volcanology

Pinacate Volcanic Field 

Located in far northwest Sonora, Mexico, the Pinacate volcanic field comprises a 1,500 km2 area of Pleistocene lava flows with over 400 cinder cones and 8 maars. The volcanoes in the Pinacate are monogenetic—meaning they erupt only once and each have a unique magmatic signature. The field today is part of El Pinacate and Gran… Continue reading Pinacate Volcanic Field 

geology of disney

The Geology of Disneyland

Even before I finished my first geology class, I (jokingly) told people that I was going to be a Spanish-speaking geologist at Disney World. While the rocks of Disney may not exactly be real, we can still learn about the geologic formations they take their inspiration from. Here’s a look at a few of the… Continue reading The Geology of Disneyland

paleoclimate

Yes, climate change is real—and we’re causing it

Especially in the news as of late, there has been a lot of talk as to whether politicians “believe” in climate change. Framing the question like this makes it seem as though climate change is in the league of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny—things that require belief for their existence. However, climate change doesn’t… Continue reading Yes, climate change is real—and we’re causing it

sedimentary

Types of unconformities

Unconformities—erosional or non-depositional gaps—are abound in the geologic record. These erosional surfaces separate a lower, older strata from a younger, upper one (unless the sequence has been overturned). An unconfomity will typically form when an older layer is subject to a period of erosion before the deposition of new sediments. For example, the “Great Unconformity” of… Continue reading Types of unconformities

isotopes, paleoclimate

Oxygen Isotopes and Paleoclimate

Direct measurements for global temperature only date back to about 1850, so how do we figure out what past climates were like? Once we move beyond the limits of direct measurements, we need to use proxies—preserved physical characteristics of past environments. Oxygen isotopes are the most commonly used paleoproxy to reconstruct long records of past… Continue reading Oxygen Isotopes and Paleoclimate

sedimentary, wisconsin

Ripple Marks

If you’ve ever looked through clear waters at a beach or gentle flowing river to the sand below, you’ve likely seen ripple marks formed by the moving water. The image above actually shows preserved “fossil” ripple marks in the 1.7 billion-year-old Baraboo (Wisconsin) quartzite. These ripple marks were formed when the marine sandstone was initially deposited… Continue reading Ripple Marks

geomorphology, Southwest

An aerial perspective

Whenever I have the opportunity, I always try and grab a window seat on airplanes. Because I live in Arizona, I’m lucky enough to regularly fly over the American Southwest, which features some of the most stunning and dramatic landscapes from the air. In the image above—flying near the Chaco Canyon area in New Mexico—you… Continue reading An aerial perspective

paleoanthropology

On the fate of “Lucy,” our hominin relative

Everyone’s favorite Australopithecus afarensis “Lucy” is at the center of a debate regarding the circumstances of her death. New research from the University of Texas at Austin proposes that Lucy’s cause of death was a fall out of a tall tree, based on CT scan analyses of multiple fractures in her bones. Lucy (the common name… Continue reading On the fate of “Lucy,” our hominin relative

petrology, sedimentary

Geo Lingo | The Language of Geologists

Does it ever feel like geologists are speaking a different language? With so many different terms to describe and categorize rocks, learning the lexicon of a geologist can be a bit daunting. To help learn some basic geo lingo, here’s a (far from comprehensive) guide of some of the most important classification and terms geologists… Continue reading Geo Lingo | The Language of Geologists

arizona, volcanology

San Francisco Volcanic Field

Located just north of Flagstaff, Arizona, the San Francisco volcanic field comprises an area of 1,800 sq miles and contains around 600 volcanoes. These volcanoes range in age from 6 million years old to less than 1,000 years old. Given their location on the Colorado Plateau, many volcanoes have experienced little erosion (like SP Crater… Continue reading San Francisco Volcanic Field