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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mazarine Deep Blue, Oldest Paris Public Library Mazarine, and Transform Faults of the Deep Dead Sea

           Any day I learn a new word, especially a colorful one, is a good day. Mazarine blue made Tuesday for me this week:

           Apparently it is all the rage in athletic footwear colors as an internet search of images produced butterflies,


and an inordinate amount of running shoes:

           It is also the name of the oldest public library in Paris, dating to 1643:

     How to get from a deep, deep blue, to the oldest public library in Paris, to the lowest elevation on earth (excluding subsea topography, of course) in the Rift Valley of the Dead Sea?

          Just look at that mazarine blue color of the Dead Sea, which is up to 34 percent saline, nine times the salinity of the ocean, and is over 1,000 feet at its deepest point. The Dead Sea straddles Israel/Palestine to the west and Jordan to the east:

     The Dead Sea is part of the longer and larger rift zone extending from the Red Sea through the Gulf of Aqaba and through the Dead Sea via the Dead Sea Rift Zone or Dead Sea Transform Fault:

          This left lateral-moving transform fault lies along the tectonic plate boundary between the African Tectonic Plate and the Arabian Tectonic Plate. It runs between the East Anatolian Fault zone in Turkey and the northern end of the Red Sea Rift offshore of the southern tip of Sinai Peninsula.

          The geologic history of the area is the subject of much debate. It is a complicated area both geologically and politically.

          The blue of the Dead Sea water approaches Mazarine Blue, yes?

          Mazarine Blue: new to you? Thoughts on the Dead Sea transform fault and the Dead Sea rift zone?

Happy Mazarine Blue Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Biogeography: From Penguin Rovers to Declining Polar Bears

  1.            Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geographic space and through geological time. Organisms generally vary along geographic gradients of latitude, elevation, isolation and habitat. Incorporating the theory of plate tectonics and fossil evidence helps explain both similar and dissimilar flora and fauna.
  1.             Biogeography helps explain why penguins are found in the Antarctic and polar bears are found in the Arctic. But what explains this emperor penguin decoy rover?!

       This National Geographic article about sending in penguin rovers describes the lower stress the penguins exhibit at having a cute penguin rover rather than a human collect data.

         Emperor penguins are quite shy so studying them by sending in humans tends to raise anxiety levels and heart rates when researchers step in to study the penguins and climate change. 

         Back to biogeography: the location of penguins in the southern hemisphere is correlated with those areas being connected through geologic time:

         Likewise, polar bears' habitats in the northern hemisphere are correlated with areas which were once or are currently connected tectonically. 

     The location of the continents as one super landmass known as Pangaea up until about 200 my ago is illustrated here:

        Then, about 200 million years ago, Laurasia drifted northward from Gondwanaland (surely you've seen "Reunite Gondwanaland!" tee-shirts):

           Polar bears' decline by almost 50 percent in research presented this week doesn't include rolling or swimming polar bear rovers. It does show alarming drops in the polar bear population due to thinning sea ice and concomitant inability to hunt for seals, a key part of their diet.

      This article from Brown University ties together clade and cladograms and Biogeography

      Still scratching my head about alligator distribution in the southeastern U.S. and easternmost China (as discussed briefly last week). The time frame of alligator distribution only from Pleistocene to Recent likely explains part of it. But part is still a mystery.

         Red rover, red rover, let the alligators come over and explain their distribution.

           P.S. My friend, Cat, so adores penguins her personal email address includes gentoo. She and I were in the same plate tectonics class senior year at Smith so we go back tectonically as well as penguinally. Cat, this one is for you! 
           The transformation gets me every time. . .


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

From Steno's Stratigraphy to Stenography to Steganography to Stegasaurus

     Good old Nicolas Steno (1638-1686), a Dane who was beatified  by the Catholic Church over 300 years after his death, first stated three fairly straightforward tenets of stratigraphy: 

      (1) The Law of Superposition: in most circumstances, barring any subsequent overturning of layers, the oldest sedimentary rocks are on the bottom and the youngest are on the top:

      (2) The Principle of Original Horizontality: most sequences are deposited in a horizontal or nearly horizontal plane,

     and (3) The Principle of Lateral Continuity: Material forming any layer were continuous over the surface of the Earth unless some other solid bodies stood in the way:

     I thought perhaps Steno's name was somehow related to stenography:

       and this interesting graphic showing beginning consonants on the left hand, ending consonants on the right, and vowels in the thumb positions:

     ..."I keep thinking of Jim Robbins! It's ridiculous. He's only a male stenographer. . ." But, Steno has no connection here.

      Or perhaps a connection to steganography, from the Greek "stegein," to cover:

which brought me to Stegosaurus or covered lizard:

     which brought me back to hiding or covering messages in landscapes where the oldest rocks are generally on the bottom, the layers are deposited horizontally, and the material forming over the layers of the earth were continuous unless some solid body stood in the way:

     I guess that about covers it.

Steph (aka Word Woman)

Four hour window in Boulder on Monday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Answer, My Friends, is Blowing in the Wind

     This week's PEOTS will be focused on the visual imagery of wind turbines. As to wind energy: the answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind at sunrise headed west where the giant limbs' movement appeared almost as a mirage:

          And headed east in the afternoon a few days later.  What amazes me the most is how these giant features are whisper quiet.

         No tilting at windmills here in Spanish Fork, Utah:

          Large arms spreading out, moving air and harnessing energy:

          Dedicating this week's PEOTS to my dear (not deer) son, traveling companion extraordinaire. The following wind turbine photos are from the National Energy Research Labs:

        The movement is reminiscent of a tumbling gymnast, twirling over and over.

           We might revisit wind energy next week.  It's been an exhausting week here. . .So I am hoping the answer, my friends, is indeed blowing in the wind.

       Winding up this week,