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22 July 2014

Benchmarking Time: DC is all about boundaries

Washington DC is an interesting city. When the original plans were being made in the 1780s and 1790s, they called for a 100-square-mile area to be allocated for the city, and George Washington (who was President at the time) wanted to include the City of Alexandria in Virginia. But the Residence Act, passed in 1791, specified that all the federal buildings had to be on the Maryland side of the river (mostly because someone realized that the law allowed the President to choose the location and some members of Congress didn’t want him taking advantage of that and including his own property to the south of Alexandria). So we ended up with a diamond-shaped District 10 miles on a side, overlapping both Virginia and Maryland, with the actual city in Maryland.

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13 June 2014

Building DC: Union Station’s marble floors

Whenever I go to a hearing on the Senate side of Capitol Hill, I usually arrive via Union Station. It’s a really beautiful building and one of the few grand train stations left in the country, and I’m always impressed by the architecture there. According to the architectural history, it was designed in the Beaux-Arts Style and meant to mimic the Roman Baths of Caraculla and Diocletian. It was completed in 1907, and then restored from 1986-1988 (and it’s actually being worked on right now, too). But wait! There’s geology involved with all that history.

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13 January 2014

Benchmarking Time: Great Falls, Maryland

On the first day of the new year, I got completely stir-crazy and drove off for a hike. I wanted to see some bedrock, but because I live on the Virginia side of the Potomac River but not far enough west to be in the Piedmont province, we don’t have rocks to look at. (We have some lovely river terraces and a whole lot of cobbles of things that came from the parts of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge where they have rock exposure, but that just doesn’t count.) So I braved Northern Virginia traffic and a chunk of the Beltway to go visit Great Falls – specifically, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park on the Maryland side.

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15 November 2013

Building DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Washington D.C. is a wonderful place if you’re a geologist. Not only is it a city with a fascinating landscape history (the National Mall used to have a canal running down the middle, and before that the Tiber River and swampland took up the famous space so many tourists come to see), it’s full of rocks. But they aren’t all natural outcrops – some are what we might call man-made …

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