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14 August 2015


There’s been a hilarious meme on Twitter the past couple of weeks that follows in the footsteps of #OverlyHonestMethods: #FieldworkFail. If you’ve ever gone out in the field (i.e., not in a lab or office) to do your research, you know that there are many opportunities for things to go wrong. Particularly if you travel to remote locations, work with animals, or rely on finicky equipment to get the job done. (Or, in my case, when you work with volcanoes.) A number of media outlets picked up some of their favorite tweets, and I’m happy to say that two volcanologists made it on many of the lists: myself and Alison Graettinger, who’s a postdoc at the University at Buffalo.


16 July 2013

Signs you may be a geologist (Accretionary Wedge #58)

I don’t get out for field work much anymore (in fact my entire summer has been reserved for thesis writing – grr!), but Evelyn’s call for the July Accretionary Wedge is a good chance for me to look back on past field trips and reminisce. Geologists come across a lot of signs when they do field work, and volcanologists in particular get some doozies. I had a hard time deciding on just one, so I’ve got several offerings for the Wedge, all of them from the two trips I’ve taken to Hawaii.


29 June 2013

Google Street View Trekker in Hawaii

I am extremely excited about this news. Hawaii is a significant geologic location, and one that I know I’ll never get my students to. Fortunately, Google is taking my students for me! Who knew that by strapping a camera-equipped backpack…


5 June 2013

Benchmarking Time: Kilauea Caldera and Kilauea Iki, Hawaii

Buffalo is actually a lovely place to be in the summer even though it’s feeling very summerlike right now. But I wouldn’t pass up another chance to revisit the Big Island, because it’s a fantastic place to be at any time of the year. One of my favorite parts of the island, aside from the malasada shops, is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. (Bet you couldn’t see that one coming!) I’ve been lucky enough to go there three times – once with William & Mary’s regional geology course, once with UH Hilo’s volcanology field course, and once with my parents for vacation. I loved showing my parents the park, since I’d been there with the William & Mary crowd the year before, and because I was finally getting a chance to show them what a volcano is really like.


28 September 2012

Benchmarking time: Mauna Kea, Hawaii

In the course of my field work, I’ve gotten in the habit of ‘collecting’ benchmarks with photos, but I didn’t know hunting for benchmarks was an actual named activity! The great Wikipedia assures me that ‘benchmarking’ or ‘benchmark hunting’ is an actual thing, with its own fansites and everything. The website even has a section devoted to benchmarking. It’s a big thing. At any rate, I thought it would be a fun activity to post photos of my benchmarks each week – and, like Callan’s Friday Fold, to ask for photos of your favorite benchmarks! I’ll start with my favorite, the USGS benchmark on top of Mauna Kea’s highest point.


30 June 2012

Accretionary Wedge #47: Nostalgia for notetaking

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.


8 December 2011

AGU 2011: Day 2

Tuesday was the first chance I had to attend a press conference (one of the perks of being an AGU blogger!) I was especially excited about one of the first of the morning, which was by Hawaii volcanologist Don Swanson about explosive eruptions at Kilauea. Dr. Swanson worked (and still works) at the USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory, so he knows Kilauea intimately (especially the information that can be drawn from …


26 August 2011

Sexy Geology: Accretionary Wedge #37

Lockwood at Outside the Interzone wants to know what gets a geologist all shook up. (Hint: it’s not just earthquakes.)

Several hours of hiking on an exotic tropical island + one active cinder/spatter cone + standing on the exact spot where a fissure eruption started, that’s what!


17 May 2010

Geo-image Accretionary Wedge

My geo-photo of choice is a bit of interplay between the forces of geology and biology: an ohi’a shoot growing from a crack of a lava flow on the flank of Mauna Ulu, on the Big Island of Hawaii. The photo is significant to me for a number of reasons: This was my second trip to Hawaii, but the first time I’d had a chance to learn the techniques of …


23 April 2010

Accretionary Wedge #24: My geologic hero

In considering who I would write about as my geologic hero, I of course had to consider my undergraduate advisor, who I’ve written about before. (You all know him from this blog, if you’ve been keeping up with the adventures of William & Mary’s Geology Department.) But that would essentially be a rehash of something I’ve already talked about. Although Chuck was (and still is) an immense influence on my …


4 December 2008

A Big Island Geology Tour

Callan suggested that I post the advice I gave him for his recent trip to Hawaii, and since I haven’t had time to write anything really meaningful lately (darn you, end-of-semester crunch time!) I think I’ll do just that. You can follow along with his fantastic photos and discussion of the locations he visited – I’ll link to each of his blog entries as they go up. (Those links are …


9 April 2008

More news from Hawaii: Volcanoes National Park evacuated

(Image from the Hawaii Volcano Observatory) Looks like shifting wind + gas plumes = not fun out at Kilauea. Enough that the park closed completely yesterday, and several of the surrounding communities were put under voluntary evacuation notice. Shifting winds are blowing the gas plume emanating from Halema’uma’u crater out over the inhabited parts of the park and into local communities, which usually don’t have to deal with vog, or …


Very punny

Here’s an offering from lolscience: (Courtesy of ancientscripts)


25 March 2008

Kilauea’s Halema’uma’u Crater producing ash plume

I’m finally on top of things! As of yesterday, the gas plume emanating from the explosion site in Halema’uma’u Crater on the summit of Kilauea has started to carry ash as well. They’ve put up a webcam on the roof of the Jagger Observatory, and it’s a pretty cool view. (I am very jealous of the person currently visible in the lower right of the image.) Here’s the USGS press …


20 March 2008

New developments and a little history from Kilauea

Boy, have I been sleeping on the job. Halema’uma’u Crater, in the caldera of Kilauea, experienced its first explosive eruption since 1924. Ron and Geotripper have both covered the event in their posts, and the Hawaii Volcano Observatory has some great photos of the explosion crater and the debris that was scattered by the explosion. Since I don’t want to repeat their efforts, I’ll take a look at the 1924 …


5 March 2008

Alien Invaders

National Geographic has posted an interesting web article about invasive plants edging out native species in Hawaii. Scientists from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (Stanford and Hilo) have used imaging spectroscopy and LiDAR to map 850 square miles of rainforest on Hawaii’s Big Island in order to understand how nonnative plants are affecting the current populations of native species (mainly ‘ohia, a Hawaiian tree with bright red flowers called lehua). The …


11 February 2008

Holy Smoking Breadfruit, Batman!

Judging from the sudden dropoff of comments, people are a little stumped on exactly what got dropped in a lava flow in Friday’s geopuzzle. So, here’s the answer: Breadfruit. ( At least, that’s what the locals said. I was skeptical, since breadfruit is usually pretty smooth, and these appear to have some pretty prominent spiky parts, but there was a garden nearby that had some immature breadfruit growing in it, …