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Rosetta Stones

Rosetta Stones


Adventures in the good science of rock-breaking.
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    Dana Hunter Dana Hunter is a science blogger, SF writer, and geology addict whose home away from SciAm is En Tequila Es Verdad. Follow her on Twitter: @dhunterauthor. Follow on Twitter @dhunterauthor.
  • South Napa Earthquake: Which Fault’s at Fault?

    Image shows a kitchen, with open cabinets and a lot of wine bottles scattered on the floor.

    What the [insert expletive of choice here] is happening? That’s pretty much the first question that traverses most of our minds when the formerly-solid ground starts rocking and rolling. Those of us in seismically-active areas or who have had the sometimes-dubious pleasure of living in them in the past realize pretty quickly what’s going on. [...]

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    How to Stay Safe in an Earthquake – Napa Earthquake Reminds Us to Prepare Now

    Image shows the three steps essential to staying safe in an earthquake: drop, get under a sturdy piece of furniture, hold on until the shaking's over.

    California residents in the Napa area got a rude awakening early this morning when an earthquake of roughly magnitude 6.0 shook the valley. It jolted folks awake (and jolted the already-awake folks) at around 3:20 am Pacific time. So far, a few homes have been destroyed by the fires that broke out afterward, and a [...]

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    From Firey Flow to Cool Art

    A cowboy-hatted man emerges from the top of a column.

    Humans have a long tradition of taking rocks and making pretty things with them. Usually, when you think of sculpture, you think of marble, right? I mean, of course, marble – marble’s a wonderful stone for sculptors, very hard and yet amenable to people carving and polishing it. If I asked you for an igneous [...]

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    Fun, Fidalgo, an Ophiolite, and a Very Rude Buck

    Image shows B standing atop a dark black/brown bench of peridotite with a glitter trail on the Sound from the low-lying sun.

    We made it to Fidalgo Island. Yay! We got lotsa pictures of bonza peridotite and serpentinite. Double yay! I’ll have a proper write-up one o’ these days, but for today, we’ll do some outtakes. This time, we visited Washington Park. I’ve been there once before, many years ago, and had no idea that Cujo and [...]

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    A Study in Volcanics: 5 Reasons You Gotta Visit Mount Baker

    Platy andesite near Artist Point. The sun also got involved, making this photo particularly artsy.

    Outside of Glacier Peak, Mount Baker seems to be the least-regarded of the I-5 corridor volcanoes. Mounts Hood, Helens, and Rainier seem to suck up all the ooing-and-awing oxygen. Baker, not as much. But it repays attention. For one, it’s active. For two, it’s not monitored closely enough. For three, it’s got a surprising amount [...]

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    At the Beginning of the Universe…

    Ryan's First Meteorite: "NWA 2965- Exposed interior of the meteorite. Also shown is a polished sample from a different portion of NWA 2965." Filched with permission of author.

    …there was geology. Oh, I know, some folks will tell you it was physics. Yes, there was that, too. And there might be a few who argue for chemistry, and we’ll grant them chemistry. Of course those things were there. Can’t have a universe without them. Not a universe like ours, anyway. But geology was [...]

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    (Near) Garden of the Gods Reprise: Jackson Falls

    Jackson Falls. Image credit Heliconia. Image shows a lovely waterfall pouring over a lip of gray sandstone.

    Remember when we visited the Shrooms of the Gods at Garden of the Gods? That’s not the only wondrous place formed by the Pounds Sandstone. Reader Heliconia got to visit the area in early spring, and sent us these images from Jackson Falls, just a short distance away: This is a place where geology hasn’t [...]

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    Grown in Hot Rock Depths: The Geology of the Seahawks Super Bowl Rings Part I

    A scattering of cut, polished diamonds in sepia tones. Image credit: Kim Alaniz on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

    The 184 diamonds in the Seahawks Super Bowl Championship rings can tell us a thing or three about Earth’s inner self. We’re still interrogating those valuable, shiny rocks (which aren’t actually forever). Here’s the story so far: You need just a few things for diamonds to form. For one, you need carbon. That’s a diamond, [...]

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    Forged in Cosmic Furnaces: The Geology of the Seahawks Super Bowl Rings (Prologue)

    Image shows the Seahawks Super Bowl Championship ring against a firey red background.

    What’s a Super Bowl ring got to do with geology, right? I mean, geology’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you gaze upon the Seahawks’ (first ever!) shiny new bling. Don’t worry, it wasn’t for me, either. Naw, I didn’t think, “Ooo, geology!” I thought, “Da-yum, that’s expensive!” And then I [...]

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    Happy Fourth of Geology! I Mean, July!

    Happy Fourth of July! Love, the Space Needle at New Years. Image shows a lot of fireworks bursting around and on the Space Needle. Image courtesy Erocsid on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

    It’s America’s 238th birthday! I can tell because there are fireworks vendors populating every possible parking lot, and things benignly exploding with beautiful trailing sparks overhead. For American fireworks aficionados who are also geology buffs, this is the best time o’ year. But no matter where you are in the world, you can enjoy learning [...]

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