New Link in the Top Menu: Updates

I have been updating several posts recently (as well as the Kilauea and Popocatepetl pages) and thought it would be better to link to all updates rather than bump each post. I have put the most recent ones in there (plus an older update on an adorable little wild cat); news on those two volcanoes is available on their pages as soon as I came across it.

Thank you very much for your interest!



There is going to be a brief pause in the blog posts; hopefully, it won’t last much longer than a month. I’ve gotten the final draft of the book together and now I must go through it carefully. This is my first such book, so it requires even more time in order to do it right. I had hoped to be able to continue daily posts–at least guest videos–but that’s not possible.

In the meantime, I’ll still be on Twitter now and then, and there is plenty of material in the archives to explore. Check back frequently, too, because after the book does go up on Amazon, blog readers will get a special offer. Thank you very much for your interest!

Featured image: Alexas_fotos, at Pixabay, public domain.

Guest Video: The Salton Sea

A study at the end of June made headlines about earthquake hazard on the San Andreas Fault. The research looked at the area covered by the Salton Sea:

According to news reports, geologists found:

. . . a nearly 15.5-mile-long, sheared zone with two, nearly parallel master faults and hundreds of smaller, rung-like cross faults. . . The discovery . . . reveals the southern tip of the San Andreas Fault changes fairly gradually into the ladder-like Brawley Seismic zone. The structure trends northwest, extending from the well-known main trace of the San Andreas Fault along the Salton Sea’s northeastern shore, to the newly identified East Shoreline Fault Zone on the San Andreas’ opposite edge.

. . .

Future earthquakes in that zone or near the San Andreas Fault could potentially trigger a cascade of earthquakes leading to the overdue major quake scientists expect along the southern San Andreas fault zone . . .

So, perhaps it’s good that the “Riviera” scheme never worked out.

While seismologists scramble over the area to learn more about earthquake hazards, the USGS is monitoring the local volcano situation–which includes five vents discovered in 2013–through the California Volcano Observatory.

Again, not a good place for a resort!

Featured image: 12019, at Pixabay. Public domain.

Guest Videos: Bear Cams in Katmai National Park

August 6, 2018: Here’s a tweet from Katmai NPS to capture a little of the experience for the whole year.

Yep, the salmon are jumping and the bears are fishing at this time of year!

Of note, the clock in this part of Alaska is 8 hours behind UTC right now; dawn is around 4 a.m. Alaska time and dusk is shortly before 1 a.m.

There is even an underwater cam.

More information:

Katmai National Park and Preserve

Guest Video: Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia

There will come a point in this drone video, made in the UNESCO Tumbler Ridge Geopark, when you will wonder where the dinosaurs came from. Here you go.

Seriously, look at those flat rock formations: that’s all undisturbed sedimentary rocks that have accumulated over a vast amount of geologic time. Of course there are fossils in there! (Bonus points if you can spot the cirques; here’s more geological background.)

Here’s a bit more about the dinosaurs. To show how far out in the wilderness this geopark is, note the hope expressed that they won’t need much helicopter support:

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Guest Videos: Dunhuang Yardang National Geopark

For today’s geopark, believe it or not, we need to start out on Mars!

“Yardang” doesn’t sound like a typical scientific term (in English, anyway), and it isn’t. It’s Ugyur for the same type of rock formation on Earth, and it was first used by geologists to describe these desert features near Dunhaung in China.

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Guest Video: Time Lapse Videos in 2016

We move too fast to see much of the movement made by this giant we live on and in, unless it has a spasm of some sort, like an earthquake, eruption, landslide, or storm.

None of us has the time to just stand around, watching the fascinating world around us. Fortunately, there are cameras.

So relax now for 16 minutes or so and let the sky roll over you (watch out for the snails and pity the ants, who live at an even faster pace than our own).

Aluminum: A Critical Mineral

Most residents of the United States think of foil, beverage cans, and recycling when we hear the word “aluminum” (or “aluminium”); then lots of other things come to mind, including vehicles, aircraft, and various items in our homes and offices.

Aluminum is even more widespread than we realize. As a metal, it’s also used in construction and for electrical power systems, including wires and cables. Many machines are made of aluminum, too.

As alumina–powdery aluminum oxide–it’s present in industrial refractories and many chemicals down to and including the main ingredients in styptic pencils and antiperspirants (alum–a naturally occuring aluminum salt–has been used as an astringent for centuries).

Aluminum is obviously common and inexpensive, so why is it on the US government’s 2018 “endangered minerals” list?

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Guest Videos: San’in Kaigan Geopark

I am not sure if everything in this video is part of the San’in Kaigan Geopark, but it certainly conveys the general feel of the place.

Daisen last erupted in the Pleistocene, per the Global Volcanism Program.

According to Wikipedia, one of the most popular destinations here is Genbudo Park, with its five caves and lovely basalt columns, but let’s look at views of Toyooka, too.

I like it that UNESCO geoparks include the human aspects of places, too.

Featured image: Hashi Photo, CC BY 3.0 DE

Guest Videos: Lutetium, the Neglected Atom

This headline caught my eye:


No atom should feel neglected…and if you read the article, there’s some intense competition Lu must overcome if it is to earn enough recognition to be given the privilege of telling us how long a second should be.

I had no idea what lutetium is, either, but I looked it up and found videos, one with a fuzzy-haired mad scientist and his ubercool British assistant, and the other–well, you’ll see.

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