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24 April 2018

T. rex and the Crater of Doom, by Walter Alvarez

Walter Alvarez has a new book out, and its publication reminded me that though I read and appreciated The Mountains of St. Francis, I had never read his most famous work — the account of how he and his father and a team of other researchers zeroed in on an extraterrestrial impact explanation for the end-Cretaceous extinction. So last week I read T. rex and the Crater of Doom (1997). …

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18 April 2018

Visiting St. Francis’s lovely limestone

The Cretaceous-Paleogene limestone called Scaglia Rossa was used to construct a basilica in tribute to St. Francis. Let’s head to Assisi and take a look.

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13 February 2018

S-C fabric in limestone, Camerino, Italy

Some scaly Italian limestone shows off two foliations (S and C) which reveal the kinematic motions that built the Apennines.

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5 December 2017

The quarry in Contessa Gorge

Central Apennine stratigraphy and structure is on display in the wall of a quarry in Contessa Gorge, Italy. Have a look a nice normal fault and a submarine mass transport deposit.

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27 November 2017

Visiting the K/Pg boundary at Bottaccione Gorge, near Gubbio, Italy

A trip to one of the most famous outcrops in the world, a place with a stratum that marked a profound shift in the state of the planet, and a profound shift in geologic thinking. Plus, for the author, it’s a romantic journey back in time.

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11 October 2017

Pompeii vs. Herculaneum

Italy’s celebrated archaeological site of Pompeii is compared and contrasted with nearby Herculaneum in terms of art, architecture, visitor experience, and (of course) geology.

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22 September 2017

Friday fold: bend in a vesicular lava flow, Etna

It’s the First Friday of Fall! Here’s a sort of fold to help you celebrate: a section through a ∧ shaped bend in a vesicular basalt flow from the eastern flanks of Mount Etna in Sicily. It’s due to volcanic lava flowing rather than ductile deformation of a pre-existing solid rock (our usual habit with this feature), but I think we can appreciate it regardless:

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15 September 2017

Friday fold: Dextral asymmetry in a shear zone, Italy

The Friday fold comes from highly foliated rocks in a shear zone near Tyrol, Italy. It was contributed by reader Samuele Papeschi.

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25 August 2017

Friday fold: Villa Romana di Casale

Okay, I’ll admit this is a bit of a stretch, but here’s your Friday fold: The mosaic-covered floor of this long hallway in the Villa Romana di Casale in central Sicily shows profound warping. The middle shadowed area sags downward by at least a meter, maybe more. It’s not a geological material that’s been deformed, but an architectural element instead. Still: the principle of original horizontality applies to floors as …

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18 August 2017

Friday folds: the Roman Forum

When in Rome, do Friday folds as the Romans do? Here are some images from my brief, sweltering visit to the Roman Forum(s) this past summer. The whole region is a jumblepile of ancient ruins in a thousand styles. Almost nothing is labeled. It looks like this: This particular building held up a bit better, and its lovely columns sported some folded marbles: Close-up shots to show the folding internal …

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