Sunday, October 11, 2009

Alpine glaciers in retreat.

Swiss glaciers are melting away at an accelerating rate and many will vanish this century if climate projections are correct. The Rhone glacier has been a tourist attraction since the middle of the nineteenth century.
The scenic glacier next to the road over the Furka pass retreated dramatically over the past 150 years. Pictures from 1870 show the ice reaching to the village of Gletsch in the valley. Now the ice is almost 3 km further back disappearing behind the edge
of a 450 m high ice-polished slope. A lake is forming at the foot of the shrinking Rhone glacier.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Ardi sheds light on the origin of man.

A research team headed by Tim White discovered in 1992 the first Ardipithecus ramidus fossils from the Afar Depression in the Middle Awash river valley of Ethiopia. More fragments, including mainly teeth, were recovered in the following years allowing the composition of 45 percent of the total skeleton. The lines that evolved into modern humans and living apes probably shared an ancestor 6 million to 7 million years ago, in the Late Miocene. The fossils were dated as 4.4 million years of age based on its interval between the volcanic strata of the Gaala Tuff Complex and the Daam Aatu Basaltic Tuff. Studies under way indicate the species lived in the woodlands and could climb on all fours along tree branches, but the development of their arms and legs indicates they didn’t spend much time in the trees. And they could walk upright, on two legs, when on the ground. In its 2 October 2009 issue, Science presents 11 papers, authored by a diverse international team, describing the early hominid species, Ardipithecus ramidus, and its environment. These 4.4 million year old hominid fossils sit within a critical early part of human evolution, and cast new and sometimes surprising light on the evolution of human limbs and locomotion, the habitats occupied by early hominids, and the nature of our last common ancestor with chimps.
- Watch a movie by
- Understanding Human Origins. Light on the Origin of Man.
- World’s oldest human-linked skeleton found.
- Meet Ardipithecus Ramidus - Early Hominid Common Ancestor Was Neither Chimp Nor Human, Says Study.
- Ardipithecus ramidus - An ancestor of humans and apes?
- Ardipithecus ramidus. Hominidae species overview in Archaeologyinfo.
- Humanity Has a New 4.4 Million-Year-Old Baby Mama.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Côte Sauvage. Wild Coast of Quiberon Peninsula.

The Quiberon Peninsula was originally an island and has been joined to the mainland by the accumulation of sand washed up by the sea. Its wild scenery - particularly impressive along the Côte Sauvage on the western side - attracts many visitors. The cliffs are made up of two-mica granites. Geologists have newly interpreted the Quiberon area in the Variscan belt of South Brittany (France) as a crustal shear zone and have postulatred Carboniferous extension tectonics as evidenced by normal faults, high- and low-grade migmatites and synkinematic emplacement of the Quiberon granite pluton. Quiberon is a well-known seaside resort and has some attractive beaches on the sheltered eastern coast.
Read more about Quiberon:
- Rapid Variscan exhumation and the role of magma in core complex formation: southern Brittany metamorphic belt, France
- Armorican Massiv Geological Map
- Quiberon peninsula

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Plateosaur Discoveries.

During the Late Triassic (about 210 million years ago) large sauropodomorphs dominated terrestrial environments.
In Europe Plateosaurs were widespread as heavy, long-necked, long-tailed herbivores up to 8 meters long.
There is a complete skeleton of a plateosaurus on display in the dinosaurs museum at Frick in Switzerland. Dinosaurs were discovered at Frick in the 1980's and 1990's at the clay quarry Gruhalde in a formation called "Bunten Mergel" (varicolored marl). In Late Triassic times the area of todays northern Switzerland was a vast, desertlike lowland with a tropical climate. Frick is one of the most important places of plateosaurs discoveries in Europe. Source: Sauriermuseum Frick.
Read more about plateosaurs:
The Anchisaur-Plateosaur Empire
The Norian Age
Dinosaurier Funde gesichert – weitere Grabungen in Frick geplant

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rhine Falls.

Glaciation and warm interglacial periods of the past 500'000 years have shaped the landscape from the high rising Alps down to the northern lowlands of Switzerland. In the area of Schaffhausen the river Rhine has changed its course several times eroding Jurassic limestone and filling channels with gravel and sand. At the location of the famous Rhine waterfall the present-day river bed consists at the upper side of hard Jurassic (150 million years old) limestones which terminate in a cliff bordering gravel beds of an abandoned river channel formed by the ancient Rhine during Riss age (about 120'000 years old). The waterfall developped about 15'000 years ago, after the new Rhine started to erode the soft Riss-age gravel and sands.
Albert Heim, 1931, Geologie des Rheinfalls.
Der Rheinfall, Neujahrsblatt der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft Schaffhausen, Nr. 39, 1987.

The Rhine Falls are the largest waterfalls in Europe.
Latitude: 47.677871
Longitude: 8.614482
Photo Stadtarchiv Schaffhausen

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Darwin Online.

Check out the website offering the complete work of Charles Darwin online for free > Darwin Online.
The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online (or Darwin Online) began in 2002 to assemble in one scholarly website all of Darwin's published writings and unpublished papers. It does not cover his unpublished letters which were already the focus of the Correspondence of Charles Darwin.
Darwin Online is the largest and most widely used Darwin resource ever created. More copies of Darwin's works have been downloaded from Darwin Online than were published in Darwin's lifetime or in the whole of the 19th century.
The site contains over 74,000 pages of searchable text and 182,000 electronic images. It contains at least one exemplar of all known Darwin publications, reproduced to the highest scholarly standards, both as searchable text and electronic images of the originals. The majority of these have been edited and annotated here for the first time.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cave rocks reveal past climate changes.

Stalagmites have been sampled from caves in China and other caves from all over the world. Split into half, stalagmites reveal banding like an agate. The layers of calcite indicate periods of wet and dry weather and changing contents of trace elements. The bands are annual growth rings like in a tree and reveal ages of up to 100'000 years. The University of Minnesota researcher Hai Cheng measures uranium and thorium contents and reconstructs a weather and climate history. Photo shown here were taken by Hai Cheng who grew up in China, but now is a research scientist in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Minnesota.
Ref.: Ancient cave rocks reveal impact of climate change by Stephanie Hemphill

Cave gives clues to China's history.
In an article published in Science, the researchers say the stalagmite, found in Wanxiang Cave, China, told of strong and weak monsoon periods, which coincided with the rise and fall of several Chinese dynasties.
"....weak and consequently dry monsoon periods coincided with the demise of the Tang (618-907), Yuan (1271-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties."
"We have demonstrated that the cave records correlate well with many records, including the little ice age in Europe; the temperature changes in China and Northern Hemisphere and major solar variability."
Ref.: ABC Science : Cave gives clues to China's history.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mount Etna Erupts

Friday, January 16, 2009

Etna eruptions 2006

Mount Etna is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and is in an almost constant state of eruption. The volcano dominates the landscape of NE Sicily. Etna has created a beautiful landscape and has great ecological interest.
Deutscher Fotograf stirbt auf dem Ätna. Thomas Reichert ist am Aetna ums Leben gekommen.
Thomas Reichert, a hobby volcanologist and photographer, died at the Etna volcano 32 years old. Many of his magnificent pictures can be seen on Flickr. See Fotostream von Thomas Reichart on Flickr.

Here are two films on Etna eruptions in 2006 by Thomas Reichert:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Canadian oil-sand mines stuck as crude price plummets - Times Online

Canadian oil-sand mines stuck as crude price plummets: "Canada's once booming oil sands industry is cooling fast as the plunging oil price undermines investment. More than US$60 billion (£41 billion) worth of projects to extract oil from the bitumen-rich sands of northern Alberta have been delayed in the past three months, according to a study of industry figures by The Times." article

The Athabasca Oil Sands (or Athabasca Tar Sands) are large deposits of bitumen and extremely heavy crude oil, located in northeastern Alberta, Canada.

Syncrude Canada Ltd.

A Recent History of Oil Prices.

A Recent History of Oil Prices. - Scitizen: "On September 15 the $100 psychological barrier was again broken, but in reverse, when the price fell below $100 for the first time in seven months. On October 11 there occurred a massive crash in the value of global equities, with a barrel of oil falling by 10% to $77.70. In consequence of further economic slowdown the price continued to slide and today (December 4, 2008) it is trading at around $45 a barrel. Rather than the $200 predicted last summer some analysts are now predicting a $20 barrel sometime during 2009. I must stress, however, that even if this does happen it will be a short-lived event, because the facts of geological limits to production, increased production costs to obtain more difficultly recovered oil and that demand is still rising (demand is simply rising less steeply during this economic recession, but it is still in the ascendant)." the original article

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Volcanism at Jaujac, Ardèche, France

Outcrops of a young volcano at Jaujac village and the lava rocks are unique in the world and excite geologists and most other people.

The lava of a very young volcano has spread over the ancient river bed seen at the base of the basalt columns.

Read more about it.

'Green' Gasoline On The Horizon
Jan. 13, 2009. University of Oklahoma researchers believe newer, more environmentally friendly fuels produced from biomass could create alternative energy solutions and alleviate dependence on foreign oil without requiring changes to current fuel infrastructure systems. According to Lance Lobban, director of the School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, the development of “green” fuels is an important part of the world’s, and Oklahoma’s, energy

Arctic oil production not profitable at present oil prices
2008-11-18. Researchers from the Russian Federal Institute of Oil and Geology conclude that only a minor part of Russia’s oil and gas fields will be profitable with current oil and gas prices.
In last week’s Arctic Shelf conference in Murmansk, Ludmila Kalist from the Federal Institute of Oil and Geology (VNIGNI) said that only about one percent of Russia’s Arctic shelf hydrocarbons can be profitably extracted with the current oil and gas prices.
The one percent includes only the most easily available fields on shelf, reports with reference to
Arctic oil production will be profitable with minimum oil prices of 100 USD per barrel and socalled tax holidays for the petroleum industry, the researcher says. The development of offshore fields is considered at least 50 percent more expensive than land-based fields."

International Fair of Minerals, Geneva

International Fair of Minerals, Fossils and Gems | Geneva Events | World Events Guide: "Dedicated to the wonderful world of fossils, gems and minerals, this annual event is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe and attracts scientists and enthusiasts from all over the world.
The 39th annual International Fair of Minerals, Fossils and Gems takes place in 2009.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Swiss unearth giant dinosaur bone - swissinfo

Swiss unearth giant dinosaur bone.

A Swiss palaeontologist sizes up the find (Saurier Museum Aathal)
Image caption: A Swiss palaeontologist sizes up the find (Saurier Museum Aathal)".
Swiss unearth giant dinosaur bone - swissinfo

Ozeane und Plattentektonik schon auf der Ur-Erde

Solscape Geologie: "Ozeane und Plattentektonik schon auf der Ur-Erde"
29. November 2008
Die Bewegungen der Erdkruste im Rahmen der Plattentektonik begannen schon vor vier Milliarden Jahren - und damit viel früher als bisher angenommen. Das belegen amerikanische Wissenschaftler vom Institut für Geophysik an der Universität von Kalifornien in Los Angeles anhand von Mineralien aus der Frühzeit der Erde. Auch Wasser muss es damals schon reichlich gegeben haben. [weiter]"

Pont d'Arc

Pont d'Arc - Wikipedia: "The Pont d'Arc (French pont = bridge) is a great natural bridge, located in the Ardèche département in the south of France, near the town of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc.

The bridge has a width of 60 m and a height of 45 m and was carved out by the Ardèche River."


News and articles about fossils:


Solscape Wissenschaftsblog von AstroArts

Natural History, Dinosaurs, and Fossils

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