EGU Blogs


A Year in Review

As of October 1st I have been a part of the now 1 year old EGU blog network for a year. I was honoured to be one of the original three network bloggers and looking back this had been a great year of geology blogging. Since we started the network has now grown from three to 10 great geology blogs. So here is a quick look back at the highlights of year 1.

A Slice of Earth Cake Geology Inspiration

Some nice digital birthday cake for us all! (Source)

A year by the numbers

Days: 365 (that one was easy)

Posts: 68

Total visits: 14,447

Total pageviews: 19,010

Average visit duration: 59 seconds

Most visits in a day: 547

Most pageviews in a day: 627

% New Visitors: 67.4

Number of countries: 130

All in all I am quite pleased and honoured that this many people have read or at least glanced at this blog.

Funny Search Terms

– are snakes part of the geosphere – Depends who you ask I suppose.

 house of commons verbal sparring – I am truly thrilled that this term found my blog, although I am not sure why this makes me so happy?

– scientific problem solved iodine-129 – Yay! Someone else but me searches Google for 129I.

spongebob – I used a pic of him as an analogy for pore space, but maybe I just taught a 7 year old about hydrogeology? I can hope!

geological mysteries – I try and explain as many geological mysteries as I can.

cantley quarry – Announcement for uOttawa first year geology students do not copy this post! You will be caught!

– #51 love poems – I have no idea how this found my blog, but awesome!

– canadian awesome – No argument here.

– green teach velocirators – This one is for Jon.

– i was holding three bottls of mineral in the dream – What a strange dream. I wonder what caused it….too much of something.

These are just the first 10 that I could find easily. There are loads more

Views from Interesting Nations

As of October 1, 2013 the blog had received visits from 130 countries or about 66.7% of all the nations in the world. Some of the more unusual ones to visit include: Greenland, the Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Qatar and the Faroe Islands. There are lots of others but these ones seemed interesting to me. The countries that represent the most views of this blog are: the US, Canada, the UK, Germany and Australia. It is not really a surprise the 4 of the top 5 are mainly English speaking.


Being named a Science Seeker Award finalist for my post about radon.

Remotely being able to blog the EGU 2013 annual meeting using the online press releases. Here are the posts: 1, 2.

Blogging the 2013 Goldschmidt geochemistry conference from Florence, Italy on behalf of the EGU and EAG. Here are posts: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Banner stolen from the EGU Blog Network Hub (Source). A great place to visit for your daily geoscience reading.

Finally, thanks to everyone that has visited, read and commented on this blog. I really appreciate the support and here is looking forward to another year of great blogging…well 11 months!


Photo of the Week #27 – Someone’s had a few too many

The photo of the week came to me this morning on my walk to school. Yes, it is now warm enough in Ottawa to comfortably walk to school! All the melting ice and the slight smell of spring and undergrad panic in the air got me thinking about permafrost degradation and nights out during my undergrad. An odd combination of thoughts, I grant you. Well, what do these two very separate things have in common? Observe the photos below, particularly the trees in the hillside to find out.

(Photo: Matt Herod)

(Photo: Matt Herod)

The trees all look a little askew. This is because they are the epitome of a “drunken forest”. Many of you may not have encountered this amazing term, which I assure you is the real one, for trees that sit on degrading permafrost  or ice wedges that become drunkenly tilted as the ice melts. The ground underneath the tilted trees also looks somewhat heaved which is characteristic of melting permafrost terrain. I took these photos just outside of Dawson city next to ongoing placer mining operations.  So there you have it. The strange explanation for what links the melting of spring ice to memories of my own spring experiences in undergrad (never now…).



GeoSphere: In Review

After two years of regular geology blogging I was thinking it might be fun to highlight the posts that I think are my best work as well as the ones that have been the most popular…they are not necessarily the same. This just goes to show it is impossible to predict what the collective consciousness of the geoblogopshere or the geotwitterverse will like the best. Some of these posts come from my old blogging home, which is just a regular blogger site so the links will take you there. Others are more recent and were posted on my EGU blog. I hope you enjoy this little blast from the past.

This EGU blog went live on October 1, 2012 and in that time it has had 2,530 visits of which 66% were by unique visitors, who spent on average 3 minutes on the site, which I think/hope means they actually read something. The most viewed pages have been:

There have been visits from 73 countries so far. Interesting ones include: Laos, Faroe Islands, Iran, Oman and Mauritius. The countries that have made up the largest proportion of my visits have been the United States with 39%, Canada 20% and the UK 11%, Germany 5% and Australia 4%.
My old blogging home, pre EGU, has received 59,503 pageviews since it went live in early February 2011. The numbers for this site come from Blogger stats since I didn’t start using Google Analytics until last year. The most popular posts there have been:
Entry Pageviews

10 Reasons Geologist’s are Weird

Apr 21, 2012, 13 comments


Some Facts about the Moon

Apr 11, 2012, 4 comments


Back to Basics on Groundwater

Jun 13, 2011, 3 comments


Spotlight on: THE CRETACEOUS

May 6, 2011, 3 comments


The Truth about Radon

Mar 4, 2011, 5 comments

The countries that liked this site the most are pretty much the same as the EGU site, which I hope means I pulled a few people over with me!  The United States makes up 62% of the pageviews, Canada 7%, UK 5.5%, Australia, 2% and Russia 1.5%. I guess it should’t come as a surprise that most of the views for both sites come from North America, where I am located and English speaking countries, the language the blog is written in. I suppose I could read a bit deeper into and point out that both sites have a lot of countries with resource driven economies in the top 5, but that might be too big a stretch since I suspect it has more to do with the language.


My favourites

My personal favourite posts over the past few years are mostly on the most viewed lists above. It is hard to pick just one that I like the best though and there are a few that I wrote early on in my blogging career that only got a few pageviews, but I think are pretty interesting. Here are my top 5 in no particular order.

The Odyssey and Geology – The Search for Ithaca – this post summarizes a Nature Geoscience paper that surmises the legendary island of Ithaca has been lost in plain sight for the past few thousand years…

The Art of Geology – this was an Accretionary Wedge topic and for whatever reason I felt inspired and feel that I made a pretty solid contribution to this one.

The Media Portrayal of Geologists – This is a funny one….my apologies if not all the videos work…they were uploaded 2 years ago.

Back to Basics on Groundwater – This one is a really simple primer on groundwater and groundwater flow. It has proved to be extremely popular so far…maybe I should write another one…

It’s all about scales – I had been planning this one for some time and I have to say it turned out better than I had expected.

Bonus Favourite: The Wooden Wall – the story of how a silver mine saved the Greeks during the Persian Wars…I enjoyed doing the research and looking a mineral pics.

Things I’ve Learned

By the way, to put some of these numbers into perspective I also monitor a website about a book called Breaking the Vicious Cycle. It was written by my grandmother and is in its 14th printing right now having sold well over a million copies and been translated into several languages. Her website receives between 1,500 and 3,000 visits per day!!! It has gotten 266,125 visits since October 1, 2012 and 1,471,484 pageviews. If I ever get too cocky about getting a measly 2,530 visits I just think about her website and that helps restore me to an even keel.

All in all I am very happy with how being a geology blogger has gone and am extremely happy to be part of the EGU blog network. I think blogging has been an enriching experience that has allowed me to connect with fellow geoscientists from across the globe and expand my network. Not only that, it has allowed me to hone my writing skills, and given me a soapbox of sorts from which to expound my views on geoscience communication and outreach. I certainly intend to continue blogging in the future and I thank any readers who do stop by for your encouragement and support.



Translate Radioisotope Hydrogeochemist – #1000simplewords

There is a new craze sweeping twitter…at least among those that I follow, which is mostly geoscientists. This is of course the #1000simplewords challenge. In essence the challenge is to explain your profession using only the 1000 most common words in the English language. The most complex/specific title that I could come up with for myself was radioisotope hydrogeochemist. What a mouthful of jargon! I have tried to simplify this in the paragraph below. If you would like to try it out for yourself go here. There is a nice little collection of job descriptions being posted at the Highly Allocthonous blog and that is great place to go see the attempts of others.

I have to say that this is not the easiest thing in the world. Words like earth, soil, rock are not allowed. Words that I take for granted when I describe what I do like: contaminant, groundwater, radioactive, analyze, etc. are all not allowed. This made the challenge a lot harder than I expected. It was also a very rewarding experience and got me thinking about what I do in the simplest terms possible, which was pretty eye opening.

 Water is every place and in everything. We need water to live and we use water to drink, make power and grow food. I study the amazing field of what is in our water. I look at where our water comes from, how it moves and if there is anything in our water that should not be there. I pick up water from all over the world and try to find out what is in it. If I find something that should not be in the water I try to explain how it got there and what we can do to clean it. I also use what I have learned to understand how bad things get in our water in the first place and how they move with the water. Knowing this can help us keep our water clean and how to keep bad things from hurting our water. Keeping our water clean is something that we should all care about and I try to talk about this with as many people as I can.

Cheers and let me know what you think of my attempt.