New at Rosetta Stones: A Walk in the Forearc

I’m sorta-kinda back, my darlings! I’ve written up a nice little hike you can take should you ever find yourself down Corvallis way. A few hundred feet, and you can see many of those important bits of subduction zones you so often see in diagrams.

So there’s a bit o’ geology for ye, and some nice photos. It’s been a long time since we’ve had that!

Updates below the fold, for them as wants ’em.

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A+, Plus Drool-Worthy Geology, AW #49 Info, and Other Bits

Blowing the dust off ye olde computer to say “Allo, allo, I’m still alive!” Taking a break, still, although I’m dipping my toes back in to a desultory bit o’ work. Like, this post.

First off, I just want to throw my support to Jen McCreight’s brilliant Atheism + idea. When my brain is back from its temporary vacation, I’ll have something more to say than “Woo! Count me in!” But this, plus the overwhelmingly enthusiastic reception, reminded me once again why I’m so damned proud to be a part of FreethoughtBlogs, and why I won’t ever give up on the atheist movement. People like Jen see problems that almost seem intractable, roll up their sleeves, and get to work.

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Stuff and Nonsense

I hate doing this, but circumstances insist: I shall be going to a somewhat light to virtually non-existent posting schedule over the next week or so. I’m getting me arse kicked by research, my darlings. On top of this, I’m still adjusting to a lack of nicotine, which seems to involve endless eating, sudden bouts of inertia and exhaustion, and other such woes. When I attempt to concentrate, my brain wails, “But I haven’t had a smoke in almost two weeks!!” and I have to stuff it with non-taxing stuff to get it to stop sniveling. My memory is shot, my concentration ditto. The weather is, by Seattle standards, blazing hot. All signs point to dialing back for a bit.

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Call For Posts – Accretionary Wedge #49: Out of This World

The time for our next Accretionary Wedge is nigh. I suppose it’s about time for your host to let you know what the topic is, then, innit?

With Curiosity landing at the base of a three mile high mountain on Mars, I think we all know there’s only one sensible choice: we must head for other worlds!

Curiosity’s first photo of Aeolis Mons (Mount Sharp). The 3 mile high mountain in the middle of Gale Crater was named for geologist Robert Sharp, one of the finest field geologists America ever had. He worked with NASA on several Mars missions before his death in 2004. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Dude. That is us, snapping photos on another planet like typical tourists. Okay, science tourists, but still. And this mission has got a lot of geology in it. I’m loving this mission. But it’s not the only time we’ve done some exogeology. So let’s don our space suits and explore some alien geology! There’s lots to choose from:

Mountains on Mars

Mercury Messenger’s unprecedented look at a hot planet

Io’s volcanoes

Venus’s bizarre surface

Plate tectonics on other worlds*

Hydrogeology on other planets (and if fluvial morphology is caused by liquids other than water, what do we call it?)

And more!

This image is the first high-resolution color mosaic from NASA’s Curiosity rover, showing the geological environment around the rover’s landing site in Gale Crater on Mars. The images show a landscape that closely resembles portions of the southwestern United States in its morphology, adding to the impression gained from the lower-resolution thumbnail mosaic released early in the week. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Can’t get out of the Earth’s gravity well this month? Not a problem! There’s plenty of “other-worldly” geology right here on our home planet, from features so bizarre you’d swear they’re from outer space to places where space agencies have tested equipment like rovers and trained astronauts to walk on other worlds. Places so remote and inaccessible we’ve been to Mars more often than we’ve explored them. Places that are so extreme that we turn to them for ideas of what to look for beyond our pale blue dot.

Since it’s already mid-month, I’ll give you a smidgen of extra time to explore: try to have your posts in to me by September 7th. We’ll publish the 2nd week of September.

Don’t miss the rocket – this edition’s gonna be a blast!


*Sorta like this, only a little different, because I’m going to see if I can arm-twist Steven into submitting this one.

I Just Gave Away My Emergency Pack of Cigarettes

For those breathlessly following my quitting saga, and who might have missed the update yesterday: the deed is done. I’ve not had a single puff since last Saturday night. Haven’t even stood downwind of smokers inhaling deeply. In fact, I walked past the smoking area at work Thursday and quit breathing because it smelled bad. My nose is changing its opinions.

Quitting, I will not lie, has been hell. A primal part of my brain has spent the last two weeks frantic, believing it’s going to die. It was merely unhappy as I was cutting down. It had a few bad moments on Sunday, when I told it sternly that it could do without. And then came Monday, and work, and I thought it was going to end one of three ways: with a suicide, with a homicide, or with me busting into that unopened pack I’d got in Oregon assuming I wasn’t actually quitting completely on Sunday.

I survived, others survived, and the pack stayed closed. Barely.

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I Had No Idea What an Arenophile Is Before a Geokitteh Told Me

See, this is why this silly Geokitteh idea Evelyn and I hatched is actually not a joke:

Zayna checks out some sand samples. Image courtesy Evelyn Mervine.

(This is where I do the mea culpa dance, because Evelyn’s working in the buttfuck of nowhere with internet access almost never, and she still manages to post to Geokittehs, whereas I keep intending to and never quite get there. Sigh. I haz excuses. I will spare you them.)

So this is an arenophile. I had no idea what that was. Now I know, and I rather suspect I might be one. Well, I suppose you could call me more of a geophile. Never mind that: it just brought home to me once again what a remarkable little teaching tool this is. Completely painless, yet fun! I always walk away knowing more than when I got there, whether reading or posting myownself (and yes, that does happen, if rarely).

U can haz knowings too, if u vizit post!

Thunderf00t’s Potentially Illegal, Positively Immoral Crusade

I’m not going to say much about Thunderf00t’s plunge into probable illegality, because it’s been said better elsewhere. I’m having a difficult time thinking in anything other than expletives, and have since I discovered that little shit hacked our email list after being tossed out on his ear. I know he has a penchant for flouting copyright, but apparently, there are no depths to which he will not sink in order to satisfy a grudge. It borders on stalking. When I encounter asshats like him, my thoughts tend to trend towards words of roughly four letters. Especially when they’ve placed people I love and respect at real risk of physical harm.

In other words, it would be impossible for me to write a measured post.

Other people have managed more coherent pieces on the subject.

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New at Rosetta Stones: The Cataclysm

You probably thought we’d never reached that day, but here we are: May 18th, 1980. I’ve used mostly witness statements to try to capture the chaos of those first hours. The science will come later, as it did then.

And believe me when I say we’ve only just begun. So much happened that day. So much happened later that year. It’s going to take a while to unpack it.

There’s a video that plays at the Johnston Ridge Observatory. It’s not posted on the US Forest Service or USGS channels, but I was able to track down a copy of it online. It has some excellent computer animations, and a lot of very good information, but the most haunting thing about it is hearing the recording of David Johnston’s last words. It comes right at the beginning, so if you’re prone to being freaked out by that sort of thing, skip the first several seconds.

That video always leaves me with chills.


Plenty of science to come. And never fear: when we’ve finished Mount St. Helens at last, I’ve got another series planned. Actually, two. One of which is, indeed, a volcano, but the other is a bit more exotic. But you’ll have to wait a bit before you find out exactly what they are, because I am an evil author and am obliged to leave you on cliffs. It’s okay: you like geology, and will enjoy looking at the lovely strata whilst you wait.

Items of Interest

Some quick updates and interesting items before I get to some epic post-writing:

  • Via Skepchick: a tale of cyber-woe, and some good security tips. I’ve spent a few moments tonight hardening myself as a target – do yourself the same favor. Also, do not rely on companies’ policies for over-the-phone account management to keep you safe. Social engineering is alive and well.
  • At Skepchick: a very nice answer to people you suspect are JAQing off, or engaging in a little hyperskepticism. Not that they’ll listen, but if they don’t, then you know you’re dealing with a doofus and/or douchebag and can respond accordingly.
  • Stephanie Zvan makes me blush quite a lot. Also, she has a post up that connoisseurs of fine fundie fuckery will wish to see if you haven’t already – learn why fundies hates teh maffs!
  • Craig daGeek would like some input on a grad-school funding idea: “Okay. So here is a thought. I got knocked out of my masters degree by being financially dependent on a homophobic and bigoted professor last year. I am thinking I want to return to grad school, but I am ambivalent about accepting funding and being trapped by the whims of unethical profs. I was thinking of giving Indiegogo a try to self-fund at least partially my next go around. I was going to tell my story of harassment, bullying, discrimination, and unethical behavior I experienced as my selling point. That way I have more say and can keep the ability to fight back hard and fast in my hands alone. I was totally brutalized last year and wish not to go through that again. I need feedback from earth science folks in particular.” You can leave comments here if you don’t have a G+ account – I’ll ensure he gets them. Also, if you know of good resources for math practice for the GRE online or off, please let us know!
  • And on the quitting front: the deed ’tis done, absent any backsliding. I had my last smoke on Saturday night. Despite work doing its utmost to make me return screaming to the loving arms of nicotine, and my bronchial tubes informing me they believe the nice coating of tar was a protective against asthma, I’ve not had one since. I reserve the right to the occasional fumble in these early weeks, but mostly because that opt-out has kept me from opting back in. I am now going to go stand on the porch for three minutes sucking a sour straw candy in lieu of a smokie, because I bloody miss those breaks on the porch, and it just ain’t the same without a reason to be out there. We’ll see if that does the trick. The cat will be thrilled – she was getting pissed about this never going outside with Mommy at night anymore. (Also, yes, I have gained weight, for those who might be curious.)
  • Finally: I’m about to begin an epic writing session for Rosetta Stones. You know what’s coming. Grab tissues and possibly something to bite down on, and stand by for Volcano Day.