An Iceland Enigma – The Thórsmörk Ignimbrite

Today we welcome a guest post by volcanologist Dave McGarvie. Dave is a senior lecturer at the Open University and studies volcanoes in Iceland and Chile. He can be found on Twitter under the username @subglacial. One of the wonderful aspects of working as a volcanologist is Iceland is that fascinating new puzzles and their…

The Old Man or The Sea

The Lives of Lake Baikal It is said that a huge stone fell from the sky like they do now, sometimes. While it was falling it became red hot. When it hit the earth there was a great rainfall. Earth, stone, and water came to a boil and in that turmoil Lake Baikal was born.…

The dancing Earth: continental drift

In hindsight, continental drift should have been obvious. That the Earth moves up and down had been known for centuries, shown by the layered beaches of Sweden, the seashells of the Himalayas, or the sinking harbours of the Med. The drowned and resurfaced Pillars of Pozzuoli became famous as the frontipiece of Charles Lyell’s opus…

The Lisbon Earthquake

At one time, Portugal ruled the world. Its explorers discovered the Cape of Good Hope, created colonies around the Indian Ocean, reached China and Japan, founded the city of Nagasaki, and claimed much of South America. The glory days of the Portuguese empire lasted from 1415 to 1750, and left a rich heritage in Portugal.…

Jurassic escarpment in central Saudi Arabia

Volcanoes of Saudi Arabia

The rocky desert stretches as far as the eye can see: a fascinating vista, forbidding and seemingly unending. Distant hills shimmer in the heat and glare of the Sun. There is beauty here but it is on an inhuman and unearthly scale. The land has been baked bone-dry by many years of sun, heat and…

Gems!

Like all other original branches of science, geology has split and evolved into a multitude of sub-species such as geophysics, petrology, mineralogy, volcanology and seismology. The science that deals with natural and artificial gemstones, gemology, is considered to be part of the geosciences and specifically a branch of mineralogy. If we disregard artificially generated radioisotopes,…

Hope diamond

Diamond!

Carbon is amazing. Where would life be without it? It forms short molecules, including the one essential to (previously) intelligent life, ethanol. It forms long linear molecules (aliphatics), round molecules (aromatics) and even spherical molecules (fullerenes) or cylinders (nanotubes). As a solid it forms thin, strong sheets (graphite). If such a sheet is composed of…

Super-eruptions and Hyper-eruptions

Living on a constantly changing and evolving planet, unravelling the past is not an easy task as resurfacing, erosion and continental drift continuously eradicates what has gone before. Even after the last remaining “White Areas” on our maps of the Earth’s land masses had been filled in about a century ago, great discoveries that would…

Ruminarian X Musings on the Cascadia SZ

Who’s there? Those are the first spoken words of Hamlet, or more correctly, “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” as written by William Shakespeare.  In modern English, that’s 13 letters, including punctuation.  Under the “infinite monkey theorem” a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will…