EGU Blogs


The Accretionary Wedge #51 Call for Posts – GeoPoetry

The time for the 51st edition of the Accretionary Wedge is upon us and I am really excited to be hosting the Wedge here at GeoSphere this month and see all of the great submissions and ideas of the geo-blogosphere. The topic of this edition is Geo-poetry. Obviously that term could do with some explaining, especially since I’m the one who made it up.

As geologists/geology enthusiasts we love to talk about the amazing and inspiring features we see in the world around us and many of us express this excitement and passion with our blogs or on twitter, usually in the form of prose. However, there are other mediums of expression out there that we don’t usually employ to describe our favourite geological discoveries. This wedge is about flexing our creative muscles and using another popular form of expression: poetry.

Yes, poetry. In this wedge I encourage people to wax poetic about anything geological they would like, in any poetic style. Be it limerick, haiku or sonnet. Of course, you don’t have to write your own poem if that is not your thing. Find a geology/earth themed poem that already exists and explain why you like it and what about it moves you. So lets all connect to the bard hidden within us and slam out some great poetry!

I’ll post an example later this week…once I have finished my grant applications and have time to get poetic.

Submissions are due by November 1. I’ll combine them all into an anthology of geo-poems and post here so we can all enjoy.

A wall in Dawson City, Yukon showing some lines from the Spell of the Yukon by Robert Service. (Photo: Matt Herod)



NOTE: I realize that the 50th wedge is still ongoing at Georneys but I thought I’de get going with the 51st to give everyone lots of time.

Geology Photo of the Week #6 – Sept 30 – Oct 5

This is my first official post, besides the welcome post, at GeoSphere – EGU edition. It seems fitting to begin with a post that is part of a continuing series from my old home and is bridging the way to my new one.  The photo of the week, while still only six weeks old, is and will stay a regular fixture on my blog. The photo for this week is of some fantastic glacial striations in glacially polished marble located in Cantley, Quebec, which is about a 40 minute drive from Ottawa and is one of the most popular field trip sites for students from uOttawa.

Glacial striations are an interesting feature. They are pretty much ubiquitous across Canada, but rarely are they so defined as they are in Cantley. Striations form from the abrading action of rocks and sediment particles embedded in the base of a glacier. As the glacier slides across the bedrock it scrapes these sediments along the rock below making these striations. In order to form a striation the glacier must be sliding, which only occurs when there is a little water at the bed-glacier interface to lubricate things. Furthermore, if you look at striations under high magnification you can see that the sliding is discontinuous. In fact, it is a series of perfectly aligned slips of only a millimetre or two that are connected to form a perfectly straight groove up to several metres long. Another great feature about striations is that they can tell us the orientation of glacial movement. Indeed, the parallel lines in the rock below point the way to glacier was flowing. However, it is very difficult to tell the glacial flow direction from a striation since the glacier could have been flowing in either direction to make a straight line. In Ottawa we know from numerous other glacial features that the Laurentide Ice Sheet was flowing roughly from north to south. During the Pleistocene epoch, about 10,000 years ago, glaciers were covering pretty much all of Canada as well as most of Europe. The ice sheet at Cantley was ~2km thick.

Glacial striations at Cantley Quarry, Cantley, Quebec. Click for a larger image. (Photo: Matt Herod)

Thanks for reading!


Welcome to GeoSphere


I’d like to begin by welcoming you to GeoSphere, a part of the new European Geosciences Union blog network (). I hope you enjoy your visit and learn something about the incredible and varied world of geology while you’re here.

The header image you see at the top of this blog is a photo that I took and I believe it shows the whole Geosphere. The geosphere is defined as anything in the solid earth. This includes all rocks, mineral and fossils. However, I like to think of the geosphere more holistically. In my mind the geosphere represents an integration of seemingly separate parts of the Earth. For example, the interaction between rocks, water and bacteria could be viewed was part of the geosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. The separation of these interconnected aspects of environment does us all a disservice by making things that are integrally linked appear unrelated. In my eyes the geosphere can be redefined as the intersection between the lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and atmosphere as these Earth systems are all connected and it is certainly more awe-inspiring but also better for scientific thought to recognize the interconnectedness of these aspects and unify them. I see this unification as the true definition of the geosphere. So back to the header image that I think represents the true geosphere. It includes rocks, water, ice, the atmosphere and some of the biosphere all in one beautiful place and marries them all to form a varied and unique environment.

The picture itself was taken by me while I was doing field work in the Yukon Territory. It is in Tombstone Territorial Park during the end of the spring melt season and the start of summer and the river is called the North Klondike River. As you can see there is still quite a bit of melting that has to occur.

A view of the GeoSphere as I see it. The photo is of the North Klondike River overlooking the Tombstone Mountains in the Yukon Territory, Canada. (Photo: Matt Herod)

Science outreach is something that I feel very strongly about. I truly believe that scientists have a responsibility to the the public, our sponsors, to communicate what we do and our findings openly and honestly. Not only that, scientists also have a responsibility to educate. In my experience the science of geology is very poorly taught in elementary and high school, at least, far worse than many other sciences. The aim of this blog is to engage in geology outreach and attempt to rectify this problem one post at a time. For the past two years I have been attempting to take things in the geosciences that interest me and write explanations for a lay audience in order to bridge the communication gap and make the fascinating world of geology accessible to anyone and I will continue to do so here.

I am in the lucky position of being a Ph.D student which affords me a terrific opportunity to see how research is done and interact with geologists from all over the world at conferences. I am also fortunate enough to have free access to many scientific articles through the university library and labs in the department, which gives me the opportunity to blog about new research. Indeed, stay tuned for some updates from our labs at uOttawa.

I am looking forward to getting some real content up here and I can’t wait to get going! Stay tuned and subscribe. Also, I am on Twitter @GeoHerod.