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Friday, April 11, 2014

60 Minutes Segment: Volcanoes (12 minutes)

Can you say "Eyjafjallajökull"?
This week's resource is a segment from a recent episode of 60 Minutes. The segment features Eyjafjallajökull, Vesuvius, and Yellowstone.

Friday, April 4, 2014

SNOTEL Sites Monitor Snowpack in Mountains

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.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Mudslide Interative Shows Scope of Disaster in Oso, WA

When there is a natural disaster, The New York Times website often features great interactive graphics to help viewers understand what happened. These resources have proven very helpful as I explain recent disasters to my students. Their graphic to illustrate the scope of the recent mudslide in Washington is another great one, allowing viewers to compare the Oso area before and after the recent tragedy.

CLICK HERE to see the resource - Once the page opens up, select "before" or "after" in the upper right to compare.

To see an image comparison from a satellite view (courtesy of NASA), CLICK HERE. To see one more from the Washington Post CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

50 Years Since Great Alaska Earthquake

March 27 marks the 50th anniversery of the second strongest earthquake ever recorded. Here are a couple really good YouTube videos about the Alaska Earthquake. The first one was contributed by IRIS Education and Outreach and the bottom one by the USGS.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Craters of the Moon Animation

From Regents University of California - This week's resource is an animation that shows the timing and extent of lava flows that created the Craters of the Moon volcanic area in south-central Idaho.

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.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Carbon Cycle Tutorial

In light of the current climate change issue, I've been looking for resources that will help my students better understand the carbon cycle. I found a nice user-friendly tutorial, which was created by Maree Lucas of West Virginia University. CLICK HERE to check it out. Here is a WORKSHEET that students can do as they click through the tutorial.

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.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Blog Site to Cover Earth History in 2014

Richard Gibson is an author, geologist, historian and tour guide in Butte, Montana. On January 1st Gibson started a blog that aims to explain (in one year) important happenings in Earth's history in chronological order: History of the Earth Calendar

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

About Richard Gibson

Map courtesy of Idaho State University