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30 August 2015

Sitka landslide in Alaska – the potential power of simple geomorphic mapping

A landslide a couple of weeks ago at Sitka in Alaska killed 3 men. Google Earth imagery of the site suggests that it may have an active geomorpic history


29 August 2015

A large rockfall on the Tour Ronde, Mont Blanc

On Thursday a significant rockfall occurred on the Tour Ronde in the Mont Blanc region. It was captured in a dramatic video by Gianluca Marra, a local climbing guide


28 August 2015

North is Not Up, Nor is South Down

I can’t count the number times I’ve heard a TV weather person make a statement akin to “this line of thunderstorms will pass below New York by Thursday afternoon.” Yes, and while it’ll be sunny up top on the street, if you’re working all day in the subway, or on underground utilities, you’ll need an umbrella. Be prepared to seek safety in daylight as those storms may produce lightning and …


27 August 2015

Sols 1087-1088: Bright features

The complex, nearly 39-meter Sol 1085 drive completed successfully, leaving the rover in another target-rich area.  Again, I helped pick targets for ChemCam observations–our favorites were on the brighter parts of the outcrop just south of the rover. The targets for ChemCam and Mastcam observations were named “Fitzpatrick,” “Keith,” and “Fred and George Creek.”  Mastcam will also acquire 2 mosaics before the rover drives away on Sol 1087.  Planning is …


3-D maps illustrate formation of the Hangai Dome in central Mongolia

Researchers at Rice University, the University of Toronto, and Princeton University generated 3-D maps of the Earth under the Hangai Dome in central Mongolia from seismic data. The 3-D image below shows the earth under the dome. Colored yellow, warm rock rises up from the deep mantle toward the Earth’s surface. The pressure on the rock drops as it rises. When the rock reaches 150 kilometers (93 miles) below the surface, it starts to melt and form magma, illustrated in red. Heat released by the magma modifies the rigid outer layer of the Earth that becomes lighter and rises up, creating the Hangai Dome.


There is A Watershed of Reality Coming

For those who work in TV newsrooms, today was a nightmare come true. You may not realize it, but TV News is a rather small business. At least two people in our newsroom know someone who works at WDBJ TV in Roanoke, (I am one of the two) and what happened today has long been a real fear among reporters and anchors. Almost all of us know of folks who …


26 August 2015

Terraced craters: Windows into Mars’ icy past

Scientists studied terraced craters on Mars and found an underground chunk of ice the size of California and Texas combined.


AGU #VirtualPoster Showcase – a conference option for students

AGU has a new option for students that cannot attend a conference in person. Learn about two opportunities for students to present online in a virtual poster showcase.


Four Physics Videos Everyone Should Watch

I really love the fact that physicists are sharing physics so widely online. There are some fabulous videos that will blow your mind, and teachers, you really consider spending some time in class watching them. So, with that in mind, here are some of my fave videos. Being a geek, I even knew the one about tides, but I can tell you that many meteorologists do not! I still remember …


Artvin, Turkey: an excellent video of a landslide in action

Landslides in the Artvin area of NE Turkey have killed eight people and left two missing. One of the slides was captured in a dramatic video


25 August 2015

Smoke From Western Fires Spreads Across the U.S.

The image above shows the smoke from the wildfires burning across Washington, Oregon and Northern California. It is possible this smoke will reach the Eastern Seaboard, behind a late summer cool front that is exiting the coast today. The visible image below clearly shows the smoke plumes from the Washington fires this afternoon. A patch of dense smoke is also visible today courtesy the NASA Terra satellite over Newfoundland.


New Trouble Brewing in the Atlantic

Wind shear has pretty much put an end to what was Hurricane Danny but we may have new trouble on the way. A strong tropical wave in the Atlantic is showing signs of becoming a depression and numerical guidance is indicating that it will likely become a tropical storm. Since winds are already gusting to near tropical storm force, once a closed circulation appears, the storm will likely be upgraded …


24 August 2015

Sols 1085-1086: Rough road ahead

MSL had a good weekend, and returned lots of data including nice MAHLI images of Ravalli. The nearly 22-meter Sol 1083 drive completed as planned, and placed the rover near some nice rock outcrops.  I helped the planning team select targets for ChemCam observations; we settled on two that were named “Tinder Box” and “Gordon.”  Mastcam will acquire mosaics of these targets as well as “Centennial Range” and “Willow Ridge.”  …


My new paper: human losses from landslides in Latin America and the Caribbean

In my latest paper, written with Sergio Sepulveda, Regional trends and controlling factors of fatal landslides in Latin America and the Caribbean, we look at ten years of human losses from landslides across this key area of the world.


23 August 2015

The rockfall physics of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner

Wile E. Coyote often tried to catch the Road Runner using rockfalls. Unfortunately he failed to understand how hard it is to predict landslide behaviour, especially in cartoon land.


22 August 2015

Sols 1082-1084: Nice view

I’m having another very busy day as SOWG Chair, as we are planning lots of activities to keep the rover busy this weekend.  The vehicle is on a local high spot that gives us a spectacular view of the terrain ahead.  But there aren’t many targets in front of the rover that are suitable for contact science, so we selected only one (called “Ravalli”) to investigate using MAHLI and APXS.  …


Mount Rainier debris flows, 13th August 2015

On 13th August a series of debris flows occurred on the flanks of Mount Rainier in Washington State, USA. These glacier collapse events were captured on video, photographs & seismic instruments


21 August 2015

Hurricane Danny May Be at Peak Strength

Danny now has winds near the center at 115 mph, but it is actually a rather tiny storm. Latest model runs continue a west-NW track but dry air is just to the north and wind shear will begin to impact the storm in about 48 hours. This should weaken it and the latest hires numerical model guidance shows just that. The intensity forecast from the HWRF model shows it weakening …


Manikaran Sahib Gurdwara: a highly unusual landslide (with a highly unusual video)

On 18th August a boulder smashed into the Manikaran Sahib Gurdwara in Himachal Pradesh, India, killing 7 people. There is amazing CCTV footage of the event.


20 August 2015

Update on Hurricane Danny

Latest water vapor wavelength IR images show a large area of rather dry air ahead of Danny, and it looks like this will continue to impact the tropical cyclone, as it approaches the Windward islands early next week. By Sunday, the storm will also begin to run into more wind shear in the troposphere, and this will (at the least) keep it from strengthening as well. The Hurricane WRF model …