24 January 2017

Science policy in the Trumpocene

It looks like the Trump Administration is going to be tough on science. We all suspected that, but since Friday’s inauguration (now proclaimed by the new president as a “Day of Patriotic Devotion,” seriously taking a page from North Korea), there have been several incidents that raise serious, serious concerns. I’ve not been shy about expressing my upset and disdain on social media, though I worry that speaking honestly about dishonesty will end up hurting me. It may also cost me followers who came for the geology but didn’t want to stay for the political consternation and resistance. It may bring down the ire of powerful people on me. Yet somehow, I find myself unwilling to roll over and accept the erosion of reason and democratic principles. This conversation is moving fast, and much of it has played out at high speed on Twitter over the past 94 hours.

First up, there was a retweet by the National Park Service Twitter account of the now-iconic unflattering comparison of the National Mall under the crowds of Obama’s inauguration vs. Trump’s.

This was a petulant move by whatever NPS employee did it, given everyone’s understanding of how thin-skinned the commander-in-chief is known to be. It may have been a calculated act to show off that hypersensitivity, and I wonder at what cost (i.e., if the employee was fired as a result). Anyhow: it remains true that it was, in fact, true. Using verifiable data, the free press reported on the fact that Trump’s inauguration was relatively anemically attended. But that didn’t square with El Comandante’s view of his own importance, and so therefore the data must be suppressed. The administration slapped a “cease and desist” social media notice on the Department of the Interior.

This is pretty foolhardy, as Ron Schott pointed out immediately thereafter:

Then, of course, they doubled down on the situation, insisting that the numbers were higher than they were. Press secretary Scott Spicer’s first act in his new job was to trot out this lie in a brief, histrionic statement to the White House press corps.

Ah, but Mr. Spicer, the press is going to hold you accountable too. I love this headline:

Spicer said they aren’t going to take it, this insistence on verifiable facts that delegitimize the Trump administration. I love this reaction:

Spicer’s official lie was a fairly extraordinary move, considering how easily falsfied it was. One wonders why on Earth they would do such a thing: it seems so stupid to squander one’s credibility in this way, especially so early in the game. But Ezra Klein supplies one chilling answer for why they might opt for this approach:

In other words, it may be a calculated, strategic act that lays the foundation for future dismissal of inconvenient facts.

The next day was Sunday and another representative of the new administration, Kellyanne Conway, appeared on Meet The Press, where she affirmed the false numbers Spicer quoted, and explained that these were “alternative facts.”

If you’ve read George Orwell’s 1984, you’ll recognize what’s going on. (If you haven’t read it, now’s probably a good time.)

“Alternative facts!” It was so gleefully, blatantly dishonest that it triggered an avalanche of discussion on Twitter. I was inspired to take this Bizarro “war is peace, black is white” folklore and apply it to geology, leading to the hashtag #SpicerGeoFacts. Check out some of the lovely blatant falsehoods there.

Not everyone is happy that people who have previously devoted themselves to science communication are sullying their output by discussing the political situation.


Exactly. Back in December, I asked my science communication Twitter followers who eschewed political statements why they refrained from discussing politics. 74 people responded. For most, it was just a category difference: half said it’s just not what they do with Twitter. A significant proportion feared retribution, as do I, but I feel secure enough in my position that I’ll speak truth to power regardless.

Another item, consonant with the rest: Yesterday, along with the general federal hiring freeze, it was announced that the EPA could no longer publish materials to its websites, nor interact with the press, nor give previously-scheduled presentations without checking in with the White House first. Furthermore, all their grants were to be “frozen.” This should worry every scientist. As Terry McGlynn powerfully points out:

My fellow Americans, whatever your guiding principals and moral compass, your respect for free markets and/or individual rights, we have serious issues in which science needs to guide our public policy: Antibiotic resistance | Climate change | Artificial intelligence. Yet the man who assumed the Presidency four days ago has consistently displayed a preference for bombast over facts, and he has staffed his administration with individuals who reject scientific insights on issues like global warming, vaccines, and biodiversity. The past four days have been a really worrisome barrage of falsehoods and anti-science moves. It’s scary. I am pessimistic about what it portends. I want to counter the pollution of our national dialogue. We have urgent matters to discuss, hazards to guard against, tipping points to be avoided, conflagrations in need of dousing. But the flow of quality information is being choked off. It strikes me as risky in the extreme.

What would the ideal environment look like in order to determine science policy? I would say it begins with a commitment to facts, quantitative and qualitative. Second, each conversant must commit to falsifiability – they must be willing to have their mind change on the basis of facts, compelling argument, or a re-prioritization of value trade-offs. When we can’t even share the same respect for facts, where on Earth does that leave us? When changing one’s mind is seen as a sign of weakness, how can we discuss anything? The promise of understanding the world through empiricism is unprecedented in its potential. The promise of democracy to provide a just and thoughtful form of governance is as good a system as can be imagined, but it relies on honest discourse to function. The death of facts leads to the demise of democracy. It breaks my heart.

How can science engage with the Trump administration on issues of critical national interest? I’m open to suggestions.

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20 January 2017

Friday fooled

I’ve been thinking about information flow lately, in light of the events that lead up to today’s inauguration of Donald Trump for the most powerful job in the solar system.

One of the key factors in Trump’s ascendancy is the increasing saturation of our news sources with falsehoods and propaganda. The phenomenon was dubbed Fake News in the aftermath of the election, though that term seems to have gone sour on the tongues of the media cognoscenti soon thereafter. I’ll use it in this blog post regardless, conscious that it imprecisely covers a range of phenomena, since the various flavors all have the general effect of misinforming people and muddying the waters of honest conversation. In a “post-truth” world, it’s as good a term as any to start our discussion.

On the most recent episode of his lively podcast We The People Live, Josh Zepps made an excellent point about the rhetorical maneuver that Trump used following the back to back publication (a) by CNN that a dossier on Russian kompromat of Trump exists, and both Obama and Trump had been briefed on it, and (b) by Buzzfeed of the alleged details of that dossier, an unsubstantiated and wildy salacious set of specific accusations. Guess which of those stories got more attention? The “golden shower” jokes ran wild on Twitter for hours afterward, but the incredible implication that Trump may be a sort of “Siberian Candidate” acting in clandestine collusion with a foreign government has largely set aside. The notion that it’s not even worth an official investigation has been voiced by some of the same national politicians that relentlessly investigated far less treasonous allegations of other public figures. Trump was discomfited enough to call a press conference in response, and there he infamously shut down CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s question on the dossier, sneering “You are fake news.” This was an act that intentionally conflated the two separate stories and the two separate media outlets. Trump used the weaker story and less-reputable venue to silence the stronger, more disturbing story and the more trustworthy outlet. That’s a clever slight of hand; a process that Zepps reasonably dubs “Trumpfusion:”

It’s a bummer no quick-minded journalist on the scene recognized what was happening and called the President-Elect on it. Anyhow, listen to the first five minutes of the podcast for the relevant discussion. I think it’s worth it to wrap your brain around the way this trick works, because I bet it won’t be the last time it gets thrown at you over the next four years. The rest of the episode is also very much worth listening to: In it, Josh interviews Alexey Kovalev, who wrote a powerful piece about American media from the perspective of Russian media after a decade under Putin.

For a thoughtful, entertaining exploration of the Fake News issue that explores historical analogues, I recommend the “Extra! Extra!” episode of the podcast Flash Forward, by Rose Eveleth. In exploring the conundrum of Fake News, the realization dawns that the future where fake news is indistinguishable from actual factual news seems to be… now. Examples include Pizzagate and the Rwandan genocide, William Randolph Hearst and the heyday of Yellow Journalism, and you either getting this blog post in your Facebook feed, or the algorithm intentionally shutting it out.

An additional angle (not discussed in either of the podcasts linked to above) looms in my mind as problematic. That is the intentional manipulation of audio and video imagery to create misleading “footage” that never actually existed. A malicious person with access to this technology can create utterly convincing audio and video of anyone saying anything. This takes Fake News to a whole new level. Consider this: these faces in the image below weren’t really smiling when they were photographed:

Tom White made these images via a Twitter bot he created called smile vector.  But the technology isn’t limited to grinning GIFs. Consider this demonstration of Face2Face, a Stanford project of Matthias Nießner and colleagues which accomplishes real-time facial modification of video of another person:

 

The most compelling audio example I’m aware of is Adobe’s “Project VoCo,” nicknamed “Photoshop for audio,” in which you can type what you want a person to say, and the audio is instantly generated in their voice. Watch this demonstration, and consider the implications for our ability to distinguish reality from deceitful lies:

 

A good summary of the surprisingly advanced state of the technology can be found in this article on The Verge by James Vincent. Spend 3 minutes reading that piece and see if you don’t feel seriously unnerved.

Just as anecdotes are more powerful than empirical evidence or logical coherence to the non-scientist, and knowing more about a topic may not matter and in fact may even calcify an identity-based position, I am concerned about easy-to-generate fictional anecdotes that involve real people. How much more violent would the Pizzagate gunman have been if he had not merely read a fake news article about Hillary Clinton and a local DC pizzeria, but in fact had seen a video of the purported acts? It’s a chilling thought that (a) reputations could so easily be drenched in mud, and (b) people’s lives can be recklessly endangered when these tools are paired up with a credulous, armed audience.

So what’s the solution? It’s not clear.

We can’t trust figures in authority. We can’t trust the news in our social media feeds. Soon, we won’t be able to trust audio and video we hear and see. It’s an astonishing situation.

I’m an avid skeptic, and I value ‘thinking for yourself’ as highly as anything else in life, but the pollution of discourse and sensory evidence is unprecedented. The solution is likely to be unprecedented as well.

I think there’s a particularly good discussion of this in the Flash Forward podcast I link to above. The problem may be intractable in a society that values free speech. It wouldn’t be an issue if every citizen valued skepticism and independent verification of news stories, but there’s so damn much of it all that no one reasonably has the time to investigate it all for themselves to the extent it deserves. Independent fact-checking organizations like Snopes certainly have a role to play going forward, and perhaps they might even take on a role of awarding a provisional “verified” status to individuals or organizations that demonstrate they aren’t lying to their audiences. Another, immediate and more manageable step is for each of us to make a commitment to having our echo chamber dismantled. For any given issue we encounter, we need to put some work into thinking about it, rather that simply running it through the internal “Does This Agree With What I Already Think?” filter, and then hitting the digital button for “retweet” or “share.” A question I ask myself which you may find useful is “What would it take to convince me otherwise?” Running the thought experiment in our minds about information that would change our minds is a way of clarifying the useful role of evidence in sorting out what is real. Additionally, I think it would be beneficial if there were a social consequence for an individual who adds to the mess of the public conversation, and a reward to those who clarify things. Somehow, we need to make it socially repugnant to live in a media bubble, and socially laudable to speak honestly about facts.

Today, we enter a new era in the political history of the United States. The issue of distinguishing reality from destructive fiction is a skill we will need in the next four years.

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16 January 2017

Shear zones in Scottish gabbros

In 1970, John Ramsay and Rod Graham published a paper about shear zones1. I cited their foundational work of these structures, essentially “ductile faults,” in my M.S. thesis, despite the fact that the Ramsay & Graham example shear zones were in otherwise homogenous plutonic rocks, and were a few centimeters wide. In contrast, my study area was the Sierra Crest Shear Zone System, a broad ribbon of deformation several kilometers wide and 100+ kilometers long, and deforming dozens of different lithologic units.

When I was preparing to travel to Scotland this past summer, it occurred to me that I ought to try and visit the original site, a spot called Castel Odhair, on North Uist, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. I made some inquiries and got details (including a gracious email from Rod Graham himself) about how to get there. But as it turned out, getting out to Lewis and back would take a lot of time and my schedule was already packed. Fortunately, Con Gillen let me know about another spot showing similar shear zones in similar rocks on the Scottish mainland, Rubh’ an Tiompain.

I had enough time in my schedule to make a solo morning expedition to this headland near Tarbet, and I found the outcrop without too much trouble. It wasn’t Castel Odhair itself, but it was pretty much the same thing, and I was glad to be able to visit with my camera. Here’s a look at these pavement exposures of gabbro cut by numerous small ductile shear zones:

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Good looking rocks, right? You might compare these images with those I took in southern Ontario – similar scale in similar rocks.

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The outcrop had been scarred by a drilling campaign:

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Now for the post-script…

When I got back to the States, I was able to dig into the structural geology teaching collection accumulated by my colleague Declan De Paor and his wife Carol Simpson, both recently retired from Old Dominion University. Carol had collected some samples from Castel Odhair itself, and now I own these samples! Rod Graham was Carol’s undergraduate advisor at Swansea and she collected these samples on a field trip with him. I have imaged them on the GIGAmacro to share them with you:

Link 1.49 Gpx GIGAmacro by Callan Bentley

Link 0.91 Gpx GIGAmacro by Callan Bentley

Link 0.92 Gpx GIGAmacro by Callan Bentley

These GigaPans thus far show “half shear zones” showing the transition from equigranular undeformed gabbro to highly sheared and foliated gabbro. But they don’t really convey visually the same sort of ‘sense’ of shear in a tabular zone of foliated rock that you get with the Rubh’ an Tiompain outcrop photos. So check this out: I faked a “complete” shear zone image by doubling one of the previous images in Photoshop. Here’s the result:

Link 1.29 Gpx GIGAmacro by Callan Bentley

Last, for lithological contrast and structural comparison, here’s a similar sized shear zone cutting through a granite, also from Declan and Carol’s collection:

Link 1.29 Gpx GIGAmacro by Callan Bentley

Someday, maybe I’ll be able to make a structural geology pilgrimage to Castel Odhair, but in the meantime, these images will do.

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Work Cited

1: Ramsay, J.G., and Graham, R.H., 1970. Strain variation in shear belts. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 7, 786-813.

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13 January 2017

Friday fold: Smaull Graywacke at Saligo Bay, Islay

It’s Friday.

Time for a fold! …

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…Maybe more than one.

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I think it’s about time that we headed to the beach at Saligo Bay, Islay, Scotland, where there are exquisite outcrops of the Smaull Graywacke of the (Neoproterozoic) Colonsay Group. These are turbidites (deposits of submarine “avalanches”) that were later folded and cleaved during the end-Ordovician Caledonian Orogeny (equivalent of east coast North America’s Taconian Orogeny).

I spent a delightful overcast day with these outcrops this summer, and made eight GigaPans there, as well as gathering imagery for a new 3D model (rendered post-facto by Marissa Dudek). Let’s examine the primary and tectonic structure of these rocks together using these immersive media in addition to good old outcrop photos.

We begin with the primary sedimentary structure of graded bedding. Here are three(+) beds, with the main central bed providing a lovely illustration of the concept:

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Zooming in…

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… and adding some annotations:

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Other examples:

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The crisp, sudden transition from coarse to fine marks the top of one bed, and the bottom of the next youngest one. These surfaces may well be erosional: in other words, the older bed may have had additional sediment on top that was burnished off as the incoming younger turbidity current roared in, prior to it dumping its load.

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A few more examples won’t hurt. They’re easy on the eyes, after all.

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Can you identify the graded beds in this outcrop? Explore the GigaPan and note how the sandier units weather away more slowly than the muddier units.
Link 0.38 Gpx GigaPan by Callan Bentley

This one shows a nice example of how the geopetal aspect of graded bedding can get wrapped around the axis of a couple of adjacent folds, giving a fan-shaped array of younging directions:

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The folding these rocks have adopted is exquisite.

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Here’s that same outcrop in GigaPan format, if you want to dig into the details:
Link 0.54 Gpx GigaPan by Callan Bentley

The other side of the fold imaged above (i.e., rotating 180° in perspective) is this one:
Link 0.4 Gpx GigaPan by Callan Bentley

Here’s perhaps the finest example:

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There is so much going on in that image: the graded bedding, the disharmonic folding, the cleavage, the differential weathering, the veination… even the cobbles on the beach have stories to tell.

Explore this exquisite outcrop, one of my favorite outcrops I saw all summer, here:
Link 1.1 Gpx GigaPan by Callan Bentley

 

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Another folded outcrop for you to explore in super-high resolution:
Link 0.76 Gpx GigaPan by Callan Bentley

Let’s also examine the cleavage that results from differential stress being applied to these strata:

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The cleavage is less well developed in the sandstones than in the mud rocks, but it can still be discerned. Examine this outcrop, for instance:

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GigaPan of a nice outcrop that shows the cleavage well:
Link 0.5 Gpx GigaPan by Callan Bentley

…And one more fold, showing the effects of weathering:

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Around the corner, a small river feeds into the sea, and the folding is more subtly expressed, as well as being weathered to an uglier outcrop:
Link 0.57 Gpx GigaPan by Callan Bentley

Zooming in on this outcrop, I challenge you to figure out whether bedding is continuous or not across the central vertical fracture: Is there a fault here?
Link 0.89 Gpx GigaPan by Callan Bentley

There’s also a dolerite dike of apparent Cenozoic age (Webster, et al. 2015) that cuts across the graywacke strata exposed at Saligo Bay.

Here’s a 3D model (3.9 million faces) of the dolerite dike. The sole annotation is a pencil for scale.

 

Close up photos of its texture:

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If you’re lucky enough to get to visit Islay in person, be sure to visit this awesome place. It really stands out in my memory as one of the most delightful places we explored this past summer.

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Reference cited:

Webster, D., R. Anderton, and A. Skelton. A Guide to the Geology of Islay. Ringwood Publishing, Glasgow: 178 pp.

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11 January 2017

More Messengers from the Mantle

Since I showed off the 3D kimberlite intrusion breccias yesterday, I feel as if I owe you some other photos from that lovely exhibit at the IGC.

I apologize for the poor quality of these photos – the gorgeous samples were behind glass and brightly lit, which made photography difficult. But the rocks are sooooooooo pretty, I think you’ll enjoy viewing them just the same.

Let’s start with a gargantuan kimberlitic lapillus:

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Got your attention? Good, then you’re ready for a look at what happens when stromatolites and kimberlites meet:

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Let’s sample some garnet next:

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This beautiful lineated sample comes with an accompanying “mega thin section”…

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…How cool is that?

Here’s another matched set of slabbed & polished sample and huge “thin section”:

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…And one more of these enormous (10 cm+) “thin sections”:

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It was such a treat to have such a gorgeous display of gorgeous, fascinating rocks available at the Congress – a perfect way to spend a quiet half hour between talks…

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10 January 2017

Two kimberlite intrusion samples presented in 3D model format

While in Cape Town for the 35th meeting of the International Geological Congress in August/September, I was delighted at the “Messengers from the Mantle: Craton Roots and Diamonds” exhibit on kimberlites. It was a world-class collection of excellent specimens that traveled to the Congress from across the city at the University of Cape Town. I took some photos of two specimens to make 3D models from, and my student Marissa Dudek (freshly matriculated at James Madison University) has just posted them both. Each is an example of the intrusion breccia that results when kimberlitic magma shoves its way into a limestone.

Here they are:

Of course, spinning these models isn’t the same experience as seeing them in person – but it’s likely as good as you’re going to get. Enjoy!

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6 January 2017

Friday fold: helicopter and anticline in the Yukon

Look over there beyond the helicopter; what’s that I see?

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Why, it’s a Friday fold, a guest submission, to start off the new year!

A pretty sweet macro fold from the Sekwi Fm of the Mackenzie Mountains on the Yukon – Northwest Territories border. Large-scale fold hinges are common locus points of base metal mineralization along the carbonate platform of the ancestral North American margin.

Credit: Aaron Higgs and Eagle Plains Resources Ltd.

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Happy Friday!

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31 December 2016

2016 Yard List

bbird Eastern bluebird (and its lunch, a camel cricket)

img_6693 Purple finch (male)

At New Year’s, I post my “yard list” here. It’s a list of all the bird species observed in my yard in Fort Valley, Virginia, over the course of the previous calendar year. I have been posting this list every year since I moved here:

13232885_10207525028018400_7222670680316956158_n Yellow-billed cuckoo (window-killed, unfortunately)

13934899_10208151130390568_9203538440233453900_n Ruby-throated hummingbird (female)

img_6711 Tufted titmouse

13938545_10208151130350567_6031815009647458426_n Goldfinch (male, summer plumage)

img_6745 Goldfinch (male, winter plumage)

img_6764 Downy woodpecker (male)

This year, I regret to report that my numbers have fallen off this increasing trend of the first four years, with only 59 total species observed.

Here’s the list, presented in chronological order of first appearance in the year:

  1. White-breasted nuthatch
  2. Red-bellied woodpecker
  3. Goldfinch
  4. Carolina chickadee
  5. Downy woodpecker
  6. Tufted titmouse
  7. Mourning dove
  8. Dark-eyed junco
  9. Ruby-crowned kinglet
  10. American robin
  11. Brown creeper
  12. Carolina wren
  13. Hairy woodpecker
  14. Pine siskin
  15. Northern cardinal
  16. American crow
  17. Pileated woodpecker
  18. Turkey vulture
  19. Barred owl
  20. Purple finch
  21. Red-shouldered hawk
  22. Northern flicker
  23. Blue jay
  24. Red-tailed hawk
  25. Eastern phoebe
  26. Brown-headed cowbird
  27. Eastern bluebird
  28. Turkey
  29. Pine warbler
  30. Whippoorwill
  31. Canada goose
  32. Chipping sparrow
  33. Black vulture
  34. Eastern towhee
  35. Blue-gray gnatcatcher
  36. Broad-winged hawk
  37. Raven
  38. Ruby-throated hummingbird
  39. Blue-headed vireo
  40. Rose-breasted grosbeak
  41. Hermit thrush
  42. Indigo bunting
  43. Ovenbird
  44. Scarlet tanager
  45. Red-eyed vireo
  46. Yellow-rumped warbler
  47. Eastern wood-peewee
  48. House finch
  49. Yellow-billed cuckoo
  50. Cedar waxwing
  51. Bald eagle
  52. Great crested flycatcher
  53. Great blue heron
  54. Chimney swift
  55. Orchard oriole
  56. Black-throated green warbler
  57. Yellow-bellied sapsucker
  58. Golden-crowned kinglet
  59. Sharp-shinned hawk

All told, it’s not too shabby. But: better luck next year!

img_6802Carolina chickadee

13123057_10207369849139025_4719775361744210888_o Rose-breasted grosbeak (male)

img_6752 Brown creeper

13221149_10207472115695625_7272850266439191970_oSwainson’s hawk (this one’s from Idaho, not Virginia)

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30 December 2016

Friday fold: one from the archive

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As noted previously, my colleague Declan De Paor recently retired from Old Dominion University, and I was lucky enough to inherit some of his rock samples. I’ve been making super-high resolution images of the samples ever since. Here’s a particularly striking fold, weathered out differentially. Enjoy exploring it – and have a happy final Friday of 2016!

Link 2.04 Gpx GIGAmacro by Callan Bentley

(If the embedded GigaPan doesn’t work for you because it’s Flash-based, click on the still image above to go to the non-Flash-based GigaPan page for this image.)

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29 December 2016

Year in review

We approach the end of another calendar year, and with it comes my ninth anniversary of beginning to write about geology online. (A year from now will mark a decade of geoblogging for me!)

It’s been a rough year, health-wise for my friends and family. Loved ones have suffered strokes, brain cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other horrible ailments. I myself have been battling a persistent respiratory infection for most of the fall. These negative health effects have been unprecedented for my wife and I. Throw in the horrific election and its prospects for scientific inquiry and environmental protection, and 2016 looks fairly awful in hindsight.

On the other hand, it’s been a stunning year for me for travel. In May, I got to go to eastern Washington and central Idaho, and then spent seven weeks of the summer in Iceland, northern Ireland, and Scotland (including Shetland and Orkney and the North-West Highlands and Islay and Arran), followed by two weeks in Barberton Mountain Land and Cape Town in South Africa, and a winter trip for a family wedding in Belize. That’s all been outstanding, and I feel very lucky for it. I love seeing new parts of this wild world. For those of you who subscribe to EARTH magazine, look forward in 2017 to a series of travel articles about my summer abroad. (For those of you who don’t subscribe, you should!)

Teaching has been relatively mild this year – my Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professorship comes with course release time, and between that and the summer travel (precluding the field class I often run), I’ve had far fewer interactions with students than has been the pattern in the past. I miss that – it feels weird to be a professor who (for a time) doesn’t actually have that many students. I’ve been grateful for my student research assistants, Robin Rohrback and Marissa Dudek, who both continue to impress me with their diligent work ethic and attention to detail.

Here on the blog, it’s been a moderately busy year, with 133 posts: on average, a little bit more than two per week. Among those posts, there were 19 book reviews and 37 Friday folds, many of which were submissions of imagery from Mountain Beltway readers. According to Google Analytics, the blog was visited by 75,000 users in 107,000 sessions.

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Some of my favorite posts from the past year include:

Archean meteorite impact evidence from South Africa

Flood deposits of Glacial Lake Missoula outburst floods

Firsthand reports from Canoa, Ecuador after the quake

We are in unprecedented territory with global sea ice

Timberville: a virtual field review in the Appalachians

A wondrous transformation: bonfires and the carbon cycle

and of course there are the various “virtual field trips” that resulted from my summer in the north Atlantic island nations:

A virtual field trip to Portrush, Northern Ireland

A virtual field trip to Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland

A virtual field trip to the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

A virtual field trip to Kinkell Braes, Scotland

A virtual field trip to Siccar Point, Scotland

Friday folds: A study in contrasts at the Walls Boundary Fault, Shetland

All told, I’m proud of the record of education and outreach I’ve managed this year in this space. As something I do without monetary compensation, it’s very important to me, and I’m pleased with the usage statistics and the topics covered. Although I could have done more, life is a balancing act.

Happy new year! May 2017 be better than 2016 was.

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