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october 2011

Geologic Column: The double-edged sword of commercialization

Everyone has a mental image of a “commercialized” geologic site — Niagara Falls, anyone? My vision includes crowds, noise, clutter, distracting visual stimuli, neon signs, traffic, and a price on everything from scenic views to water. Souvenirs, including T-shirts, snow globes, shot glasses and fudge, are usually for sale.

07 Oct 2011

Voices: An old Earth for all Muslims but how does evolution fit in?

It’s no secret that many of the protests and rebellions in North Africa and the Middle East this year have been dominated by globally connected, young, educated Muslims. One of the stated goals of many of these young people is improving the science and technology programs in their countries. They understand that to compete in the global marketplace, strong science and technology programs are necessary. That bodes well for these countries’ futures.

24 Oct 2011

Santa Fe impact crater discovery: A series of fortunate events

In the ancient pink and orange hills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Thornton “Tim” McElvain, a retired petroleum geologist, leads me over a concrete highway barrier to a towering granite road cut. McElvain steps onto a rock pile and points to a meter-long block of granite, the freshest offering to fall from the rock face. One side of the block tapers roughly to the shape of a cone, with grooves coming together to form a point.

“This is the best shatter cone example I’ve seen here,” McElvain says.

07 Oct 2011

CryoScoop: A must-read special issue

Arctic enthusiasts: check out the Oct. 13 issue of Nature. The special issue “After the Ice” examines a variety of hot topics in the Arctic, where global warming continues to impact the landscape, science and economics.

13 Oct 2011

Hazardous Living: Collision forces behind devastating Turkey quake

By Tuesday evening local time, close to 500 people have been confirmed dead and more than 1,300 injured following a major magnitude-7.2 earthquake that struck eastern Turkey on Sunday at 1:41 p.m. local time. Countless people are still trapped under debris after the shallow quake, only 20 kilometers deep, leveled at least 2,260 buildings in Van, Ercis and other cities and villages, according to news reports.

25 Oct 2011

Return of the Dust Bowl

Geoscientists Predict a Dry, Dusty Future for the American West

Haboobs walloped Arizona last summer. Locals long ago adopted the Arabic word for a major dust storm, but even old-timers say they can’t remember anything quite like this year’s aerial assaults.

28 Oct 2011

All that glitters... Acid mine drainage: The toxic legacy of gold mining in South Africa

More than a century of mining near Johannesburg, South Africa, has left the region littered with mounds of waste and underlain by a network of abandoned mine shafts. Together, they are producing a toxic brew of acid mine drainage.

23 Sep 2011

Cold case files: Forging forensic isoscapes

In November 2006, someone left a badly beaten man at a hospital in Gwent, South Wales. The victim was severely injured and died shortly thereafter without revealing his identity. All the Gwent police knew about the John Doe was that he was Asian, or of Asian descent, and possibly Vietnamese. There was no record of him entering the country. His fingerprints provided no further information on his identity. The trail went cold.

30 Sep 2011