This week's resource is a segment from a recent episode of 60 Minutes. The segment features Eyjafjallajökull, Vesuvius, and Yellowstone.
It's important to keep track of how much snow is present in the mountains because spring and summer runoff has an impact on irrigation, fishing/guiding, wildfire tendencies, hydropower, flooding, and other aspects of life in western states. SNOTEL (SNOwpack TELemetry) sites are automated stations that measure how much snow has fallen in remote mountainous areas. The system is operated by the Natural Resource and Conservation Service.
SNOTEL data are used to make management decisions regarding reservoirs (flood control, etc.) - Click on the map to make it bigger, and you will see that there is A LOT of snow in the mountains of western Montana right now (April 4, 2014). CLICK HERE to learn more about the SNOTEL System, and then check out the Interactive Montana SNOTEL Map to find out how much snow exists at each site.
CLICK HERE to see the resource - Once the page opens up, select "before" or "after" in the upper right to compare.
CLICK HERE to view the animation.
This recent volcanic activity at the Craters of the Moon is thought to be caused by "leftovers" from the hot spot that currently sits beneath Yellowstone Park. In fact the Snake River Plain IS the path of the hot spot* over the past 15 million years. To learn more about the geologic past of this area CLICK HERE.
Another interesting aspect of the hot spot is the impact it had on ancient rhinos in Nebraska - CLICK HERE to learn more about that chapter in the geologic story of the area.
*Actually, it is the North American Plate that has been moving over the stationary hot spot.
One interesting thing about the carbon cycle (or any natural cycle) is its relationships to other natural cycles, such as the water cycle or the rock cycle. For example, limestone is an important part of both the rock cycle AND carbon cycle. The Madison limestone shown in the photo (Bridger Range) formed about 340 million years ago as molecules of CO2 from the atmosphere dissolved into seawater and then were absorbed and converted to CaCO3 by corals and various shelled critters. When these organisms died their shells became sediment and eventually limestone, locking up carbon in the Earth's crust. Limestone formations are an important reservoir for carbon. To learn more about the role of limestone in the carbon cycle, CLICK HERE.
This NOAA page is another good source: CARBON CYCLE BASICS
Here is an article about research related to the Geologic Carbon Cycle.
For what I'm interested in, this is one of the best resources I've come across in awhile. The very impressive site includes photos, diagrams, text as well as short PodCasts. Each day Gibson helps the reader/listener understand one aspect of Earth's history. You can go back to January 1st and get caught up, or you can pick and chose based on your interests. I have always been fascinated with the "Belt Supergroup", so I wanted to see what Gibson had to say about it - I found that it had been the focus of his January 24th post, and I was not disappointed! Belt Basin
Map courtesy of Idaho State University