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22 July 2013
A few environmental problem-solvers have proposed drawing carbon out of the air and burying it to reduce greenhouse gasses and curb climate change. Maybe they could take some tips from nature’s own geoengineers – beavers – which have been sequestering carbon for thousands of years in the ponds and meadows created by their dams. A new study finds that, due to decreasing populations, much less carbon is getting tucked away by beavers than in the past.
19 July 2013
Heavy rainfall brought severe flooding last month to swaths of Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and other Central European nations, raising water levels in one city to the highest they’ve reached since the 1500s. New research finds that most of the continent’s extreme rainfalls since at least 1979 have spilled from fast flows of warm, moisture-laden air known as atmospheric rivers.
19 June 2013
Last April, I had a discussion with some of my fellow graduate students in the geology department here at UB about teaching. One topic raised by those of us working with senior undergraduates was the skills our students would need to have by the time they left the department. We realized that many students take winding paths on the way to finishing a major for various reasons, including that they transferred from another school, they switched majors, or they are double-majoring and have time conflicts. A winding path isn’t necessarily detrimental as long as the students come out of the process with a solid geoscience skillset. But what should that skillset include?
4 June 2013
There’s a hole in the bottom of the ocean near Japan, the deepest ever drilled for science. It leads to the heart of one of the world’s most dangerous faults, the one that unleashed the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, which devastated Japan’s east coast. The earthquake’s power astonished geologists, who didn’t think the fault was capable of such destruction.To find out why the quake was so massive, an international team drilled through more than 800 meters of rock, seven kilometers beneath the waves, to take the fault’s temperature.
26 April 2013
Mark Zoback, a geophysicist at Stanford University, cringes at the word “fracking”. He doesn’t oppose this controversial process of extracting fossil fuels from shale rock, or hydraulic fracturing. He just laments the stigma of its nickname.
10 April 2013
A recent discussion that I’ve been having with my fellow grad students lately has been about this question: What are the core skills undergraduate geoscience students should have when they graduate?
Sometimes, because of crazy course schedules, majors joining the department late in their college career, etc etc., it seems like skillsets can be acquired haphazardly or in an order that doesn’t benefit the student. Those of us who teach as grad students sometimes find that it’s necessary to do more review than we’d expect when we’re dealing with a lab or a course. Although review isn’t a bad thing, it can take away time from the main course topics. As a teacher, my goal is to get my students to learn the course material as effectively and efficiently as possible – and make it stick.
So, like any good geoblogger, I’m going to ask for help ‘crowdsourcing’ the answer to this question. If you could put together a guide of core skills for geology students, what would be on it? What do you want them to know before they attempt specific classes? What should they know by the time they graduate to be well-grounded in the field?
8 March 2013
Being deep in the throes of thesis-wrangling has left me little time for blogging lately, but as a woman and a geoscientist I definitely thought it was important to write a little bit about International Women’s Day, and about my own experiences. I first became aware that this was a day of celebration when my graduate advisor and I encountered a parade in downtown Xela when we were in Guatemala doing fieldwork for my thesis. It was a beautiful day and the parade-goers were lively and excited and enthused.
24 February 2013
In addition to my blogging and on-again-off-again relationship with Twitter, I like to take my geologizing to places outside the office. Just yesterday, I had the opportunity to talk with a girls’ STEM club at my old elementary school about being a volcanologist. I actually do this fairly often, and I’m always really impressed by the questions the students come up with. They’re always inquisitive and thoughtful, and often catch me off guard – which is good!
24 January 2013
The other day I got a message asking about where the earth gets its heat. It brings up a number of misconceptions that I thought would be worth spending a post discussing, so here goes: Many people assume the earth to be millions if not billions of years old. Lava is molten, but the earth being only 8,000 miles in diameter has no internal heat source. It is almost like …
12 October 2012
Diamonds may not be forever, but they do last an incredibly long time. The forces in the Earth’s interior that shape these famously durable gems have long been mysterious. A new study looks at teensy chunks of an inner zone of the planet that can get caught within diamonds’ crystal structures. It presents new evidence that diamonds often take a long ride in the planet’s fluidly moving gut before rising to the surface.
17 August 2012
So you’re a new geosciences grad student…and you’re getting ready to start your first semester! Hopefully you’ve chosen a great department and surrounded yourself with professors and students who will excite and challenge you. You’re probably also plowing through a bunch of paperwork and maybe taking a training course on how to be a teaching/graduate/research/etc. assistant. If, at some point in all this, you say “What the heck did I get myself into?” and start feeling panicky, don’t worry – we all do this. Here are a few things to remember as you dive into the deep end of the pool:
30 July 2012
My geology training didn’t cover the use of sedation in dentistry. In my PhD work, I never had to investigate the details of proposed guidelines for hepatitis C screenings, or the difficulties of vitamin D testing. But as the 2012 AGU-sponsored AAAS Mass Media fellow, I’ve reported on these subjects and more for the Chicago Tribune. Working as a health reporter hasn’t been as difficult as I imagined, however. I just used the scientific method.
26 July 2012
We all know that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ and in a world where most of us are bound to the Earth (astronauts being the most obvious exception), the Landsat images have the power to convey Earth science in a unique way. More than just pretty pictures, these images inform scientists, farmers, teachers, firefighters, water resource managers, and others about our planet from a vantage point several hundred miles above the Earth.
30 June 2012
Jennifer at Fuzzy Science is hosting this month’s Accretionary Wedge, and this time we’re talking about field notes. For me, this is a pretty nostalgic discussion, since I haven’t been out do to field work for my own research since 2010. I’ve been on field trips since then, certainly, but notetaking sometimes gets sidelined in favor of other trip activities when you’re not doing it for work or research. Also, my research right now involves a lot of time dealing with computer simulations, so I still take lab notes, but they’re not like recording a field experience.
23 April 2012
Well, I survived Operational Readiness Test 8 (ORT)! Prior to this week, my only experience with rover operations was as payload downlink lead (PDL) for the color cameras on the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER). I joined MER well into the extended mission, when all of the bugs had been worked out and the planning process was very efficient and streamlined. My day as a Pancam PDL is pretty easy: take …
4 April 2012
So for anyone who was interested, my careers talk back in March went pretty well. It was an intro class, so I’m assuming that getting any of them to ask questions right before lunch was a success! Because this was an intro class, I went in with the assumption that very few of the students had any real conception of what a geologist ends up doing aside from what they see in the movies (bad examples for the most part) and what they experience in classes (teachers they see a few times a week but don’t have time to connect with). I presented a very linear concept of a geological career: take classes, get a degree, go into government or industry work OR get another degree, teach or do one of the former two options. Then I showed them the list of everyone I could find who got creative with their geologic experience.
25 March 2012
I’m a bit of a pack rat when it comes to books, especially geological ones. I’ve got quite a few that I’ve collected but never really had time to read. (When you read journal articles at work all day, sometimes you really don’t want to read about more geology when you go home. Because I also have a lot of fantasy and scifi books, those are what tend to end up on the bedside table instead.) More often then not, the books I collect are older, because buying a lot of new ones can get expensive when you’re on a grad student budget.
13 February 2012
It’s finally decided to act wintry in Buffalo, so I decided to continue the theme with (finally!) another photo archive post. This one comes to you courtesy of the U. S. Antarctic Program (part of the NSF’s Office of Polar Programs). The U.S. Antarctic Program Photo Library is a collection of images from research expeditions to Antarctica (submitted by members of those expeditions). It includes photos focusing on science, research stations, wildlife (above and below the ice!), scenery, people, and images from historical expeditions. Properly credited photos are free for use for non-commercial purposes, and you can submit your own photos to the collection (although they become the property of the NSF if you do).
13 November 2011
I’ve run through quite a few of my royalty-free geoscience photo resources, but Erik Klemetti and Matt Hall mentioned a new one this week: Imaggeo, an open-access collection maintained by the European Geosciences Union. The photo collection is currently small, but the photo quality is top-notch.