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30 May 2023

Please Note!

This blog is no longer regularly maintained and information in some posts may be outdated. Please do your research, especially if visiting field locations, as rules, regulations, and access may have changed in the time since the posts were originally published.


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10 August 2013

Fiddling on a crater: Panther Mountain, New York

In my spare time, I play violin – orchestra, rock band, and after this past week, fiddle. I just returned from a whirlwind week at a resort in the Catskills that I spent learning how to fiddle from none other than Gaelic Storm, and on top of the fantastic time we had and wonderful people I met, the scenery wasn’t so bad either. In fact, I spent a good bit of time geeking out about the fact that the resort sits on the edge of the Panther Mountain Impact Structure.


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26 July 2013

Streamflow and storms at Glen Falls

In between bouts of hottish weather (I don’t count it as hot unless it’s well into the nineties and the humidity is fairly high) and the occasional cool day like today, we’ve been having some fairly spectacular thunderstorms in Buffalo. That’s no unusual thing in the summertime, but after teaching a chunk of an intro course about streamflow and what happens after it rains, I’ve started paying more attention to water features in my area.


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30 December 2012

I was dreaming of a white Christmas, but geology got in the way

It hasn’t been a very white Christmas where I am right now (northern Virginia), but if you’ve been following my fellow AGU blogger Callan on Twitter, you’ll know that’s not the case in other parts of the state. And it’s definitely not the case back in Buffalo, which has been getting snow from several winter storms recently. That got me thinking about how geology – and topography – conspire to produce precipitation. (I think about this a lot more now that I live in Buffalo, since we tend to get much more snow than where I grew up, and UB has this interesting habit of rarely closing for weather.)


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22 December 2012

5 years already?!


It certainly doesn’t seem like I’ve spent a significant chunk of my life blogging, but the calendar doesn’t lie: it’s been 5 years since my first post on Magma Cum Laude. When I first started, I never really imagined that this would become such a big part of my professional identity as a geoscientist, but I can’t say that I would have changed the path I’ve taken – because it’s led me to some really interesting places! Since I began this blog with the intent to write about becoming a grad student in volcanology, I’ve had the opportunity to write about everything from eruption triggering to fossiling in Western New York to numerical modeling to how many jelly beans it would take to equal the mass of a lava dome. Seriously, everything.


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9 September 2012

Hydropower at Niagara Falls: The Schoellkopf Power Station

Niagara Falls has a long history of power generation, from the earliest canals of the mid-19th century to today’s massive hydroelectric stations. Nowadays, most of the process is hidden from visitors to the Falls; the tunnels and canals on either side of the border are either hidden or eclipsed by other development, and the stations themselves are far enough down the river that some visitors never see them. You can take tours of bits of the stations, but the tours are very contained and only ever visit small bits of the buildings. There is, however one place where you can see part of the historical aspect of hydroelectric power at the Falls – and what happens when natural processes interfere with man-made constructions.


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1 August 2012

Niagara terroir

No, nothing to do with the thrill of going over the Falls in a barrel, or anything like that. I’m talking about terroir – the combination of geography, geology and climate that contributes to a favorable environment for growing something. In this case, grapes! The Niagara frontier is one of the biggest wine producing regions in the US and Canada, and last week I had the chance to sample wines from the Canadian side of things.


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16 July 2012

Hooper Garnet Mine

Recently, I finally trekked across NY state to the Adirondacks and visited the Gore Mountain area, home of several garnet mines. Now, these aren’t like the garnets I was showing in my Bancroft photos. These are HUGE. Garnets as big as your fist. The two best places to find them are at the Gore Mountain Garnet Mine (which charges an entrance fee and by the pound for what you take out), and the Hooper Mine, which is no longer in operation BUT is also free. Being grad students, my friends and I went for the free option. (The garnets at Gore mountain are, admittedly, bigger, but there is a limit to how much rock even I am willing to drive back across the state.)


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1 December 2010

Lake effect snow in Buffalo

It’s December, which means that in Buffalo, temperatures are finally starting to settle in to their normal range (we’ve had a bit of a warm time so far this fall). And we have precipitation. The combination of those two usually means that the local weatherpeople, who haven’t had much to report on but rain so far, get to use their favorite phrase: “Lake effect snow”.


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23 November 2010

Chimney Bluffs State Park: Drumlin hunting

Earlier this year, I took a (long) drive away from Buffalo to go visit some of the glacial features that “upstate” New York has to offer. Chimney Bluffs State Park is located on the shore of Lake Ontario in Sodus Bay (about halfway between Rochester and Oswego), and it’s an excellent place to see a truncated drumlin.


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