Category Archives: Geology

Glacier Melting Math

My wife and I are currently on an Alaskan cruise with friends that used to be our neighbors when our children were young. Our cruise ship is the Millennium, which is part of the Celebrity fleet. We are currently moored in Juneau, where we visited the Mendenhall glacier. While at the glacier, I talked with a local Forest Service guide about the rate of glacier melting. I also made a few measurements using my phone and a bit of math then ensued, which I will discuss here. Continue reading

 
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Drying Up the Mediterranean

One of my favorite audio books is titled The Earth: A Very Short Introduction (link). This book provides an excellent overview of basic geophysics. It is not a book about rocks, but rather a book about the structure of the Earth. This book contains an excellent discussion of the Mediterranean's periodic drying episodes that are collectively known as the Messinian Event, which occurred five million years ago during the Miocene era. Continue reading

 
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Greenland Ice Sheet Trivia

I was reading an article today that says that geophysicists have figured out why the Greenland has been experiencing a flurry of magnitude 5 earthquakes. The scientists claim that the earthquakes are being caused by massive icebergs calving off the Greenland ice sheet in a manner that momentarily jams the movement of the ice sheet. The ice sheet and the calved iceberg are so massive that their interaction cause an earthquake.

While the earthquake information was interesting, there was a side discussion on the amount of ice required to raise sea level by 1 mm and seal level impact potential of a melting Greenland ice sheet. Continue reading

 
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Natural Nuclear Reactors

I read an interesting article today about the natural nuclear reactors of Oklo, Gabon. I had first read about these reactors in a Scientific American article back in 2005. The article I read today was interesting because it did a good job presenting some of the key numbers related to uranium isotope ratios on Earth, how the uranium got here, and how natural nuclear reactors could have formed ~2 billion years ago, but probably not today. Continue reading

 
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Large Quantity of Manganese Nodules on the Atlantic's Seafloor

I had a deja vu moment this week. Yahoo had an article on how a large amount of manganese nodules have been found on the Atlantic Ocean's seafloor (Figure 1). Back in the 1960s, I remember reading about Howard Hughes building the Glomar Explorer to mine manganese nodules from the bottom of the ocean. It turned out this story was a CIA cover story for Project Azorian, but that is another story. Continue reading

 
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The Farthest Mountaintops from the Center of the Earth

I have a boring task that requires that I be able to access a geographic database to gather a large amount of information. There are numerous databases out there, but the Wikipedia Geonames database is the one I would really like to learn how to use – it is large and free. I am not particularly skilled at web scraping and I have been procrastinating on my task for a while. I need a interesting problem to drive my interest. Continue reading

 
Posted in General Science, Geology | 24 Comments

Sahara Water Math

I was watching an episode called "Sahara" of the series "How the Earth Was Made" and they had a very good discussion of the history of the Sahara Desert and how it formed. During the presentation, they discussed how ground water can be found that is very old and very hot. I thought I would look into this a bit. Continue reading

 
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Geothermal Power Math

One concept that intrigues me is the idea that the Earth would be warm underground even without the Sun present. See the Wikipedia for an interesting discussion of this topic. My favorite science fiction story is After Worlds Collide, which is tale that includes a rogue planet called Bronson Beta. This rogue planet survived a very long trip through the bitter cold of interstellar space. Its former inhabitants had built deep underground tunnels that provided a warm sanctuary for travelers from Earth. Continue reading

 
Posted in Geology, History of Science and Technology | 1 Comment

Granite Self-Heating Math

Introduction I came across the following statement in an article about the self-heating of the granite in an article about how radioactivity heats the interior of the Earth. Radioactivity is present not only in the mantle, but in the rocks … Continue reading

 
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