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22 June 2011

Archival Gold: USGS National Geologic Map Database

Time for another of these, since I haven’t done one in a while! This Archival Gold post departs a bit from the photo theme, but it’s no less useful – in fact, it was one of the most useful websites I ever encountered as an undergrad. The U. S. Geological Survey’s National Geologic Map Database contains records of, and often links to, more than 85,000 maps related to a variety of subjects: geology, hazards, earth resources, geophysics, geochemistry, geochronology, paleontology, and marine geology.


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2 March 2011

Geologic models

The discussion that came up in my fluid dynamics course today was about the different kinds of models we use in geology, and how we make sure they’re useful. The main categories that we discussed were conceptual models, mathematical models, experimental models, and geologic maps. (I’ll hit the maps part of it later on; rest assured that there is a good reason for calling a map a model.) The goal of a model is to distill the basic principles of geologic phenomena into a simplified version of what you’re trying to explain. For example, no one can tell exactly where every single particle of ash in a volcanic plume will go, but with models of plume behavior, we can get an idea of how the plume as a whole will behave, and where the majority of those particles will end up.


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25 July 2008

Teaching Tools for a 3D World

Though you wouldn’t expect it from my slight obsession with volcanoes, my undergraduate training was focused strongly on structural geology. My undergrad adviser is a structural geologist, and his class was probably the toughest I’ve ever taken. It was also the most in-depth, challenging, make-you-think-really-hard class I’ve had, but there was something immensely satisfying in being able to grasp those concepts. The class had one major project, a mapping exercise …


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