Recent posts

The Society for Neuroscience receiving both barrels

Green Tea and Velociraptors - Published on August 22, 2014 by Jon Tennant

Apologies for the third post about open access publishing in a row. Normal service will resume shortly! I wanted to bring attention to a second open letter published, inspired by our first one to the Association for the Advancement of American Science (AAAS). This letter was aimed at a smaller society, the Society for Neuroscience, and spearheaded by Erin McKiernan, who was also a signatory on the original letter. My thanks go out to Josh at The Winnower for such speedy publication of these letters, and to everyone who has contributed to these letters in some way so far. Do you know any publishers ...more

Continuing the battle for open access that's good for science, not publishers' profits

Green Tea and Velociraptors - Published on August 20, 2014 by Jon Tennant

Two developments since the last post regarding open access things for anyone interested! First, is a little interview I had with the Open Access Button folk about er, open access: Second, is that our open letter to the AAAS has spawned a second one addressed to the Society for Neuroscience, led by Erin McKiernan: It's not too late to sign either (leave a comment on The Winnower for our original one), and we'll be using these as the basis to address similar letters to other publishers regarding some of their more dodgy open access policies. Glad to see the community getting behind all ...more

GfGD Conference

Geology for Global Development - Published on August 18, 2014 by Joel Gill

Register for the 2nd GfGD Conference by the end of August and you'll be given the chance to win this attractive 60 x 40 cm canvas of geology related pictures. A winner from those registering before 31st August, and in attendance, will be drawn on the day itself. Registration is reasonably priced and easy to do, and we're expecting a great day. Do let us know if you have any questions or ...more

Swing and a miss by the AAAS for open access

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

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest scientific organisation, recently announced their latest journal, the fully open access 'Science Advances'. While superficially this seems like a good move for them, digging into the details reveals many inherent flaws with the journal, that at worst portray the AAAS as a money-grabbing organisation and enemies to the real progress of science, and at best naive about the current state of scholarly publishing and the direction that the open access movement is pushing it in. To that end, an open letter has been sent to senior members of the AAAS, including the ...more

Plastic packaging - a horror film

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Published on August 11, 2014 by Charly Stamper

Zero Waste Week is an opportunity to reduce landfill waste & save money. In its seventh year, the week runs 1st - 7th September 2014. The theme is "One More Thing" - what one more thing could YOU do? Find out more at or on Twitter using #zerowasteweek Ever since I spent a summer working on a landfill site, I think twice before putting any items of rubbish in the bin. Yanley Landfill site, south Bristol, during the Balloon Fiesta in 2007. The site is now closed and is being restored to woodland. Photo credit: Charly Stamper Living In Bristol, I'm ...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

Summer Opportunity - Write a Hazard Factsheet

Geology for Global Development - Published on August 6, 2014 by Joel Gill

We're currently looking for some students on their summer break (or PhD students/recent graduates) to help us write factsheets on hazards in specific countries. Countries we are interested in include the Philippines, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Columbia and Peru. As these factsheets will be reviewed, formatted, printed and sent to NGOs - this is a great opportunity to utilise your geological knowledge to support the fight against global poverty. Over the past 18 months we have been working with some students to develop factsheets based on hazards in specific countries ( These sheets, requested by the NGO community, will be printed and disseminated thanks ...more

GfGD in Tanzania (2) - Monitoring Water Projects

Geology for Global Development - Published on July 31, 2014 by Joel Gill

In our post yesterday I discussed the upcoming YES Congress and 25th Colloquium of African Geology in Dar es Salaam (1 - on the map), and introduced the way in which GfGD will be contributing. Following these conferences I will be travelling the 1000+ km distance to Mwanza - a key Tanzanian town on the edge of Lake Victoria, and then proceeding (by boat and car) to Chato (2 - on the map) in the Kagera Region to undertake some water/sanitation assessments. Kagera is a beautiful region of Tanzania, bordering Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Lake Victoria. It is also one of the ...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) Map board at entrance to Parque Nationale Chirrippo. Photo courtesy ...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

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

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

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

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

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

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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