Friday, December 31, 2010

Washington's geologic information portal

The Washington Division of Geology and Earth Resources hosts the Washington State Geologic Information Portal where you can access interactive earth science mapping, data, and related information. [right, the prototype site for geothermal data]

More types of geologic information will be added to the information portal in the future, so please visit regularly to see what's new. You may also subscribe to our mailing list to receive announcements of new additions to the portal, as well as notification of our publications releases.

Using the interactive maps, you can create, save, and print custom maps, find out more information about map features, and download map data for use in a geographic information system (GIS). In addition to a variety of geoscience layers that can be turned on and off, each interactive map has many base layers to choose from, so you can customize your map in any number of ways. Please note that because of the volume of data available through these interactive maps, data loading and identification operations may not be instantaneous.

The site use ArcGIS Server v9.3.1 with a flex application. State Geologist Dave Norman reports they will be moving to v10 sometime next year which will likely give them more speed and a few more tools. He says the software has finally reached a stage where it is useful and fast enough for someone to consider using an interactive geology site.

The Geology mapping theme is the most advanced of the group but the others are adding data and functions continually.

Was new Utah dinosaur a brainiac?

Utah's State Paleontologist Jim Kirkland is co-author of a recent paper in the online journal PLos ONE describing the eighth new dinosaur species discovered in the state this year. Geminiraptor suarezarum's skull is six times larger than other dinosaurs, suggesting it might have evolved into a highly intelligent creature if it had not gone extinct. The dino also had other unique features, including an inflatable upper jaw bone and feathers on its arms and legs according to a post on the Utah Geological Survey blog. [right, Maxilla of Geminiraptor suarezarum. Credit, PLos ONE]

Ref: Senter P, Kirkland JI, Bird J, Bartlett JA (2010) A New Troodontid Theropod Dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of Utah. PLoS ONE 5(12): e14329. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014329

ND State Geologist leads effort on cancer risk from erionite dust

An investigation launched by North Dakota State Geologist Ed Murphy has found "levels of exposure to erionite [a zeolite mineral with characteristics similar to asbestos] in North Dakota are the same as in some of the Turkish villages ravaged by mesothelioma" according to a report in Nature.

"The North Dakota study eventually grew into a global collaboration including cancer biologists, geologists, epidemiologists, environmental scientists and physicians." Results were presented earlier this month at the Chicago Multi­disciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology. [right, photomicrograph of an erionite fibre in road gravel from North Dakota. Credit, K. Eylands/UND EERC in Nature News]

"North Dakota doesn't seem to have a higher incidence of the disease than is normal nationwide," but it may take 30 years or more for effects to appear, so studies are underway on construction and quarry workers who may have had extended exposure to erionite dust used in road construction.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Geological Surveys are tweeting

A number of geological surveys in the U.S. and Canada are tweeting about geology and geoscience activities

Check out the tweets from:

Kansas @ksgeology

Utah @utahgeological

Arizona @AZGeology

Alberta @geology4u

Ontario @OGSgeology


Monday, December 20, 2010

Arkansas Survey responds to earthquake swarm

The Arkansas Geological Survey is trying to determine the source of nearly 500 earthquakes that have shaken the small town of Guy since September.

CNN reports that the State issued a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the area while the Survey and others investigates a possibility the quakes are generated by deep underground disposal of oil and gas production waste water

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Citation for Vicki Cowart's Ian Campbell Medal

In November, former Colorado State Geologist Vicki Cowart received the Ian Campbell Medal the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Denver. The full citation and response are posted here:

[photo by Vince Matthews, CGS]

Saturday, December 04, 2010

"Importance and Future Roles of State Geological Surveys" - White paper from AIPG

"Our nation’s state geological surveys serve a fundamental role in resolving many of the important issues facing our world today and in the future," according to a study carried out by the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) and issued as a white paper entitled, "Importance and Future Roles of State Geological Surveys."

The report states,

State geological surveys are vitally important to the economy of each state and to the nation. The information they collect and disseminate is used by other state agencies, by consultants, industry, developers, and the public as critical input in local and regional economic development plans, resulting in an economic advantage to the state. The information is essential for the responsible and sustainable development of a state’s mineral, energy, and water resources, safe development and modernization of infrastructure, protecting the public from losses due to geologic and natural hazards or anthropogenic hazards, and the wise use of the state’s natural resources for tourism and recreation. All of these are significant to the economy of the state and to the nation by providing jobs and various revenues, preventing or minimizing loss due to hazards and natural disasters, and by increasing our understanding of the earth’s resources and the need for sustainable use.