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28 November 2022

Getting ripped

Patterns in the sand on a beach in Costa Rica…


2 March 2017

A virtual field trip to the Grind of the Navir

On the northwestern coast of the Northmavine Peninsula of Shetland, there is an unusual coastal landform: a gate-like entrance to an elevated amphitheater, like something out of Tolkien, and a storm beach of slab-like boulders inland of that.


9 February 2017


Do you remember the blog post four years ago about documenting the doomed outcrops at Scientists’ Cliffs, Maryland? It was the site of gorgeous Miocene fossil exposures in the Calvert Formation. Here’s what the site looks like now: Photo by Peter Vogt   That ugly thing at the base of the cliff is a gabion, protecting the houses on the clifftop and making fossil access impossible. I’m glad we got …


26 January 2017

Dore Holm

The scenic arch of Dore Holm (“Door Island”) in Shetland shows off the most efficient way of breaking a slab of rock. The island’s shape is a reflection of the parsimonious nature of natural deformation.


7 November 2016

Coastal colluvium + coal contest in context

Here’s the answer to the contest: This is an outcrop on the beach at Funzie Bay, Fetlar, Shetland, U.K. The modern beach sediment is the lightest-colored, rounded cobbles at both the top and bottom of the photo. Poking out in between is a layer of light-gray colluvium (angular fragments) overlain by dark peat, now perhaps approaching lignite. Because peat in Shetland cloaks the hillsides but is unlikely to grow a …


3 November 2016

A “triple tombolo” in northern Shetland

We’ve taken a look already at an exemplary tombolo from Shetland. Today, I’m dialing up the tombolosity of the blog with a Triple Feature: Click to make much larger (8000 pixels wide) If you look closely here, you’ll see that only the rightmost bar fully connects the two islands. It’s the only true tombolo, sensu stricto, at this site. The other two perhaps deserve another name, though I’m not sure …


7 July 2016

Tombolo at St. Ninian’s Isle, Shetland

I came to Shetland for the rocks – but I’ve been surprised and delighted by the huge range of interesting coastal geomorphology to be seen here too. I’ve never seen so many sea stacks, wave-cut cliffs, and bayhead bars in my life. One that is so “classic,” so “textbook” that I couldn’t resist it, is the tombolo that connects St. Ninian’s Isle to mainland Shetland. In Google maps, it couldn’t …