May 13, 2021
In a study of more than 2,000 gray wolves from near Mexico to northern Canada, researchers found that the farther wolves were from people, the fewer viruses and parasites they encountered. Scientists used blood samples taken over several decades from wolves on the Alaska Peninsula, Denali National Park and Preserve and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Park and Preserve. They also used samples from wolves living as far east as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and as far south as Arizona.
May 4, 2021
By Philip S. Prince Fold-thrust belts developed in sedimentary rock sequences produce interesting and complex patterns on Earth’s surface. These patterns become even more complex and intriguing when the folded and faulted sedimentary layer sequence contains internal structures that pre-date thrust belt development. A particularly outstanding example of this effect is the Talar Syncline of the Makran fold-thrust belt, in which an extensional growth fault depocenter has been folded, uplifted, …
April 30, 2021
By Ned Rozell In Alaska’s infinite waters swims a handsome, silvery fish. Until recently, we knew little about the Bering cisco, which exists only around Alaska and Siberia. Then a scientist combined his unique life experiences with modern tools to help color in the fish’s life history. Randy Brown is a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Fairbanks. Many years before he started that career, he …
April 22, 2021
The Alsek, a world-class rafting river that flows into the Gulf of Alaska from its headwaters in Canada, may soon abandon the lower part of its drainage for a steeper one 15 miles away. The re-route will be due to the extreme melt of Grand Plateau Glacier, which acts like a cork that prevents the Alsek from following a faster path to the sea.
April 16, 2021
High on the broken pyramid of Iliamna Volcano, rotten rock held in place by volcano-warmed ice sometimes loses its grip. Several times over the years, rock-and-ice avalanches have blasted down Iliamna at 150 miles per hour. Left behind on the mountain’s face is a dirty, five-mile scar, in the same place as the last one.
April 6, 2021
I produced the model impact crater with a combination of the same granular materials I use for tectonic models and a projectile fired from a powerful air rifle (a city-safe version of Gene Shoemaker’s approach). The model crater developed a nice central peak as well as terraced margins. The darker material is quartz sand, combined with a small amount of cornmeal to produce a minor amount of cohesion between sand grains. The white material comprising the central peak is glass microbeads.
By Ned Rozell While out on a springtime snow trail, I recently saw a dozen white-winged crossbills pecking at snow on the side of the trail. When I reached the spot, I saw a yellow stain from where a team of dogs had paused. Last spring, I saw a bunch of crossbills gathered near an outhouse. They were congregated at a communal pee spot in the snow. The birds were …
March 24, 2021
As indicated in the previous post, lidar-derived imagery still needs ground-truthing to maximize its usefulness as a means of characterizing landslides and other slope failures. Last June, Ken Gillon and I visited the Rutherford County, North Carolina, landslide described below as part of our work with Appalachian Landslide Consultants, PLLC (ALC) on behalf of the North Carolina Geological Survey. This slide caught my eye in lidar hillshade imagery because it appeared to share characteristics with an active slide we had visited a few days before.
March 19, 2021
By Ned Rozell A few years ago, Link Olson wanted students in his mammalogy class to see one of the neatest little creatures in Alaska, the northern flying squirrel. He baited a few live traps with peanut butter rolled in oats and placed them in spruce trees. When he returned the next day, he found no flying squirrels. Instead, peering back at him were the beady eyes of the mice …
March 15, 2021
Sturm is a snow scientist at University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute who has studied Alaska’s most common ground cover for decades. Many of his explorations are on long snowmachine traverses, undertaken about this time of year in the treeless Arctic.