GeoLog

GeoLog

Imaggeo on Mondays: Erosion

Imaggeo on Mondays: Erosion

In mountainous regions precipitation – be that in the form of rain, hail or snow, for example – drives erosion, which means it plays an important part in shaping the way the landscape looks. Precipitation can directly wear away at hillsides and creates streams and rivers, which leave their mark on the scenery by cutting and calving their way through it.

Take for instance the hills in the arid coastal region of Pisco Valley, in Peru (pictured above). Contrary to what you might think having first looked at the photograph, very little erosion of rock happens here. The solid rock which makes up the undulating hills is a hard-wearing grantic rock (not dissimilar to the stone you might covet for your kitchen countertops).

Over time, wind-blown sediments have blanketed the granites. Loesses, as the deposits are known, are very soft and range between 20 and 60 cm in thickness. The channels which slice the hillside are carved into the loesses, not the granites which lie below.

Rain is such a rare thing in these parts that soil barely forms (Norton et al., 2015) and it’s impossible for plants to grow on the soft substrate, leaving the slopes exposed to the elements. When the infrequent rains do come, small scale gullies, only a few centimetres deep cut their way into the sediments, taking away material loosened by torrential rainfalls at high speeds.

References

Kevin P. Norton, Peter Molnar, Fritz Schlunegger, The role of climate-driven chemical weathering on soil production, Geomorphology, Volume 204, 1 January 2014, Pages 510-517, ISSN 0169-555X, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.08.030.

Imaggeo is the EGU’s online open access geosciences image repository. All geoscientists (and others) can submit their photographs and videos to this repository and, since it is open access, these images can be used for free by scientists for their presentations or publications, by educators and the general public, and some images can even be used freely for commercial purposes. Photographers also retain full rights of use, as Imaggeo images are licensed and distributed by the EGU under a Creative Commons licence. Submit your photos at http://imaggeo.egu.eu/upload/.

 

Making a poster or PICO presentation: top tips from the Outstanding Student Poster and PICO (OSPP) Award judges

Making a poster or PICO presentation: top tips from the Outstanding Student Poster and PICO (OSPP) Award judges

Every year at the General Assembly hundreds of students present their research at the conference with a lot of time and effort going into preparing these presentations. With the aim to further improve the overall quality of poster presentations and more importantly, to encourage early career scientists to present their work in the form of a poster, the OSP Awards (as they were formerly known), were born. Since last year’s General Assembly, PICO presentations are included in the Outstanding Student Poster Awards, which have been renamed to Outstanding Student Poster and PICO (OSPP) Awards.

“There are a thousand posters in a hall, and they are all competing for attention,” highlights Niels Hovius of GFZ, German Research Centre for Geosciences and a former OSP Judge for the Geomorphology Division, “so, you need to stand out a little bit.”

But, how can you make sure your poster or PICO is a great presentation which achieves that?

At the 2015 General Assembly we spoke to some of the judges and past winners of the award and asked them to share their thoughts on what makes a top poster presentation.  We put their top tips together in this short video, which gives you a good idea of the key elements you ought to be thinking about when preparing your poster or PICO presentation.

 

If you are participating in OSPP, don’t forget to attach the OSPP label (blue SVG, blue PNG, yellow SVG, yellow PNG) to your poster board. Alternatively, you might include the label in the poster itself. If you participate with a PICO, you are kindly asked to add the OSPP label to your PICO presentation header.

The OSP awards are presented at the level of the EGU Programme Groups which in 2015 saw an improved way of signing up for the award and also judging of the presentations. A post from the blog archives also has full details of how the presentations are evaluated and you can also find detailed information about the award on the EGU website.

The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 23 to 28 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website.

Imaggeo on Mondays: Lava highway in Kanaga Island

Imaggeo on Mondays: Lava highway in Kanaga Island

On a rare sunny day, Mattia Pistone (a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC) was able to capture this spectacular shot of Kanaga, a stratovolcano in the remote Western Aleutians, which is usually veiled by thick cloud.

The Western Aleutians form a chain of 14 large and 55 small volcanic islands, belonging to one of the most extended volcanic archipelagos on Earth (1900 km), stretching from Alaska across the northern Pacific towards the shores of Russia.

As part of a team of researchers, Mattia spent three grueling weeks in the isolated region. Being one of the most extended volcanic arc systems on Earth, the Aleutians can shed light on one of the most fundamental questions in the Earth sciences: how do continents form?

The Earth’s landmasses are made of continental crust, which is thought to be largely andesitic in composition. That could mean it is dominated by a silicon-rich rock, of magmatic origin, which is fine grained and usually light to dark grey in colour. However, basaltic magmas derived from the Earth’s upper mantle and erupted at active volcanoes contribute to chemistry of the continental crust. The fact that continental crust bears the chemical hallmarks of both suggests that the formation of new continents must somehow be linked to motion of magma and its chemistry.

Establishing the link between magma generation, transport, emplacement, and eruption can therefore significantly improve our understanding of crust-forming processes associated with plate tectonics, and, particularly, help determining the architecture and composition of the continental crust. The Alaska-Aleutian archipelago is a natural laboratory which offers a variable range of volcanic rocks. The islands present a perfect opportunity for scientists to try and understand the origin of continents.

By collecting samples of volcanic ash erupted at Kanaga and other volcanoes of the Aleutian arc, Mattia and his colleagues are currently investigating the origin of this volcanic ash. Understanding its chemistry allow the team to get a clearer idea of the conditions that were present while the magma was forming and ascending, for example, how much water and iron were present.

The team were based on the Maritime Maid research vessel, and hoped from island to island collecting samples and taking measurements of volcanic activity as part of a large research consortium called GeoPRISMS, funded by the National Science Foundation. The field work was supported by a Bell 407 helicopter and its crew.

Today’s featured image shows an andesitic lava flow erupted in 1906. The volcanic deposits were explored during the field geological mission by Mattia and the team. Kanaga last erupted in 1994. Ash from that eruption was found in the nearby island of Adak. Even at present, there is a highly active system of fumaroles at the summit of the volcano.

If you pre-register for the 2017 General Assembly (Vienna, 22 – 28 April), you can take part in our annual photo competition! From 1 February up until 1 March, every participant pre-registered for the General Assembly can submit up three original photos and one moving image related to the Earth, planetary, and space sciences in competition for free registration to next year’s General Assembly!  These can include fantastic field photos, a stunning shot of your favourite thin section, what you’ve captured out on holiday or under the electron microscope – if it’s geoscientific, it fits the bill. Find out more about how to take part at http://imaggeo.egu.eu/photo-contest/information/.

EGU 2017: How to make the most of your time at the General Assembly without breaking the bank

EGU 2017: How to make the most of your time at the General Assembly without breaking the bank

Attending a conference is not cheap, even if you’ve been lucky enough to secure some funds to help with travel, accommodation and/or registration costs. However, with a little insider knowledge from those who’ve attended the General Assembly many times before, it is possible to have a (scientifically) rewarding week in Vienna, without breaking the bank.

Before you get there

A sure way to save a few cents (or pennies) is to book your accommodation and travel early. With over 13,000 participants at the conference last year, the race for places to stay and transport to get to Vienna is fierce. Booking early will not only mean you have more choice of places to stay and times to travel, but will ensure you get the most competitive prices too.

For those travelling by plane to the conference, a top tip is to look for flights to Bratislava. The Slovakian capital is only 80km away from Vienna and well connected via bus, train and even boat! Bratislava airport is served by a good selection of low cost airlines and it’s often cheaper to fly there than directly to Vienna. A bus ticket between the two cities can cost as little as one Euro (if booked well in advance) with the average for a return train trip being around 14 euro. If that’s not enough to persuade you, it’s worth factoring in a little time to discover the city. It’s a warren of quaint little streets, an imposing castle and good, affordable beer and food.

Bratislava Old Town. Credit: Xlibber (distributed via Wikimedia Commons)

If you’d rather head straight to Vienna, booking your arrival and departure for the day(s) before and after the conference can result in considerable savings. And, if you’re ok with longer journeys, you might consider the train or the bus, which are often more affordable too.

Somewhere to stay

Sharing accommodation is an easy way to keep costs down. If you are travelling with colleagues consider sharing with them. If you are traveling on your own, or unable to share with colleagues, reach out to contacts you made in the past, be it a former undergrad friend, or someone you met during a workshop. They may not be in your immediate field anymore, but it might offer added bonuses like the option to reconnect and forge new links.

Hotels can be expensive. Hostels offer an affordable alternative and are bound to be packed with fellow EGU goers. Alternatively, look for beds, rooms and/or apartments via Couchsurfing, AirBnB or similar services.

A week of eating out can take its toll, both on the purse strings and on the waistline! Opt for accommodation options which have kitchenettes or full kitchens. You’ll be able to prepare some meals at your home from home, saving a little cash. Plus, you might even have enough space to entertain old friends and potential new collaborators!

Exploring Vienna

If you need a breather from all the science (and the ECS Lounge isn’t enough), or you have a few days before or after the conference to discover the Austrian capital, keep in mind that the city’s public transport is excellent. Staying outside of the city centre guarantees cheaper accommodation prices, but staying along the U1 underground (ubahn) line ensure quick and easy access to all the main tourist spots and the conference centre to boot!

If you’d rather opt for a more energetic option, then the city’s bike rental scheme might be just the ticket. You need to register for the scheme before you can use the bikes, but with 120 stations across the city, and a 4 hour rental costing 4 Euros, this an environmentally friendly and cheap option definitely worth considering.

Vienna has plenty to offer, from beautiful parks and gardens, through to impressive architecture and a plethora of museums (and sachertorte, of course). Visit Wien Null for a great selection of tips on how to enjoy the city to the full, without breaking the bank. The site has information about arts and culture events, free wifi spots, the best places to go for a bite to eat or a drink, as well as a selection of affordable sport options too.

Vienna Cathedral. Credit: Domeckopol (distributed via pixabay.com)

You should also stay tuned to the blog on the final day of the conference. Our team of press assistants put together a blog post highlighting what’s on in Vienna over the weekend. So if you plan to extend your trip to after the conference, you’ll certainly be able to pick up some pointers. Let last year’s post serve as a starting point.

Finding funding

If your research budget won’t stretch to financing a trip to the General Assembly, don’t despair, there are a number of options you can consider. Though it might be a little late to apply for these for the upcoming conference, keep them in mind for the 2018 edition instead.

Submit your abstract to the conference between October and December and you can apply for financial support to travel to the General Assembly (from the EGU). Grants are competitive, but that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try- if you want to apply, make sure you follow the criteria carefully, as the evaluation is based on how well you satisfy them. You can also consider participating in the EGU’s OSPP Awards, Imaggeo Photo Contest and Communicate your Science Video Competition (submissions for the 2017 editions of all contests are now closed). Not only will it give your CV a boost if you win, it’ll ensure free registration to the following year’s conference.

Many institutions also offer travel support, especially if you are presenting. Seek advice from your advisor and/or the graduate school (if your institute has one) to learn more about what funds are available. Also, find out if your institute/university is a member of Research Professional, which includes a database of all funding options available, no matter how small, including travel grants.

Similarly, there might be schemes available at the national level, be it from funding bodies or directly from the government. They often fall under the ‘short research stay’ category.

Learned societies, e.g. Institute for Civil Engineering, Institution of Engineering & Technology, often have pots of money set aside to support travel to conferences. They sometimes require you to have been a member for a set amount of time before you can apply for support, but there are many benefits to joining, so it’s a worthy investment.

For more tips and tricks, particularly if you’ve never been to the conference before, don’t forget to check our First Timer’s Guide. While we hope this post goes some way toward making the conference an affordable experience, it is by no means comprehensive.Help us make it better by sharing your suggestions on how to make the most of the General Assembly and Vienna, we’d love to hear from you. Add them in the comments section below and we’ll include them in a similar post in 2018.

By Laura Roberts Artal, EGU Communications Officer, & the EGU’s Early Career Representatives

The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 23 to 28 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website.

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