1 May 2014

Blogging → science

Posted by Callan Bentley

I thought this was pretty cool. Remember the blog post a year ago wherein I documented a slump on a hillside on the campus of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, adjacent to Interstate 81?


Well, a student at JMU, Dan Rowson, ended up doing his research on that slump, and it turned out that the high-resolution panorama I posted was the best available image of the phenomenon. Dan emailed me to ask permission to use it, and I of course assented. He used the image to make critical measurements about the dimensions of the structure, and these measurements established key parameters in his research technique. The goal? Find the culprit of why there was mass wasting in a place where there “shouldn’t” have been… Turns out, it looks like snow removal did it. There’s a parking lot up top, and the ground and maintenance crew pushed the snow right off onto the top of this hill – an extra package of water to soak down into the artificial fill below.

I love the fact that my documenting the site and blogging it was a mechanism for some real science to happen! In other words, not just “blogging about science,” but blogging actually providing fodder for science. That’s so great.

I got to meet Dan in person at the southeastern section meeting of GSA in April, and he graciously agreed to share a PDF of his poster here so you can learn more about his work.

Here is Dan in front of his poster:


Nice work, Dan!

The site is now all fixed up looking. A nice new retaining wall proudly bears the words JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY across it, like it’s intentionally there to advertise the school. And the snow removal location during the snowy 2013-14 winter? Exactly the same, of course.


I look forward to reporting on the next chapter in this story!