Sunday, June 10, 2007

Photographs from inside...

...the Kentucky hall of creationist irrationality. Check out this collection of photos on Flickr.


Arghh! This trend of anti-science nonsense really scares me. And that is the point...it is anti-science. It is anti-the progress we have already made! I'm gonna nip this post in the bud before I really start ranting.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Field Foto #20

Last weekend our research group along with some others went on a short field trip that was a cross-section of the California convergent margin. We were principally looking at the Mesozoic system -- the continental arc plutons of the Sierra Nevada, the sedimentary rocks of the adjacent forearc basin (Great Valley Group), and then the deformed cherts, pillow lavas, and greenstones of the Franciscan subduction complex. Normally, the forearc and accretionary prism do not get well preserved, but thanks to the transition from a subduction margin to a strike-slip margin (San Andreas Fault system), these major elements of the Mesozoic system are preserved in their general relative positions for us to examine.

Although we focused on the Mesozoic system, we looked at many of the younger features along this transect as well. This week's photo is of Sutter Buttes, or sometimes known as Marysville Buttes. This hills are sticking out of the middle of the fantastically flat Central Valley like a giant zit on a teenager's forehead.


Below is a very general geologic map of this part of California pointing out the location of Sutter Buttes.

So, what are these hills all about? They consist of rhyolites and andesites that were erupted about 1.5 million years ago. This young and small volcanic complex appears to be part of the Cascade system. Mt. Lassen, which is ~100 miles to the north of Sutter Buttes, is the southernmost volcano of the Cascade arc to have erupted in historical times. There is some debate about the position of Sutter Buttes with respect to the northward migrating triple junction and associated timing of cessation of volcanism. Some of these questions remain unanswered.

If you ever find yourself in the Great Valley and are feeling topographically-deficient, go check out the Buttes.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Mystery of the megaflood

Last night we watched a NOVA special about the unique geomorphic region known as the 'Channeled Scablands' of the northwest United States called Mystery of the Megaflood. During the latest Pleistocene as the continental ice sheets began to retreat, huge lakes (similar in scale to some of the Great Lakes) that were dammed by ice broke free and rushed across the state of Washington creating erosional and depositional features that perplexed geologists and geomorphologists for a long time.

If you don't know about this story, check out the NOVA website (click on image or link above). They have tons of information to help you learn more about it. The program was pretty entertaining. As a geoscientist it's always nice to see the science portrayed in these programs. Yes, they can be a little sensationalized with the scary music and overdramatized reenactments, but that's kind of fun in a way. I recommend it.

Check out this interactive on their website for a tour across the region highlighting the key features.
One of my favorite features are the giant bedforms (ripple marks, essentially) that were formed near where the flood started near Missoula, Montana. I went on GoogleEarth and started poking around the area and lo and behold you can see them fairly easy. They are on the order of 35 ft high and have wavelengths of hundreds of feet. The image below shows an area about 5 miles across (copy/paste these coordinates into GoogleEarth to go there: 47.48N, 114.59W).


And here's a closer shot (this area about a mile across). These suckers are huge!
Anyway...check out the website and rent the show. It also goes into the incredulity the early 20th century geologists had regarding this catastrophist point of view. That's another interesting topic for another time.

Another post forthcoming is -- what happened when these floods reached the ocean? People have done some work on this and it is really interesting...stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Looking for a job in geology?

Below is the text pasted directly from the Answers in Genesis (AiG) creationist museum website. They are looking for a geologist!

Speaker and Researcher of Geology

Reports to: Mark Looy (for the moment)

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Speak to layperson (and occasional science) groups across the country as requested through AiG Outreach Dept. Expected travel a minimum of 25%.
  • Literature and field research.
  • Write regular articles for web and other AiG publications.
  • Produce books, DVDs, curriculum materials, etc.

Education, Experience and Skill Requirements

  • Doctorate in geology preferred, or some other related scientific discipline (e.g., paleontology).
  • Minimum of 5 years’ field or teaching experience in study discipline.
  • Extremely strong knowledge of creation – understanding both the biblical and scientific arguments.
  • Articulate and engaging speaker is a must, along with the willingness to be mentored in order to become an even better speaker (i.e., to be “teachable”).
  • Ability to express concepts in writing

Items needed for possible employment

  • Resume
  • Salvation testimony
  • Creation belief statement
  • Confirmation of your agreement with the AiG Statement of Faith

Please send, with cover letter, to:
HR Department


My resume is in pretty good shape, but i'll have to work on my salvation testimony a little bit.

Link from Pharyngula.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Friday Field Foto #19

I'm puttin' these up a day early because we are actually going on a 4-day field trip starting tomorrow. Yay!This photo is a shot looking down on the bedding plane of cross-bedded sandstone. The pencil is in the area between two migrating arcuate dunes. If you're lucky enough to get a bedding plane exposure of cross-stratified deposits you can use them as paleocurrent indicators. In this case, the pencil is pointing downstream.
This is in a shallow-marine unit of the Cretaceous in central Utah.


All Friday Field Fotos are taken by me unless otherwise noted.

Where on (Google)Earth #13?


Alright, no more foolin' around...I think this one might be rather difficult.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Blogging at sea

Go check out the series of posts in the last few days over at Deep Sea News. They are blogging while at sea. Good stuff.

I especially like this post for this beautiful bathymetric image of Monterey submarine canyon...how fantastic. They are observing the biology in these high relief areas of the canyon and its tributaries.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Flocking starlings

I found a couple videos of starlings flying in incredibly dynamic flocks. They seem to create one larger collective organism. I would love to see this in person some day.

This first video, from England, actually has some narration about the birds during the first half.


This second video is much shorter and shot in Rome.


Watching these complex patterns is simply mesmerizing. Enjoy!

Making waves

Back in April I showed a multibeam bathymetric (sea floor topography) map from offshore Half Moon Bay not too far down the coast from San Francisco.

PopSci has a nice little article talking more about how the underlying structure that produces the sea-floor topography as well as the coastal promontory focus the wave energy toward a point called Mavericks. This has some of the biggest waves on the west coast of North America and hosts an annual surfing competition.


Check out this virtual fly-over animation as well.