Sunday, December 30, 2012

CBS Sunday Morning on Fracking

A contentious topic in geology is "Fracking". Here is CBS Sunday Morning (a stalwart of my Sunday Mornings) talking about the topic. Hopefully this explains a little bit to those who like to know more about it beside the politics.

And for those without the ability to watch the video (it doesn't seem to be working on Apple stuff) here is a link:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Geological Podcasts - Listening to your Geology

Updated 4-24-14: I have an updated version located on its own page. You can access that using the banner to the left under "Pages" or by clicking HERE.

Lately I have working on getting some stuff set up and I have been looking and listening to all of the Geology Podcasts that I could find. These are the results of my searches my thoughts on them. The number of episodes are as of the posting of this post. If there are any podcasts that I missed, please let me know in the comments.

Updated: 1/9/2013 - I rearranged the podcasts and added some new ones that were listed by Andrew Alden on (Thanks Ron for the info). You can head on over there for more podcasts that I do not list.

------------------------------Currently Active Podcasts*--------------------------------

The PalaeoCast

Number of Episodes: 8
Format: Bimonthly

Thoughts: This is a young podcast that I have been listening to for a couple of months. The set up is that the hosts interview different scientists each episode about various paleontological topics, with one show limited to one interview with a little bit of commentary. There does not seem to be a set pattern to the topics but I could be wrong about that. Not bad so far.

This Week in Science

Number of Episodes: >360 (not quite sure)
Format: Weekly

This podcast is about science in general but has a heavy dose of geology related news. The show describes the latest news in science and then discusses them among it's hosts and what the possible implications could be. This is the type of podcast I feel should be made. It is entertaining by people who enjoy what they do. There are no monotonous voices droning on about this or that, AND it's informative.

The USGS CoreCast

Number of Episodes: 182
Format: I'm not really sure. They seem to come out randomly.

The CoreCast is a podcast/videocast where the episodes are short (4-10 minutes) but deal with a specific topic at the time. iTunes seems rather funny about it because when I look for older episodes they don't appear under my subscription feed but I can get some of them through the Store.

KY GeoCast

Number of Episodes: 6
Format: Unknown

I would have listed this with the defunct podcasts but it seems to have 2 of the 6 episodes come out in 2012. So it will sit here for the time. This is a podcast describing the geology of various sites across Kentucky. The episodes are short (3-10 minutes) are are very informative. The only problem is the older podcasts seem a bit dull, although the 2012 ones seem to have upped their game a bit and present something more entertaining to listen to.

------------------------------Defunct (Archived) Podcasts--------------------------------

The podClast

Number of Episodes: 17
Last episode: 2/27/2011

The podClast was a geological news podcast that discussed recent geological events discussing ramifications and how they could have happened. Only episodes 7, and 9-17 appear to be currently on iTunes.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Podcast

Number of Episodes: ~34
Last episode: 5/13/2010

Although listed as a podcast this is primarily available as a video podcast. Some of the earlier episodes though were released in both video and audio format. This is a highly produced podcast (at least the later episodes were) that is informative and rather entertaining. It focuses on marine biology and geology and is interesting for anyone interested in a short (3-10 minute) little science snippet.

------------------------------Misleading Podcasts*--------------------------------

The Geologic Podcast

Number of Episodes: 292
Format: Weekly

Thoughts: Although it contains a title of "The Geologic Podcast" the latest episode I listened to (#292) had no geology in it and about 3-4 minutes of scientific content in general. It is more set up as a comedy show. As pointed out by Callan in the comments, the name comes from the shows host (George) who is into logic, hence Geo-Logic. I'm sure I am not the only one who has found this podcast by mistake.

*Currently active indicates a new podcast within the last calender year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Failures in Science - Part 2: Transit of Venus

In a continuation of my previous post (Part 1) I will talk about my attempt at picturing the Transit of Venus which took place shortly after the solar eclipse.

Part 2: Transit of Venus

June 5th, 2012, a little over 2 weeks after the solar eclipse, Venus passed in front of the sun during what is called the Transit of Venus.

Lessons Learned from the Solar Eclipse:

1. I did learn at least one of my lessons from last time. I went out to get the pretty cheap glasses ($1) to watch the Transit.

2. Camera's were a plenty and iPod was fully charged.

The Transit:

The failure of capturing the solar eclipse drove me to do better this time. The problem though, was that the Transit provided a much smaller target to photograph. Luckily though we had a much sunnier day and was able to see the sun for most of the period of transit.

View of the sun from the car at the lake.
We were even able to see the Transit really well with the glasses.
My wife using the paper eclipse glasses.
The only problem though was trying to capture the transit on film. We had heard that trying to take a picture with our camera could fry the lens (or something like that). So I didn't want to that directly. Especially since I only had my wife's camera and she would probably be pissed if I broke it. I figured I could try to photograph it with my iPod Touch.
View of the Transit through the glasses as photographed by my iPod Touch. The sun is partially eclipsed by some clouds.
Another photo of the Transit as photographed with my iPod Touch pressed up against the glasses after the clouds had passed.
 The problem with this though, was that the resolution of the iPod was way too low. I'm pretty sure the size of Venus was smaller than an individual pixel in the above images.

Well we headed back to the house since we didn't know of anyway to capture it well. But I wasn't giving up. The next thing I tried was to use my Aluminum Foil pinhole projection from the Solar Eclipse (pictured in the previous post).
Pinhole projection attempt.
That didn't work. Not sure if Venus was just too small to be projected in such a manner or it wasn't working at all.

The next and last attempt was to try and take a picture with our DSLR through the glasses and hope it didn't damage anything. The first picture I took was just trying it out without a filter and since I didn't have an extreme zoom I felt I wouldn't have any problem damaging the camera.
Picture of the sun without a filter. Running out of time as the sun sets behind the house and the clouds.

After taking several photos I think I might have captured it but I still can't be sure. I don't remember where Venus was at the time so I can't be sure that the darker pixel represent it and aren't just darker pixels.
View of the Transit taken with a DSLR through cheap eclipse glasses. Venus is possibly near the right edge of the sun.

Another picture of the sun zoomed in a bit. I don't think that Venus is visible in this one.
So although I had better equipment, I still wasn't adequately prepared.

Next time, though, as mentioned in the last post, I will be better prepared. Perhaps obtaining an eclipse lens would be the best bet. But I will also try out the ideas that were mentioned in the comments to get a range of results.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Geology in Pop Culture - Candy!!!!

I found some rock candy at a local candy/toy store and I thought it looked awesome. Other than the candy colors being a little bright you could probably lay these down next to some gravel and get them mixed up.

I think these exact candies were also being sold at GSA as well but I didn't buy any there.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

AW #53 - The last one???? Now Posted

The tales of the end of the Earth are now posted and are being discussed over at the newest Accretionary Wedge hosted by Lockwood at Outside the Interzone.

Submissions vary from the humerous to "some serious pieces debunking this whole doomsday nonsense".

Nonsense? You won't be saying that Saturday when the world is over.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Geology on the Road - St George, UT

Here are some pictures from the St George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm in southern Utah from a tour i was given after the SVP annual meeting last tear. Very nice trackways. I need to go back and get better pictures sometime.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

AW#53 - Countdown to Oblivion

This is an entry for AW#53 which is a special edition highlighting the end of everything. Please be aware that everything in this article is fictitious, unless it turns out to be true, then it is prophetic.


December 16th, 2012. News reports are striking fast and furious. Hollywood has made a fortune capitulating on the end of days with such movies as End of Days, Armageddon, 2012, Deep Impact, The Day After Tomorrow, The Core and other seemingly hopeful looks into out future. But the time has come and it appears that those movies were more opportunistic than reality appears to be.Giving credit where credit is due, the Mayans score another point. Mayans 2 Earth 1.

     Armageddon (the actual one, not the movie) is scheduled to arrive in 5 days at Noon EST, Friday (December 21st, 2012) judging by the look of the skies it may arrive a little early. Weather reports are calling for fire and brimstone based from a rouge series of asteroids (the actual one, not the video game) previously undetected. The asteroids are made up of a rare form of plutonium, not before known to exist in the asteroid belt. Tracking the trajectory of the asteroids back they appears to have been knocked out of the asteroid belt by a serious of collisions instigated by a gravitomic shift of Jupiter's orbit precipitated by the Shoemaker Levy comet impact back in 1994. Previous reports did not detect any impending apocalypse. The gravitomic shifts caused the asteroids to start bouncing around the asteroid belt like a giant game of pinball, resulting in several smaller and a few larger asteroids being ejected into Earth's orbit. 

    Fortunately, the resulting impact of the asteroids into the surface of the Earth will only effect one side of the Earth, the western hemisphere. Unfortunately the plutonium is expected to create a nuclear explosion large enough to impact the furthest regions of the Eastern Hemisphere within 12 hours of impact. The intense heat from the combination of the impacts and nuclear explosions is expected to cause a fissure along the center of the Earth forcing the Earth to fracture, much like a head of lettuce slammed into a table. Unlike a head of lettuce, this is not likely to be palatable to most residence of the Earth.

    There is one beacon of hope though. It appears in 90% of all predictions the resulting meltdown of the Earth will leave the Christmas Islands untouched. It is unknown the exact reason for this miracle but all flights to the Christmas Islands have been booked at this time.

    I would wish everyone a Merry Christmas but the point has become rather moot. 

UPDATE: Further models have indicated that although the Christmas Islands will survive the initial impact, it turns out that they will eventually succumb to the apocalyptic events, ironically enough, on Christmas Day, December 25th, 2012. Reports of this update has caused an increase in flights being booked to the Easter Islands in hopes a similar string of events will give them a few months longer to live.
   Booked flights are also on the rise for the Intercourse Islands. It is unknown why.

Dinos in Pop Culture

Here are some Dino toys that I haven't seen before. It is from a specialty toy shop in the fancy Grand American hotel in SLC.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dinos in Pop Culture

Our next installment in Dinos in Pop Culture brings us this very very bizarre looking creation you can make that kind of looks like a dinosaur if you squint real hard.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Random Paleo Photo from the archives

And the next of my photos through the archives is this picture of the Huntington Mammoth from the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum in Price, UT.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Failures in Science - Part 1: The Solar Eclipse

The wonderful thing about science is that you can often learn just as much, if not more, when mistakes are made than when everything goes according to plan. It is the errors that show us that something wasn't accounted for and those discoveries can be the really interesting things.

To discuss some of my scientific mishaps, I felt like a good way was to create a series of blogs. These are mostly from some of my more random adventures in scientific enlightenment but I feel they are fun.

Part 1 - The Solar Eclipses

On May 20th, 2012 there was a solar eclipse. It was toted as one of the best chances in my lifetime to view a solar eclipse. According to the map below I wasn't in the ideal of locations (in Salt Lake City) but I was in a good location to at least get a partial eclipse.

The problem was that we didn't have any equipment for viewing a solar eclipse. I didn't have the glasses (the store was all sold out) and we couldn't afford anything more specialized for the camera. We also happened to wait until the last minute so that didn't help matters either. This meant I had to make something or go without witnessing it.

I ended up trying to make a "Pinhole projector" but I didn't have the time or materials to do it properly. What I came up with was my "Aluminum foil board".

My homemade eclipse tools
I took a piece of cardboard, cut a square hole in it. Then covered the hole with aluminum foil. The aluminum foil was then pierced with a pin (later to be "adjusted"). A wooden board was also painted white for a projection surface.

Aluminum foil projection board

 We had a problem though. For the majority of the solar eclipse we had cloud cover. In an environment where we have little to no precipitation for the entire year (SLC gets ~15 in/yr), we ended up having cloud cover the one time I need it to be sunny. 

View of the "Solar Eclipse" through the clouds

  My wife though had the idea to head on down to the park anyway and see if we can see anything (we don't have a good view of the setting sun from our house but the park down the street has some amazing views). So we walk on down (~20 minute walk) at around 7pm. Peak time was around 7:30pm, with the eclipse ending at 8:30pm. The sun started to peek out around the clouds at 7:30. The problem was that the clouds still interfered with my system so I couldn't tell if it was working until the sun was fully out. When it finally came out I was able to project an image on the board by adjusting the distance between the projection surface and the pinhole. Unfortunately, though, the pinhole seemed to be too small for anything worthwhile to be visible on the projection. So taking a key I widened the hole into a now "no-longer pinhole" projection system. 

Zoom up of "pinhole"
This seemed to work rather well. You can see the result with the partial eclipse being projected onto the board in the picture below, which is even visible in the low res photo taken. Although the projections on the board ended up being very, very faint. In all of the examples of pinhole projection systems it seemed like the projection should be as clear as a strong shadow. Something must have been constructed wrong.

My wife pointing out the eclipse to my daughter.
One of the problems with this event, you will notice, is that there are very few pictures taken. The reasons for that:

No Photos Reason 1 - We forgot our DSLR camera at the house after we went for the walk to the park. There was not enough time to go back and get it before sunset/the end of the solar eclipse.

No Photos Reason 2 - My iPod Touch was our backup. It was not charged sufficiently and died immediately after the second photo. Pictures of the equipment were taken at a later date. The only photos taken at the eclipse was of the cloudy day and my wife and child looking at the board.

After the iPod died we were actually loaned disposable glasses from a family sitting near us so at least we were able to see the eclipse, if not document it.


So now we come to why this was a failure of science on my part.

1. I should have started prepping for this way ahead of time. Purchased glasses or something. A camera lens designed for an eclipse would have been awesome but probably cost prohibitive.

2. Cameras need to be brought and charged and backed up. Make sure you have them. It is hard to take pictures without cameras.

3. When making you own equipment. Follow the directions. This is the problem of the fuzzy projection. I believe if there was a tube involved to direct the projection it would have worked better. But I'm not 100% certain. Maybe next time.

4. Improvisation with the equipment most likely won't make things better. Although my pinhole started to work after I "fixed" it, it may have just been my imagination the whole time.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Random Geology Photo

There are a series of rocks lining the rim of the Grand Canyon. This picture was taken of one of those rocks from my trip back in March, 2011. The rock pictured is likely the Vishnu Schist but I'm not entirely positive.

This is my attempt to clean out the old geology photos off my iPod that I took for the blog since now Blogger has a app.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

GSA Geoblogger/Twitterer (GeoTweep) Get-together

I just wanted to pass the word around that there will be a Geoblogger and GeoTweep (GeoTwitter?/Geotweeter?) get together (social) during GSA at the RiRa Irish Pub, strting at 7:00 PM Sunday 11/4/12.

Know geologists, the social will last for a few hours (at least) so feel free to come by whenever you want.

So come get ready to eat, drink, and discuss geology with your fellow digital publishers.


RiRa Irish Pub:

208 North Tryon St Charlotte, NC 28202

 You can get a list of all of the blog posts or Twitterers at the GSA Meeting Media Center page:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Geological Facts of the Months - September and October

Well I missed last month due to some busy scheduling so here are the geological fun facts for both September and October.

You can check out all of the GeoFacts at my website.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Geology Through the Radio - Jimmy Buffett's Volcano

The next update to my Geology Through the Radio portion of my website it Jimmy Buffett's Volcano.


There are few “popular” songs that talk about geological events. One of those is Volcano by Jimmy Buffet which talks about a volcanic eruption. Here are some questions using the song lyrics to understand volcanoes and if what he is talking about is possible.

1. “Ground she’s movin under me” refers to what? (Specifically harmonic or tectonic in this instance)
2. What is the typical source of “tidal waves” and is the scenario so far conducive to tidal wave production?
3. Based on the clues in the song, what is the environment (and what are those environmental indicators)?
4. What kind of volcanoes would you expect in this type of environment?
5. Would you expect “sulphur smoke” and “soft and hot” lava from this type of volcano?
6. Would this type of volcano “blow”? Enough to launch people into space (metaphorically speaking)?
7. Why would you see your “skin aglow” at Three Mile Island?

Friday, September 21, 2012

ETP - No!, I'm not looking for Arrowheads

NO! I am not looking for arrowheads.

The next t-shirt I have designed for the group "I Support ETP: The Ethical Treatment of Paleontologists" (a purely for fun group) was inspired by a comment left on the last t-shirt design HERE. This is for any paleontologist who was frustrated by someone asking if they were looking for arrowheads. I'm sure an archaeologist could use a reverse situation shirt as well.

And a close up of the main 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.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Geological Movie Review - Dante's Peak: An Update

Three years ago I had posted a series of blog posts going into an in depth geological movie review of Dante's Peak (You can go here for a link to all of the parts). I have since received two emails about a comment and some unclear information in my review. In the post I state:

Previous bad eruption calls are the main reason that Harry's boss, Paul, is so worried about a wrong call. He mentions that in 1980 he was sure that Mammoth Mountain was going to erupt, which it didn't, but the tourism and everything of the town was destroyed due to the bad call. As previously listed that was one of the worse case scenarios.
Mammoth Mountain is a real volcano located within the Long Valley Caldera of California. It is similar in composition to Mount St. Helens except that it has more of a basaltic magma (Oregon State). Most scientists figured that if the mountain were to erupt that the resulting eruption would be extremely minor. In 1980 the region was hit with four magnitude 6 earthquakes along with 25 cm of dome uplift of the caldera floor. In recent years more activity followed with groups of trees being killed (pictured in the CO2 Gas Levels section above) and more gas emissions (USGS). So it seemed likely that an eruption was possible in 1980, but I can find nothing about any evacuation of the region around that time.
I have been "recently" contacted by a couple of people (Micah Kipple and Craig Jones) commenting on my analysis of Mammoth Lakes so I figured I would go ahead and update that information. I may have been unclear before but in the movie it was never mentioned that an evacuation of Mammoth Lakes was called for. What is said is that Paul was in talks with the USGS in 1980 for a possible alert of the town when word was leaked that the USGS expressed concern so tourists stopped showing up and the town went bankrupt. This caused him to be much more cautious when it comes to putting a town on alert.

          On the real life side of things, I was presented with more information regarding the possible alert that the USGS was actually putting on Mammoth Mountain (thanks Craig). One of my previous problems was that the year was wrong, which didn't help my search before. It turns out that the earthquakes under the mountain started in 1978 and continued through 1982 when the possibility of an alert by the USGS was discussed (Kerr, 1982). The USGS was in initial talks about the alert and didn't get the local government involved yet. The main problem was that the alert was leaked out by a reporter for the LA Times, who released the information just before the Memorial Day weekend causing concern before a local festival (The Free Library). This caused anger among the town's government who felt blindsided and caused tourism to decline rapidly. After the leaked story the USGS quickly issued their own alert, a notice of potential volcanic hazards, the lowest alert level (USGS Open-File Report 82-583, "Preliminary assessment of potential volcanic hazards in the Long Valley-Mono Lake area," by C. Dan Miller et al.), which described potential volcanic hazards and areas that could be effected. The alert levels increased as more earthquakes hit the town in 1983 but the mountain never erupted and it took the town several years to recover, all the while never forgiving the geologists who ruined their town. This event made the USGS rethink how they would issue alerts on volcanoes and dropped the system they were using shortly after in 1983 (NY Times).

Another problem that was pointed out to me from this post where I state:

Previously mentioned in the movie are laser beams that measure the amount of growth on the volcano. This can be produced in 2 ways. One is uplift of the crater floor and the other is actually producing what is called a lava dome. The growth of the crater bottom is also called bulging or swelling and lasers are not typically used in measuring this. Usually what is used is Electron Distance Meters (EDM), which uses infrared to bounce a beam off of the ground. This measures the change in distance between the sensor and the crater surface, similar to a laser but not quite. Some other methods include GPS which also can measure the change in height and tiltmeters which measure the change in angle of the surface (AVO).
 I wanted to make a clarification point that was mentioned to me in an email by Micah Kipple. The crater floor is not the only part of the volcano that is being measure but most of the measurements are actually made on the flanks of the volcano. Not only are those areas easier to get to, provide a larger surface area to monitor, for could potentially give you safer and just as reliable results.


Thanks to both Micah and Craig for bringing this to my attention and I welcome anyone else who finds out something I missed or made a mistake on to contact me with the correct information.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Geological Quote of the Week

Posts have been slow going but I have finally finished my redesign of Go and check it out. My posts should start to pick up from here.

This next quote of the week discussed trace fossils, in particular dinosaur footprints. I was reminded of this by a conversation between Tony Ekdale and Tony Martin (of Life Trace of the Georgia Coast blog). The paper describes dinosaur footprints that were found in the ceiling of coal mines.

"Dinosaur footprint casts which extend down from the roof several inches are a nuisance where the coal seam is thin, causing the roof to be low; mine workers continually bump their heads on them. More serious problems have existed with them since mining began in the area in the early part of the century, because they fall and kill or seriously injure mine workers...We are unaware of other lethal trace fossils, nor do we know of other circumstances where dinosaur activity has contributed to the possible death of human beings."
You can check out the other quotes at my site by clicking HERE.

Parker, L.R., & Rowley, R.L.J., 1989, Dinosaur Footprints from a coal mine in East-Central Utah, in Gillette, D.D., and Lockley, M.G., Eds., Dinosaur Tracks and Traces: New York, Cambrdge University Press, p. 361-366.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Geological Quote of the Week

This next quote comes from a paper that first illustrated a very famous evolutionary theory called the "Red Queen Hypothesis". This theory stated that two groups of animals evolved together both changing but not changing in relation to one another (i.e. the cheetah and the gazelle both evolving to be faster, although one does not outpace the other). The paper though is very poorly written and apparently the author could not find any place to publish is so he set up his own journal to publish this. The quote comes from the acknowledgements section of the paper.
"I thank the National Science Foundation for regularly rejecting my (honest) grant applications for work on real organisms (cf. Szent-Gyorgyi, 1972), thus forcing me into theoretical work."
Apparently he was a bitter person. You can check out the source of the Red Queen Hypothesis HERE.

You can also check out all of the previous Geological Literature Quotes at my newly redesigned website page.

van Valen, L., 1973, A new evolutionary law: Evolutionary Theory, v. 1, p. 1-30.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

GeoTube Video of the Week

In an effort to add to my website and keep my blog up to date I will be trying to add more content for the updated pages. Today we have a new video for the GeoTube page. This video emphasizes the devastation that the tsunami did to Japan in March of 2011. A terrible tragedy indeed, but a good showcase to emphasize the power of nature.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Geological Fact of the Month - June

Alright, I know I have not been posting much but I have been revamping my website ( and that has been taking up the majority of my free time. In the meantime I have continued to post the Geological Fact of the Months, and I have just updated and revamped the Geological Fact page, so you can head over to the newly redesigned page for all of the previous facts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Turbidite Panorama - Part 2

I had posted a picture previously of one of my field areas in Zumaia, Spain. Well this is the counter point image of that shot:

This image was taken from the far left of the first image mostly pointing back towards that first image. Here we are entirely in Eocene deep marine turbidites. The P-E boundary is approximately towards the center of the image. I love the folds in the close up rocks on this shot.

Friday, March 09, 2012

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #82

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because it has been a little while so I will do another one.

- The Earth -

An atoll is a circular one of these that has grown around a sunken volcanic island

  It's believed the Earth is over 4.5 billion yrs. old, based on 4.6 billion yr. old rocks found on this neighbor


 Dolomitization is the process by which this rock, including its fossils, turns into dolomite


Term given to the tundra's always-frozen soil layer


Until this 19th century French scientist, no one had proved the Earth rotated

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

Monday, February 20, 2012

Evolution in Politics - Why it matters (to me)

I have mentioned to people at times that I will not ever, ever, ever, vote for a candidate that doesn't "believe"* in evolution. Most of my friends agree because we are scientists, this is one thing we agree upon. But I have gotten the comment before:
Why? Where does evolution play into politics? They are separate issues. Evolution is not going to reduce the deficit. It is not going to employ millions of Americans. It is not going to get you cheaper health care. Why should you care?
And originally, I cared because it mattered to me. I was told once to pick a couple of issues you are passionate about and vote for a candidate based on those, not on everything else. Because you're never going to find the perfect candidate. Are you passionate about reducing taxes? Vote for someone that will do that. Are you a strong pro-choice or pro-life supporter? Vote for someone who believes as you do. It all made sense. So one of my things was evolution. Do you "believe" in evolution?

Then this Republican campaign (2012) has gotten me thinking about things. There is so much anti-science rhetoric and scientific dismissal out there now that it has even spurred a "movement" of people posting stuff about how they are scientists and how scientists are real people. We are not aloof people who do things just to piss off the masses. We are not amoral or immoral. We are all different. We have the same diversity as non-scientists. Anyway, that is a different topic. Back to my point.

Why is "belief" in evolution so important to me as a candidate then? I see it this way. The president I would like elected is one that can take a whole lot of ideas coming from many different people and be able to assimilate them, and choose the one, or few, that best helps solve the problem at hand. This basically works for anything, ideas on whether to go to war or not, how to increase employment, how to just make the lives of Americans better. So if they can do that, why can't they take the insurmountable evidence for evolution and proclaim that it is a valid hypothesis and that it is occurring. It is basically as much "fact" as you can get in the scientific arena. If you can't do that, then I don't trust you with whether we should go to war based on assumptions you don't know how to understand.

This post was going to be written earlier when there were much more "wackoes" in the political race than there is now (Bachmann and Perry anyone?). But there is still at least one. Santorum. He has made it a goal of his to be anti-science (and anti-non-christian) at every step of the way. So, he has spurred my publishing of this. I'm not sure what Romney's stance on evolution is. I believe he has no official stance on it. Paul as well does not have a stance on it (he feels he doesn't understand it and it isn't a big deal to him) and Gingrich is pro-evolution (although I have some problems with his other political stances).

So, take this as you will. These are my thoughts on how a political leader should think. Not just on what their beliefs are.

* I do not use the term "belief" as in religious belief or taking things on faith. I use it just generally as do you think that evolution is a valid scientific hypothesis. Please do not take my use of the word "belief" out of context.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Geological Quote of the Week

It has been a little while but here is another geological quote of the week. This one shows that apparently my thesis work is done. This sentence states it all.

"We know that closely related species are similar among themselves, and they differ in many ways from other less closely related species"
Check out the previous incarnations over at my site.

Harvey, P.H., & Nee, S., 1997, The phylogenetic foundations of behavioural ecology, in Krebs, J.R., and Davies, N.B., Eds., Behavioural ecology; an evolutionary approach: Malden, MA, Blackwell Publishing, p. 334-3349.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Thursday, February 09, 2012

UFOP Meeting Announcement for Tonight - Jeff Eaton

Dear UFOP Members, Friends, and Associates,
This is a reminder that the Utah Friends of Paleontology, Great Basin Chapter Meeting will be held on Thursday, February 9th at 7 PM in the Department of Natural Resources Auditorium, 1594 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City. Our speaker will be Jeff Eaton from the Department of Geosciences at Weber State University who will give a talk entitled:
“A Review of the Stratigraphy and Fossils of the Bryce Canyon Area and Recent Advances."

Friday, February 03, 2012

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #81

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because, the rat saw his shadow.

- A Matter of Gravity -

British scientist Henry Cavendish made the first reliable measurement of gravity late in this century

  NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Lab puts astronauts in a simulation of this condition that's experienced during space flight


 The Sun's gravity is said to perturb, or affect, this path of the Moon relative to the Earth


Building on the work of Galileo and Kepler, he published the first quantitative theory of gravitation in 1687


There's "gravity" in this term for the point in an object that, if supported, puts the whole object in equilibrium

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

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

What are .... Trace Fossils?

I have been meaning to start a new series where I describe certain attributes in geology, and what I am working on in particular, in a new series called What are Wednesdays. The first entry in this group is called What are .... Trace Fossils? I picked this topic because this is what I am working on and basically it is the easiest for me to write up. This won't be a weekly series but one that comes up from time to time as I find interesting things to write about. If you have anything you would like me to write about please feel free to email me or place it in the comments.

So on to the topic, What are Trace Fossils? Trace fossils are not like your typical fossil. They are basically what an animal creates as it does stuff. Stuff can include walking, burrowing, sitting, eating, living, etc. Whenever an animal interacts with the world around it, it leaves evidence, a trace if you will. These traces are what I study. They are not the actual animal but sometimes are found in association with the animal. The easiest way to visualize this that I can think of is with footprints in the snow (as seen below). Footprints are the most basic type of trace fossil. They illustrate locomotion of an organism, whether it is a human, a rabbit, an insect, or anything in between.

But why study trace fossils? What can they tell us other than an organism was there? Well look at the footprint above. You can tell a lot by the spacing of the prints, the shape of individual prints, and even what information may be missing. The shape tells us what animal possible made it. The spacing and inclination of the prints tell us the speed that it was moving and possibly if there was something wrong, like a limp. If there is more than one set of prints you could tell if they were traveling in groups, or maybe even being hunted. There is a lot of information that can be gleamed even from a simple set of tracks.

Now just looking at the three above pictures you can tell that different organisms made them and possibly even what they were doing when they made them, looking for food, searching for shelter, migrating, snowshoeing, etc.

Now take this information and apply it to the rock record. Rocks record things similar to snow except that it has the potential to remain forever. There are many people who study dinosaur tracks just like we were looking at the tracks in the snow above. I personally study burrows on the bottom of the ocean made by some unknown invertebrate animals. Different types of tracks and trails are made in different environments and knowing what environment that is, it makes it possible to determine the environment of deposition of the rock by just knowing what a certain track looks like. It is actually a very useful tool and one that not only paleontologists use but many geologists for determining different aspects from what the ancient environment was to using them to find oil.

I will probably go into this in more detail at a later date but for some good trace fossil blog posts check out  Life Trace of the Georgia Coast by Tony Martin, an expert ichnologist from Emory University. Any questions please feel free to ask.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Geological Fact of the Month - January

Here is the first Geological Fact of the Month for 2012.

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

Friday, January 20, 2012

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #80

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because, well, just because.

- Rock Band -

The law of superposition states that any bed of rock must be older than another bed here

  A 250-million-year, old grayish-white limestone layer of sea fossils is referred to as this canyon's "bathtub ring"


 The earth's outermost layer of rock, it comes in oceanic & continental types (sorry, no whole wheat)


Layers of rock are commonly referred to as these, from the Latin for "something spread out"


Most exposed rock on the earth's surface is this type produced by the weathering & erosion of older rock

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Geology in Pop Culture - Google Edition

Well geology has finally hit up Google's homepage:

This in honor of Nicholas Steno's 374th birthday. I know that is a milestone I will be looking for in my own life. For those that don't know who he is not the guy named on the buffet line heating cans. That's Sterno:

Steno is one of the founders of modern geology. If modern geology has giants in it's past, Steno would be one of them. He defined the main laws of stratigraphy including the Law of Universal Horizontality (rocks were deposited horizontally) and the Law of Superposition (Rocks on top are younger than rocks below, this also applies to faults and other events). He is a name to know for all geology students to show that even though things seem obvious to us now-a-days, it was not always this way.

Friday, January 06, 2012

GeoJeopardy! Fridays #79

Time for GeoJeopardy! Fridays, because it's a new year, bring on the party.

- Volcanoes -

Popocatepetl, a volcano near this capital city, is a source of sulfur

  Mount Taranaki in this country gets its name from a Maori word for "Barren Mountain"


 Because of the May 18, 1980 eruption, this Washington volcano is now about 1,300 feet shorter


Mount Etna is part of this mountain system


Mount Erebus in this continent's Victoria Land region was discovered by Sir James Ross in 1841

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

Sunday, January 01, 2012

500th POST!!!! - A Recap


This is my 500th post overall and I just wanted to say thank you to all my readers and anyone who has shared my posts with others. It also seems fitting that this post comes at the first of the year. A time for recollection but also for looking forward. To what could be.

For this post I just wanted to make a little recap of what this blog was, what it has become, and where it might be going. I started this about 5.5 years ago as DinoJim's Vent, a mixed blog of my own personal posts as well as some geology posts. As I became ingrained more into the geoblogosphere I separated the blog into 2 individual blogs, DinoJim's Rant and The Remnant.... The title had changed one further time to emphasize the focus on education and general geology as opposed to dinosaurs. The current title, The Geology P.A.G.E., has garnered more attention then I think either of the previous titles did and I'm glad I switched over.

My purpose for making this blog was to illustrate some of my ideas in geological education as well as publish some of the little things I like to do for my students. I usually don't like to read long blog posts or articles. I figured since I feel that way other people do as well, so that is why I have a tendency to keep most of my posts on the shorter side. Something to get in, get your information, and get out.

But I have noticed that most of my more visited posts include some of the more applicable uses for my geology lessons (you can see the entire most visited list on the sidebar) including Using Jello and Rice-Crispy Treats in Earthquake Education and my Geological Movie Reviews. These posts usually take me more time and I don't do them as often. So even though I do like to do more of the shorter posts I plan on spending some more time and create some of the longer, more cited posts.

So after 5+ years and 500 posts I want to thank all my readers again for their loyalty and here's to hoping for new and better content and more follows.