Accretionary Wedge #22: Flash Wedge!


Flash Wedge!

How quickly can an Accretionary Wedge be accreted? We’re about to find out…

In the spirit of experimenting, let’s try this: find an engaging geoscience link you’ve come across in the last day or two that you want to share with the geobloggosphere. You may, but don’t need to, write anything. It might be a piece you’ve written for your own blog, a news story, a comic or a video. The only limitations are that it should be relevant to the geosciences (not necessarily geology), it should be broadly accessible (if there’s a paywall or I can’t get to it, I won’t include it), and it must be SFW. I’ll check them out, write a brief summary, pluck a picture if the mood strikes (pictures not necessary, though) and post it at Outside the Interzone, updating as links come in.To be clear, all you need to do is 1) find an engaging geoscience-related piece anywhere on the web, 2) make sure it passes the limitations above, and 3) drop a link in the comments on this post.


To answer commonly asked questions, no, you don’t need to be a professional or knowledgeable geologist. No, you don’t need to be a “member” of the geobloggosphere, though if you’re not but you DO have a blog, please link that too, or give me it’s name so I can back link you. Yes, you do need to have internet access and a pulse. That is all.

(Cross posted at the Accretionary Wedge)

Here’s mine, from NOVA Geoblog yesterday. Callan does an excellent job of explaining that disastrous events can happen without being “disasters.” What makes an event a disaster is the preparation for and response to events that can be foreseen… or lack thereof.

Update 1, February 12, 11:00 AM: And here we go…

Anne Jefferson, co-blogger extraordinaire at Highly Allochthonous says:

OK, I’ll kick things off by supplying two of my retweets from the past few days.

First, via ChrisR and Ron Schott, a press release describing a January Geology article about a new advance in using cosmogenic nuclides for estimating erosion rates in watersheds: (Also, there’s a video.)

Second a post from Andy Russell summarizing where the real holes are in climate science:
(Hint: It’s not what the cranks would have you believe.)

I had read the second of those, but not the first. I think they’re both worth the time. Question: is Be-10 stable? (Don’t worry, I know how to use teh google; I’ll track it down later).

Chris Rowan, also at Highly Allochthonous, ponders… pauses… and decides!

Hmmm, so many things to chose from!

How about:

An interesting take on the Haiti earthquake: does the fact that everyone was “surprised” by it – despite the fairly specific warnings – provide a depressing model for how civilisation is (not) going to react to the looming threats of climate change and resource shortages: ignore before, shocked after?

Amazing photos of a 1km lava fountain and ash-plume lightning at Sakura-jima featured on The Volcanism Blog (the linked video is also worth a watch)

An old friend, Al, emailed me a link to The Volcanism Blog as well. You’re officially a geoblogger now, Al.

Tuff Cookie of Magma Cum Laude says

I’ll nominate some more Haiti-related stories: first, an entry from the NSF Geophysicists in Haiti blog, which is a great chance to see what geologists are doing to help people recover from the recent earthquake. This particular entry has some really striking photos – not just of destruction, but looking at things from the point of view of people trying to go about life as usual.

Closer to home for me, there’s an article about one of UB’s earthquake engineering doctoral students who is actually from Haiti, and was featured on a number of national news shows recently. UB’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER) is one of the only places in the country where full-scale buildings and bridges can be tested for earthquake safety on shake tables, and they’ve recently sent a team of scientists and engineers down to Haiti to help assess damaged buildings there.

I was particularly interested in the second; It is very pleasing to know that at least one native will likely take these skills back to a country that so desperately needs them. I’ve been following NSF Geophysicists In Haiti, and was quite moved by this post as well.

Dr. Jerque, who I first read at Geologic Froth, actually works on several blogs, and has a new one as well, Geologic Frothings. His choice is

Lee Allison had a recent post about how subsidence in Wenden, Arizona may be contributing to flooding in the area (Centennial Valley, AZ):

An interesting possibility that is a cautionary tale (among many) for water managers in desert regions. Also, the sheer irony of this sort of ‘hydrological reciprocity’ is notable.

Coconino from Ordinary High Water Mark says,

Here’s mine: A link to the Quivira Coalition website for a recent book by one of my favorite stream restoration gurus – Bill Zeedyk. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Bill on several occasions and I have great admiration and respect for all that he’s been able to accomplish in the southwest in terms of good rural road-building, stream restoration and water education.

Another link I hadn’t seen yet, this sounds really fascinating. Titled “Let the Water do the Work,” and subtitled “Induced Meandering, an Evolving Method for Restoring Incised Channels,” it appears to be an effort toward learning how to work with natural forces rather than attempting to dictate the environment. Geoscientists know that trying to dictate the environment is at best a short-term success, and even then, enormously expensive.

Silver Fox at Looking for Detachment sends these:

I really enjoyed this Little River video, tweeted by Anne Jefferson: Hydraulics over a weir.

Then, finally taking Kyle’s suggestion I downloaded Geosetter and have been experimenting with geotagging.

I’ve seen many other interesting sites this week.

With that, I’ll wind up this update, and take a break. This seems to be taking off…

Update 2: February 12, 12:24 PM

Geology Happens sends this link:

Teachers without borders have been looking at the Haiti recovery and using some lessons from their work in Chengdu China to start making plans. Here is their one page “what happened” link :

Head over and offer your congratulations to the new geo-grandpa.

Andrew of Geology fame and a couple of his own Oakland (CA) geoblogs writes,

A Twitter comment sparked a fun afternoon rereading James Hutton’s original “Theory of the Earth” paper of 1788 and writing this short article on the days when geologists were all creationists:


But for something not written by me, I recommend this essay on the name of the Silurian Period, by the builders of Silurian Software:

Dave Schumaker of The Geology News Blog notes some extraterrestrial geology (Ares + Arenite= arenology?)

Who doesn’t love aeolian processes? Sand dunes! On Mars!

Jmckee (no blog or link found) sends notice that Antigua is being affected by ash from Montserrat.

a little real time volcano action

Miguel Vera of MiGeo writes,

I really liked the USGS Corecast interview to the scientists involved in the Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping (PRISM) group, who are trying to reconstruct the global climate of the mid-Pliocene, a period when temperatures were 3ºC warmer than today, in order to get a better understanding of the possible future of the Earth due to climate change.

And just to highlight an article related to this side of the equator, I’d like to recommend a post from The Volcanism Blog I recently discovered (it’s a few months old though): The ecological impact of the Chaitén eruption.

And I found a good picture to honor the 201st anniversary of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin’s births.

Update 3: February 12, 2:39 PM: Keep ’em coming folks! After a slow start, we’re having a really nice turnout. Also, if you happen to be dropping a comment at an earth science-related blog, could you extend an invitation to the celebration? I just did that at a new geoblog that I found in Ron Schott’s shared items (click that last link for more geolinks than you’ll know what to do with), Life is like a rock~Just lick it!  A moment ago, I realized I had neglected to accrete the submissions over at the AW cross-post.

Callan Bently points out a post at Wooster Geologists. Wooster Geologists, let me thank you for dropping the Chuck Norris gags that were rampant last year.

Wooster Geologists give a presentation about the Haiti earthquake. A lot of it is old news for geologists, but slides 21, 22, 23, and 50 struck me as new information, at least to me.

Callan’s Blog is apparently in the process of an avulsion, so I don’t know if the link will be valid for more than a few days… OMG! It’s ALIVE… No link. You might be able to find it yourself, but it’s Callan’s baby, and I’ll let him break the news. (Looks really good, CB!)  (Update, March 3: Callan’s new blog is Mountain Beltway: if you haven’t yet, check it out!)

Bob Jamieson sends in a link to the Joides Resolution Blog,

My boss/lecturer’s blog: Currently coring in West Antarctica.

The variety of science that has been done from that platform is pretty amazing.

And Ron Schott notes

I don’t think Ole Nielsen’s excellent “olelog” geoblog gets enough attention, so I’ll highlight two of his recent posts that are right up my alley:

Feb 1: Rhomb Porphyry


Feb 2: Swedish Porphyries


(note: This has been corrected from an original reference and link to Anne Jefferson, a stupid mistake on my part resulting from the way comments come in to my inbox.) I agree with Ron; Ole has a great blog, and it’s one I follow closely. It’s clear, concise, and written at a nice level of technicality for me, meaty, but not too demanding of high expertise. Ron, have you figured out how to comment there? (I haven’t even tried for a long time.)

And that brings us up to date for now.

Posted by Lockwood at 1:56 PM

And a couple of additions:  Michael Welland questions the meaning/importance of the recent news on the “mystery” of  Martian sand dunes:

I just read, via Wired Science, the following report on sand dunes and sand grain movement on Mars:

Now, I’ll obviously have to read the orginal paper, but the web report is somewhat mysterious. There are many questions surrounding the differences in dune formation on Earth and on Mars – gravity, wind velocity, atmospheric density, and so on. But the report describes as novel, “a kind of billiard-ball effect in which one sand particle knocks the next one into motion. ‘It’s much easier to keep this process going than it is to start it in the first place’ ”(in the words of the researcher).

This is the process of saltation and Bagnold, in his 1941 classic work “The Physics of Blown Sand and Desert Dunes” described, from field and wind tunnel experiments, how the threshold wind velocity for keeping the process going is lower than that for starting it. The author of the paper describes saltation as “sand blowing” which is a gross over-simplification.

I must be missing something, or, perhaps more likely, the attempt to translate the science into a press release has simply lost the plot.

And Mel (who has been blogging busily today) offers a paper on what sounds like a deep-sea version of caddis flies.

Late to the party, but I found this press release really interesting. It’s on calcareous tests (shells) of foraminifera found in the Mariana Trench in the Hadal Zone. These organisms appear to agglomerate pieces of shell from other organisms that have sunk this deep, but not completely dissolved. I am going to check out the full article…
Gooday, A. J., Uematsu, K., Kitazato, H., Toyofuku, T. & Young, J. R. Traces of dissolved particles, including coccoliths, in the tests of agglutinated foraminifera from the Challenger Deep (10,897 m water depth, western equatorial Pacific). Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers 57(2), 239-247 (2010). doi:10.1016/j.dsr.2009.11.003

I’ve gone through and tried to make sure the links are active; it’s not clear to me why sometimes url text chains become active and other times don’t.  Any other interesting links? Leave ’em in the comments, but I hereby declare this wedge accreted.  We have a host for a March AW, and I’ll work out the logistics of that one in a bit… watch for another post later.

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