Sunday, February 28, 2010

Kidnapping Husband for a day

Last Wednesday I talked my husband Matt into taking the day off so we could explore an area we had been in the weekend prior. I wanted to see if I could find more samples like the one I had found previously (and had never seen before) in hopes it would help in identification. I found quite a few, some with a bit of an oil/tar residue, and some more along the lines of my original find- which looked to be comprised of organics.

When I brought these new pieces home the oil residue was all but impossible to wash off. No matter how much I washed, the water remained as dirty as the first time I washed it.
In addition, the residue left on your hands after handling (wet or dry) was very sticky and oily. The outer exterior of these pieces mostly had what appeared to be a woody texture, but it would be rash for me to conclude they were of comprised of one particular piece (verses a mass of organics/organics+sediment).

Except for a few that I would be willing to say were quite probable one piece of a larger structure. I would need to cut a section for definitive proof though- as I have had egg on my face before when being too quick to rush to a conclusion, hence I am much more careful about concluding anything anymore without enough background research/advice/etc to jump to a conclusion about a specimen I am unfamiliar with.

Thus far, a lot of what my searching  has yielded (in regards to the initial sample I found) is along the lines of coal balls, although none of what I have matches the true definition of such- the environment and certain parameters match. While I don't think any of the pieces are lignified, I am not entirely sure they aren't. Vague as that comment is, the reason behind it is due to the aspect that the tar-like coating really prevents a good view and I haven't as of yet scraped at it to see how solidified the outer structure on some of them are. I am wont to destroy such beautiful textures- but when I get a moment I will see about finding an area that I'm willing to deface.

All in all, I have made little progress in discovering what my initial sample is, and actually came out with more questions than when I began. But it was a fantastic afternoon, despite the rain. -I learned early on in geology that weather is rarely a determining factor on if you go out into the field or not. Had it been a quest purely for the fun of it, I suppose a day when the sun was out would have been more pleasurable. But when my mind is whirling with questions to the point of distraction- rain or shine, I was going out. :) We had a few moments of sun though, so hubby didn't complain too much.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Grab a seat, I'll pop the popcorn!

I admit to being a bit mesmerized by the news footage on CNN and so for a few hours today I watched and waited for the tsunami to arrive. It was quite entertaining watching the newscasters become more and more frenzied as the time of estimated arrival drew near. They were like sharks in bloodied waters, switching from  one camera viewpoint to another and snipping at their consultants as they tried to explain the mechanics of tsunamis. In the middle of one particular interview, a man was stammering his explanation when the newscaster interrupted him in a very clipped manner only further compounding his ability to communicate effectively. It wasn't that the man was ill-spoken, most anyone would have stammered when attacked with questions and then interrupted mid-stream. It was as if the poor man was barraged by a tornado of these barbed questions, only because (from what I surmise) he wasn't being sensational enough for the newscaster.

And then it happened. As one of the camera views panned across a beach, I saw a man surfing! I jumped up a bit in my seat to make sure I saw what I thought I saw, and yup- it was a man in the water surfing! At first the newscasters just ignored it, like the proverbial elephant in the kitchen, but as time went by and it just became more and more obvious, one of them finally says, "There is a guy on the beach. Maybe he doesn't have a radio or a TV or computer, so doesn't know about the tsunami. Or, maybe he just doesn't have any sense. I wish I could just shout at that guy." To which I thought to myself, no- don't shout at him. If he can't figure out that there is something wrong when NO ONE IS ON THE BEACH or if he just prefers to ignore all sense in order to get a surfing thrill then he should be left to his own devices. Just keep the camera on him and I'll pop some popcorn- we can then all see how "great" it is to surf in something akin to a flash flood. The dummy.


Holy Cow!

Before I went to bed last night I heard about the 8.8 Earthquake that hit Chile, but it was too early to get any information on it, so I waited until this morning to read about the damage. From the latest reports, over 147 deaths have been reported and the main road connecting the north from the south is destroyed. A prison reportedly partially collapsed and some inmates escaped only adding to the commotion. Meanwhile, Hawaii has been issued with a tsunami warning and to my utter amazement the news cameras show people along the coast taking pictures of the surf!! What in the heck are these people thinking? Did they not see any footage from the tsunami in Indonesia? Those waves come in with such speed there isn't a chance in heck they can outrun them, yet there they are like dodo birds taking pictures. Crazy. I guess that gives credence to the old adage that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

I am impressed with the people of Chile however. There appears to be no looting or any crazy-making idiots out on the streets causing havoc and the buildings seem(from the film footage) to have held up quite well, but then I am not surprised. It is an area that is well aware of the geologic dangers and hence they have prepared accordingly.

Presently the news is reporting that they predict the waves to be about 1-7ft. and would hit at 4pm EST. I think what a lot of people are unaware of is that when the tsunami hits it won't just hit the eastern coastline, but rather it will wrap around the islands hitting both sides. Or, maybe they are well aware of that fact and I am just trying to justify idiotic behavior.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Andesite, shale and sandstone

I'm a bit late getting out my Monday's Show and Tell, but here goes. This weekend I went on a bit of an adventure to test out some new iphone apps and see about collecting a couple of rock samples. I used GeologyWA/OR to find the rock types I was interested in and pinpoint possible areas of investigation (which obviously worked quite well- gotta love those geologic maps!), and to take images I decided to put Theodolite to the test. Unfortunately I didn't check to see if I had the "crosshairs" turned off, so the images from Theodolite ended up with them included in the images, but it wasn't entirely disastrous. The images weren't half bad, however you can't take the images in "portrait" without getting an elongated distortion. It displays the gps coordinates etc in the upper left hand corner of your image, so it isn't too bad when you want to keep track of where you have taken a particular photograph. It also zooms up to 4x, but you lose quality with each zoom. I prefer to just leave it as it is and edit in photoshop later. The image to the top left is of a bridge I hate crossing (note the rickety looking timbers) but I like what is on the other side so it is a necessary evil.

The drop down is apparently pretty far (from the picture Husband took) but I wasn't about to look for myself. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I tend to get vertigo over gorges and the like. Since this has caused me to miss out on some of the things I would love to see, it's a fault I've been trying to overcome. Thankfully I'm not as bad as I used to be when crossing bridges,  as there once was a time I would have had my eyes shut with my hands over my hears humming to myself. Progress is a good thing :)

One of the coolest rocks I found on my little excursion was andesite. When I first saw the rock I had to take a double take because it reminded me of a stromatolite at first glance. Upon picking it up I could see it was andesite, although I hadn't seen it eroded in such a way so it was a very nice find!I like rocks such as this one, as I find beauty in their form. The majority of the rocks I have about my home are in the raw as that is how I prefer them. (Minerals are a bit different- I do like polished malachite etc.)  It is at this point that I should mention that I am not overly familiar with volcanics, but that is probably the only fun part (for me) about being a military family. Each time I move, I have to learn the local geology. Since my entire undergraduate program has been so varied, I have a bit more diversity than the normal undergraduate. However I have not been in any areas with volcanics to the extent that this one provides.

I found some coal-which is really awesome since I had yet to obtain a sample of coal. It looks to be like a high grade of bituminous coal. Then I won the lottery when I came across a piece of shale that had beautiful leaf  and grass imprints embedded into it. I think it is quite the loveliest piece of shale I have ever seen. I put it in a special spot in my livingroom. The other rock I was wanting to find was the arkosic sandstone, and not only did I find that- but also a gorgeous piece of fine grained sandstone.

To conclude today's "show and tell" (although this isn't everything I discovered on my little expedition- I'll save the rest for another day) is a piece I am uncertain about. It has structures about it that would indicate it to be lithified wood, but  I am unfamiliar with this type of structure, having never actually even SEEN a piece of fossilized wood in person. The other thought I had was maybe it is just an imprint of wood on flow lava. I honestly am perplexed. I'm still researching it, however if by looking at the images below you can offer any insight, please feel free to point me in the right direction. The literature online hasn't offered me much in the way of assistance, married with the aspect that search engines are spitting back useless drivel.  Pictures below:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Go figure

So today I was actually less distracted than usual and actually remembered I had a doctors appointment. Being as my general habit is to not remember until 30 minutes prior to the appointment, I was pretty happy to be on top of things (for today at least). I show up about 30 minutes early with plans to just fiddle with my iphone apps while I wait, and discovered the doctor is running 30 minutes late. (Why can't this happen on the days I am running late? ugh!). No biggie though, more time to play. I sat down and was exploring the GeologyWA/OR app, looking at the geologic map and getting information about the local members (mostly alluvium, landslide/lahar, andesite, till and moraine). I found what I was looking for (an olivine-rich vesicular basalt) and went to find the layers that would expose a route to a good collection site. As I played around, I found a good route and destination that I "thought" would be perfect. Happy and very satisfied with myself, I notice the "terrain" layer and activate it while deactivating the geology layer. I went back to the map and as the picture came up all I see is the Goliath!

Now I should have known this was in that location, but I had been so engrossed in the layers and manipulating the map that I hadn't taken note of the map scale in relation to the members I was looking at. I let out an expletive in my frustration (as I'm not tackling that Mt. in winter, nor the general vicinity). -I looked up to see a poor little old man sitting adjacent to me that I hadn't notice sit down, and he had apparently been watching me play with the map , but my language shocked him and I felt pretty embarrassed.  Luckily it was at that moment the nurse called me back, so with a sheepish grin I made a hasty escape! ;0)

Looks like that sample will definitely be a spring/summer collection. On the flip side though, I discovered that there is interbedded arkosic and basaltic sandstone not too far away. I bet that is stunning! I have to say I love this little app, as the geologic map combined with the layers is awesome. I downloaded a few extra layers that were available, such as public lands and geodetic points. If you don't have this app, I think it's well worth the buy- as I find it one of the more useful apps out there. I'd like to use something similar to it on the PC too- just to search out areas and then upload them into my iphone as far as planned paths/routes I want to take. Hmm.. maybe I'll email the dev. about that and see if it can be in an update.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010


 The Dead Sea region has experienced six destructive earthquakes during the last 1000 years, with an average recurrence interval of around 200 years (188 to be exact) beginning with the 1060 AD earthquake. This cluster of events ended with the 1927 earthquake which had a magnitude of 6.2.

The Dead Sea Fault is a Left lateral transform plate boundary, separating the Arabian plate and the Sinai sub-plate and has been active since the Miocene, with movement still occurring in present day. (Fig. 1). (Garfunkel, 1981). This fault zone lies within the Dead Sea graben of which this post will focus upon. More specifically, depositional attributes of the laminated layers that comprise the sedimentary record of the Dead Sea and how those layers can serve as a portal into the past regarding paleo-seismic events.

With the recent drop in lake levels, the banks are quite accessable. By scraping away the halite/sand encrusted sides of these banks, layers of mud and sand/silt are exposed. Instead of being undisturbed laminated layers of sediment, you see beautful swirls and designs where the layers have intermixed. These disturbances, termed siesmites, are not only quite stunning to behold but also have an important significance in regards to providing a geologic record on ancient earthquakes along the Dead Sea transform.

 The lacustrine sediments of the Dead Sea are comprised of alternating layers of aragonite and detritus sediments. The latter of which are composed of dark, silt-clayey size detritus derived from flooding (fluvial events) as suspended material and range in thickness from a couple of centimeters to almost 20 (can vary; these are my measurements). The aragonite layers are intermingled white and dark laminae of silt-clayey sized detritus, and are much thinner in comparison, being in the thicknesses of millimeters. (Bookman, et al., 2004). These layers were originally continuous alternating laminae of aragonite and fine detritus, lying flat on the bottom of the Dead Sea undisturbed. They were later fluidized (brought on by seismic events), disturbing the top of the sediment and causing it to be drawn back into suspension. Deformation of the laminae occurs when the sediment comes to rest after resettling. The event is encompassed by undisturbed sediments above and below.  This mixed layer indicates a disturbance due to a seismic event, and its timing is constrained by the first overlying undisturbed lamina.

Syndepositional faulting in the Dead Sea sediments has been interpreted as when (Marco et al, 2004) a fault offsets a surface creating subaqueous scarp. The top of the sediment is deformed due to liquefaction and suspension during a seismic event, and a mixed layer forms on both sides of fault scarp. After the suspended sediments resettle, the mixed layer in down-thrown block is slightly thicker. As further sedimentation ensues, a thicker sequence accumulates on down-thrown block. The lower mixed layer in the downthrown block is also bent and overlain by folded layers.

The occurrence of seismites and their correlation to historically documented earthquakes has been determined by radiocarbon dating organic material found within the layers of sediment, solidifying the association of fluidizations of sediment and seismic events.

Bookman (Ken-Tor), R., Enzel, Y., Agnon, A. and Stein, M. 2004: Late Holocene lake levels of the Dead Sea. GSA Bulletin 116, 555 71.
Garfunkel Z (1981) Internal structure of the Dead Sea leaky transform (rift) in relation to plate kinematics. Tectonophysics 80:81-108
 Marco, S., and Agnon, A., 1995. Prehistoric earthquake deformations near Masada, Dead Sea graben. Geology, 23: 695-698.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Sediment Transport / Shields Curve

In trying to maintain my Monday's show and tell, I began my morning by reading another paper from a file folder I have set aside for treasures I come across while browsing the internet. This particular paper, Sedimentation Investigations of Rivers and Reservoirs, produced by the USACE, details everything from formulation and planning sediment studies and sediment yield, to river and reservoir sedimentation. While it is quite expansive and detailed, the citations/references were a bit dated. As I read on I began wondering as to the relevance of the information currently, so I did a quick search on google to see what methods are still popularly in use. I knew both Shields parameter and grain Reynolds number were still applicable because those were pretty much the only method I was familiar with, and it hasn't been too terribly long since my sed/strat course. The majority of my search landed me towards closed subscription-required engineering pages, but I did manage to find a few papers that were informative. A third find during the writing of this post was a google book sample, but I will pontificate upon that a bit later. For now I will just say that despite its date, (originally published 18 Dec 1989), the USACE paper still held quite a bit of its relevance. One interesting excerpt caught my attention though, as it credits Rouse (ASCE 1975) for proposing the Shields curve, and Shields having utilized it in his analysis:

Although the experimental work and analysis were performed
by Shields, the curve termed the Shields Curve,
which is shown in Figure 9-1, was actually proposed by
Rouse (ASCE 1975). Shields curve may be expressed as
an equation, which is useful for computer programming.

I'm sure there was probably some obscure notation of Rouse in one of my textbooks, but I must have overlooked it or this would not have been a bit of a surprise to me. I looked up Rouse and discovered that he, in fact, was given little to no credit for his work. When Rouse introduced the Shields diagram, he did so with auxillary parameters. You can read more on this here.

The images to the left are that of a Shields diagram and correlating equation. (culled from EM 1110-2-4000). It's a widely used method of computation or anything other than very small Reynolds numbers, otherwise other empirical expressions are utilized. For general purposes though, the Shields diagram is a good starting point.

Further into the manual there is a section on Bank or Wall Shear Stress. Brownlie's approach appears to be the favored method, and the section is fairly well written describing the resistance equations and range of conditions. Duboy's concept where the significant assumption being that sediment
transport could be calculated using average cross-section
[hydraulic] parameters and that the main result of excess shear stress was transport of said sediment. (EM 1110-2-4000). There are a few more equations in this section, some of while were derived from Einstein, which I found interesting. Mostly because when I think of Einstein, I associate him with theoretical physics. 

I was curious as to what other methods were implemented in calculating shear stresses in banks or walls, so I did yet another internet search. This one yielded quite a bit of interesting reading material. One of which was a paper pretty much dedicated to hydraulic shear stresses, with several different environments/situations outlined and the correlating equations:  Shear Stress in Bends

Flow around bends creates secondary currents that exert higher shear forces on the channel bed
and banks than those found in straight sections. Several techniques are available for estimating
shear stress in bends. A relatively simple and widely used method, presented by U. S. Department of Transportation,2 estimates maximum shear stress on channel banks and bed occurring within bends. This equation, however, does not differentiate between bank and bed shear stress. The maximum bed/bank shear stress is primarily focused on the bank and bed on the outside portion of the bend .

Lastly was a link to a book on google books. This book, Introduction to bed, bank, and shore protection- by Gerrit J. Schiereck is by far the best [mathematically-heavy] book I have ever read. While I did not read the entire book, what I did read was so well written I forgot for a moment I was reading about math. In general, I like math, but it can be a love/hate relationship for me. I don't like to have to figure out what a writer is blundering through in addition to understanding the formulas. With this book you don't have to do that. The man is an artist, truly. When you can become so absorbed in what you are reading because they have grabbed your attention AND know how to write eloquently- well that is a book you just have to buy. So I did! You can catch a B&N link to it here, but it appears I bought the last copy. (At least I hope that is the case- my order went through, but you never know. I'll have to check my email when I finish up with this). The figure (Fig. 3.1, forces on a grain flow) at the beginning of this post comes from a section of his book. 
On page 52 of the google book Schiereck describes Shield's formula for uniform flow, and how it isn't always the best choice. He explains why using shear stress as the active force this isn't always the best choice. On p. 65 he goes in to describe another environment (a dam or a groyne ) where you can use Shields eq. in conjunction with a slope correction. If you have time, read p. 72-73, as the part about geotextiles particularly is interesting.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My View of things

For lack of anything worthwhile posting about (that isn't time consuming), I thought I would share with you my view of things regarding what I see when I look at the view outside my neighbourhbood. A few months ago I was in a class and the topic somehow shifted to that of dangerous areas. I cannot recall offhand the particulars on what generated the topic, but it circled around geologic hot spots and the dangers therein. I usually stay out of these conversations unless I am in a geology class at the time, of which this was not, so just sat back and let my mind wander as I waited for the topic to return to the class at hand. At one point a student expressed their opinion on how they could not understand why anyone would live in California because of all the earthquakes. This normally would not grab my attention, but considering the area in which we currently reside (including said student) consists of several large volcanoes I sat up in my chair to listen more intently to what this student had to say. When they were finished with their diatribe, I said, "You do realize that Mt. Rainier is a volcano, right?" Upon the blank stare I received in return, I came to a surprising realization. Other people do not look at that mountain in the same way I do. When I first saw it from the ground my breath was taken away. I had seen it many times from the air on route home to Alaska via SeaTac, but I had never truly explored the area outside of the airport, thus not getting the full magnitude. For me, to truly appreciate it I had to see it from the ground. And this only occurred recently, so I don't just see a mountain; I see the forces behind the mountain. Sometimes I forget not everyone thinks volcano when they look at the gorgeous view out their backyards.

So coming back to the student with the blank stare, I realized she had no clue as to the potential dangers of living in such close proximity to said "mountain". (I have trouble just referring to it as a Mt., because it just epitomizes a volcano in my mind). I forget too, that most of these kids weren't even born yet when Mt. St. Helens blew. I still recall that moment with vivid clarity, and I lived quite a distance away in the remote wilderness of Alaska. (There are no access roads to where I grew up, and only one TV channel at the time). I have images in my mind from the news showing people walking with scarves over their faces as they walked through what appeared like a nuclear winter. Ash was dropping like snow and the sun was a strange pink color through the hazy sky. No, I don't suppose the majority of people who look at the mountain that towers over the area as anything other than a beautiful, majestic piece of eyecandy.

While the likelihood of an explosion in the near future is probably non-existent, I would have to weigh the risk factor for living under the dome of volcano quite a bit more substantial than living in California and dealing with earthquakes. Mainly because California is smart about how they have built their cities, and have outstanding educational outreach programs teaching the general public on how to react in the event of an EQ. While I think if something were to occur here, it (Mt. Ranier) would pretty much wipe out the whole area , if not from the explosion itself, but from the pyroclastic flows and/or lahars that would soon follow. That aside, if any forewarning of and impending "event" were provided, the surrounding cities and towns would most probably be paralyzed. I say this because there are no clear exit (evacuation) strategies for such an event- at least as far as I have seen in the 7mos I have resided here.

But all in all, volcanoes are pretty fascinating to examine. I once wrote a paper titled: 'The Base Jumpers of Geology'. It takes a certain brave individual to walk across a crusted over lava field when they know that at any moment there is a possibility of breaking through, yet they do it anyway. My paper pretty much focused on Harry Glicken, who would have been the vulcanologist who died when Mt. St. Helen's blew, but was in California for a graduate interview and David Johnston had taken his watch. Harry later died in an unfortunate incident (along with Maurice and Katia Krafft) when they misjudged the path a pyroclastic flow would take and were overtaken. I wish more were written about Harry Glicken, as I admire a lot of his attributes. His specialty, per se, was debris avalanches, and after his work on Mt. St. Helens, debris avalanches (as defined by his work) were recognized around volcanoes globally.

I suppose I have digressed a bit (as is my habit) from my original intent of this post- I mainly was just going to feature a "before"  and "after" picture of the view I have from my neighbourhood expressing what others see vs what I see when looking at that behemoth.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Google Earth and Field Reports

As I was archiving old reports and papers, I came across a field report where I implemented Google Earth and an iphone app (MotionX GPS) for the first time. The tracking on MotionX GPS wasn't too bad, but I found it challenging to use at the time because I had downloaded the app the night before and neglected to read the user guide beforehand. As a result, I didn't get optimal results (as I personally would have wished), but the report fulfilled the template required by the professor. I personally did not care for the format that was asked of us, but that is most likely due to the fact that I was used a previous institution's field report format. With that issue aside, the process is pretty much the same. I used Google Earth for the map of the area and the iphone app provided the track taken. Being as I was unfamiliar with the app, I didn't care for the end result, so I doctored it in Adobe Photoshop. (Top right image). The outlined pink area was the hike we took in order to access the Pumpkinvine fm. The original track wasn't as smooth as I would have liked, but it was fairly accurate in terms of location. I didn't think using Google Earth was that big of deal, but on one particular stop (in a different location)  I was able to get an image of the entire outcrop via Google Earth that I was unable to shoot myself due to the aspect that it was along a 4 lane hwy near an overpass. This seemed to surprise the professor, so I'm guessing not many students at that particular school took advantage of what it can do. If color pictures aren't your thing, or you want it to look more unique, an easy process of adding layers and drawing out the map (can be done in Illustrator better with this method) by hand can be done by just tracing the underlying layer. ArcGIS also does this, but unfortunately I no longer have a version of it, as it expired 6 mos. after my GIS class was completed. Therefore I just use Photoshop and Illustrator.

To import images of the stereonets, I did the basic 'PRTSC' technique and pasted it into Photoshop to save as a JPEG. I wasn't sure what the professor was wanting in this section, so I just provided copies of all the stereonets I did- one with just my data points, and one with mine and the groups combined. Then I did a few different formats, explaining them all in the report. I had learned from a rush job I once did in field camp -along with quite a few of my peers- that you never attach a stereonet to your reports without an explanation.(oops). Once I completed all the graphics, I imported them into PPT. I then am able to label them accordingly as I write up my report (which I do in MSword). Since I edit a lot, it is easier to leave the images in PPT and use text blocks. This generally applies only to maps and diagrams. Pictures of a rock, or anything illustrating a procedure, I place within the body of the report itself. However, I keep these at a minimum to avoid making the report unnecessarily bulky.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bedforms and Cross-Bedding

It has been several years since I have had sed/strat, and when I chanced across this webpage I was struck with the thought that it would have been a nice (scratch that, AWESOME) resource to have had during that course. It is via the USGS - not sure how I could have missed it, as it was an active site at the time of my course. I think perhaps the title was such that I mentally discounted it as useful because it says 'Western Coastal and Marine Geology'. However, this animation set they have is applicable to all coastal environments/paleocurrents. It (the site) is truly a masterpiece of work, and a lot of time and effort went into its development.

As those of us who have gone through a sed/strat class, it can (at times) be daunting to learn the associations between bedforms, cross-bedding, and environments. It isn't so much the absorption of knowledge that hangs a lot of us up, but rather looking at an outcrop or rock sample and associating the type of cross-bedding it exhibits. Even when I had that part pretty well mastered (of which at this present time I have only vague memories, hence my personal reason for appreciating this website) it was still difficult to visualize the environment in action. This is why these animations are so fantastic to look through!

To compliment the animations, there are detailed explanations on how to classify bedforms; transverse, oblique, or longitudinal, via various mathematical computations. Considering the aspect of unknown variables, implementing the wrong formula can produce less than desirable results. This paper explains certain pitfalls, and how they can be precluded in order for all variables to be considered.

Conceptually,the approach is to determine the unique transport vector that simultaneously would cause the observed migration of two sets of bedforms. Algebraically, this is accomplished by solving equation (2) simultaneously for the transport represented by two sets of bedforms. The solution is given by

Equation (3) can also be applied to a single set of bedforms, if they are three-dimensional. In such a situation, β is equal to 90°, V2 is the along-crest migration speed of the plan-form sinuosities, and H2 is the mean height of the bedforms meassured along profiles parallel to the generalized trend of the bedforms. In the computer-generated depositional situations, H2 was measured from contour maps of the bedform topogrraphy. Although equation (3) cannot be used with perfectly two-dimensional computer-generated bedforms, most real bedforms, including many that would be considered two-dimensional, are probably three-dimensional enough to use this approach.

 Relations between cross-bedding, bedforms, and flow as well as  two dimensional bedforms/cross-bedding are also touched upon via pdf files. The real gem of the website was refreshing my memory on the different bedding types and how they develop. I had intended upon adding more to this post, but I lost myself in browsing the site as I was composing this blog and now am too short on time. I mainly just wanted to share resource I had found, if you had not already discovered it yourself. (I may be behind the powercurve in regards to that ;0)




Friday, February 5, 2010

Evolution -undiluted!

I am truly alarmed at how evolution is presented (if it is even presented at all) to my children through the public education system. I cannot fathom why evolution is even an issue of debate, considering there is "supposed" to be a separation of church and state. This is quite clear cut in my mind. However it appears that when it is brought into the curriculum, creationism must be presented to offset the theory of evolution. Why must creationism be thrown into the mix to dilute the theory and muddy the waters regarding evolution? Does this (creationism) not belong in the realm of personal belief and hence falls into the "separation of church and state" category? While I don't want this to be a post about religion, my preface is required because religion is the source as to why the theory of evolution is consistently either squelched altogether, or misinterpreted by our educational system. Religion is a personal issue, and should remain something taught at home. I don't want creationism taught to my children at school in any facet, as that is forcing another individuals' doctrine upon them. Science, on the other hand, is not a doctrine.

The popular public misconception of "ape becomes man" is probably the biggest detriment towards the science community as a whole. Education of the general public is in need of a drastic overhaul. I am continuously amazed at how people believe evolution equates to apes evolving into man. (This just makes me want to hand them a worm). However, in order to dissolve these/their misconceptions, I generally start with the tree of life and what a clade is. A lot of times I just see their eyes gloss over because they are not interested in learning any corrections. Instead, they just perpetuate the myth by passing on their erroneous "data" to their offspring when they are questioned about evolution. While I believe this in and of itself is a basis for having evolution taught unhindered in our schools, I will forgo pontificating upon it. Instead, I want to point out the importance of a foundation in the realm of sciences. Evolution is a foundation not only for earth sciences, but also biological sciences. It should be presented from an unbiased, non-religious standpoint.

Most people think of humans in the context of evolution, and this is a very short-sighted view. Evolution is just a small part of a big picture. For the sake of simplifying things, I am going to use the current flu virus as an analogy. When you get a flu shot, they tell you up front it may or may not work for (such and such) period of time because the virus evolves through mutation. Step back from this thought for a bit and see an entire world full of species that are exhibiting changes. How are scientists to document/classify them? This is where cladistics comes in to play.  For example:  
Cladistics predicts the properties of organisms.

As with any other system in science, a model is most useful when it not only describes what has been observed, but when it predicts that which has not yet been observed. Cladistics produces hypotheses about the relationships of organisms in a way that, unlike other systems, predicts properties of the organisms. This can be especially important in cases when particular genes or biological compounds are being sought. Such genes and compounds are being sought all the time by companies interested in improving crop yield or disease resistance, and in the search for medicines. Only an hypothesis based on evolutionary theory, such as cladistic hypotheses, can be used for these endeavors.
                                                  ~Phylogenetic Systematics                
 In 1915, geologist Alfred Wegener recorded finding identical species he found on both side of the Atlantic. Being as there wasn't an access point in order for the species to traverse across to the other continent; he proposed that they (continents) were once connected. (image on the left found here) The theory of plate tectonics did not become popular until the 1960's, however Wegener was the first to present the theory. With the onslaught of the plate tectonic theory, scientists started looking at things in a different light. Having said that, here is an excerpt of an example as to how evolution comes into play among the sciences:

Biogeographers now recognize that as continents collide, their species can mingle, and when the continents separate, they take their new species with them. Africa, South America, Australia, and New Zealand, for example, were all once joined into a supercontinent called Gondwanaland. The continents split off one by one, first Africa, then New Zealand, and then finally Australia and South America. The evolutionary tree of some groups of species — such as tiny insects known as midges — show the same pattern. South American and Australian midges, for example, are more closely related to one another than they are to New Zealand species, and the midges of all three land masses are more closely related to one another than they are to African species. In other words, an insect that may live only a few weeks can tell biogeographers about the wanderings of continents tens of millions of years ago.

                                      ~Biogeography: Wallace and Wegener

A foundation in evolution is important for students in order to develop the critical thinking skills needed in the realm of sciences. If they are taught a diluted or misleading version of evolution, they are hindered from having the necessary tools for success. While some public school systems are lucky and have progressive educators to advocate for the discussion and implementation of a curriculum including evolution from a scientific standpoint, sadly, I fear they are in the vast minority. For some reason, "evolution" in itself just seems to be a dirty word. I'd like to see that change.

Sources/further reading: (culled biodistribution image) (a book I found that I will most likely get in the near future)


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Upgrading my iPhone

Today I decided that I needed to look into what the new iphone coming out this summer will look like/feature. I want to upgrade to at least the 3GS (as I only have the 3G currently) and before I did, I figured I would check to see if the 4G was worth putting it off a few months.  I originally bought an iphone because it didn't have keys or parts where dirt can get in and cause issues. My stint in Jordan with all the sand (and mud) was a deciding factor in going with the iphone's sleek design and minimal moving parts. The man at the phone store really tried to push a blackberry on me, but I was really digging the touch screen and button-less keypad of the iphone so his opinion was thrown to the wayside. The design itself was just what I needed. In addition, I loved the big screen. I have never liked using my thumbs to text, so the keyboard was perfect for my "tapping" preferences. The apps were just a bonus at the time- but this was before so many cool ones were developed. Now the apps alone have me hooked.

My issue now with my 3G is that a couple of apps I want/need are not compatible, and I need the GS. I also REALLY want the video camera. I think making a few mini video would be fun, and there are times when impromptu events could be recorded. I don't like to drag a lot of things around with me when I go places, so having the camera on the iphone is really nice. I use it as my primary source for images, mainly because it is what I have on hand when those unexpected moments occur. Another thing I use my iphone for is music. I don't listen to the radio, and I hate having to change CD's in the car, so I just plug in the iphone to a device that feeds through the radio for my music during car rides. I am coming close to having used up the 16GB memory my current iphone has, and deleted a substantial amount of my albums to provide more room for apps. Thus, the 32 GB offered will be nice.
But do I need the 3GS or should I wait for the 4G to be released? I did a quick search on the 4G and found a couple of pages, but you can see one of the main sources of my information I found here.

As I was reading about the new 4g, I was aghast that a removable battery was rumoured to be part of the design. BAD move apple! This would just mean that a seam would be in the design, and hence a chance for dirt to get into it. Not to mention that when you drop it, there is a chance of the part getting loosened and no longer fitting as smoothly into the slot. I just don't like the idea. Granted, if I am listening to music AND running a tracking app, the battery can die fairly quickly. However, if I am planning on a track, I either bring a car charger, or don't run both music and app together. I would rather do the latter than have a removable part in a phone that I bang around a lot. It just will not work for me. I'm fairly abusive to my iphone, and it has held up very well- but if a removable part is introduced I think I will run into a lot of problems.

While the 4g is said to have a front facing camera for ichat/video conferencing, I would never utilize this option. If I was going to video conference, I would use my computer. It may be a nice option if I were traveling a lot and had no access to a computer- but if that were the case, I seriously doubt 4g coverage would be available.

Then there is the OLED screen. What the heck is OLED anyway? Alright, here is what I found out about OLED. Sounds impressive enough, although I didn't have any issues with the original iphone, so this doesn't really bear any weight on my decision to go or not to go with the 4G. However, to be thorough, I did a search to see what the difference between the two screens were (LCD vs OLCD). Low and behold, I found a site talking about the selling point of the OLCD.  The side-by-side image of the two screens is admittedly striking, but when I am out in the field the sun always glares off the screen- so when it really comes down to it, the OLED screen is nice but not a selling factor for me personally. Having said that, the aspect that the OLED takes up less battery life does catch my interest. Therefore, I cannot discount this new screen entirely as part of a weighing factor in my decision.

I have been an AT&T customer for quite some time, and when I first purchased an iphone it was without any discounts (full price). The second iphone was also at the full purchase price because I was not a new user, but rather a returning user. I was upgrading my phone and giving the old one to Husband, but being as it was only 1 year apart and I had renewed our AT&T contract with the first purchase only a year prior, I wasn't eligible for any discounts (contract renewal etc). It was about a year and a half ago that I purchased my 3G, so I don't know if I am eligible for the 299.00 version, or if they will charge me 599.00. I refuse to pay full price again, as it really annoys me to be a loyal customer and yet treated like crap by a company. We had to pay 1000.00 last year for over limit fees due to Grim talking during prime time (he now knows the value of a lan line since he no longer has a cell phone), so that company has taken enough of our money. Don't get me wrong, I like AT&T- it isn't their fault we had a teen talking over limit, although it would have been nice to have recieved some kind of warning regarding our over limit. They send alerts via text for all other reasons- and we had the plan for 3 years prior with no over limits...  heck, even my bank calls me when I have weird and excessive/unusual transactions. But I digress. For the sake of argument, I will just assume we can get the phone at the 299.00 price.

My deciding factor on the new iphone 4G is the design. Granted, all the images on the web to date are "rumors" and none are confirmed, but for the most part the specs on these rumors are generally accurate. This is why I have to say NO to the 4G. That replaceable battery just kills it for me. The image(s) I found leave for a more boxy design, and I prefer the design of the current iphone. It is much better than the 1rst generation in that it fits in my hand much better with its gentle slope/curvature, and while a tab thicker than the first generation the 3G/GS is much more comfortable in my hand. A couple of the images for the 4G portray it to be more like an enlarged ipod with flat edges, losing its sleek design.

There are a few that are a bit more like the 1rst generation in regards to shape (i.e. less boxy than the titanium concept), as shown left, which is a bit more like the 3G/GS (detailed review here), however it does seem to resemble the 1rst generation quite a bit more. As with anytime you upgrade with an iphone, you never know what the summer will bring. (Each summer has a phone upgrade, or at least that is the current trend). Presently, my research regarding the new iphone 4G has really only garnered me a large amount of rumor and a list of specs. Looks like I am apparently in another crap shoot with yet another iphone purchase, as the last time I upgraded it was only a design and memory upgrade - and a few months later the GS came out. Grrr.. Sometime this weekend or next week I'll head out to a AT&T store and see what they offer me. It would be nice to know more about the video capabilities of the iphone- how long, ease of use, etc etc. I suppose I will check into that later on. I would be happy with any type of video ability at this point.