Also, geologists in World of Warcraft

30 January 2009

So, a friend got me the World of Warcraft Battlechest and a 60-day card for Christmas. While I was levelling up a druid, I encountered a phrase in a quest which made me laugh. So I present to you the following screenshot.

Damn geologists and their magic ways!

Damn geologists and their magic ways!

A video of a nene on Maui

30 January 2009

What with this semester starting up, and sorting out 1200+ pictures and videos, I haven’t posted much. But here’s a video of the Hawaiian state bird, the nene, for now.

Taken in Haleakala National Park on Maui, just above the Ranger station at 7000 feet.

First Post from Hawai’i

9 January 2009

So, I’m in Hawai’i now. Still working on some grad school apps. Got at least two left. So, while I’m in a Starbucks near my hotel, working on them, and also procrastinating a bit. I’ve been to the beach, and taken a few pictures.

So, here they are.

I guess the stone is some sort of gabbro.

Registration desk in the hotel. I guess the stone is some sort of porphyritic basalt. Edit: Rapakivi-textured granite, per Ron Edit 2: Baltic Brown, quarried in Finland, around 1Ga, as per Dave

I guess its a diorite

A table in the hotel. I guess it's a diorite Edit: More likely larvikite, per Ron Edit 2: likely a stone from Brazil known as Uba Tuba, per Dave

A neat banyan tree near the hotel.

A neat banyan tree near the hotel.

The beautiful beach by the hotel

The beautiful beach by the hotel

A sea urchin. My first regular echinoid observed in the wild.

A sea urchin. My first regular echinoid observed in the wild.

Cityscape + mountains + clouds = awesome

Cityscape + mountains + clouds = awesome

Hope people like the pictures.

Just submitted another grad school app (4 complete now, 1 to 3 more to go). Going to the big island tomorrow for three days, and I’ll try to put up some of the better pictures plus maybe even some geology in the accompanying post. However, I doubt it’ll be quite as good as what has already been put up by better bloggers than me. But, I’ll do my best to at least put up an okay shot or two.

Edit: updated the captions of the table rocks, as per Ron’s comments. Why is wordpress being lame and not doing strikethrough for the captions?

Edit: Ah, okay, I at least know probably why it was being lame. Oh well.

Quick update, post AGU

22 December 2008

Well, that whole trying to get better about blogging post GSA didn’t really pan out. Five upper level math and geology courses, when you have a guaranteed 3 to 5 hour commute on Monday/Wednesday/Friday, really end up eating up a lot of time.

And now that AGU is over with, I’m in the serious grad school application crunch time.

But, once that’s done with, I will do a couple of posts.

  • A picture and my thoughts on an interesting countertop I mentioned to Dave of Stories in Stone at the AGU geobloggers meetup, which will hopefully result in further details from him about the stone of said countertop.
  • Some posts about an upcoming trip to Hawaii
  • I have something about algebra and mineralogy I’ve been thinking about posting… that one’s still sort of a mush in my head, so we’ll see how it goes
  • Maybe some stuff on AGU/San Francisco, or an extremely belated post about GSA or both
  • Probably some random other stuff

Hopefully, this’ll turn out a bit better than my intentions post-GSA.

The spiral of Nautiloids has nothing to do with Phi

6 October 2008

There’s an interesting post at God Plays Dice about how \Phi is less significant in nature than many think it is, with links to a few different posts by others.

The really interesting bit, both in terms of paleontology and math, is the link to an article from the March 2005 issue of The College Mathematics Journal. For paleontologists, the key bit is on pages 126-127: the author measured several nautilus shells, and never got close to \Phi, even though of course it’s still a logarithmic spiral.

I’ve been meaning to post on this for a while, but it kept getting lost in the shuffle of prepping for exams, getting ready for GSA, and the ordinary day-to-day work of school. Despite the fact that it wasn’t much of a post. But, I’ll be done with exams for a bit after this week, I’ve given my presentation at GSA (which seemed to go pretty well), and gotten back to Virginia.

Anyway, the point is, I’ll try and not be as lame about updating. For all two of you reading this.

Top 5 Minerals Meme

18 September 2008

In response to Callan’s Top 5 Minerals Meme.

I’m organizing around chemical formulas, not names. So, for example, just clays are not a candidate, because there are too many different formulas. However, smectites would be fine, even though that isn’t as specific as, say, quartz.

So, for my list,

  • Quartz, \mathrm{SiO_2}: extremely physically and chemically stable at Earth surface conditions. Has conchoidal fracture, which sounds cool, looks cool, and has practical applications. It’s what most sand is made of and is a major component of the continental crust ( both due to that whole stability thing). Reasonably interesting to look at in both hand sample and thin section.
  • Calcite and Aragonite, \mathrm{CaCO_4}: everybody’s heard of limestone. Many organisms have hard parts made of it. An important part of some fairly common geomorphology. Plays fairly significant role in hydrology and oceanography. Can have some pretty neat properties in hand sample (double refraction!) and in thin section (that characteristic change in relief on rotation!).
  • Olivine, \mathrm{\left(Mg,Fe\right)_2SiO_4}: it’s what the mantle is mostly made of. The mantle is what the Earth is mostly made of. And it’s pretty in both hand sample and in thin section. Case closed!
  • Smectite, \mathrm{~Ca_{0.17}\left(Al,Fe,Mg\right)_2\left(Si,Al\right)_4O_{10}\left(OH\right)_2}\cdot n \mathrm{H_2O}: One of the major groups of 2:1 clay minerals. Does that whole swelling and contracting thing as it absorbs and releases water, which leads to one of the main reasons I’d want someone unfamiliar with geology to know about it: it can lead to landslides, and screw up the foundation of your house. So, yeah. Nobody should panic about it, but everybody needs to be aware of it. Montmorillonite (a type of smectite) feels cool, and comes from the weathering of bentonites, so that’s pretty neat.
  • Apatite, \mathrm{Ca_5\left(PO_4\right)_3\left(F,OH,Cl\right)}: It has a hardness of 5. It’s pretty in hand sample, and very cool looking in thin section. Also? It’s a major part of what vertebrates do some of their most important biomineralization with. In other words, it’s your skeleton.