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External Conference Opportunities

Geology for Global Development - Published on April 16, 2014 by Joel Gill

A number of interesting and relevant external conferences have come to our attention this week. If you're interested in water and sanitation/hydrogeology or disaster risk reduction then these may be of interest to you! --- **Hydrogeology and WASH Conference - What can hydrogeologists contribute to safe water supply and poverty reduction?** When: Thursday 5th June 2014 Where: Geological Society of London, Burlington House, London, UK Cost: £10 for students Summary: Groundwater plays a key role in the provision of reliable water supplies in many less-developed regions of the world. Due to its complexity, a detailed understanding of the groundwater environment is often required to ensure that resources ...more

Soil colors - what more could you want?

G-Soil - Published on April 15, 2014 by Antonio Jordán

Nuno Simões University of Algarve, Portugal E-mail: Nuno Simões (before combing). Meet Nuno at EGU2014-SSS2.7. We can easily see that soil color varies from one site to another, with depth, with topographic position and composition. Even color may be light brown in one side of the road and dark brown in the other. Whether for scientific purposes, or just curious, you study the colorimetric interesting variations. Why does soil color change? The soil color varies due to the characteristics of substances that form it. These variations can be caused by several factors, as, for example, soil humidity (the wetter the soil is, the darker it gets), ...more

Guest Blog: Groundwater Quality Management in Rural Uttar Pradesh, India

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

Donald John MacAllister, serves on the Executive Committee of Geology for Global Development. He is currently leading the Hazard Factsheet project. Donald John is a PhD student at Imperial College London and is researching the application of self-potential monitoring to seawater intrusion problems in coastal aquifers. He has a BSc in Geophysics from the University of Edinburgh and an MSc in Community Water and Sanitation from Cranfield University. He is currently working with UNICEF India on a project to support the Government of Uttar Pradesh to improve their water quality management structures. In this blog he writes about the background ...more

Monday paper: Soil carbon stocks and their variability across the forests, shrublands and grasslands of peninsular Spain

G-Soil - Published on April 7, 2014 by Antonio Jordán

Doblas-Miranda, E., Rovira, P., Brotons, L., Martínez-Vilalta, J., Retana, J., Pla, M., and Vayreda, J. 2013. Soil carbon stocks and their variability across the forests, shrublands and grasslands of peninsular Spain. Biogeosciences, 10, 8353-8361. DOI: 10.5194/bg-10-8353-2013. Abstract Accurate estimates of C stocks and fluxes of soil organic carbon (SOC) are needed to assess the impact of climate and land use change on soil C uptake and soil C emissions to the atmosphere. Here, we present an assessment of SOC stocks in forests, shrublands and grasslands of peninsular Spain based on field measurements in more than 900 soil profiles. SOC to a depth of ...more

Will drinking tea get us thinking about soils? Yes, but only if you help us spread the word!

G-Soil - Published on April 10, 2014 by Antonio Jordán

Taru Lehtinen PhD candidate at the Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland Meet Taru at EGU2014 in sessions SSS10.3 and SSS10.8. The Tea Bag Index Project wants to create a global map on decomposition with the help of citizen scientists. We use teabags to collect vital information on the global carbon cycle. With our protocol (see our web page and our article: Keuskamp et al., 2013), citizen scientists worldwide can collect data without much effort or instrumentation. Tea Bag Index Project developed a simple and cheap method, which anyone can use to measure decomposition in the soil, simply by burying ...more

Friday Photo (123) - St. Joseph Cathedral (Antigua, Guatemala)

Geology for Global Development - Published on April 11, 2014 by Joel Gill

   Ruins of St. Joseph Cathedral (Antigua, Guatemala) This Cathedral was destroyed in the significant 1773 earthquake. Part of the Cathedral has been rebuilt, and the ruins are now opened for tourists to visit. Credit: Joel Gill, ...more

Middle-Earth gets a geological makeover

Green Tea and Velociraptors - Published on April 9, 2014 by Jon Tennant

As if J. R. R. Tolkien wasn’t brilliant enough with his creation of Middle-Earth, it appears that using his numerous maps and illustrations provided, supplemented by observations from within the texts themselves, a geological reconstruction can be achieved! I recently came across this old article from the Proceedings of the J. R. R. Tolkien Centenary Conference, Oxford, England, 1992, and figured it was worth sharing. The first attempt at a geological history of Middle-Earth was Margaret Howes in 1967 in a piece entitled “The Elder Ages and Later Glaciations off the Pleistocene Epoch”. Here, she endeavoured to recapitulate the successive geomorphologies ...more

What is the Daily Air Quality Index?

Polluting the Internet - Published on April 10, 2014 by Will Morgan

The recent air pollution episode in the UK brought a previously obscure air quality metric into the public consciousness, with the Daily Air Quality Index (DAQI) appearing in weather forecasts and the media. The index describes the severity of pollution in different areas using a ten-point scale, with a score of ten being the worst score. The question is what is the index based on? The scale itself is based on a 2011 report by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP), who published a review of the previous system with updates based on the latest scientific research. The report is available here. ...more

#AESRC2014 Highlights

GeoSphere - Published on April 8, 2014 by Matt Herod

Well, AESRC is done for another year and with it my role as co-chair of the organizing committee! Thank goodness for that! Hopefully, I can finally get some actual thesis related work done in the coming months...and maybe get back to blogging a bit as well. However, as grateful as I am that AESRC is done, I have to say that it was a fantastic conference this year with a host of terrific talks from keynotes and grad students alike. As I mentioned in my conference opening post AESRC is the only conference in Ontario, maybe Canada for all I know, that ...more

A foreseeable, yet surprising earthquake?

Geology Jenga - Published on April 3, 2014 by Laura Roberts-Artal

On Wednesday morning I woke up to a flurry of activity on my twitter feed: there had been a large earthquake in northern Chile. I followed up some of the tweets and realised that there had also been some tsunami warnings as a result of the earthquake. After ascertaining that the scale of the disaster wasn’t as large as I’d anticipated, given the size of the quake (I don’t want you to think for one moment that I am belittling the plight of the people affected by the earthquake. I was more relieved that the damage was not on a ...more

Macroecology – scaling the time barrier

Green Tea and Velociraptors - Published on April 7, 2014 by Jon Tennant

If there was ever an overdue discussion in palaeontology, it was how we reconcile the differences in time scales when looking at different periods in our history. This is becoming increasingly more important as scientific research is being asked to have demonstrably greater ‘impact’ in terms of some social, economic, or environmental relevance, and for palaeobiologists and palaeoecologists, this means having some sort of notable effect on our changing world. The day kicked off with Andy Purvis summarising what we actually mean by macroecology – I mean, it’s an impressive sounding term, but what is it scientifically? It’s actually varied quite ...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

UK Air Pollution: March/April 2014

Polluting the Internet - Published on April 2, 2014 by Will Morgan

Air pollution over the UK has been high on the agenda today with the media covering the widespread build up of aerosol pollution since the end of last week. This has led to health concerns, particularly for vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly and people with pre-existing heart and lung conditions. This follows the recent event in mid-March, which I covered here and saw Paris take measures to reduce local traffic pollution within the city by banning some cars from the road. Over the past weekend, pollution levels were broadly similar to the previous event in March, although perhaps it is ...more

Opening of #AESRC2014

GeoSphere - Published on March 28, 2014 by Matt Herod

Today marks the opening of the 13th annual AESRC conference at uOttawa. The AESRC (Advances in Earth Science Research) is the geology conference in Canada that is organized by and for graduate students only. This year uOttawa is the host and March has been a ridiculously busy month preparing to host AESRC for over 120 delegates including faculty from uOttawa and other Canadian geology departments as well as industry representatives. This year's AESRC marks a number of significant milestones for the conference and we hope it will be the best ever. This will be the biggest AESRC ever with close to ...more

The future of scientific publishing

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

Last night, the Society of Spanish Researchers in the UK, SRUK, hosted an event discussing the past, present and future of scientific publishing (event details). One thing that was nice about this discussion, compared to previous ones I've attended in London, was the number of practising academics in the room. Often, academics are excluded from the discussions about scholarly publishing, which is a bit odd when you know, they're the ones who actually need the services that publishers etc. provide. Anyway, what did we all discuss? Three great and varied speakers formed our menu tonight. For starters, we had Cameron Neylon, ex-scientista, ...more

Science Snap (#22) Landslide in Washinton state

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Published on March 28, 2014 by Charly Stamper

Aerial photo showing the aftermath of the landslide that buried the town of Oso in WA, USA.Credit: U.S. Geological SurveyDepartment of the Interior/USGSU.S. Geological Survey/photo by Air Support Unit , King County Sheriff's Office This week, the world has been shocked by images of devastation after a huge landslide buried the town of Oso, north of Seattle, in Washington state, USA. At 11:00 PDT on Saturday 22nd March 2014, a 500m-wide section of mud and rock became detached from a hillside above the 180 population town, and hurtled down the slope at high speed. Deposits from the landslip are up ...more

Some personal perspectives from a PhD student on the peer-review system

Geology Jenga - Published on March 19, 2014 by Daniel Schillereff

This is a follow-up to a previous post from September 2013 entitled ‘Soliciting peer reviews from PhD students’. In that piece, I summarised the responses I’d received from a number of editors of peer-reviewed journals in the field of Quaternary Science having asked them their feelings on soliciting peer reviews from PhD students. Some recent events, most significant being the acceptance of my first paper and being invited to review a manuscript a manuscript for the first time, have encouraged me to outline my personal experiences. Reviewing my first paper Late last year an email out of the blue from an ...more

UK Air Pollution: March 2014

Polluting the Internet - Published on March 14, 2014 by Will Morgan

After the UK's wettest winter since 1910, spring has sprung with several warm and clear days in March so far. High pressure has been the dominant meteorological situation, which has seen clear skies during the day and cold nights, with fog settling overnight and continuing into the morning. While the high pressure and much reduced rainfall has brought much needed respite to those affected by the severe flooding during the winter, it comes with a sting in the tail in terms of air quality. Surface pressure analysis chart for midnight on the 14th March 2014. Source: and the Met Office. This ...more

Tolbachik – a mineralogist’s paradise

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

Tolbachik is a basaltic volcanic massif lying at the southern end of the Kliuchevskoi group in Kamchatka, Russia. It comprises two overlapping cones: Plosky Tolbachik, a Holocene shield volcano extending to 3 km in diameter; and the older (Pleistocene) Ostry Tolbachik, a sharp-topped stratovolcano reaching some 3,700 m in height. Lava flows on the summit of Plosky Tolbachik. Photo credit: Lena Melekhova Eruptions in 1975-76 and 2012-2013 occurred along rift zones situated NE and SSW of the main vents, with spectacular images of the 21st century activity circulating the globe via the internet. As well as being extremely photogenic, Tolbachik is ...more

Science Snap (#21): Diatoms

Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Published on March 13, 2014 by Charly Stamper

KT Cooper is a PhD student in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol. A carbonate geochemist by training, she has just returned from a three-month secondment to Houston, Texas, USA working with Exxon Mobil. When you start looking at things at a microscopic level, everything starts to look a little alien. Minerals assemblages can look like the landscapes of far off planets and microbes can look like their inhabitants. One such type of alien looking microscopic life form are diatoms. Diatom images showing the variability in their beautiful morphology. Photo credit: Kate Hendry Diatoms are type of algae and ...more

The wet with the dry: The geology of Siwa Oasis

Four Degrees - Published on March 10, 2014 by Flo Bullough

Flo takes us on a photoblog-trip to Siwa Oasis in Egypt where epic sand seas meet freshwater springs, saline lakes and sulphurous hot pools!  Siwa Oasis, adapted from Google Earth. The blog’s going on holiday this week! I spent a week in Egypt on holiday last month and braved the 10 hour overnight bus journey from the capital city Cairo to visit the breathaking beauty of the Siwa Oasis in the Egyptian sand sea of the Libyan desert. I have to say that the shift from big-city Cairo to Siwa via a 10 hour bus drive added a real sense of ...more

The Most Epic Unboxing Ever

GeoSphere - Published on February 18, 2014 by Matt Herod

There is a strange phenomenon on the internet called unboxing. Unboxing is when a person receives a new package of something and takes a video or pictures of the process of opening it for the first time and posts it online.  Mostly, from what I can see, people "unbox" electronics or hockey cards or things of that nature. However, what I have today could be called the granddaddy of all unboxings; I have a series of photos of the unboxing and, initial stages of set-up of the University of Ottawa's new, 3 million volt, accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS), which cost ...more

Towards better quantifying human impacts: Looking back on the PAGES Workshop in Leuven

Geology Jenga - Published on February 24, 2014 by Daniel Schillereff

Firstly, I'd like to express my sincere thanks to Dr Jennifer Clear (Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague) for her input to this blog article. The first week of February saw dozens of scientists arrive at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven for the PAGES Focus 4 Workshop. This event brought together geomorphologists, soil scientists, palaeoecologists, archaeologists and palaeolimnologists to discuss how we can better quantify past human impacts on the landscape. It became clear this is a research question of great importance for the present-day management and conservation of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, as those tasked with the job must be ...more

Towards a greener energy world?

Four Degrees - Published on February 12, 2014 by Marion Ferrat

Marion reports on the latest Grantham Institute for Climate Change special lecture by International Energy Agency Chief Economist Dr Fatih Birol.  On January 29th, I attended the Grantham Institute for Climate Change special lecture by International Energy Agency (IEA) Chief Economist Dr Fatih Birol at Imperial College London. Dr Birol discussed the future of the world’s energy market and outlined the main conclusions of the IEA World Energy Outlook report published in November last year. Here are the main points of Dr Birol's lecture. The long-held tenets of the energy sector are being rewritten Trade patterns are changing and countries are switching roles, with long-established energy importers becoming exporters. -        ...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

Titanic lakes revealed in Cassini's extraterrestrial bathymetry

An Atom's-Eye View of the Planet - Published on January 7, 2014 by Simon Redfern

NASA/ESA's map of Titan's northern lakes The joint NASA-ESA Cassini space probe, exploring Saturn and her moons, has revealed extraordinary lakes and seas of liquid methane around the north pole of Titan. Scientists associated with the Cassini mission described a strange rectangular area of large seas, picked out by imaging instruments aboard the probe. I heard all about it at the recent American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting last month. Elongated lakes and seas connected by long skinny peninsulas characterise the two seas picked out in the new image. Reminiscent of the topographic depressions in the basin and range province of USA, ...more

Cool and hot eruptions, worlds apart

An Atom's-Eye View of the Planet - Published on November 16, 2013 by Simon Redfern

Rings over Etna. copyright Tom Pfeiffer – Volcanic Mount Sinbung in Sumatra, Indonesia, has sprung to life in a series of massive eruptions over the last few days. The volcano had lain dormant for more than 400 years before a few minor eruptions three years ago. But this week more than 5,000 people have been evacuated from nearby towns and villages as Sinbung makes her presence felt. As Sinabung puts on her show of power, in the Mediterranean the volcano Etna has also been active this week. But the view of Etna’s summit is far more gentle, as extraordinary smoke rings ...more


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