Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

First, a thank-you message for my readers: 

For the first year of running this blog, most of my audience were friends and followers on Google+, or those that follow the Geoblogosphere community (geology bloggers).  I would normally average about 100 views per post and had amassed 6,000 views by the one-year anniversary of this blog.  Last week a funny thing happened.  My latest post apparently caught the eyes of some folks who tweeted it around, leading to a rapid surge of retweets and shares on various message boards and online communities.  You can only imagine my surprise when I logged in the next day to see that my views had skyrocketed.  At first, most of my views were coming from the science community on twitter who had linked to my blog, but not long after, websites Slashdot and Instapundit posted links to me and popular bloggers Maria Popova and Ed Yong both shared my post as well.  In about 4 days, I went from 6,000 views to 70,000 views.  I am of course, very very ecstatic to have reached this feat.
There are a few people that really deserve recognition in helping me achieve this overwhelming popularity.  Charles Carrigan, Caroll Karns, and Ron Schott were some of the first readers of my blog, all of whom are bloggers themselves.  They shared encouraging words and constructive feedback that really helped me get started.  My best friend Phillip Kissell, spends a lot of time on Google Earth, perusing the globe with me.  He even wrote a guest blog for me.  My mom is probably my biggest fan and routinely brags about my blog to everyone.

So to all the friends, family, professors, online geology community, Google Plussers, and readers,  Thank you for everything!

Now, it's time to get back to business.

This week's post features the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii, an active volcanic hot spot and one of two states that I still have yet to visit.  The Pu'u O'o crater shown below is a cinder cone associated with the Kilauea Volcano and according to Wikipedia, it has been erupting since 1983.

The animation below shows the years: 2002, 2005, 2010, and 2011.  Some of the things to  observe here are:
The western end of the crater showing the most noticeable changes of shape.
The glowing lava visible in the 2011 image.
The addition of flows and cinder build up on the southeastern slope. 

I decided to try this animated gif version instead of the previous, image by image layout.  I don't particularly like how this limits the time you can spend looking closely at an image, but I post the coordinates at the bottom so you can copy paste them into Google Earth yourself.  I like that the animated gif condenses the space taken up by the blog and accentuates the change in details between each image.
However, I'm not sure how well the gif works on the smartphone view, so I may end up switching back to the old format if this becomes a big issue.  Just let me know I suppose.


You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:     19°23'15.61"N     155°06'21.55"W

More info: Wikipedia: Pu'u O'o

Check back next week to celebrate the 2012 Olympic Games in Google Earth Time Machine style!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Angleton, Texas

So, like the recently discovered Higgs Boson particle, I too had my own elusive and greatly searched for geographical breakthrough.  It begins like this:

Years ago when Google Earth first added the time-slider tool, which makes my entire blog possible, I realized that one of the best uses for this tool would be for tracking geomorphological change.  I, and others like me, had found various changes like landslides and sinkholes, but the evidence pointed to an opportunity for more undiscovered geographical features.  I theorized that the most elusive of these was the formation of an oxbow lake.  My research took me to many of the world's major rivers such as the Amazon and the Nile.  However, satellite imagery in these areas was lacking and lead to inconclusive research.  I headed to the United States where satellite imagery and aerial photographs date farther back and are regarded as some of the most complete in the world.  I checked the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, being large and powerful.  Unfortunately, these rivers are artificially repaired and protected, so data had to be thrown out.  I began searching smaller rivers left and right, but finding this elusive oxbow lake formation was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack.
But then, while focusing in a random area south of my home, I found an oxbow lake that looked promising.  I slid the time-slider backwards and behold, I had discovered the elusive oxbow lake formation!  I contacted my colleague and showed him my discovery.  He agreed, this was without a doubt the formation of an oxbow lake on the Brazos River!

For those who don't appreciate satire: That was me telling you that I found an oxbow lake in various stages of formation.  It took me a long time to find so I want you to acknowledge my hard work.  That is all.

Dec 1944

Jan 1995

Feb 2004

Jan 2006

Feb 2010

You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:      29°15'34.29"N     095°34'08.85"W

More info:

Check back next week to see my first Hawaii post!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

SPECIAL BLOG: Accretionary Wedge #48 (Geoscience & Technology)

While my blog has been on an extended hiatus due to graduation, moving back home, field camp, job searches, masters program registration, apartment hunting, blahblahblah, I've decided to finally contribute to an Accretionary Wedge event hosted by Charles Carrigan at Earth-like Planet.

I'll let you explore the idea behind accretionary wedge on your own (HINT, look here!) since I would do a terrible job if I tried to explain it to you myself.

The topic for this Accretionary Wedge is: geoscience and technology.  While I do not currently have a career in geoscience, I have been a student in the geosciences for over 4 years, I've interned with an environmental geology consulting company, and I've been a geoscience blogger for roughly 1 year.  I'm calling that certifiably qualified to write about geoscience and technology!

What came to mind when I first thought about this topic was the idea of "the old way" versus "the new way".  For example, geologist Dr. McFritzdog prefers to rely on his topographic maps and Brunton compass when out in the field.  However, Dr. Hipdude just carries his smartphone with downloadable maps, gps, and the Brunton compass application when he does field work.  Dr. McFritzdog argues that topographic maps and a brunton compass are the proper tools of a geologist and were designed for rough and rugged field work.  He's convinced that bringing a smartphone into the field is just an expensive accident waiting to happen.  Dr. Hipdude argues that he's careful (he even bought one of those expensive phone covers!) and that all his tools fit conveniently in his pocket.  He can even download geologic maps and make stereonets in the field!

While I just made this situation up, it's not much different from what I've experienced during my field trips, field work, and field camp.  During my field camp course last month, our professor was adamantly against our use of smartphones and downloadable maps and gps applications.  He wanted us to use only our Bruntons and field maps during our days in the mountainous desert wilderness.  Since I did not have a smartphone at the time, I was totally okay with that.  However, many of my friends immediately ranted about how ridiculous it was that we were being forced into the "old-fashioned" way of doing field work.  I understood their frustration (some of them had even spent money on various applications they thought would be useful) and at the time, I thought maybe our professor was just being stubborn.  However, after a few days of relying on just a compass and paper map, I got the hang of locating myself on the topo map.  When we got to our third and fourth mapping sites, cell signal was fading in and out and the students who had spent the first few projects relying solely on their phones found themselves SOL and had to try and learn quickly to use the "old-fashioned" method of locating themselves.

While smartphones have really expanded on the ways field work can be done, they aren't ready to  replace the trusty brunton and the paper topo map.  Smartphones can do amazing things now (there really is an app for that!) and I really believe they are just as much a field tool now as the brunton compass and the topo map are.  I personally think that anyone who would choose to rely solely on their smartphone in the field is a reckless fool; and just as well, I think that anyone who disregards smartphone technology as a legitimate field tool is a stubborn fool.  Becoming familiar with both methods allows room for a backup plan and will keep any geologist one step ahead.

And now that I think about it, there is no smartphone rockhammer app.  I guess that one's still in the beta.

-Brian Schrock

NOTICE! My regular blog posts will be back shortly.  I have a few that are almost ready to go and I'm pretty excited about them!  Until then, enjoy your summer!  Happy Hurricane Season to my Gulf Coast and East Coast friends.

ALSO! Here are a few pictures from field camp:

Me with my selenite gypsum (that I lost =[)

Knight Peak in NM (1st mapping area)

Me with Knight Peak in the background

Fire near Silver City, NM

Little amphibolite fold in a quartzite dike
(at 2nd mapping area: Bullard Peak in NM)

Petroglyphs at Parowan Gap, UT (3rd mapping area)

12,000+ ft Mt. Tuk North (4th Mapping area, UT)

We were originally known as the foreigners (we all came from different schools while the rest of our class came from SFA).  We met each other at the beginning of field camp and spent literally every minute together for the next six weeks.  By the end we became known as the family.  Left to Right: Naomi, Michael, Ana, Kyle, Jess, and Me.  (At the Grand Canyon's South Rim)