Puzzlewood is an ancient woodland site, near Coleford in theForest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England. The site, covering 14 acres (5.7 ha), shows evidence of open cast iron ore mining dating from the Roman period, and possibly earlier.
It is now a tourist attraction. Over a mile of pathways were laid down in the early 19th century to provide access to the woods, and provide picturesque walks. The area contains strange rock formations, secret caves and ancient trees, with a confusing maze of paths. Puzzlewood is said to be one of J. R. R. Tolkien’s inspirations for Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings.
The geological features on show at Puzzlewood are known as scowles. Scowles originated through the erosion of natural underground cave systems formed in the Carboniferous Limestone many millions of years ago. Uplift and erosion caused the cave system to become exposed at the surface. This was then exploited by Iron Age settlers through to Roman times for the extraction of iron ore. It is usually impossible to date open cast extraction precisely, although ores with a chemical signature consistent with those from the Forest of Dean were certainly used to make tools and weapons in the late prehistoric period.
Evidence of Roman occupation of the area is supported by the discovery of a hoard of over 3,000 3rd Century AD coins which were found in the scowles of Puzzlewood. Once the Romans left, nature reclaimed the old workings with moss and trees, to create the unique landscape. The historical use soon became forgotten, and the folklore of Puzzlewood began. (x)
There are two elements in our universe which are both overwhelmingly abundant, and can be used to make an awful lot of different things: carbon and oxygen. Earth and the rest of the solar system happened to form from an oxygen-rich part of space. Earth’s crust contains a huge amount of oxygen, in rock. All Earth rocks are made of silicate, a chemical compound of silicon and oxygen. So are there any planets which are rich in carbon instead of oxygen? Actually, yes there are, and we’ve already found two! One is PSR J1719-1438, a planet orbiting a neutron star, bathed in x ray sunlight. The other is 55 Cancri e, a super-Earth orbiting a Sun-like star. Carbon planets are likely to be chemically very different from Earth. Their cores would be made from naturally alloyed steel, and they would likely have entire mountain ranges made of diamond.
In the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, is an island that consists entirely of a volcano. The island’s Maori name is Te Puia o Whakaari, meaning “the dramatic volcano”, but its official name is Whakaari/White Island. Just 200,000 years old, it’s New Zealand’s most active volcano and shows all the signs of it: mud pools, steaming vents, and a constant white cloud above the crater lake. The island is 2 kilometres in diameter at sea level, but 70% of the volcano’s mass lies below the sea, so the sea floor its diameter is nearly 18 kilometres—and all up, the volcano has a total height of 1600 metres. It erupts, on average, every seven to eight years, and last July the volcano showed signs of increased activity. The lake and gas levels rose from inside the crater, and a minor eruption sent ash into the air on the 5th of August, 2012. Volcanic activity and tremors just last week, in late January, suggests another eruption is on the way. Researchers are making flights over the volcano to monitor the emanating gases, which will hopefully help them piece together what’s happening inside the volcano, and work out when it will erupt again.
The satellite imaging company DigitalGlobe recently declared the winner of their 2012 Top Image Contest. The winning top image was taken from above Burning Man. Click on the images to find out the locations of some of the other fantastic runners-up.
Is there life on mars?
A meteorite found in the Sahara, one of the oldest meteorites ever found, gives further evidence to support the theory of extra terrestrial life on mars. The 0.7-pound fragment, NWA 7034, contains more water than any pre-discovered martian meteorites. “It’s about 6,000 parts per million of water,” said Carl B. Agee, director of the institute of Meteoritics, Curator of meteorites and Professor of the department of earth and planetary sciences in New mexico, who led the study. In comparison, there are over 100 martian meteorites discovered, which mostly have 30 times less water content per million. This 320 gram meteorite fragment is currently the most substantial evidence we have of water-based organic life existing on another planet. Using evidence from water molecules locked in the mineral structure, it has been estimated that life could have been supported on mars up to 2 billion years ago. It is suggested that the meteorite exploded from a volcano in the crust of the planet, the water locked in the basalt came from an underground water source near the source of the explosion.
The Durdle Door, Dorset, by cjb22 on Flickr.
Durdle Door is a natural limestone arch on the Jurassic Coast near Lulworth in Dorset, England. The name Durdle is derived from the Old English ‘thirl’ meaning bore or drill. The arch has formed on a concordant coastline where bands of rock run parallel to the shoreline.The rock strata are almost vertical, and the bands of rock are quite narrow. Originally a band of resistant Portland limestone ran along the shore, the same band appears one mile along the coast forming the narrow entrance to Lulworth Cove. Behind this is a 120-metre (390 ft) band of weaker, easily eroded rocks, and behind this is a stronger and much thicker band of chalk, which forms the Purbeck Hills. (x)
Source: Flickr / cjb22222222
James Balog has spent years setting up cameras from Greenland to Alaska to capture beautiful images that capture the ugly reality of climate change. He has now assembled that work into the book Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers.
About the book:
A never-before-seen look into the forbidding environment of glaciers, this book celebrates a realm of magnificent endangered beauty. Since 2005, renowned nature photographer James Balog has devoted himself to capturing glaciers and documenting their daily changes. These stunning images are a celebration of some of the most extraordinary natural formations on earth, as well as a dramatic and timely demonstration of the stark consequences resulting from global warming—from Alaska to Iceland to the Alps. As glaciologists for the Extreme Ice Survey, Balog and his team are conducting the most extensive glacier study ever, covering France, Switzerland, Iceland, Greenland, the United States (Alaska and Montana), Nepal, Bolivia, and Antarctica. Their high-resolution cameras capture approximately 4,000 images per year. From this collection of nearly half a million photos, Balog presents the most stunning panoramic photography of glaciers ever published.
The Extraordinary Reed Flute Cave in China.
“The reed flute cave is the largest and most scenic of the karst caves in the Chinese tourist city of Guilin. Guilin is an ancient picturesque city, located in southern China. The Chinese themselves call Guilin, the most beautiful city in the Middle Kingdom.
Guilin is a tourist center, thanks to the wonderful nature. On the north-west, seven miles from the center of town is Mount Guanminshan, on the southern side of which sits a rock ‘reed flute. In this rock is unique cave, Called the Cave of reed flutes.
According to a legend, Reed Flute Cave got its name because people believed that the reed by the cave’s mouth could be made into flutes. Its name is explained by the fact that reeds for making flutes and pipes have been grown in this region since ancient times. This dripstone cave is 790 feet deep.” [x]
Marble Curtain by Studio Gang Architects
About the project:
Stone performs best when subjected to compressive loads, and prior to the Marble Curtain project, no technical data existed for its strength in tension. For the Masonry Variations exhibition (sponsored by the International Masonry Institute in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Building Museum), we chose to explore stone’s structural capacity and challenge conventional thinking about this age-old material by hanging it in tension from the museum’s vaulted ceiling.
Laboratory testing of fracture, geometry, laminate backing material, and adhesives yielded the necessary material specifications for construction. Structural investigations found that by linking the pieces of stone together in a series of jigsaw-like chains, the Marble Curtain could hang without any skeletal support or frame. Water-jet cutting allowed for intricate, puzzle-shaped cuts. For structural redundancy, each piece was laminated with a fiber-resin backing.
When completed, the Marble Curtain was 18 feet tall, made of 620 pieces of stone, and weighed just 1500 pounds. The stone was only 3/8 of an inch thick, which allowed the design to explore the translucency of the material: backlighting revealed the unique color and pattern of each piece, and inspired exhibit visitors to examine it closely in wonder.
PLANETCOPIA - Earth and Other Planets Re-imagined
This home we call Earth? Well, it’s the only home we know. But who among us, I ask, has not wondered what this planet would look like, say, if Antarctica was not an actual landmass, or if all the continents were upside-down? Even XKCD has wondered such things, when Randall showed us what an Earth with 90˚-rotated continents would look like.
Chris Wayan is someone who, until 2010 at least, actually made such worlds. He would envision a different scenario for Earth or another planet, find a globe, sand it flat and then (re-)build the new planet from scratch. This is no haphazard guessing-game, though. It’s not pin-the-continent-on-the-planet. Detailed predictions and calculations are made, involving orbit, atmosphere, reflection, currents, total water, modified tectonics … even biology. Here’s more about his process.
Then the new planet is sketched, sculpted, and the tour commences! I can barely fathom the planning, research and creativity that goes into these. Some that I have included above (clockwise from top left):
- Dubia - A future Earth, showing the effects of twice the atmospheric carbon dioxide that we have today. The name is a not-so-subtle poke to a certain climate-denying former president. Note the 110-meter rise in sea levels.
- Siphonia - An Earth where 90% of the water has been sucked up by thirsty alien invaders. The highlands are even higher and colder.
- Mars terraformed - Picture Mars a thousand years in the future, after colonization and terraforming. Massive oceans and huge, ice-tipped volcanoes abound.
- Turnovia - It’s Earth, flipped on its head. Easy one, right? Not so fast. Our rotation still continues in the direction we are used to now, which changes everything in terms of weather.
There’s more Earths, an uncovered Venus, and even a Europa or two. Awesomely cool stuff. Go check it out.
The Colorado River winds through Nankoweap Canyon in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA. North America’s geologic history is writ large in the sandstone heights across the U.S. West.
(via: National Geo) (photo: Ralph Lee Hopkins)
Project Aragonite: Day 16… or 1?
So yesterday after my Day 15 post, someone moved my glass jar and all the aragonite crystals fell right off. I wasn’t upset at all about it, but I made sure now only I handle the container. The past two weeks, the jar has been in controlled temperature and light to show the slower process of growth at work. This time, seeing as they all fell off, I decided to show you guys what high heat and light can really do to this rock.
The above photos you see were taken within the last hour, and all these crystals grew on the rock within less than 24 hours. Why? Again, high heat and light! Aragonite loves those conditions, and so you get a super fast experiment. Usually, it can take 1-3 weeks to have crystals grow; all depending on the conditions around the jar. Within less than a day, I grew more aragonite within that period of time than I did in two weeks. I should have set up a camera to do a time lapse, but that can be done if I find the time.
Pretty cool how quickly they can grow, right? So a reminder, if you want a slower process of crystal growing, control lower temperatures and timed lighting (which is what I originally did) will be needed. If you want quick growing, higher temperatures and more light is needed for that process to be sped up.
An iceberg the size of Manhattan broke away from the floating end of a glacier in Greenland yesterday (16th of July).
The giant iceberg measuring 46 square miles (120 Km2) separated from the terminus of the Petermann Gaclier; as had been predicted by scientists last autumn.
The floating ends of glaciers, known as ice shelves, act as doorstops. When these ice shelves suddenly splinter and weaken or even collapse entirely, as has been observed in Antarctica, the glaciers that feed them speed up, dumping more ice into the ocean and raising global sea levels.
Andreas Muenchow, an associate professor of physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware, said in a statement; “The Greenland ice sheet as a whole is shrinking, melting and reducing in size as the result of globally changing air and ocean temperatures and associated changes in circulation patterns in both the ocean and atmosphere.”
Photo courtesy of Andreas Muenchow, University of Delaware
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