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12 March 2018

Improving the interview-a-scientist assignment

Nearly every scientist who’s active on social media or blogging gets requests from students to answer questions for interview-a-scientist assignments. Now, I love the intent of these assignments, which is to get students excited about a science topic by connecting them with an actual living, breathing scientists. However, the execution can be a problem for the scientists.

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3 February 2016

Recognize an early-career geoscientist for excellence

Now that AGU is accepting nominations for this year’s awards (the deadline is March 15), I thought I’d throw out a pitch for the early career awards – and particularly the one that I’m most heavily involved in, the Science For Solutions Award.

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23 July 2015

Domes galore: Obsidian Dome, Long Valley

For the final dome in our volcanology day back in my May Long Valley field trip, the W&M students and I took a short hike up to Obsidian Dome. The Obsidian, Glass Creek and Deadman Creek domes all erupted around 1350 CE, which makes them some of the youngest features in the Long Valley area. The three domes are aligned north-south and probably all erupted from the same dike, which …

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6 November 2014

Getting sketchy (when it comes to geology)

I was inspired to think about the topic of drawing (and markerboards) by the great post by Miles Traer on using stick figure animations to explain complex science concepts. I don’t know if geoscientists are a special breed in that they often default toward drawing out their ideas and thoughts, but I’ve always found it to be an invaluable part of my research process.

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25 March 2012

Geologist’s bookshelf: Older offerings

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.

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10 March 2012

Learning moments in geology movies

Between digging into fluid dynamics papers, figuring out stability fields for alteration minerals and generally dealing with being a grad student, I haven’t had a lot of time to post lately. (Plus I had to do my taxes this weekend…) But I did get great comments on the “Survival Geology” post, especially about using movies and TV to teach science, and I thought I’d run with some thoughts on those. …

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13 January 2012

The volcanology library: choosing the classics

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll have seen the post I did on essential reading for volcanologists last year. Recently, a fellow grad student and I were having a conversation about “classic” journal articles/papers in volcanology – which were our favorites, and what we consider “classic” (this doesn’t necessarily equal old, but often includes things like review papers, which try to treat a particular topic comprehensively in only a few pages). She suggested that I try something new this year: every few weeks, do a review of one of these “classic” papers – papers that give excellent overviews of a particular topic, or were the first to suggest a now-prevalent idea, or are referenced by just about everyone at one time or another.

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21 December 2011

Accretionary Wedge #41: Geology in progress

Ron Schott is hosting Accretionary Wedge #41, and he’s asking us to do a little reminiscing:

Right, then. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to relate the story of the most memorable or significant geological event that you’ve directly experienced.

What we seek for AccretionaryWedge #41 is an account of a geologic event that you experienced firsthand. It could be an earthquake, a landslide, a flood, a volcanic eruption, etc. (but don’t feel compelled to stick to the biggies – weathering, anyone?) – some geologic process that you were able to directly observe and experience.

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11 December 2011

AGU 2011: Day 3

Well, as usual, the hectic pace of AGU caught up with me (and my laptop started having fits), so I’m behind on my meeting posts. So, we’ll go back to Wednesday’s activities:

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27 October 2011

More “translating”: The 1929 dome collapse at Santiaguito

Last week I talked about “translating” eyewitness accounts of the 1902 eruption of Santa Maria in Guatemala. As all of you probably know by now, the Santiaguito lava dome complex started growing in the 1902 eruption crater in 1922. At first there was just one dome (which was called Santiaguito then and which we now call Caliente). There isn’t much in the literature about the early days of the dome growth; most of the accounts we have about the area come from German explorers Karl Sapper (an ethnographer and linguist) and Franz Termer (a professor of geography and anthropology).

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20 October 2011

“Translating” descriptions of the 1902 eruption of Santa Maria

I’ve been going through some rather old papers for the background of a manuscript I’m working on, and I’ve been finding that it’s pretty fun to read about volcanic eruptions from the perspective of early twentieth-century geologists (and non-geologists). My field area in Guatemala wasn’t considered active until Volcan Santa Maria suddenly erupted in 1902, so most people who lived there weren’t really familiar with volcanic phenomena. There weren’t any geoscientists who directly observed the eruption , but they made it to the volcano pretty quickly afterward, and collected accounts from local people to supplement their notes.

When I read these accounts, the first time through I imagine what the writers were seeing – and then the second time through I translate the account into modern terminology. One paper that this was particularly useful for is an account of the eruption written by Gustav Eisen, a Swedish PhD in biology/zoology who was living in Guatemala. Dr. Eisen is very descriptive, but to be useful for my current research, his writing needs a little interpretation. Here are some of my favorite passages, and my “translations” of Eisen’s descriptions into current terminology.

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23 August 2011

“How to Build a Volcano”: Followup from Dr. Ed Llewellin

I was lucky enough to get an email from Dr. Ed Llewellin, one of the volcanologists featured in National Geographic’s “How to Build a Volcano”, with commentary on my review of the show. He’s given me permission to post excerpts from his message here, which will clarify a few things that I commented on, as well as expanding on the science presented in the show and correcting a few faulty …

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15 July 2011

Report on IVM-Fund trip to Guatemala: Part 4

Finally, the end of the story!

From April 29 – May 3, 2011, Dr. Jeff Witter of the International Volcano Monitoring Fund (IVM-Fund) made a trip to the Santiaguito Volcano Observatory (OVSAN) to deliver a set of volcano monitoring equipment. This equipment was purchased with the proceeds from a fundraising effort that I and the OVSAN personnel conceived of and that Jeff helped put into action. Jeff did a great writeup of his experiences in Guatemala, and asked that I share it with everyone who has contributed to the fundraiser (and anyone else who is wondering what that “Donate to Guatemala” button is on the top of this blog).

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4 July 2011

Report on IVM-Fund trip to Guatemala: Part 3

From April 29 – May 3, 2011, Dr. Jeff Witter of the International Volcano Monitoring Fund (IVM-Fund) made a trip to the Santiaguito Volcano Observatory (OVSAN) to deliver a set of volcano monitoring equipment. This equipment was purchased with the proceeds from a fundraising effort that I and the OVSAN personnel conceived of and that Jeff helped put into action. Jeff did a great writeup of his experiences in Guatemala, and asked that I share it with everyone who has contributed to the fundraiser.

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29 June 2011

Report on IVM-Fund trip to Guatemala: Part 1

From April 29 – May 3, 2011, Dr. Jeff Witter of the International Volcano Monitoring Fund (IVM-Fund) made a trip to the Santiaguito Volcano Observatory (OVSAN) to deliver a set of volcano monitoring equipment. This equipment was purchased with the proceeds from a fundraising effort that I and the OVSAN personnel conceived of and that Jeff helped put into action. Jeff did a great writeup of his experiences in Guatemala, and asked that I share it with everyone who has contributed to the fundraiser (and anyone else who is wondering what that “Donate to Guatemala” button is on the top of this blog). If you’ve donated to the fundraiser, thank you, and please enjoy the results of your generosity! If you’re thinking of donating or are interested in learning more about the effort, please click on the “Donate to Guatemala” tab and visit the IVM-Fund website.

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27 April 2011

Soufriere Hills Volcano: Recent deposits in 2010 and 2011

Last year I wrote about the February 2010 dome collapse deposits of the Soufriere Hills lava dome, and this year at the SHV: 15 Years On Conference I had the chance to revisit some of the very same spots. These deposits are mainly pyroclastic material (ash, dome rock and pumice), left behind after pyroclastic flows, surges, and a 50,000 ft (~15 km) high ash plume were created during a major collapse of the lava dome. These deposits extended the eastern coastline of Montserrat almost a km in the area of the old Bramble Airport, and surges were even observed flowing out over the ocean on the eastern side of the island. Here are a few before-and-after shots of the deposits:

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23 March 2011

Earthquakes and eruptions II: Long-term triggering

Statistical analysis and volcano monitoring has established that there are both eruptions which were likely triggered by large earthquakes, and given us some plausible mechanisms for how this might happen, although this is still a rather rare event. Ron Schott brought up an interesting point in a comment, however: The mechanisms that I discussed are generally regarded as operating in the short-term – i.e., a few days to weeks after an earthquake (perhaps even a few months). But what about long-term earthquake triggering – are there connections between volcanic eruptions and earthquakes which happened years before? Are there any plausible mechanisms for long-term triggers, and how would they operate? I did a little research to see if I could find answers to either of these questions.

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5 February 2011

Archival Gold: National Resources Conservation Service Photo Gallery

Following up on my last post, in which I mentioned volcanic soils (and the plants that can be found in volcanic settings), I thought I’d feature a photo gallery that highlights some of those same things. The National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is part of the Department of Agriculture, and is responsible for helping to improve, protect, and conserve natural resources on private lands through a cooperative partnership with local and state agencies. (It used to be known as the Soil Conservation Service, but its mission has expanded beyond soil to other natural resources.) The NRCS Photo Gallery features photos of natural resources and conservation activities in the United States, as well as images of NRCS activities and employees

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