of Changing Risks for Natural Hazards 18-19 November 2014, Padua, Italy The conference provides an opportunity to discuss multi-hazard risks and multi-disciplinary research results on the effects of changing of hydro-meteorological risks and their effects on planning strategies. The conference focus 1) on natural hazard process understanding and innovative methodologies for quantitative hazard and risk forecasts, and 2) on the integration of engineering, socio-economic and human sciences in risk management and prevention planning in practice. For more information and registration visit our website: www.changes-itn.eu The International Association of Geomorphologists ...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

Science Snap (#29): African Fairy Circles

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Published on July 14, 2014 by Elspeth Robertson

Mysterious Fairy Circles dotting the Namibian grasslands. Credit: Neurgens   If you’re wandering among the arid desert that stretches from Angola to South Africa, you may notice the ground pot-marked by millions of circular barren patches. These striking features are known as “Fairy circles”, and can grow up to 15 meters in diameter. Tall grasses often surround these circles, further accentuating these miniature crop circles. How these Fairy Circles form is hotly debated. Theories have to account for their non-random location, and a lifespan 30-60 years where they grow in size borefore grassland eventually invades them again. Oral myths of the Himba people attribute the circles to ...more

Google Scholar metrics for soil science journals

G-Soil - Published on July 4, 2014 by Antonio Jordán

The 2014 version of Google Scholar Metrics has been just published. The ranking is arranged according to each journal's h5-index and h-median metrics. The 2014 edition is based on citations of all articles indexed in Google Scholar until mid-June 2014 and covers articles published between 2009-2013, both inclusive. The ranking also includes lists for publications in different languages, although browsing in some languages may be limited. Interesting links Main publications. Life Sciences & Earth Sciences. Soil ...more

Notes on the Short Course on Forest Fire Effects on Soil Properties (EGU2014)

G-Soil - Published on July 4, 2014 by Antonio Jordán

SSS10.11/SC21 Convener: Paulo Pereira  | Co-Conveners: Guillermo Rein , Antonio Jordán , Claudio Zaccone , Lorena M. Zavala In this edition of European Geoscience (EGU) 2014 Assembly we organized a short course on Forest Fire Effects on Soil Properties. As in the previous course organized in EGU 2013, we think that the objectives were largely achieved. The attendance was high (Figure 1) and the participants were very intervenient during the entire course. This was an excellent opportunity to share and transmit in a simpler way some important aspects of fire effects on soil properties. The topics covered were, Vegetation controls on debris ...more

Moraines in Costa Rica? Really?

Geology Jenga - Published on June 29, 2014 by Daniel Schillereff

During a recent trip to Costa Rica in May, I had a conversation with some family and friends in which I uttered those words: “Moraines in Costa Rica? Really?” as they were describing a trek they’d undertaken earlier this year to the summit of Cerro Chirripó. This is the highest peak in the country (3819 m a.s.l.), part of the Cordillera de Talamanca (9°30′ N, 83°30′ W) in southern central Costa Rica. Relief of Costa Rica and location of Cerro Chirripó. Base map courtesy of Sting (WikiCommons CC BY-SA 3.0) While the photographs looked stunning (on a clear day, both oceans ...more

Is it your duty to communicate your science?

Geology Jenga - Published on June 19, 2014 by Laura Roberts-Artal

Hello everyone! Gosh! It's been a long time since I've blogged, I apologise! I am in the deepest, darkest hole that is called thesis writing. To make matters worse, the post today isn't even my own! Having said that, it is a a fantastic guest post  by Ekbal Hussain. on why scientist SHOULD communicate the science that they do! Ekbal's main interest lies in natural hazards and he feels passionately about science communication and the importance of divulging our scientific knowledge to the wider public, particularly those at risk of natural hazards. He is currently undertaking his PhD in geodetic monitoring ...more

Guest Post: Dr. John W. Jamieson - Using seafloor mapping to find missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370

GeoSphere - Published on June 16, 2014 by Matt Herod

On March 8th, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.  Evidence from satellite tracking suggests that the aircraft may have crashed into the Indian Ocean several 1,000 kms west of Australia and this is where the search is now focused.  No debris or oil slick related to the aircraft has so far been found.  However, signals consistent with the “pings” of the flight data recorder were detected in two areas, several 100 kms apart from each other.  A search of the northernmost location, using an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) owned and operated by ...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

Grim reaper or gentle giants?

Green Tea and Velociraptors - Published on June 10, 2014 by Jon Tennant

Therizinosaurs were some of the true freaks of the dinosaur world. I mean that in the nicest possible way for something that looked like the sick offspring of a giant chicken and Freddie Kruger. Perhaps the weirdest things about them were these long, scythe-like claws, that although may have seemed deadly, probably weren’t unless you were a particularly scrummy looking piece of foliage. That’s right, these cousins of tyrannosaurs and other theropods used their wicked sickle-claws for trimming hedges for food. Flandersaurus? But how diverse were the claws of these evolutionary oddities, and what does this imply for how they were ...more

Permafrost Young Researchers Network: the study of permafrost in a climate change scenario

G-Soil - Published on June 8, 2014 by Antonio Jordán

Marc Oliva University of Lisbon, Portugal   The World Climate Research Program (WCRP) and the IPCC Working Group 1 (Fourth Assessment Report) recognize the Cryosphere as one of the most significant challenges of climate science and as a major source of uncertainty in global climate projections. While the permafrost carbon feedback has been identified as potentially the largest terrestrial feedback to anthropogenic climate change and the most likely to occur, significant knowledge gaps remain related to the impact of thawing permafrost on the global carbon cycle. This uncertainty includes the magnitude, type, and timing of greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost. Degradation ...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

Your bite or mine?

Green Tea and Velociraptors - Published on May 28, 2014 by Jon Tennant

It rises from the dark waters like some behemoth from the deep, and lets out a blood-curdling roar. It’s feeding time. One of the most iconic scenes from Jurassic Park III is where the long-snouted, sail-backed giant theropod dinosaur Spinosaurus emerges from underwater to try, yet again, to eat our beleaguered rabble of misfortunates. It’s always been the way these dinosaurs have been portrayed, including one of Spinosaurus’ close cousins Baryonyx from the UK. With their long snouts, bulbous tips, and pointy teeth, it’s often been thought that spinosaurid dinosaurs were quite a lot like modern crocodiles. But how much of ...more

GeoPoll # 2 - What geologic attraction would you like to see most?

GeoSphere - Published on May 26, 2014 by Matt Herod

The first geopoll was a huge success!! I was completely floored by the overwhelming number of responses and the time and care people took to give their opinion. The results of the last poll showed, overwhelmingly, that field work is of paramount importance to a good geology education. In fact, the top two choices with 160 and 157 votes apiece both involved taking students to the field. The third place choice was: an exposure to a wide variety of geologic disciplines. Clearly, the geoscience community is very aware of the integrated nature of our science and the importance of universities producing ...more

Rocks of the Earth - EGU 2014

Geology Jenga - Published on May 23, 2014 by Laura Roberts-Artal

Credit: EGU2014 For the first time in 2014 the EGU General Assembly had a theme: The Face of the Earth. A number of special displays and talks were arranged to celebrate the first themed meeting. Our very own Dan was heavily involved with one aspect of Face of the Earth; along with some colleagues, he manned the Rocks of the Earth stand at the conference center foyer. No doubt a number of you donated rocks to be displayed throughout the Assembly and you may want to know a little more about the fate of your rocks. In this video, released by EGU, ...more

Last dinosaur of its kind found in the land that time forgot

Green Tea and Velociraptors - Published on May 15, 2014 by Jon Tennant

In terms of iconic dinosaurs, the gargantuan sauropods are certainly up there. Along with the mostly meat eating-theropods, and herbivorous and often armoured ornithischians, they form one of the three major groups, or clades, of dinosaurs, and were the biggest animals to ever walk this Earth. The end of the Jurassic period, some 145 million years ago, was a pretty important time for sauropods. Their diversity was already in decline through some of the latter part of the Jurassic, but it seems that they were hit pretty badly at the Jurassic/Cretaceous (J/K) boundary, in an extinction event that may have been ...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

Citizen science: how can we all contribute to the climate discussion?

Four Degrees - Published on April 4, 2014 by Marion Ferrat

Until the turn of the 20th century, science was an activity practiced by amateur naturalists and philosophers with enough money and time on their hands to devote their lives to the pursuit of knowledge and the understanding of the natural world. Hand-colored lithograph of Malaclemys terrapin, in John Edwards Holbrook's North American herpetology. Source - Wikimedia Commons. Today, scientific research is an industry of its own, carried out by highly trained and specialised professionals in academic institutions and research laboratories. From the outside, the world of science can sometimes seem like a mysterious one. A world that conveys wonder yet can ...more

From synchrotron to super-volcano - buoyed up by magma

An Atom's-Eye View of the Planet - Published on January 14, 2014 by Simon Redfern

Thank goodness Mount Sinabung isn’t a supervolcano. Binsar Bakkara/AP Devastating supervolcanoes can erupt simply due to changes that happen in their giant magma chambers as they slowly cool, according to a new study. This finding marks the first time researchers have been able to explain the mechanism behind the eruptions of the largest volcanoes on Earth. Geologists have identified the roots of a number of ancient and possible future supervolcanoes across the globe. No supervolcano has yet exploded in human history, but the rock record demonstrates how devastating any eruption would be to today’s civilisation. Perhaps most famous is the Yellowstone ...more

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