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12 October 2022

Geopedia, by Marcia Bjornerud

My favorite popularizer of modern geology is Marcia Bjornerud. Her sensibility for what is interesting and important matches very nicely with my own – I feel she is a kindred spirit, though one infinitely more talented with language than I am. Lovers of geology found much to delight them in Reading the Rocks. She took the geological into the realm of the philosophical and political in Timefulness. This book (her …


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4 April 2017

Trace, by Lauret Savoy

I just discovered a 2015 book that explores the relation between the American landscape to the history of its people, indigenous, enslaved, and enslaver. The author, Lauret Savoy, is a professor at Mount Holyoke College, where she teaches in the department of environmental studies. In the book, Savoy explores the combined history of place and race in several settings across the United States. She begins at the Grand Canyon, but …


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4 September 2015

Faults aren’t lines

A new post on GeoSpace, a sister blog here at the AGU Blogosphere, calls attention to a new study by Simon Lamb and colleagues on the plate-boundary fault running through New Zealand’s South Island, the Alpine Fault. The post is apparently taken and lightly adapted from a press release on the Victoria University of Wellington website, where it was authored by a “communications adviser.” I call your attention to it …


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14 April 2014

Shadblow (serviceberry)

A sure sign of the advent of spring in Fort Valley is the blooming of the shadblow, an understory tree species with clusters of white flowers: My wife and I took our son for a hike yesterday, and the shadblow was pretty much the only tree with anything on its branches: I infer that shadblow is named for the fact that its flowers “blow” (bloom) when the shad swim upstream …


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18 January 2013

Callan describes what he does in #upgoerfive language

Okay, I’ll bite. I work at making people understand more about the big rock that we live on. I use pictures and drawing on the pictures to show how the rocks have changed because of pushing on the rocks. This pushing happens because of blocks of rock that move together and sometimes push into other blocks. Other times, a rock block will move away from another rock block. Then the …


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18 December 2012

Diaper diapir


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28 February 2012


Spheroidal weathering in Kruger National Park, South Africa. This outcrop is Archean granite of the Kaapvaal Craton. It’s producing a nice little inselberg in the low veld; good klipspringer habitat. “Kopje” is the word I learned to call these things in East Africa, but I guess the proper Afrikaans spelling is “koppie.”


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18 February 2012

The xenobomb

Callan shows off a new sample from Texas, a peridotite xenolith launched into the air from a maar volcanic eruption, slathered in a layer of basalt. With full intent to coin a neologism, he dubs it a “xenobomb.”


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20 January 2012

Friday fold: one from Romney (West Virginia)

Last weekend, my wife and I joined friends for a weekend of cross-country skiing in the wonderful Canaan Valley of West Virginia. On the way back, between the towns of Burlington and Romney, West Virginia, I saw this folded shale on the north side of Route 50: You can click on that panorama to make it a thousand pixels tall, if you want to explore it a bit. There are …


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30 November 2011

Continental Drift vs. continental drift

I got this e-mail this morning from a geology colleague. I’ve despecified it and made it gender-neutral: I have a silly question about word usage and I’d love to hear your opinion. Today I overhead [a biologist colleague] talking about continental drift, and I cringed. S/he used it in context with continents moving apart and how that can alter gene populations. I shudder whenever I hear my students use conti …


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