Friday, December 30, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #78

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because it's the end of the year so lets deal with some extinctions.


- Where the Wild Things Were -


In prehistoric times 10 foot tall "terror birds" ranged over much of this continent, including Patagonia
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  The shamainu or Honshu type of this canine, died out early in the 20th century


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 Though specimens still exist in zoos, the Barbary lion, native to the north of this continent, is extinct in the wild

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  The Xerces Blue of this insect, native to sand dunes in San Francisco's Sunset District, became extinct in the 1940s


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The bulldog rat disappeared around 1900 from this Aussie-owned island named for a holiday


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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

There is no joy in Dinoville...T-Shirt

The newest shirt design for  "I Support ETP: The Ethical Treatment of Paleontologists" is one depicting how the end of the dinosaurs really came about.


And a closeup of the image.


If you would like to Support ETP, then head over to our Facebook page and click the "Like" button now. We are a small but ever expanding group of avid paleontologists dedicated to the preservation of our ethical integrity

Friday, December 23, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #77

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because tis the season for some merriment.


- Geology -


Corundum makes up much of this rock used to make an abrasive "board"
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  The sword of Damocles is a large one of these formations in Carlsbad Caverns


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 Shatter cones, with radiating fracture lines, are only found at the sites of space object impacts & of these tests

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  This fancy French word refers to a deep fissure in a glacier


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A giant ocean called Panthalassa once surrounded this supercontinent, whose name means "all earth"


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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dirty Jobs - Paleo Style

The Discovery Channel show - Dirty Jobs is going out with some Paleontologists. The show will be airing tomorrow (Tuesday 12/20) at 9:00 pm EST and is entitled Fossil Hunter. You can check out some of the preview clips Here.

I am posting about this for 2 reasons.

1) They are showing an episode of Dirty Jobs featuring a trip out with some vertebrate paleontologists. This should be a good opportunity for those wanting to get into vertebrate (dinosaur?) paleontology and not know what field work is like to get a first impression of it.

2) I actually know and are friends with most of the people that he is going out in the field with so this is my support for them (Jim Kirkland, Don DeBlieux, Scott Madsen, etc.).

Friday, December 16, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #76

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because school is over for the semester (at least for some of us).


- Volcanoes -


The names of 2 types of lava flow, pahoehoe & aa, come from this language
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  This Indonesian volcano just west of Java erupted in 1883 causing sea waves almost 130 feet high


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 A 1963 underwater eruption began the formation of the island of Surtsey off this north Atlantic country

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  In Roman mythology, this god of fire's blacksmith shops were located under Mount Etna


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Paricutin Volcano in this country began in a farmer's field in 1943; within 6 days, it had a cinder cone 500 feet high


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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Geology Photo of the Day - Part 5

I try to refrain from doing two posts in a day (Geojeopardy! Fridays must go on) but since I have done this all week I will keep it up. Check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 here. Also @GeoEvelyn has been reposting some of the Geology Picture Memes on her Twitter account.


The last picture of the week is one a couple of blocks from my office in Salt Lake City, UT. It may seem like a grassy hill but what you are actually looking at is one of the potentially deadliest faults in the US. This is the Wasatch Fault fault scarp at Faultline Gardens and it is currently overdue for one of it's typical ~7.0 magnitude faults. What that would do to Salt Lake City is pretty much level it to the ground (being build on loose sediment for the most part). Yea liquifaction.

I love how when people moved to SLC they didn't realize this was a fault and built directly on top of it. Even digging out the fault scarp to get a better foundation for their building. That has since become illegal (to build on the fault) but I know several apartment complexes that will be ripped right in half when the earthquake comes (there was one directly behind me when I took the picture).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Geology Photo of the Day - Part 4

Continuing on. If you want to check out other Geology Pics of the Day @GeoEvelyn has been reposting them on her Twitter. Here is also Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of my posts.


Today's photo/panoramic is from one of my field areas. It is of the main beach in Zumaia, Spain. The rocks in the picture are deep sea tubidites that have been accreted onto the northern coast of Spain. In the picture you can see the K-T boundary (right where the grass runs into the bottom of the picture), and the P-E boundary  (on the left side where the buildings are sitting on the beach.) The deposition here is so complete you can actually trace time through each of the deposited layers from the late Cretaceous up through the Lower Eocene. Absolutely beautiful.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Geology Pictures - Part 3

Continuing on. Check out Part 1 for the backstory. Here are some others...Part 2, Georneys, Research at a Snail's Pace.


This is a panorama taken of Spotted Wolf Canyon in southern Utah. I love how the rocks lend to the perspective leading to the road down the canyon. Also Hugin is an awesome program for linking together panorama shots. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Geology Photos - Part 2

And it continues...(Part 1, Georneys, Research at a Snail's Pace)


This picture is from a Paleobiology Field Trip that I TAed last year. It is a little difficult to see but if you look at the ridge in the background you can see a V-shaped structure. This is a lava flow that filled in a stream valley (a lava dam if you will). This was taken in southern Utah. Utah is/was actually very volcanically active due to the rifting that is causing/has caused the Basin and Range that extends across Nevada. We have several lava flows and cinder cones that are scattered across the landscape. And no, this has no relation to Yellowstone what-so-ever.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Geology Pictures!!

I can hop on this bandwagon as well. With trying to get 2 grants and a poster completed before the end of the year I have been, and will be, fairly busy (almost too busy for blogging) so I am joining on the bandwagon of Evelyn's Geology Picture Meme, also joined on by MK at Research at a Snail's Pace, and Poikiloblastic.



My picture was taken a while ago while I was doing my Master's at Texas Tech. It is of a Maar Volcano taken somewhere in New Mexico (I don't remember exactly where). For those of you who don't know, a Maar Volcano is a low lying volcano typically formed by explosive eruptions when water comes into contact with magma. They are usually difficult to spot from far away because they don't form the "characteristic" volcano shape. But they do make a pretty hole in the ground. They are usually filled with water, but being the desert, that wasn't likely to happen here.

Friday, December 09, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #75

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because baby it's cold outside.


- Mountains -


At 14,433 feet, Colorado's Mount Elbert is the highest peak in this mountain chain
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  Lake Kawaguchi is famous for its inverted reflection of this peak on its still waters


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 Worn down by wind and rain, the mountains of this range that includes the Vesuvius are among the lowest in Europe

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  Now dormant, this volcano in Eastern Turkey last erupted on June 2, 1840


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This range forms an arc from Slovakia to Romania with both ends lying on the Danube river


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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Monday, December 05, 2011

Misleading Science

This isn't a post about a specific topic but more of something I have been thinking about for a while. I recently came across this one graph (directly below) and no matter what the article said (because what I initially thought is NOT what the article said) I had one opinion on the subject:

The graph above (Veron, 2008) illustrates the growth of large reefs and their relationships to extinction events. If you add on the current extinction event to the far right side of the graph, I think it will be plainly obvious that reefs are the cause of mass extinction. What? No? How could that be??? Well, it's not. And that is not what the paper was trying to say, but that is how it looks upon first viewing of the graph (at least, to me). The point of the paper was to show that reefs are good places to study mass extinctions because they build up then dissapear across an extinction event. But, again, that is not how it looks to me as I scan across the article.

And this is the problem with science. Both as people doing the science and those reading the science. Sometimes, your first impression is wrong. Step back. Reanalyse what you are seeing, and try to think what else it could be. Sometimes the obvious answer is the correct one. Sometimes it isn't.

Another case is that of people misreading data. This is from the perspective of someone reading the paper but I think the writers missed something. The below graph (Hoffmeister and Kowalewski, 2001) is my case in point:


The authors stated this about the graph (as well as some other associated graphs):
"Spearman rank correlation shows a significant positive correlation in ..." (emphasis added by me)
Now , I don't know about you but I don't see significant, I don't even really see positive, I see a whole lot of random dots with a line that shouldn't have been place through the data. This is my point. Sometimes there is no correlation. Step back. Look at the data with new eyes, what you see is not always what is there. Take your time.

Science is a slow process. It takes a lot of man hours to do even simple experiments. Don't mess it up by throwing bad or missinterpreted data out there, because that is all people are going to see. They aren't going to notice your 100's of hours in the lab or the countless field hours. They are going to see one bad dataset and assume the rest of the information is junk as well. Don't let that happen to you.

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Hoffmeister, A.P., & Kowalewski, M., 2001, Spatial and Environmental Variation in the Fossil Record of Drilling Predation: A Case Study from the Miocene of Central Europe: Palaios, v. 16, p. 566-579.

Veron, J., 2008, Mass extinctions and ocean acidification: biological constraints on geological dilemmas: Coral Reefs, v. 27, p. 459-472.

Friday, December 02, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #74

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because it's winter, batten down the hatches.


- Harvard Museum of Natural History -


A relative of the plesiosaurs, this 42-foot reptile terrorized the seas of the early Cretaceous period; called Kronosaurus queenslandicus, it was discovered on a 1931 Harvard expedition to this continent
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  The museum has 4,000 handcrafted glass flowers; created from 1887 to 1936, their accuracy allowed study in Boston of flowers from these regions, between 23o 27' north & south


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 The Harvard Museum has part of the famous Zagami meteorite, which fell to the Earth in Nigeria in 1962; gases trapped inside match those found by Viking spacecraft, confirming the rock's distant origin on this planet

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  Suspended above the museum's dramatic Great Mammal Hall are the skeletons of three whale species--a finback whale, a right whale, & this, the largest of the toothed whales


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Weighing in at more than 1,600 pounds, the giant chunk of amethyst here is one of these stones that form under pressure inside cavities, from the Latin for "earth"

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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Friday, November 25, 2011

GeoJeopary! Fridays #73

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because in honor of Turkey day, here are some extinct animals.


- It's Extinct -


They include Mount Shasta in California & Kilimanjaro in Africa
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  Known for its overbite, this prehistoric cat could be found throughout much of the world


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 These birds became extinct on Reunion Island about 1750 & on Rodrigues Island about 1800

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  Coccolithophorids that lived 70-100 mil. yrs. ago fossilized to form this famous seaside site in England


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Known & named for its 3 horns, this dinosaur became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period.

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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dinos in Pop Culture Thursday

And we have a special edition this week. Happy Thanksgiving. Hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving Dino.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Damn Big Pieces of Salt


Here are a couple of salt cubes that are displayed in the Geological Sciences building at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Sorry for the lack of scale but the display is ~6 feet across. Unfortunately I did not have time to visit the salt mine but these come from one of the largest salt mines in the world - Wieliczka Salt Mine. Imagine these salt cubes being sprinkled on your food. I thought these pretty cool and I wanted to share them.

Friday, November 18, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #72

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because it's a lazy day so far.

- Rock -

More than half of sedimentary rock is this type from which oil & natural gas can be obtained
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  Trachyte & rhyolite are the most common varieties of this porous igneous volcanic rock

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 On average rocks consist of 46.5% this gaseous element

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 In its purest form, this rock used in the cement industry contains only calcite

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Chert, a hard, dense sedimentary rock, is called jasper if it's brightly colored, & this if it's dark

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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dinos in Pop Culture Thursday

Dinos in Pop Culture, where we highlight each week some of the more obscure instances of dinosaurs used in the pop culture realm to sell anything from slippers to wedding cakes.


This week a pin my wife saw and figured was appropriate.

Friday, November 11, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #71

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because it's 11-11-11 so thank a Veteran today

- Volcanoes -

About its eruption in 79 A.D., an observer wrote that "broad sheets of fire and leaping flames blazed at several points"

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  At least 57 people died as a result of this U.S. volcano's May 18, 1980 eruption

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 This youngest surface volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii has distinctive lava formations like Pele's Hair

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 In 1908 members of Ernest Shackleton's expedition became the first to climb this continent's Mount Erebus

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This lake lies in a caldera formed when Oregon's Mount Mazama volcano collapsed 7,000 years ago

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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Thursday, November 10, 2011

UFOP Meeting Announcement - Joshua Lively

Please join us for our chapter meeting on Thursday, November 10th at 7 PM in the Department of Natural Resources Auditorium, 1594 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City. Our speaker is Joshua Lively, a graduate student at the University of Utah Department of Geology & Geophysics. His talk is "Baenid turtles from the Kaiparowits Formation of southern Utah: Implications for Laramidian biogeography."

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

SVP Annual Meeting - Thoughts and Reflections

I got back from the SVP (Society of Vertebrate Paleontology) conference Sunday night and I feel like I have a few things to say about it. This was my first SVP ever, even though I did my Master Thesis on vertebrate paleontology, and I must admit I wasn't really sure what to expect. I have been to multiple GSA's (both annual and regional) and over the summer I went to a smaller international workshop for ichnologists (trace fossil workers) and I assumed it would be similar to the annual GSA meetings.

I was wrong.

I also assumed that the meeting with a bunch of vertebrate paleontologists would be similar to a conversation I had back in 2009 at GSA. The unnamed paleontologist from the interaction was at this meeting as well, as well as several others that I knew to have a similar attitude. So, in general I did not put my hopes too high for this convention. I looked forward to meeting old friends and maybe learning some new information but I wasn't looking forward to spending time with a group of people that seemed to me, at least in my limited experience, to contain a bunch of arrogant bastards.

I was proved even further to be wrong.

In a nutshell, the conference was great. I spent time with a lot of old friends, even one I hadn't seen in 13 years. I met a lot of really cool new people. I spent time with some famous paleontologists who actually turned out to be really cool, laid back people. The conference was also large enough that I could avoid the said arrogant bastards. Because you know they are there. Everyone knows who they are. I think they even know it and just don't care. But they are a much, much smaller subset of the vertebrate paleontology world than I gave it credit for. And the conference was small enough that you could find someone you were looking for. Unlike GSA, where there is no chance in hell you're going to find anyone without prior arrangements, most people here just hung out in the exhibit hall until the someone they were looking for passed by.

This meeting has left a good impression on me about vertebrate paleontology and has created an urge to get back into the field. I still love what I am doing now (behavioral evolution using trace fossils) but I feel an old door has been reopened. I was also urged by several people to publish my Masters Thesis, so that will be my springboard back into the world of VP, hopefully relatively soon.

I did have some complaints though that I feel need to be voiced. The fact that a meeting this size did not include internet is beyond me. The hotel apparently offered it for $25 a day for the whole hotel or $15 for in the room but it was schoddy at best. So the one day my roommate got it he cancelled it. The second thing is the poster session. There was no reason to have such little space between rows of posters. There was plenty of room in the convention center to be able to expand it a little. It was to the point that during the poster session you couldn't walk up and down the rows of posters because there was so many other people there. There was even space on the one end of the poster boards to expand into and release the tension a little but it never happened.

Other than that, SVP went pretty well. There was a slew of talks, both good and bad. I saw a couple of memorable ones for both reasons. I thought the venue was good. There were plenty of things do in Vegas outside of the convention. Although the second hand smoke was a killer, as I am still coughing it up 3 days later. And I made a lot of new friends. Both those that I was "friends" on facebook before and never actually met and new people that I just met for the first time in Vegas.

Overall, I give it an A- and it has been ranked above GSA in my mind as a must-do event.

Friday, October 28, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #70

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because it's almost Halloween!

- Earth Science -

There are 2 major ice sheets on Earth; one covers most of Antarctica & the other most of this island

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  The Bay of Fundy is famous for its range of these, the widest on Earth

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 This 19th C. chemist, famous for a burner, devised a still-accepted theory on how geysers work

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 The sling psychrometer & hair hygrometer are used to determine the relative amount of this

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The Earth is surrounded by the magnetosphere, which is shaped by this particle stream

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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Monday, October 24, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #69

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because we have a current events question (sort of).

- Earthquake! -

The palace hotel in this U.S. city had to be rebuilt after it was gutted by fire following a 1906 earthquake

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  The center of this Nicaraguan capital was almost completely destroyed in a 1972 earthquake

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The standard scale is logarithmic, so an 8.0 has waves this many times larger than a 7.0

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The August 23, 2011 5.8 quake near D.C. really shook up the scientists in Reston, Virginia at the USGS, short for this

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Roman emperor Trajan was nearly killed in a 115 A.D. quake in Antioch, now Antakya in this country

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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dinos in Pop Culture Thursday

Dinos in Pop Culture, where we highlight each week some of the more obscure instances of dinosaurs used in the pop culture realm to sell anything from slippers to wedding cakes.


This week we have a "Dino Sculpture". This was a gift from my advisor from his recent trip to Puerto Penasco, Mexico. It is created using just shells from the area there. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Non-Open Access Journals - A Call for Reform

There has been a series of blog posts that I have been rather interested in and figured I would point them out to other readers. The topic involves Open Access Journals and scientists reviewing and publishing in them over the Non-Open Access Journals. The points are well made and I do agree with them, unfortunately I do not have any credentials of yet to be able to pick one side or the other. Basically I have to go where I can go, whether that is behind a pay fire wall or not to publish.

It seems to have started about here at SVPoW:

http://svpow.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/researchers-stop-doing-free-work-for-non-open-journals/

Then it continued on talking about Nature and Elsevier

http://svpow.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/nature-and-elsevier-on-peer-reviewing/

This was followed but a not really rebutal but reanalysis over at The Open Source Paleontologist:

http://openpaleo.blogspot.com/2011/10/should-we-review-for-any-old-journal.html

And a response to the last post is available back at SVPoW

http://svpow.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/collateral-damage-of-the-non-open-reviewing-boycott/


Whether you agree with them or not this is a very important issue. Especially as scientists become more global and journals should become easier to access. I know on campus I don't have as much problems as many scientists since my school provides me access to many journals that would be cost prohibitive if I did not have this access. Individual journal articles often cost $30-50 which is beyond absurd, and that's even before you know if that article has any content worth while to read. I believe this is something we can work towards, or at least make the current policies a little better.

Mike at SVPoW sums it up best:

"In the long term it is, unquestionably, to the advantage of all authors for open access to become ubiquitous."

Friday, October 14, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #68

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because it's time for a little geochemistry.

- The Style of Elements -

Humphry Davy named this element after potash, its much older name

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  The Chem Time Clock helps chemistry students learn the periodic table by using element's symbols in place of numbers. It's 1:35, or these two elements

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This element, atomic no. 17, is used as a bleach

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Make no bones about it, it's the fifth most abundant element in both the earth's crust & the human body

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For hundreds of years people have believed in the rejuvenating qualities of the Dead sea's black mud. Among its many components this element, symbol Mg, said to remove toxins from the skin. Makes you feel good.

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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dinos in Pop Culture Thursday

Dinos in Pop Culture, where we highlight each week some of the more obscure instances of dinosaurs used in the pop culture realm to sell anything from slippers to wedding cakes.


This week is the fourth and final post about the Utah Hogle Zoo's exhibit Zoorassic Park. These are artistic pictures taken mostly by my wife of the various dinosaur animatronics scattered throghout the park.




UFOP Meeting Announcement - Brian Switek

Please join us for our chapter meeting on Thursday, October 13th at 7 PM in the Department of Natural Resources Auditorium, 1594 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City. Our speaker is Brian Switek who will give a talk entitled "Thomas Henry Huxley and the Dinobirds." Brian is a freelance science writer specializing in evolution, paleontology, natural history, and the history of science. He blogs regularly at WIRED Science's Laelaps and Smithsonian magazine's Dinosaur Tracking. He is also the author of Written In Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place in Nature. Links to his website and blogs are listed below:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Happy National Fossil Day

Go out and celebrate:

http://nature.nps.gov/geology/nationalfossilday/

Geology in SLC Pop Culture

I have noticed that around both the campus of the University of Utah and Salt Lake City in general that there are a lot of instances where geology pervades into the pop-culture/art displayed in various places. Here are some instances where book sculptures that are geology "related" are located at the Trax station located outside the SLC Library.

Granted some of the books are pretty loosely related to geology, but I thought it was still fun.

The Big Rock Candy Mountain (This is actually a book?)


The bible of the evolutionary biologist The Origin of Species.


Under the Volcano (I bet it's hot)

Here is a view of the entire sculpture. Sorry it is a little washed out, it was pretty bright that day and my ipod apparently couldn't handle it.
UPDATE: Here is a better photo that isn't as washed out.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guest Post - Cool US Dino Dig Locations

Are you an avid paleontologist?

If you’re wondering where dinosaur fossils have been found, you’ll be thrilled to hear that the most varieties of dinosaurs have been found here in the United States. However, if you’re looking for the location with the highest concentration of dinosaur fossils, you’ll have to go north to the Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada.

While studying dinosaurs is fun, there’s nothing like looking for fossils in real life. Dinosaur museums make great family adventures, and dino digs are a memorable way to learn about how true paleontologists discover and handle fossil finds. Trained excavation specialists use fun tools like:
  • Picks and shovels
  • Awls
  • Dynamite (you will just get to see someone else use it, but you will get to see how it’s done)
  • Crowbars
  • Drills
  • Screwdrivers
  • Brushes
  • Brooms
If you go on a dino dig, you’ll learn to appreciate how rare it is to find a fossil in good condition and how difficult it is to remove the rock and dirt without hurting the fossil. You’ll learn about fossil cleaning and preservation, too. Then, when you get back home, you can look for your own fossils. You never know what’s buried in your own back yard!

If you want to go out for a real dino dig, there are several places you can get your hands dusty and unearth some real fossils.

The Wyoming Dinosaur Center and Dig Sites
Thermopolis, Wyoming
This Dino center has over 80 digs spread out over a 500-acre span. You’ll get a real dig experience, complete with sand, sun and dirt.

You can sign up for an all-day expedition anytime during the dig season (late spring to early autumn). The digs take place every day of the week, and each dig lasts from 8:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the evening. You’ll attend an orientation at 8:00, be transported to the dig site at 8:30, and will work onsite all day. The program provides lunch, drinks, tools, and transportation—all for a cost of $150 per adult and $80 per child. If you are under the age of 18, you must have an adult accompany you.

PaleoAdventures
South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana
This dig group offers one-day and two-day dig packages in a variety of privately owned dig sites. You’ll get the full experience, overseen by professionals. Each day is an 8-8 operation, meaning you’ll be digging for a full 12-hour day. Costs are $150 per adult and $125 per child (must be over age 8 to participate) for a one-day trip and $250 per adult and $200 per child for two-day trips. Lunch, tools, and transportation to and from dig sites are all provided.

Museum of Western Colorado
Grand Junction, Colorado
This group offers everything from half-day digs to five-day dig and rafting expeditions (lodging and meals included). Kids as young as age 5 can participate, if accompanied by an adult, and kids 16 and older can attend some of the programs independent of adult supervision. Prices vary widely according to package deals, but every dig package includes a supervised, actual hands-on dig experience.

The Mammoth Site
Hot Springs, South Dakota
As if the Badlands themselves weren’t inspirational enough, this dig site and museum will provide an authentic dig experience for you and your family.

You can tour the museum and an active dig site, but if you want to participate, you’ll have to volunteer with Earthwatch. You have to be 16 or over to apply, but if you qualify as an Earthwatch volunteer, you can be part of a 4-week team that works on the dig site in July of each year.

Dinosaur State Park
Rocky Hill, Connecticut
Here you won’t get to participate in an actual dig, but you can make your own plaster castings of real dinosaur tracks. This site is the largest collection of dinosaur tracks in the United States.

If you can’t find a dig near you, start saving for a trip! You’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.  

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Bio:
Leah Landly is the community manager for BluWiki, an informational Wiki service and free web publishing platform. She covers many topics and answers popular questions like, how to look attractive and how to get rid of black eye circles.

Friday, October 07, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #67

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because winter has reared it's ugly head.

- Earth Science -

An analysis of seawater shows that about 78% of the total solids are this one mineral

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  It's a fracture of the Earth's rocky outer shell where sections of rock slide against each other

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Larger than dust, this particulate matter from volcanoes ranges from .01 to .16 inches in diameter

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From the Latin for "flowing together", it's where 2 or more streams flow together to form one

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This electrically charged layer of the atmosphere makes long-distance radio communication possible

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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

ETP - I'd Rather Be...Rock Hounding T-Shirt

I'd Rather Be...Rock Hounding.

This is next T-Shirt design for "I Support ETP: The Ethical Treatment of Paleontologists", a kind of cross Geo/Paleo shirt.

And a closeup of just the image.


If you would like to Support ETP, then head over to our Facebook page and click the "Like" button now. We are a small but ever expanding group of avid paleontologists dedicated to the preservation of our ethical integrity.

Friday, September 30, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #66

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because I'm working from home today.

- Down to Earth -

When it's closest to the Earth, this planet with a 687-day year is about 33 million miles away

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  Eratosthenes calculated this c. 230 B.C. using the difference between the sun's angles at 2 places during June

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The Lambert one of these formations in the Antarctic is over 250 miles long

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"Cast" in the role of the fourth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, its atomic number is 26

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A clue for alien astronomers looking for life on Earth is the large amount of this gas, CH4, in the atmosphere

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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Monday, September 26, 2011

Geological Fact of the Month - September

Here is something that is bound to change as we discover more and more but for now I thought it was pretty interesting.



For all the Geological Fun Facts I have mentioned before you can head on over to my website.

Friday, September 23, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #65

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because it is time for a break.

- Earth Science -

In a mining lode, the gangue is the junk & this is the mineral with the good stuff in it

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 Venice is sinking because Italy is actually part of this continent's plate & it's sliding under Europe's plate

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 It's not just oil -- Saudi Arabia has reserves of over 200 trillion cubic feet of this

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It Seismographers use the difference in speed between P waves & S waves to locate this point

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Some ocean sediment is radiolarian ooze, made of these parts of tiny protozoans

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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dinos in Pop Culture Thursday

Dinos in Pop Culture, where we highlight each week some of the more obscure instances of dinosaurs used in the pop culture realm to sell anything from slippers to wedding cakes.




This week is the third post about the Utah Hogle Zoo's exhibit Zoorassic Park. I find it amazing how much Jurassic Park still influences our perceptions and displays of dinosaurs.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DINOSAURS: From Cultural to Pop Culture - ~400 BC: The Griffin


~400 BC


Following along through Greek mythology we have the griffin. The griffin is a well known animal which is a combination part bird, part lion. I picked ~400 BC because this is when the famous tale of Prometheus Bound was likely written by Aeschyles. In the story Prometheus is bound to a rock as torture for giving fire to humanity. While he is tied to this rock he is force to endure griffins repeatedly eating out his liver. Then when they are done it is allowed to grow back again, and the whole process starts over. This isn't the first occurrence of griffins in history but it is one of the first and most prominent so I figured this would be a good place to mark it. One of the principal traits of the griffin, other than its ability to fly, is that it is often found guarding a treasure of some variety.


The origin story for the griffin is not as well known as the cyclops but it is a pretty interesting one. Apparently the Greeks were trading with a group of people called the Scythian Nomads. The trade routes of these nomads traveled from Mongolia and down into Greece where they traded gold, among other things. The source location for their gold was likely at the base of some cliffs near the Gobi Desert. The gold would have likely eroded out of the Altai mountains in Mongolia and settled on the fringes of the desert. Along side the gold deposits they found these bizarre looking skeletons, unlike what they have ever seen before. When coming across such things most people try to relate it to what they know. They recognized the beak, like that of a bird, and the bird like talons but the size and shape of the body didn't make sense. This must be a beast that is a combination of a bird and something else, possibly a lion. The skeleton was that of a Protoceratops. The only question that now remained is what happened to the frill of the dinosaur in the nomads reconstruction? It is likely that if the frill was broken into pieces, the placement of the frill along the back could give evidence for the presence of wings. Once discovering these and creating the griffin myth, the nomads then transported this tale all over Europe during their trades (Mayor, 2000; Ancient Monster Hunters; Wikipedia).

References:

Mayor, Adrienne. 2000. The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ

Friday, September 16, 2011

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #64

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because I said so.

- Pick a Planet -

Its "day" is 24 hours & 39 minutes

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It's the third largest in our solar system

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 It's never observable when the sky is fully dark

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It was the first to be discovered with the aid of the telescope

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Leda is its 13th moon

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All the answers as well as any other previous GeoJeopardy! questions can be found over at my website by clicking the link.

And if you enjoy this post as well as others, please consider subscribing to my blog via Google Reader or some other RSS feed so that way I better know my readership. Thank you.

Questions, images, and videos courtesy of j-archive.com

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dinos in Pop Culture Thursdays

Dinos in Pop Culture, where we highlight each week some of the more obscure instances of dinosaurs used in the pop culture realm to sell anything from slippers to wedding cakes.


This week is the second post about the Utah Hogle Zoo's exhibit Zoorassic Park. Want to play dress up as a dinosaur? Well now you can!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Geological State Symbols Across the US - #2 Alaska

The state for this month is Alaska. Here are the stats:

                                                        Year Established
State Mineral: Gold                                1968
State Gemstone: Jade                              1968
State Fossil: Woolly Mammoth                1986

State Mineral: Gold
picture of Gold Dust Image
Gold is a mineral made up entirely by the element Au (gold). It is bright yellow and very dense and malleable. Currently gold is considered one of the mot valuable metals on Earth, being used as the standard for most money (gold standard). Gold has an important history in Alaska. Originally when the territory was purchased it was referred to as a folly because this big hunk of land couldn't be worth anything. That was before gold was discovered. It began in the 1870's and continued through most of the 1900's. The beginnings of many communities in Alaska got their start as gold mining towns. Today Alaska is more known for it's oil exploration but gold still holds a prominent place in it's heart with Fairbanks remaining as a major gold exploration area.

State Gemstone: Jade
Jade is the pure gemstone variety of nephrite which is a metamorphic mineral in the tremolite family. Alaska has large deposits of jade throughout the state but its principle claim to fame is an entire mountain made out of Jade. The mountain is located far from any road, north of the Arctic Circle, near Kobuk, AK. Very large blocks have been taken out of the mountain and used to create statues including a 3,600 lb block for a police memorial statue. Currently, jade statues and jewelry produced from Alaska's famed Jade Mountain can be found all over the world, including a plaque embedded in the Washington Monument.


State Fossil: Woolly Mammoth
A dwarfed form of the woolly mammoth lived on Wrangel Island (an island off the coast of eastern Siberia) until about 1700 BC, more than 8,000 years after their larger ancestors died off.  Another population lived on St Paul Island off the coast of Alaska.
Depicted: A dwarf woolly mammoth compared to a regular-sized woolly mammoth.
The Woolly Mammoth, also known as Mammuthus primigenius, is a species closely related to modern day elephants which was covered with hair. Unlike most of the state fossils, mammoths are often found as complete specimens. They are usually frozen in the snow or buried in a swamp of Arctic regions. Most of the 100 or so remains of fully preserved mammoths have been found in Russia and Alaska. Mammoth remains are found throughout the northern reaches of the state as well as scattered throughout other regions. The local prehistoric people were known to have  had interactions with the mammoths. Evidence includes tools that were created from their tusks.

A small island off the coast of Alaska is also one of the last remaining locations where woolly mammoths lived (until ~3,750 BC). Since the island was small the mammoths that have been found here were dwarf varieties of the typical continental mammoths (pictured right).

References
Previous States: