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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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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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18 March 2012

Fossil interlude: Eighteen Mile Creek, New York

The weather has been freakishly nice for March in Buffalo, so yesterday I decided to chuck any ideas of getting work done and went fossiling with a friend instead. The area where I live sits right on top of the Devonian Onondaga limestone, so I’m already surrounded by a very fossiliferous unit (it’s full of things like coral and brachiopods and crinoids). But for a special locale, it’s worth it to head down to Eighteen Mile Creek, which flows into Lake Erie about 12 miles southwest of Buffalo.


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