One woman's quest for geological understanding!

March 2015Monthly Archives

“Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Communicating Geology to Society” – Prof. Iain Stewart, Herdman Symposium 2015

Geological issues are increasingly relevant to the everyday lives of people globally, whether it is the risk of earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, or the potential ramifications of geological engineering. And yet, as Prof. Iain Stewart highlighted, ‘Geology… lies out of sight and out of mind’.

This blog post represents a detailed account of Iain’s presentation at the Herdman Symposium 2015, very occasionally peppered with examples resulting from the papers/articles he referred to during his presentation. (Slightly more detailed than I expected, but I made copious notes and ended up delving into the wealth of references made in his presentation and getting sidetracked by related papers…  Note to self: become more focussed!)

There is a strange “no man’s land” between geologists and the public:  The ‘simple’ act of talking to the public is very challenging for academics and researchers, who are used to being careful and precise with language and also structurally there has been very little incentive to communicate with the public. This has now changed dramatically. But this is not without risk…

Continue reading »

Foraminifera under the microscope – A learning experience

Forams 003

Tweet  Today has been a day for joyful microscope experimentation! I recently received a Thin Section (TS) / Slide of Holocene Foraminifera from the Philippines (3357 feet).  Not my area of expertise at all, but very pretty.  And after years of seeing studies where foraminifera were used as proxies for climate change in geological history, and spending so much time incorporating these into my project course and personal research, it seemed a great idea to actually look at some under… Continue reading »

Photography down the microscope…

Soooo I started taking excellent photos…. and was about to label and upload photos and films I took through my polarizing microscope, when I realised I needed scale!  Rule #1!

So, I gave up on the maths – the slight zoom in my camera ruled out that – and invested in an “Advanced Calibration Slide”, which arrived yesterday.

Calibration Slide

It has five calibration patterns.

0.07mm, 0.15mm, 0.6mm and 1.5mm calibration dots.

X-Y Calibration ScaleX-Y calibration scale (In the circle in the picture of the slide above) with a smaller division of 0.01mm. The scale is 1mm long in both X and Y direction and is first divided into 0.1mm and them 0.01mm. At the centre, it has a 0.04mm square divided by 5 lines in both X and Y direction and providing much more choice for calibration.

Now let the fun begin on a large small scale!

“Adventures of a field geologist on Mars” – Herdman Symposium 2015

Curiosity Self-Portrait at ‘Mojave’ on Mount Sharp

I saw it announced and thought nothing more than “that sounds interesting”: We have all heard about the Curiosity Rover, which landed on Mars in 2012 and, since then,  has uncovered geologic evidence of an environment that may have supported microbial life early in the planet’s history.

I had NOT sat down to consider the time difference between Earth & Mars (A sidereal day on Mars lasts 24 hours 37 minutes and 22 seconds – ie that is the length of time for the planet to rotate once on its axis, compared to the 24 hours on Earth).  Nor had I considered that this time difference (obviously, in hindsight) meant that the lucky scientists working with the robot were on crazy shifts and that any decisions and work undertaken put them under considerable time pressure on a day-to-day basis.  Every move of the robot needs to be planned out in detail, and then run by the engineers (in terms of wear and tear of the robot, capabilities, etc.).

A chorus of oohs and aahs filled the auditorium as the first photos were presented.  Cross-Stratification / Cross-Bedding has NEVER been so exciting!  Evidence of water on Mars!  Simply mind-blowing!

Continue reading »