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20 January 2016

Going digital: Building a better geological map of Alaska

In the early 1900s, before Alaska was part of the United States, geologists roamed this northern territory on foot and horseback, noting its features and terrain on hand-drawn maps. Nearly 100 years later in 1996, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research geologist Frederic Wilson and a dozen colleagues undertook the task of using some of the information contained in these field notes, sketches and maps, along with many other sources of data, to create the first fully digitalized geological map of Alaska.


17 December 2015

Hillslopes and Hobbes

Stanford University’s Miles Traer, once again, is cartooning from the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco.


20 October 2015

Sol 1140: Zapping the drill hole wall

The ChemCam RMI images of the drill hole planned yesterday were successfully acquired and received, and were used today to plan 2 parallel LIBS rasters down the hole.  The additional LIBS raster should be useful in measuring variations in chemistry among individual sand grains and in detecting thin veins.  ChemCam and Mastcam will also observe a target dubbed “Marshall” to see whether silica enrichment extends along other fractures near the …


27 May 2015

Sol 998: Contact Science at Marias Pass

By Lauren Edgar A short bump on Sol 997 put Curiosity in a great position to investigate a few different rock units in Marias Pass, using the instruments on the rover’s arm.  The 2.5 m drive brings our total odometry to 10,599 m.  With the upcoming solar conjunction (Mars will be on the opposite side of the sun from the Earth, so we can’t communicate with the rover for most …


Sol 997: Preparing for contact science

By Lauren Edgar Curiosity spent the weekend characterizing the terrain and bedrock exposed in Marias Pass.  Curiosity drove 33 m further into Marias Pass, bringing our total odometry to 10,596 m.   The drive set us up perfectly to investigate the contact between two different types of bedrock – the underlying Pahrump unit and the overlying Stimson unit. Today’s plan is focused on characterizing the contact in this new location, and …


26 August 2014

Intrigued by Earthquakes and Volcanoes? It’s Easy to Become Geologically Literate

Meteorologists in general do not know much about Geology, but broadcast mets are usually the first person newsroom producers (and the public) turn to when there is an earthquake, tsunami, meteor showers etc.  I had a couple of great courses in Geology working on my masters, and a field trip to the Washington State was a fantastic learning experience, and it left me with a lifelong fascination of rocks and …


23 June 2014

The Shoshone Road Cut

I know just enough geology to be dangerous, but I highly recommend a trip through Death Valley NP. Make sure you bring a good roadside geology book, and better yet, read it before you go. I took advantage of the drive back to Las Vegas from the AMS weather conference in Lake Tahoe to spend a Sunday in the park, and it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve …


24 January 2013

Where does Earth get its heat?

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 …


23 April 2012

The Joys of Fake Geology

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 …


3 October 2011

Layers of the Earth

Well, this is going to be stuck in my head all day.  


1 August 2011

9800 Feet

We got to Kidd Creek mine at 6:45 am. As we entered the mine site, we passed a billboard proudly announcing that it had been 15 days since the last accident, and someone in our group joked that 15 days wasn’t much to brag about. We laughed, a little nervous but excited at the prospect of entering one of the world’s deepest mines, to study the underground geology of the Canadian shield.


31 July 2011

Agouron Photo Album

I lieu of detailed blog posts covering the rest of my Agouron trip, I’ll let these pictures do the talking (along with my annotations).


24 July 2011

Agouron Day 2: Greenstone Belts 101

On the second day of the Agouron field trip, we piled into the vans and drove out of town, down some rather rugged road (especially for minivans!) and parked next to waste rock from an old mine. But instead of investigating this rock, we set off into the swamp on the other side of the road. After a muggy walk through tailings-stained swamp and tall cattails, along a beaver dam, and than up a rise into the forest, we came to a clearing under some power lines where rocks were exposed.


20 July 2011

Agouron Day 1: Introduction and Kam Kotia Mine Tailings

The Kam Kotia mine site is famous for being an environmental disaster. Mines tend to dump their ground-up waste rock into a reservoir nearby, typically a lake, where the finely ground rocks rapidly alter leading to nasty acidic chemicals that tend to make the area uninhabitable for a while. The Kam Kotia tailings have been partially “reclaimed” but the area is still pretty devastated.


19 July 2011

Agouron Geobiology Field School!

Greetings from scenic Timmins Ontario! I will be spending the next 9 days with a bunch of geologists, biologists, chemists, planetary scientists, and all around smart people, learning about the geology of the Abitibi Greenstone Belt near Timmins. In particular, we will be talking a lot about the origin of life, and how this chunk of ancient crust on Earth can (or cannot) be used as an analog for Mars …


29 April 2010

MarsSed 2010 Field Trip Day 2: Stromatolites, Gypsum and Layers

We started off Day 2 of the field trip by driving up onto the eroded rocks of what used to be the tidal flats of the ancient reef, between the shore and the continental shelf. The closest modern-day analog to the rocks that we visited is the Persian Gulf, where you have an arid climate and deposition on the shelf and down into the deeper ocean basin. In the tidal …