Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Going to Wadi al-Hitan!

Lost Geologist has the right idea: it's always time for Field Work! Although Looking For Detatchment and All of My Faults Are Stress Related make a good point, in that the weather can kind of suck this time year. That's why I'm escaping to Egypt for a little a while. To here, specifically:

Sun, sand, and exposure; what more could you wish for?

I'm heading out, Thursday evening, to the Valley of the Whales to do some marginal marine sed/strat work. I'll be back around Dec 7, hopefully with some rad pictures to share. Until then, enjoy winter (Suckers!)

Friday, November 14, 2008

I still think "Subduction Denialists" would be a great Band Name

Fun times in the constantly aggravating world of pseudoscience nutjobs! Brian, over at Clastic Detritus, has put up a very nice summary of the subduction vs anti-subduction worldviews, in THREE PARTS! Here's Part One, here's Part Two, and here's Part the Third.

Brian has a great summary up, though I think the real value of the work is seeing how absolutely crazy some people are. His Part One, a summary that provides the backstory of Brian's interactions with morons, nicely demonstrates the anti-intellectualism of the pseudo-scientist, marked by a rabid refusal to actually try and read up on the literature, and a general disdain for anyone who doesn't seem to share their gnostic world view.

A while back I put up a post on Neil Adam's Expanding Earth stuff; it's garnered a few comments, here and there, and has made for some fun reading (at least I think so). We've had a lot of memes floating around in the Serious of Tubes here; maybe we should do a Pseudoscience Meme?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Trace Fossils and the End Permian Extinction

The biggest extinction event in Earth History is the Permian/Triassic Extinction (~251 Mya), where almost 95% of marine species went extinct (that’s a lot!). In fact, it was such a serious extinction, that stromatolites made a dramatic resurgence in many shallow-water settings immediately following the big die-off. But, since it’s a Mass Extinction ™, folks are always wrangling over what the mechanism for the Big Kill-off was.

One of the popular explanations has been the oxygen-stress hypothesis, which posits that extensive anerobic and dyseroic conditions (perhaps related to unstable ocean water masses interacting with the unique paleogeography of the Permian world) may have played an important role in the extinction. A good summary of the End Permian Extinction mechanism can be found in Knoll et al. (2007), available here (for FREE!).

A recent paper in Geology, Beatty et al. (2008), points out that anoxic/dysoxic conditions present testable hypotheses, particularly in the paleontological realm. Permian body fossils, however, can’t really be used due to taphonomic complications; they’re just too chewed up. Beatty et al. (2008) instead use the trace fossil record from these intervals, and identify a complex suite of post-extinction ichnofossil assemblages preserved in high energy, shallow-marine deposits.

According Beatty et al (2008), these bioturbated shallow marine rocks represented oxygenated refugia in the otherwise anoxic Panthalassa Ocean. The figure below is Figure 3 from page 773 of Beatty et al (2008), and shows their explanation for why these oxygen rich shoreface successions existed:

In effect, wave agitation, enhanced by storm-activity, drove aeration in shoreface sands, while the deeper water settings suffered under anoxic conditions (which are borne out by the restricted trace fossils assemblages there). In these oxygen-rich shoreface zones, the effects of the oxygen-deficiency were greatly reduced, perhaps allowing for reduced recovery time following the end Permian event. It’s a pretty neat paper, and perhaps helps explain the occurrence of some Early Triassic ichnofaunas that didn’t seem to follow the apocalyptic pattern in other environments.

Man, is there anything those trace fossils can’t do!?!

References Cited

Knoll, A.H., Bambach, R.K., Payne, J.L., Pruss, S., Fischer, W.W., 2007, Paleophysiology and end-Permian mass extinctions: Earth and Planetary Science Letter, v. 256, p. 295-313.

Beatty, T.W., Zonnenveld, J-P, Henderson, C.M., 2008, Anomalously diverse Early Triassic ichnofossil assemblages in Northwest Pangea: A case for a shallow-marine habitable zone: Geology, v. 36, p. 771-774.

EDIT: Turns out Shanan Peters, of Mass Extinction Nature Paper fame, has commented on this paper in Nature's Journal Club; check it out here (if you have access to Nature).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Reptiles in the Field

Writing grants makes you envious of the simple life of wild animals; hanging out, chomping on whatever comes by, just straight-up going to the bathroom WHEREVER you want. Sigh, the good life...

Anyway, here are some cold-blooded bastards for you.

The picture below is from Wakulla Springs, down Florida way, and has turtles and an alligator demonstrating the proper manner in which one "hangs out".

This guy had places to go, and people to eat:

And this is a bearded lizard I found at 8000+ ft in Wyoming on a rainy day. Poor little guy needed a scarf or something.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Animals in the Field

Maybe professional industry geologists, like Brian, have gotten so soft sitting behind desks that they only associate with domestic mammals in the field. But here, in the grad school trenches, where life is hard and blood is cheap, we don't pansy around with animals that take orders from humans.

No sir, we roll WILD BURRO style, rocking the Death Valley with the O.G. of ungulates:

Awwwww...they're so cute! Who's a good burro? Who's a good burro then!?! You are a good burro!

Some kind of special mustache

Here comes the secret Muslim/Marxist revolution! (If the video doesn't work, go here).

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

Better start growing those special mustaches right now, unless you want a Fatwa on your ass.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

One MORE Palin thing, and then it's back to geology, I PROMISE!

Oh man oh man oh man! Look at this! Look at this, from FOX NEWS:

So, to sum up, Sarah Palin:

1) thought Africa was a country

2) refused to prepare for the Couric interview

3) and threw "tantrums"

Finally, the pettiness inherent in the republicans is working FOR US! I can't know that for the next week or so, there is going to be a biblical-scale flood of hilarious anecdotes about Sarah Palin being a complete screw-up.

Oh man, when FOX NEWS is calling a Republican kinda dumb, you know that it is over. Seriously, I bet the Fox News people have all sorts of things posted for sale up on Craigslist; furniture at fire-sale prices, pallets of Ann Coulter books, jingoistic screaming heads for sale by the dozens. Stay tuned! Things are going to get hilarious!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Was it good for you guys too?

Man, what an acceptance speech! What a crowd! What an election! I know that we've still got a lot of work ahead of us, and that it's going to be a long, hard struggle, but I think it's important for all of us to sit back, and savor the fact that the republican nightmare of eight years has been utterly demolished, that the era of deregulation and rampant capitalism has come to a close, and that all those angry racist morons out there have been crushed.

Look at that poor dumb bastard up there!

Hahahahahaha! What a day!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Night Scarlet Fever...Catch It!

Alright Cats and Kittens; we are rapidly approaching Zero Hour. I hope all my fellow secret muslim marxists out there are ready for their mandatory abortions at their respective gay-marriage/Obama victory party combo events.

Of course, Brian over at Clastic Detritus is quick to splash some cold water on our fervent optimism, and not without good reason. If there's one thing the Republicans have shown themselves adept at, it's the subversion of Democracy and the rule of Law to support their own fascist policies. That's why I took the time today to procure two things: celebratory beer AND a couple of gallons of good ol' fashioned riotin' gasoline.

Anyway, as we await The Results, here's some Sarah Palin hilarity for you guys. The gist of the little story is that Sarah Palin is very disappointed in the blogosphere, which has just treated her so unfairly, gosh-darnit!

And here is a handy dandy little accumulation of all of the ridiculous videos of Sarah Palin doing stupid things, including Getting Blessed By A Witch Hunter, the "I Read All Of Em" nonsense, and my personal favorite, the Bush Doctrine Explanation.

Man, I am not gonna miss her, let me tell you...

See ya'll Wednesday!

Vote, dammit!

Well, just got back from voting, and it warmed even the whithered cockles of my black heart to see SO MANY PEOPLE enjoying the sweet, juicy fruits of Representative Government. I mean, there were a LOT of people out, even at the 07:00 mark that officially began the ultimate defeat of the thoroughly disgraced neo-conservative, rightwing agenda!

Anyway, I'm sure many of you are going to be attending election night parties, where either we all will be celebrating the birth of a new government (an Obama win), or we'll be burning shit down (a McCain win). However, in the interests of keeping things interesting, below is a comic from Big Fat Whale, with a specific Election Night Game that everyone can play. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Big, Blue Sky Country

Mwahahahahahaha! This pleases me!

I'll always have a soft spot for Montana, and though I'm not physically there now, I can still send good vibrations through the akashic ether to my fellow liberals in MT. We got John Tester into the Senate, and you Montanans can get Obama to the White House! Go Team Go!