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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

"Sapphire of the Sea:" A Hexagonal Chitinous Invisibility Cloak on This Critter

     The hexagonal chitinous invisibility cloak of the Sapphirina or "Sapphire of the Sea" 

allows it to change from deep violet-indigo colors to blue-green to

 all colors of the spectrum to nearly completely invisible.

        This exquisite ability is due, in part, to the hexagonal plates on its surface (here seen under a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)):

      The male of this parasitic copepod species shine their colors while the females are mostly translucent all the time. This structural coloration, first described by Isaac Newton and Robert Hooks, allows the intense and varied bright colors (as seen in peacock feathers).

     The Sapphirina reminds me a bit of our old friend the water bear or Tardigrade. 

        How could one not be enchanted by this beautiful aquatic creature, first described in the early 1800's, that looks like a gem and has ties to  hexagonal packing ?

       It's the perfect ambassador to ring in 2016! Happy Hexagonal New Year!


Looking forward to the power of 6 in the coming year; how about you?!

2016 blowing in via a Bernoulli Blower!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Year-End PEOTS Puns: "Bak Lava," Silt Happens, and the Search for 145+ Minerals Containing Carbon

        Look at that "Ba(c)k Lava!"

So many layers! 

     So much time. . .to deposit silt-sized particles {Silt particles range between 0.0039 and 0.0625 mm, larger than clay but smaller than sand grains.} Because, yes, SILT HAPPENS (It's the motto of Silt, Colorado, on the western slope).

      And, of course, septarian nodules 

     that resemble leopard milk bread. . .

And, back to "ba(c)k lava ;-) :

      Now, to the serious segment of this week's post. Deep Carbon Researchers are challenging all rockhounds to search for the predicted, additional 145+ Carbon Minerals. (Click on the various parts of the diagram in the link to see lists of known carbon minerals, recently discovered ones, and predicted additional carbon minerals.)

      Anyone up for a carbon mineral search, sometime before 2019?

       Merry Christmas, Happy extra-long Chanukkah, good Kwanza, and Happy Everything in the New Year.

Thanks for all the PEOTS Puns along the way,

No Carbon Footprint here -- "Santa's Boot," Uruguay, Amethyst (SiO2 with impurities making that gorgeous purple color):

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"Fire Stranger" Pyroxene and Young Martian Clay

       Pyroxenes are isosilicates which are one of the most common constituents of the lithosphere of earth. They are also prominent minerals in the uplifted rocks on Mars.

       The name pyroxene comes from the Greek words for fire (πυρ) and stranger (ξένος). Pyroxenes were so named because of their presence in lavas, where they are sometimes present as crystals in volcanic glass. It was originally assumed they were impurities in the glass, hence the name "fire strangers". However, they are merely early-forming minerals that crystallized before the lava erupted.

      The most recent data from Mars show that clay found at impact sites near uplifted pyroxene uplifts is believed to be clay-rich impact melt material (i. e. authigenic), rather than clay pulled to the surface by impacts. This authigenic clay is now dated at 2 billion years or less rather than 3.7 billion years, as previously thought.

Brown University geologists, not affiliated with Coffee ;-), describe their research in a press release yesterday.

And, interestingly a hexagonal pattern shows up in craters on Mars as well:

     Mars and earth seem more and more similar every day. . .

       I am taking a Wild Clay painting class next month with a friend's brother here in Colorado. It may come in especially handy, if I ever go to Mars to check out the melted, wild, young clay.

Ka-O, don't be a fire stranger,

Bonus: Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park, CO, with 70 lanterns, December 2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Hatten Down the Batches: Going With the Wind

     The American and Canadian West (including Colorado) has the Chinook winds, France the Mistral (from the Latin for "master wind"), and northern Africa the Sirocco. And, of course, in Paint Your Wagon, "They call the wind Maria(h). . ."

        The Chinook wind is a foehn or föhn which is a type of dry, warm, down-slope wind that occurs in the lee (downwind side) of a mountain range. 

     A record-breaking temperature change of 103 degrees F in 24 hours in January, 1972, was recorded in Loma, Montana, due to the effect of Chinook winds. The temperature rose from -54 degrees to +49 degrees F in this hamlet of 85 people.

       The Chinooks are named after indigenous peoples of the American northwest although local folklore says the wind word (as opposed to windward ;-)) means "ice-eater or snow-eater" for the extreme sublimation of ice and snow in the winds.

       Moving eastward across the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, these wind patterns (below) all flow into the sea, with the exception of the Levante or Levanter winds which flow westward into the Atlantic Ocean.

     Most winds flow off mountains into the Mediterranean. (I still recall the scent of lavender carried in Provence, France, in the Mistral wind.) In contrast, the Levante(r) winds are mountain-gap winds flowing in the Strait of Gibralter. Here is a levante cloud forming due to the Levante(r) winds:

       Yes, it's definitely time to hatten down the batches in our strong winds. Have you experienced the Chinook, the Mistral, the Sirocco, the Maria(h) or Levante(r) winds? Any cool cloud images to share?


Ethiopian "Buna" or Coffee 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Universe Truly IS in a Grain of Sand

          You may have noticed I've been a bit sand-obsessed since my trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado in October. Discovering these individual sand grain images magnified 250 times has blown in a fresh look at sand. The sea urchin spines in the right part of the image are particularly striking in this calcium carbonate-rich sand:

      The three-pronged sponge spicule in this image from a Maui beach is but one sand grain; "sand" is defined as a size of sedimentary particle ranging from 1/16 to 2 mm, rather than composition (I.e., quartz).

     Sand grains may also be glacially deposited as these grains of garnet, agate, epidote, quartz, magnetite, and hematite, in Lake Winnibigoshish, WI.

      Sand grains of gypsum from the White Sands area in New Mexico, are some of the most uniform in color, though they are quite soft (hardness of 2 on Moh's Hardness Scale):

      And the hydraulic fracturing sands in western and southern Wisconsin are quite uniform, hard (hardness of 7 on Moh's Hardness Scale) quartz grains:

      "Puffy stars," calcium carbonate forams on Okinawa beaches are quite uniform in size and have a distinctive shape:

     Note the rounded, smooth shells, foraminifera, piece of coral, and the volcanic fragment (in the lower right.)

     Check out these colorful, luminescent, rounded bits of foraminifera, shells, and quartz in this sand mix.

And, to tie things back to where we started this week, here are rounded, smoothed, sea urchin sand fragments from Hawai'ian sand; these are essentially cross sections of the long, green spines seen in the first image.

Take this all with a grain of calcium car- bonate or quartz or gypsum salt or. . .


There are GLOSTA lovers in Colorado!