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June 17, 2021

Visit to an exotic tree plantation in Alaska

In 1964, just after Lyndon Johnson swore the oath to follow John F. Kennedy, Alaska forester Les Viereck and others planted tree seedlings at the north end of this old farm field.

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May 28, 2021

Bringing the world to a standstill

By Ned Rozell On a fine June day about 100 years ago, in a green mountain valley where the Aleutians stick to the rest of Alaska, the world fell apart. Earthquakes swayed the alders and spruce. A mountain shook, groaned, and collapsed in on itself, its former summit swallowing rock and dust until it became a giant, steaming pit. About six miles away, hot ash began spewing from the ground …

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Alaska writer awarded an honorary degree

In “The Firecracker Boys,” Dan O’Neill explored “a piece of university history most people were happy to move on from.” He detailed a UAF president’s support of a 1950s Atomic Energy Commission proposal to create a harbor with nuclear detonations not far from the village of Point Hope.

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May 13, 2021

Wolf-virus study shows the virtue of space

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.

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May 4, 2021

Interesting sedimentary basin structures in fold-thrust belt outcrop patterns

basin features

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, …

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April 30, 2021

The secret life of an Alaska fish

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 …

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April 22, 2021

Big change on a big landscape

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.

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April 16, 2021

Listening to avalanches half a state away

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.

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April 6, 2021

Central peak formation in model impact craters

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.

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White-winged crossbills and yellow snow

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 …

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