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You are browsing the archive for December 2022 - Mountain Beltway.

31 December 2022

On Writing, by Stephen King

This is a little book about writing by Stephen King, renowned author of 50+ best-selling novels. It’s mainly autobiographical, detailing King’s childhood, alcoholism, and being run down by a distracted driver, but also includes good general writing advice: Ditch the passive voice. Don’t use adverbs. Write solo in an effort to purge the story from your mind, then let it sit for some time and come back to it, looking …

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29 December 2022

Platypus, by Ann Moyal

The platypus is extraordinary, and this is a book about how we came to know that. Written by a historian of Australian science, Platypus is subtitled, “The extraordinary story of how a curious creature baffled the world.”  Moyal recounts the first specimens being sent back to the intellectual centers of western Europe (London and Paris, principally) from Australia, the subsequent suspicions that it was a hoax of taxidermy, and then …

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24 December 2022

The Last Volcano, by John Dvorak

A new week, a new nonfiction geology book by John Dvorak! This one is a biography of Thomas Jaggar, who founded the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. It was a really interesting portrait of a man driven to spend time with erupting mountains. The book begins with the eruption of Mt. Pelee in Martinique, a harrowing pyroclastic flow that kills almost everyone in St. Pierre. The son of a bishop, young Jaggar …

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15 December 2022

Beasts Before Us, by Elsa Panciroli

So many books have been written about dinosaurs, but this one looks at a deeper history of another important group: our own. Beasts Before Us is “the untold story of mammal origins and evolution.” The Cenozoic is often dubbed “the age of mammals,” but the story of our hairy, milk-guzzling brethren goes much deeper into geologic time. There have sort of been two ages of “mammals,” author paleontologist Elsa Panciroli …

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9 December 2022

Pillbug tracks in ash from Mt. St. Helens

Reader Nancy Weidman (who supplied the Wind River boudinaged basaltic dike images from earlier in the week) sent me this interesting note: Your ichnoanalogue post reminds me of the insect or pillbug tracks I found in Mt. St. Helens ash deposited in Missoula, Montana. At least some of the tracks, if I recall correctly, ended in dead bugs, presumably dead after its breathing tubes clogged with ash. No fossils from …

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7 December 2022

The coastal section at Esterillos Oeste, Costa Rica

Callan documents a geological stroll along the coast of Esterillos Oeste, in central southern Costa Rica, investigating the sequence of sediment in the Punta Judas Formation (Mid-Miocene) exposed there. Fossils, sedimentary structure, diagenetic features, structural deformation, and modern weathering all make prominent appearances.

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5 December 2022

Mafic blocks in Wind River Range granite

Got these photos from a reader, showing outcrops in the northern Wind River range (ESE of Island Lake). The question, inevitably, is are these MMEs (microgranular mafic enclaves) or xenoliths? They’re fine grained and mafic… but some lithologies of xenolith could be too! This next set shows what appear to be a bunch of blocks strung out in a line… This one is shaped like a toaster or a television …

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2 December 2022

Friday fold: Hidden Rock Park, Goochland County

Two weeks ago was the annual Virginia Geological Field Conference, which was centered this year on the Goochland Terrane, an interesting block of crust in the Piedmont which shows some similarities to the Blue Ridge geologic province, but also shows some differences that suggest it’s not just a mini-Blue-Ridge. One of the best exposures was in Hidden Rock Park, where a series of “whaleback” outcrops expose things like this: There, …

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1 December 2022

Mask of the Sun, by John Dvorak

Inspired by How The Mountains Grew, I ordered the rest of John Dvorak’s oeuvre recently. I read the first over Thanksgiving break – a great nonfiction look at eclipses. The basics of lunar and solar eclipses are dispensed with early on, and Dvorak then spends his time on understanding of eclipses in antiquity, the gradual accumulation of insight into the causes and timing of eclipses – thus permitting them to …

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