Today the Geology Library has re-opened to the OSU public, and to our new normal. We have many socially distant features, wipes, and hand sanitizers for you to enjoy.
We also have Edward Orton Sr., the first University President, modeling a nice disposable mask to celebrate Fall Semester. Please join him by wearing your mask.
Geology Library is open 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday through Friday, and our seats are by reservation only.
Stay Well Everyone!
The title of this post is not a typo. I recently finished listening/reading the book, “Moby-Duck: The true story of 28,800 bath toys lost as sea and the beachcombers, oceanographers, environmentalists, and fools, including the author, who went in search of them.”
Donovan Hohn is the author, but I personally wouldn’t call him a fool. The story begins with the spill off of the cargo ship “China.” It took place on 10 January 1992 near the Aleutian Islands of Alaska in an area known as the Graveyard of the Pacific. The author followed the trail of these toys all over the planet to get a real feel for what might happen to them. He interviewed oceanographers and beachcombers, he went to toy factories in China, he worked on a cargo ship in the wintry Pacific Ocean, and he worked on a Canadian Coast Guard ice-breaker. The author tells a mostly whimsical tale of this journey; however, his information about the environmental impact of plastics, not just the polyethylene bath toys he is chasing, but also the islands of plastic trash in all of our oceans, took the whimsical tale to a wholly different level. In the end we find that the plastic duckies deteriorated before many were found intact. Sadly, most plastics don’t break down so quickly. Perhaps we should all consider the plastic drinking straw that we’re about to use will be in the environment for 200 years.
Happily, this book will be available for check out next week after I return the copy & it’s out of quarantine.
I thought I’d give you all an update on the progress underway to reopen the Geology Library, which is set for 08-25-2020. We now have Plexiglas around our Circulation Desk, so users can safely pick up their requests for library items. I continue to work from home most of the time, but I’m looking forward to a return to something like normal.
During my continued work from home, I’ve taken advantage of the quiet to do more free eTraining through Lynda.com. As I stated in a previous post, I can take as many Lynda.com courses as I wish through my membership with Columbus Metropolitan Library. I have a whole list of courses that I hope to take this year, and I’ve recently completed the very timely: “Learning Zoom,” and “Microsoft Teams Essential Training.” Every time you take a course you get a “Certificate of Completion” to share with your supervisor.
I’ve been doing more training than Lynda.com courses, I’ve also been learning how to work with ArcGIS Story Maps and ArcGIS Map Viewer software. I can’t share much about that just yet, but GIS Day in November will have the great reveal.
Recently I’ve been able to work some of the time in person at Geology Library as we get ready to reopen, and we are slated to reopen to our users on August 25th. It will be a different experience for them, but Together as Buckeyes we can do this. You’ll notice in the photograph below that our seating is reduced, but we are just as beautiful as ever.
I continue to work from home most of the time, and I’ll share more about what I’ve been up to in my next post.
Stay Well Everyone!
As I continue to write about listening to The Goldilocks Planet, now is a good time to discuss Earth’s geologic eons, eras, periods, and epochs. Please see the U.S.G.S. Divisions of Geologic Time” to help. These markers from one time to the next tell quite a story. Except for some ancient zircons from the Hadean, we don’t have much ancient strata to study until the Archean eon began. “[These] fossilized landscapes…may be found in the hearts of the most ancient continents, in Greenland, Canada, and Australia. They are the remains of shallow sea floors, lakes, and rivers, between 3 and 3.8 billion years old.” Earth had water!
We also had life on Earth by that time, and that caused a problem called the Great Oxygenation Event. As I stated in part 1, our planet’s climate occurs because of the interactions of biology, geology, and astronomy. Here are just a few examples: Carbon gets buried as trees die & gradually turn to coal cooling the planet, huge volcanic eruptions release carbon dioxide making the planet hotter, a meteor crashes into the Yucatan killing the non-avian dinosaurs & cooling the planet, the uplift of the Himalayas causes the planet to cool, 100,000 year long Milankovitch cycles cause climate change throughout the planet, and now humans are releasing huge amounts of carbon by using coal and other fossil fuels.
Don’t take my word for this, read/listen to the book to learn more.
I’ve recently finished listening to “The Goldilocks Planet : the four billion story of Earth’s climate.”
It’s a complicated book, so I’m splitting this into two posts.
Earth is in the “Goldilocks zone” of our solar system, but so are Venus & Mars. Sadly, Mars was too small causing it’s metallic core to become cold thus ending the magnetosphere of that planet. Venus is roughly the same size as Earth, but it too had problems. “At some point during it’s history the temperature rose high enough for water vapor to leak into it’s upper atmosphere where the solar wind carried it away.” This loss of water caused carbon dioxide levels to rise in the atmosphere because it couldn’t be washed away in acid-rain thus trapping heat.
Earth might have had the same fate as Mars, being too small, were it not for an early impact with the Mars sized planet Theia. That cataclysm caused us to get our Moon, and it is also considered to be the beginning of our climate story here on Earth. Why? Because that impact “defined the spin & tilt of the Earth,” and set up of our Earth / Moon system. As the Earth cooled so began the 1 billion year long Hadean eon.
Our planet’s climate occurs because of the interactions of biology, geology, and astronomy, and we will discuss that in my next post about this book.
Why and how did humans come to be here? Why is a question for philosophers, but how is easier to answer. We know that the dinosaurs had a really bad day 66 million years ago, and that our fellow mammals rose to be the dominant life forms as a result. The Nova episode: Rise of the Mammals examines how this domination began, and it’s one of my favorite episodes to date.
One of the big problems facing scientist studying this is that fossil mammals from this time period have been extremely rare. Rare until Tyler Lyson & Ian Miller, of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, starting digging at Corral Bluffs, Colorado. Previously fossil mammal finds from that time had been teeth no bigger than the head of a pin, but at the 400 feet of exposed rock rising above the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) boundary that is Corral Bluffs something wonderful was found. The first mammal find at that site was made by museum volunteer, Sharon Milito, and it sat in a drawer for years until Tyler Lyson found it again. He also found that this fossil, of a mammal’s pallet, was preserved in a special type of rock known as a concretion. Since concretions can form around bone protecting it for fossilization, the scientists knew what kind of rock to look for. And find them they did!
They not only found dozens of mammal fossils, but they also found plant and reptile fossils as well. They had a lot of help freeing these fossils from their stony matrices, and with identifying them. They also kept going back to Corral Bluffs. Geologists joined them there, and they were able to date two different magnetic “flips” recorded in rocks at two different stratigraphic layers. Because of that we now know that Corral Bluffs records the first million years after the dinosaur extinction, and it includes the first mammals to specialize into a niche once held by the dinosaurs. One of these early mammals, “Loxolophus, scavenged for food…within the first 300,000 years after the [fifth] extinction.” Scientist think that it looked somewhat like the raccoon that you see below.
Image by Nature-Pix from Pixabay
We live in difficult times and we may be in a sixth mass extinction right now, but life will prevail again. I hope we can use our intelligence rather than our fears as we continue our journey as a species. My next post will be about a book that I’m listening to called the “Goldilocks Planet.”
I’ve been watching NOVA since the late 1970s, and that & other PBS shows from that time (for example: Cosmos hosted by Carl Sagan, North America : the making of a continent) are a lot of the reason why I decided to get a degree.
Since I’ve been teleworking I’ve had the opportunity to watch several NOVA episodes during my lunch breaks, and a couple play right into my fascination with extinction (I sound so Goth!) A great one is “The Day the Dinosaurs Died.”
Credit: Don Davis, NASA
What a day that was 66 million years ago when a 7.5 mile wide meteor came crashing into the Yucatan Peninsula at over 40,000 miles per hour releasing energy equivalent to 10 billion Hiroshima bombs. That meteor punched a hole in the earth 20 miles deep and 124 miles wide, and 2000 feet of liquefied granite and rock debris from giant tsunamis was deposited in that one day in the Chicxulub crater. Normally 10 feet of limestone in that same crater takes 10 million years to deposit. Also, sulfur from vaporized gypsum caused the atmosphere, planet wide, to become as hot as a pizza oven. Then sulfuric acid rained down, which acidified the oceans and killed the giants of that realm. 75% of all species died because of that impact; however, life prevailed, and we are here as proof.
More on how that life prevailed in my next post about the NOVA episode, “Rise of the Mammals.”
We will prevail through this pandemic also!
As my previous post indicated, I’ve been using telework as an opportunity to learn more about Geology. Thus far I’ve read/listened to a book entitled, “The Sixth Extinction.” NOTE: There is no eBook version available through OhioLINK, but it can be found on Audible.
This book describes the mass extinction happening with amphibians throughout the globe, bats in North America, and other cases of recent extinctions. Sadly amphibian & bat extinctions are being caused by virulent fungi.
Male Golden Toad / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Public Domain
White Nose disease in an American Brown Bat / NPS photo/von Linden
The book also discusses: the beginning of modern paleontology & the first Mastodon bones found in Kentucky, modern human’s possible role in the extinction of the Mega Fauna, and our possible role in the extinction of other species of humans such as the Neanderthal. It also presents the theory that we are in a new geologic epoch right now, called the Anthropocene.
While this may seem like depressing subject matter while teleworking, it is a Pulitzer Prize winning book that is very entertaining.
My next post will be about a couple of NOVA episodes that I’ve watched about an earlier mass extinction and nature’s response to it.