Monday March 3, 2014
There is only one Geological Society, the one in London that was founded in 1807. Its highest award is the Wollaston Medal, which goes to "geologists who have had a significant influence by means of a substantial body of excellent research in either or both 'pure' and 'applied' aspects of the science." Willliam Hyde Wollaston (17661828) is also honored in the name of the pyroxene mineral wollastonite; he was also the discoverer of the precious metal palladium, the same metal that composes the medal.
The Wollaston Medal has been awarded since 1831, and its recipients are an honor roll of geology. Just in this young century, it has gone to people whose names I readily recognize: Rudolph Trümpy, Ted Irving, James Lovelock, Norm Sleep, Paul Hofmann, Steve Sparks, Christopher Hawkesworth and Kurt Lambeck, plus several more. The 2014 Medalist will be its first female recipient, Maureen Raymo. She richly deserves it. Her home institution, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, summarizes her work and also notes that she's getting the European Geosciences Union's Milankovitch Medal this year. Well done!
Sunday March 2, 2014
This week's Geo-Whiz Quiz is the third of four no-holds-barred, mixed-martial-arts General Geology Quizzes, one that only the most polymathic of geophiles will master! Show us your wide intellectual range and your imperturbable aplomb as you take this challenging quiz. Do your worstI'll bet you will.
Saturday March 1, 2014
We're all taught about the water cycle: that lovely diagram with the sun and the clouds and the rain and the rivers, all carrying water around in a nice loop. I'm happy to tell you that the diagram is still good sound science! However, lately we've learned about a second, tectonic water cycle that goes deep into the mantle. News stories have said there are great pools of water in the mantle that exceed the oceans! That is not good sound science. The water in the mantle is actually "water," and I can tell you more about both water cycles in my latest article, "The Earth's Two Water Cycles."
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Earth Magazine asked its followers on Twitter yesterday, "what is the collective noun for a group of geologists?" You know, a flock of birds, a pack of dogs, a of geologists. That led to a fun morning. My first candidate is a formation of geologists, but Tony Martin (@Ichnologist) suggested a mélange. That word, which means a jumble of mixed sedimentary rocks, is an apt reference to the variety of opinions you'll get in front of any outcrop. Along the same lines, the geologist known as @reticulite proposed an argument. That seems a little confrontatory; I think that geologists generally have passionate discussionswhich is the intended meaning of "argument," I'm sure, but "argument" has other connotations I'd rather avoid. James Burnes (@LifeThruTime) added, "From my experiences, an 'intoxication' of geologists sounds about right." To which I responded by proposing a crawl of geologists, which also suggests our nose-to-the-ground attitude.
What about some of geology's many specialties? Here's what I came up with yesterday:
- A clade or assemblage of paleontologists
- A pod or shoal of oceanographers
- A scattergram or facies of geochemists
- A plume of volcanologists
- A flurry of glaciologists
- A scatter of explorationists
- A suite of modelers
- A belt of planetologists (after the asteroid belt, but @cirquelar, a planetologist himself, cleverly suggested "belt" for explorationists)
- A cloud of aeronomists (those are the folks who study near-outer space)
- A flood of hydrologists
- A swarm of seismologists
- A sequence of stratigraphers
- A shower of meteoriticists
I'll bet you have some good ones too.