It is not unusual to observe abrupt contacts between two, seemingly, contiguous rock layers, such as the one featured in today’s featured image. This type of contact is called an unconformity and marks two very distinct times periods, where the rocks formed under very different conditions.
Telheiro Beach is located at the western tip of the Algarve; Portugal’s southernmost mainland region and the most touristic too.
The area, famous for its famous rocky beaches and great seefood, shows a spectacular Variscan unconformity between the highly-folded greywackes and shales of the Brejeira Formation (Moscovian-Carboniferous) and the horizontally placed red sandstones and mudstones of the Group Grés de Silves (of Late Triassic age: 237 and 201.3 million years old). There is a hiatus of about 100 million years between the two formations.
The Variscan period ranges from 370 million to 290 million year ago and is named after the formation of a mountain belt which extends across western Europe, as a result of the collision between Africa and the North American–North European continents.
The imposing sea cliffs produce a privileged place to observe the end of the Variscan Cycle and the beginning of the Alpine Cycle.
The folds feature chevron geometries (where the rocks have well behaved layers, with straight limbs and sharp hinges, so that they look like sharp Vs). The folding is the result of the final deformation phase of the Variscan compression.
The beds of sedimentary rocks show sedimentary structures attributed to sedimentation in a turbidic environment (turbititic currents), namely the Bouma sequence and sole marks like flute, groove and load casts.
By André Cortesão, Environmental Engineer and Geoscientist collaborator of the University of Coimbra Geosciences Centre
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/
Solmaz Mohadjer is the winner of one of the first EGU Public Engagement Grants competition in 2016. Credit: Solmaz Mohadjer
Did you know that the EGU has a public engagement grant scheme which, annually, awards two EGU members with 1000€ to help them develop an outreach project?The 2018 call for applications is currently open.
In this GeoTalk interview, Laura Roberts talks to Solmaz Mohadjer, a winner of the first EGU Public Engagement Grants competition in 2016. If you are considering applying, then read on for tips from Solmaz on what makes a good outreach project, and how she invested the prize money to further the understanding of earthquakes among those most vulnerable.
Before we get started, could you introduce yourself and tell our readers a little more about your background?
I’m passionate about applying my skills and knowledge to help those who live in earthquake-prone parts of the world. Over the last decade, I’ve used different tools including GPS geodesy and terrestrial remote sensing (LiDAR) to quantify mountain hazards such as earthquakes and rockfalls, and communicate findings with at-risk communities.
My preferred approach to doing research is to allow questions asked by at-risk communities to drive my research goals and products. For example, the open access active fault database was designed by our research group at the University of Tübingen to address commonly-asked questions such as “Is there an active fault near where I live?” Publishing results, though important, are not the end target for me.
I am privileged to work with mentors and colleagues who not only publish scientific research, but also actively participate in science education and outreach. Collaborating with colleagues worldwide, we have developed educational materials for school communities (e.g., lesson plans, video modules, and posters), have organized training workshops for local geologists and teachers, and spoken at local public events such as TEDx conferences. Earthquakes are inevitable but earthquake risk can be reduced, and hazard scientists definitely have a role to play.
Some of our readers may yet not be familiar with the public engagement grant, can you tell us a little more about it?
The EGU Public Engagement Grants (€1000) are awarded for a period of 12 months to two EGU members interested in developing a public engagement initiative. The awards were offered for the first time in 2016, and I’m honoured to be one of the first recipients.
The award recognises the most innovative and effective outreach projects that aim to raise awareness of geoscience outside the scientific community.
What I like about the award is that there is no restriction on the format of the proposed project or activity. We went for videos while Gomez-Heras (also a 2016 award recipient) organised and carried out a fieldtrip.
The application process was fast and uncomplicated. The great news for the 2018 recipients is that in addition to receiving the funds, the registration fee for the next year’s EGU General Assembly are waived as long as they plan to present the results of their outreach work.
A team of early career scientists enthusiastically volunteered their time and skills to make the video lessons come to life. Credit: Solmaz Mohadjer
Why did you decide to apply for the funds?
Turning the earthquake lessons plans into video modules had been on my radar for several years. When my colleague, Sebastian Mutz, and I learned about the EGU public engagement grant, we decided to take this opportunity to realise this project.
The financial support certainly helped, but what attracted us the most was giving the EGU full access to our video modules for dissemination via its communication channels (e.g. our earthquake lesson plans are now available on the EGU’s YouTube channel). We wanted to reach a wide/diverse audience, and having the EGU’s support mattered a lot to us.
Tell us more about your outreach project: what were the aims and how did you decide to meet them?
Our goal is to enable easy and effective access to science-based earthquake hazard information. To do this, we converted previously developed earthquake lesson plans into video modules that are freely available to school teachers around the world as streaming video, internet downloads and DVDs.
The videos introduce students to the fundamental scientific concepts behind earthquakes (e.g., plate tectonics, faulting, and seismic energy) as well as earthquake hazards (e.g., landslides, liquefaction, structural and nonstructural hazards) and safety measures (e.g., drills and planning).
The unique teaching duet pedagogy used in the videos encourages the in-class teacher to collaborate with the video teacher (an Earth scientist) to help students understand the physical processes related to earthquakes and the self-protective steps they can take to mitigate hazards.
The video production is a collaborative effort between students and researchers from University of Cambridge (Matthew Kemp and Sophie Gill), University of Leeds (Ruth Amey and Lewis Mitchell), King’s College London (Faith Taylor), and University of Tübingen (Matthias Nettesheim, Reinhard Drews, and Jessica Starke).
My colleague, Sebastian Mutz, and I lead the video production. All presenters are early career scientists who enthusiastically volunteer their time and skills to make this project happen. Without them, we simply would not have any videos to share.
The videos can be accessed through the EGU YouTube channel. For lesson plans and other supporting materials, please check out the ParsQuake website.
Wow! It sounds like a very worthwhile initiative; have you got to the stage where you can start to assess its success?
We are currently in the process of editing and publishing the remaining four videos. Those published are getting many views on YouTube already.
We are now forming an evaluation team to design an effective online feedback form that will be available soon for collecting user’s feedback. This information will then assist us with evaluation and further development of this project.
Those interested in assisting us with project evaluation are welcomed to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What top tips do you have for anyone wanting to develop a public engagement initiative?
It is important to think about why you want to engage the public and who you want to target. Talking directly with the public and listening to their comments and questions can help with the why, who and how to engage.
You can start small by talking to those you know like family, friends and colleagues, and/or look for opportunities where you can engage with the broader public.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of partnership. Good partners can help with design, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination of your public engagement project.
In your opinion, what gave your project the edge over other applicants in 2016?
There were several factors, I believe:
Our outreach materials (lesson plans) had been previously developed, field-tested and published in a peer-reviewed journal (Mohadjer et al., 2010). Later, they were refined, adapted and successfully implemented by Teachers Without Borders and their partners in their teacher training programs worldwide.
We had successfully created a pilot video of one of the lessons which was added to the video archives of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and later was dubbed in Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish and Haitian Creole due to high demand.
The project outcomes (video modules) have the potential to reach/impact a global audience because (a) they are released under an open license that permits their free use, and (b) they are disseminated by institutions with a broad geographic impact (e.g., ParsQuake, MIT BLOSSOMS, Teachers Without Borders).
Would you recommend other applying for the EGU’s Public Engagement Grants?
Yes. The application process is quick and easy, and if you already have an idea for an outreach project and want to make it happen, this may be a good first step. My suggestion would be to make sure the project budget remains within what the grant offers (€1000) or combine the grant funds with other forms of support to reach your project aims.
Interview by Laura Roberts Artal, EGU Communications Officer
Has this interview inspired you? The 2018 call for applications is currently open. If you have an idea for a comic, podcast, documentary, set of experiments, or some other form of effective science communication that you want to promote, then please fill in the online application form and let us know why your project deserves to be funded.
We particularly encourage applications for projects aimed at engaging with hard-to-reach audiences, i.e., people or communities who are not generally interested in science or who tend to ignore mainstream scientific expertise.
Applications for the two EGU Public Engagement Grants are open from 15 November 2017 until 15 February 2018. All proposals will be evaluated by April 2018, with the winners being notified during the EGU General Assembly in Vienna and by email.
Carbon dioxide plays a significant role in trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere. The gas is released from human activities like burning fossil fuels, and the concentration of carbon dioxide moves and changes through the seasons. Using observations from NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) satellite, scientists developed a model of the behavior of carbon in the atmosphere from Sept. 1, 2014, to Aug. 31, 2015. Scientists can use models like this one to better understand and predict where concentrations of carbon dioxide could be especially high or low, based on activity on the ground. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/K. Mersmann, M. Radcliff, producers
Drawing inspiration from popular stories on our social media channels, as well as unique and quirky research news, this monthly column aims to bring you the best of the Earth and planetary sciences from around the web.
“Globally averaged concentrations of CO2 reached 403.3 parts per million in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015 because of a combination of human activities and a strong El Niño event,” reported the WMO in the their press release.
The last time Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3 to 5 million years ago (around the period of the Pliocene Epoch), when temperatures were 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now. You can put that into context by taking a look at this brief history of Earth’s CO2 .
Rising levels of atmospheric CO2 present a threat to the planet, most notably driving rising global temperatures. The new findings compromise last year’s Paris Climate Accord, where 175 nations agreed to work towards limiting the rise of global temperatures by 1.5 degrees celsius (since pre-industrial levels).
No doubt the issue will be discussed at the upcoming COP 23 (Conference of Parties), which takes place in Bonn from 6th to 17th of November in Bonn. Fiji, a small island nation particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather phenomena (a direct result of climate change), is the meeting organiser.
Storm Ophelia formed in waters south-west of the Azores, where the mid-latitude jet stream push the storm toward the UK and Ireland. By the time it made landfall it had been downgraded to a tropical storm, but was still powerful enough to caused severe damage. Ireland, battered by 160 kmph winds, declared a national emergency following the deaths of three people.
The effects of the storm weren’t only felt across the UK and Ireland. In the wake of an already destructive summer fire season, October brought further devastating forest fires to the Iberian Peninsula. The blazes claimed 32 victims in Portugal and 5 in Spain. Despite many of the wildfires in Spain thought to have been provoked by humans, Ophelia’s strong winds fanned the fire’s flames, making firefighter’s efforts to control the flames much more difficult.
On 16th October many in the UK woke up to eerie red haze in the sky, which turned the Sun red too. The unusual effect was caused by Ophelia’s winds pulling dust from the Sahara desert northward, as well as debris and smoke from the Iberian wildfires.
And when you thought it wasn’t possible for Ophelia to become more remarkable, it also turns out that it became the 10th storm of 2017 to reach hurricane strength, making this year the fourth on record (and the first in over a century) to hit that milestone.
But extreme weather wasn’t only limited to the UK and Ireland this month. Cyclone Herwart brought powerful winds to Southern Denmark, Germany, Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic over the final weekend of October. Trains were suspended in parts of northern Germany and thousands of Czechs and Poles were left without power. Six people have been reported dead. Hamburg’s inner city area saw significant flooding, while German authorities are closely monitoring the “Glory Amsterdam”, a freighter laden with oil, which ran aground in the North Sea during the storm. A potential oil spillage, if the ship’s hull is damaged, is a chief concern, as it would have dire environmental concerns for the Wadden Sea (protected by UNESCO).
This month we released not one but two press releases from research published in our open access journals. The finding of both studies have important societal implications. Take a look at them below
Deforestation linked to palm oil production is making Indonesia warmer
In the past decades, large areas of forest in Sumatra, Indonesia have been replaced by cash crops like oil palm and rubber plantations. New research, published in the European Geosciences Union journal Biogeosciences, shows that these changes in land use increase temperatures in the region. The added warming could affect plants and animals and make parts of the country more vulnerable to wildfires.
Study reveals new threat to the ozone layer
“Ozone depletion is a well-known phenomenon and, thanks to the success of the Montreal Protocol, is widely perceived as a problem solved,” says University of East Anglia’s David Oram. But an international team of researchers, led by Oram, has now found an unexpected, growing danger to the ozone layer from substances not regulated by the treaty. The study is published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, a journal of the European Geosciences Union.
Remote, rugged, raw and beautiful beyond measure, the island of South Georgia rises from the wild waters of the South Atlantic, 1300 km south east of the Falkland Islands.
The Allardyce Range rises imposingly, south of Cumberland Bay, dominating the central part of the island. At its highest, it towers 2935 m (Mount Paget) above the surrounding landscape. In the region of 150 glaciers carve their way down the rocky peaks, toward craggy clifftops and the emerald green waters of the ocean.
Geologically speaking, the territory is unique. South Georgia sits atop the place where the South American Plate and the Scotia Plate slide past one another; exactly which can claim ownership of the mountainous outpost is highly debated.
As East and West Gondwana split, about 185 million years ago, South Georgia was pulled away from Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago off the southernmost tip of mainland South American, and experienced severe volcanism.
The island is so remote and exposed, it creates its own weather system. It sits in the path of very strong winds, the westerlies, which flow through the subtropical highs in the Southern Hemisphere. As air flows over the high mountains of South Georgia, they generate atmospheric gravity waves (which transfer energy from the troposphere – the layer closest to the Earth’s surface – to the upper layers of the atmosphere, including the stratosphere, where the ozone layer is found). Atmospheric gravity waves are responsible for the transfer of considerable amounts of energy over large distances, and thus have a substantial impact on weather and climate.
It is precisely to study South Georgia’s atmospheric gravity waves that Andrew Moss, the author of today’s photograph, journeyed to the remote island back in January 2015 as part of the South Georgia Wave Experiment (SG-WEX). The project was led by the University of Bath, in collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey, the University of Leeds, and the UK Met Office. As part of this project Andrew worked with a colleague at the University of Bath (UK) to release radiosondes – a small, expendable instrument package that is suspended below balloon which measures pressure, temperature and humidity – to better understand the atmospheric conditions and measure atmospheric gravity-wave activity above the island.
The chilly, often cloudy and wet landscape is a wildlife haven. It is home to a staggering five million seals and 65 million seabirds. The wildlife is so rich, on and off the island, that large swathes of South Atlantic waters surrounding South Georgia are protected and onshore activities which might disturb wildlife require permits.
“Over the course of the two-week field campaign, King Penguins, fur seals and elephant seals often surrounded us while we worked,” describes Andrew. “During the trip, I captured a group of penguins, with their backs to the wind, clustered together on a windy day.”