Thursday, December 27, 2012

Kenedy Ranch, Texas

The Kenedy Ranch is one of the largest ranches in the world at 235,000 acres (951 sq km)!  On the southeastern portion of the ranch are cattle, windmills, mudflats, and a field of travelling dunes.  The dunes form a banner dune field, and the dunes themselves are barchans.  Particular things to note are the dune scars that appear as abruptly terminating vegetation where dunes have overtaken the small shrubs that grow in the area.  The 'S' shaped dune in the northwest shows this very well.  These dunes likely formed from a blowout, which allowed the sediments to begin migrating across the area.  Two converging longshore currents, as well as a predominant southeasterly wind "feed" sediment to the dune system and keep it moving in a NW trending direction.

My good friend Michael Hill who recently graduated from Texas A&M Kingsville has been studying and presenting research on this area for years.  It was his knowledge and experience that made this post possible.

The animation below shows the years: 1995, 2003, 2008, 2011

gif of dune movement

Dune field, mudflats, and barrier island

Geologist Michael Hill at the dune field, July 2012

You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:     27°00'00.00"N     97°40'00.00"W

More info: Kenedy Ranch

Michael has given me permission to share his poster which can be found here and he can be reached for questions regarding his research at:

Check back in two weeks to see a before and after from 2012's most talked about hurricane.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

SPECIAL BLOG: Adios, Earth

If you are reading this, I am long dead.  I came from the once-planet-now-atom-dust that was known as Earth.  From my secret moon base, I was able to capture Earth's final moments.  This outgoing blog transmission is my legacy.  To all who inhabit this universe, I send this message:

Do not under any circumstances ask a Mayan deity what he would do for a Klondike Bar!

The following shows the dates 12/20, 12/21, and 12/22 of 2012.

You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:   Sorry, coordinates no longer functional

More info: ?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Franschhoek, South Africa

So there's not much to say here.  Cape Town needed to increase its water resources for the summers so they put a dam on the Berg River.  I'm assuming those are farms in the 2005 image.  Hopefully the farmers had good compensation for that!

Feb 2005

Jan 2010


You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:      33°55'29.52"S     019°03'51.24"E

More info: Berg River Dam

Check back soonish to see a traveling geologic feature!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bourbonnais, Illinois

Now that I'm about to start my Masters degree at SFASU, I thought I'd give the time-machine treatment to the university whose amazing geology program really flung me forward with my passions for everything Earth.

This week's post features my alma mater, Olivet Nazarene University.  It's a pretty small liberal arts college about 45 minutes south of Chicago.  I received my BS in geological sciences here in May 2012.  As you can tell by the imagery, the school has added a number of big shiny buildings to the campus in the last 13 years.  These include the Weber Center (appearing in the center of the map on the 2005 frame), the Centennial Chapel (appearing in the bottom center on the 2010 frame), and the new rec center (appearing above the Weber Center in the 2012 frame).  A number of smaller buildings and parking can also be seen popping up.  If you look at the very top right of the frame, right where "West" would be on the compass rose,  you'll see two pairs of buildings separated by a parking lot.  That was my apartment complex during my junior and senior year.  I lived in the bottom right building (it was a long walk to the science building on the opposite side of campus in the cold and windy Midwestern winter!).

The animation below shows the years: 1999, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2012.

You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:     41°09'19.60"N     87°52'17.91"W

Check back in two weeks to see the filling of a reservoir (as opposed to the emptying of one!)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

London, UK

The 2012 Olympics in London are underway and once again, I'm as excited as ever about cheering on my favorite athletes. I watched the opening ceremonies at home with my family and was really impressed and amused to see the likes of Kenneth Branagh, J.K. Rowling, Daniel Craig, and pretty much the rest of my apparently very Brit-influenced life, preforming for the world. Well done, London!

In the olympic spirit, I went ahead and observed the aerial history of the Olympic Stadium as it came into being. It's a pretty magnificent transformation in such a relatively short period of time and looks really nifty from above!

The animation below shows the years: 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012.

Also, check out the 3D Buildings view:

Before you go, I'd like it to be known that my favorite athletes are Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings and I expect them to win their third olympic gold in beach volleyball!  USA! USA!

You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:     51°32'23.85"N     000°01'07.93"W

More info: London 2012

Check back in two weeks to see where I became a geologist!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

First, a thank-you message for my readers: 

For the first year of running this blog, most of my audience were friends and followers on Google+, or those that follow the Geoblogosphere community (geology bloggers).  I would normally average about 100 views per post and had amassed 6,000 views by the one-year anniversary of this blog.  Last week a funny thing happened.  My latest post apparently caught the eyes of some folks who tweeted it around, leading to a rapid surge of retweets and shares on various message boards and online communities.  You can only imagine my surprise when I logged in the next day to see that my views had skyrocketed.  At first, most of my views were coming from the science community on twitter who had linked to my blog, but not long after, websites Slashdot and Instapundit posted links to me and popular bloggers Maria Popova and Ed Yong both shared my post as well.  In about 4 days, I went from 6,000 views to 70,000 views.  I am of course, very very ecstatic to have reached this feat.
There are a few people that really deserve recognition in helping me achieve this overwhelming popularity.  Charles Carrigan, Caroll Karns, and Ron Schott were some of the first readers of my blog, all of whom are bloggers themselves.  They shared encouraging words and constructive feedback that really helped me get started.  My best friend Phillip Kissell, spends a lot of time on Google Earth, perusing the globe with me.  He even wrote a guest blog for me.  My mom is probably my biggest fan and routinely brags about my blog to everyone.

So to all the friends, family, professors, online geology community, Google Plussers, and readers,  Thank you for everything!

Now, it's time to get back to business.

This week's post features the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii, an active volcanic hot spot and one of two states that I still have yet to visit.  The Pu'u O'o crater shown below is a cinder cone associated with the Kilauea Volcano and according to Wikipedia, it has been erupting since 1983.

The animation below shows the years: 2002, 2005, 2010, and 2011.  Some of the things to  observe here are:
The western end of the crater showing the most noticeable changes of shape.
The glowing lava visible in the 2011 image.
The addition of flows and cinder build up on the southeastern slope. 

I decided to try this animated gif version instead of the previous, image by image layout.  I don't particularly like how this limits the time you can spend looking closely at an image, but I post the coordinates at the bottom so you can copy paste them into Google Earth yourself.  I like that the animated gif condenses the space taken up by the blog and accentuates the change in details between each image.
However, I'm not sure how well the gif works on the smartphone view, so I may end up switching back to the old format if this becomes a big issue.  Just let me know I suppose.


You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:     19°23'15.61"N     155°06'21.55"W

More info: Wikipedia: Pu'u O'o

Check back next week to celebrate the 2012 Olympic Games in Google Earth Time Machine style!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Angleton, Texas

So, like the recently discovered Higgs Boson particle, I too had my own elusive and greatly searched for geographical breakthrough.  It begins like this:

Years ago when Google Earth first added the time-slider tool, which makes my entire blog possible, I realized that one of the best uses for this tool would be for tracking geomorphological change.  I, and others like me, had found various changes like landslides and sinkholes, but the evidence pointed to an opportunity for more undiscovered geographical features.  I theorized that the most elusive of these was the formation of an oxbow lake.  My research took me to many of the world's major rivers such as the Amazon and the Nile.  However, satellite imagery in these areas was lacking and lead to inconclusive research.  I headed to the United States where satellite imagery and aerial photographs date farther back and are regarded as some of the most complete in the world.  I checked the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, being large and powerful.  Unfortunately, these rivers are artificially repaired and protected, so data had to be thrown out.  I began searching smaller rivers left and right, but finding this elusive oxbow lake formation was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack.
But then, while focusing in a random area south of my home, I found an oxbow lake that looked promising.  I slid the time-slider backwards and behold, I had discovered the elusive oxbow lake formation!  I contacted my colleague and showed him my discovery.  He agreed, this was without a doubt the formation of an oxbow lake on the Brazos River!

For those who don't appreciate satire: That was me telling you that I found an oxbow lake in various stages of formation.  It took me a long time to find so I want you to acknowledge my hard work.  That is all.

Dec 1944

Jan 1995

Feb 2004

Jan 2006

Feb 2010

You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:      29°15'34.29"N     095°34'08.85"W

More info:

Check back next week to see my first Hawaii post!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

SPECIAL BLOG: Accretionary Wedge #48 (Geoscience & Technology)

While my blog has been on an extended hiatus due to graduation, moving back home, field camp, job searches, masters program registration, apartment hunting, blahblahblah, I've decided to finally contribute to an Accretionary Wedge event hosted by Charles Carrigan at Earth-like Planet.

I'll let you explore the idea behind accretionary wedge on your own (HINT, look here!) since I would do a terrible job if I tried to explain it to you myself.

The topic for this Accretionary Wedge is: geoscience and technology.  While I do not currently have a career in geoscience, I have been a student in the geosciences for over 4 years, I've interned with an environmental geology consulting company, and I've been a geoscience blogger for roughly 1 year.  I'm calling that certifiably qualified to write about geoscience and technology!

What came to mind when I first thought about this topic was the idea of "the old way" versus "the new way".  For example, geologist Dr. McFritzdog prefers to rely on his topographic maps and Brunton compass when out in the field.  However, Dr. Hipdude just carries his smartphone with downloadable maps, gps, and the Brunton compass application when he does field work.  Dr. McFritzdog argues that topographic maps and a brunton compass are the proper tools of a geologist and were designed for rough and rugged field work.  He's convinced that bringing a smartphone into the field is just an expensive accident waiting to happen.  Dr. Hipdude argues that he's careful (he even bought one of those expensive phone covers!) and that all his tools fit conveniently in his pocket.  He can even download geologic maps and make stereonets in the field!

While I just made this situation up, it's not much different from what I've experienced during my field trips, field work, and field camp.  During my field camp course last month, our professor was adamantly against our use of smartphones and downloadable maps and gps applications.  He wanted us to use only our Bruntons and field maps during our days in the mountainous desert wilderness.  Since I did not have a smartphone at the time, I was totally okay with that.  However, many of my friends immediately ranted about how ridiculous it was that we were being forced into the "old-fashioned" way of doing field work.  I understood their frustration (some of them had even spent money on various applications they thought would be useful) and at the time, I thought maybe our professor was just being stubborn.  However, after a few days of relying on just a compass and paper map, I got the hang of locating myself on the topo map.  When we got to our third and fourth mapping sites, cell signal was fading in and out and the students who had spent the first few projects relying solely on their phones found themselves SOL and had to try and learn quickly to use the "old-fashioned" method of locating themselves.

While smartphones have really expanded on the ways field work can be done, they aren't ready to  replace the trusty brunton and the paper topo map.  Smartphones can do amazing things now (there really is an app for that!) and I really believe they are just as much a field tool now as the brunton compass and the topo map are.  I personally think that anyone who would choose to rely solely on their smartphone in the field is a reckless fool; and just as well, I think that anyone who disregards smartphone technology as a legitimate field tool is a stubborn fool.  Becoming familiar with both methods allows room for a backup plan and will keep any geologist one step ahead.

And now that I think about it, there is no smartphone rockhammer app.  I guess that one's still in the beta.

-Brian Schrock

NOTICE! My regular blog posts will be back shortly.  I have a few that are almost ready to go and I'm pretty excited about them!  Until then, enjoy your summer!  Happy Hurricane Season to my Gulf Coast and East Coast friends.

ALSO! Here are a few pictures from field camp:

Me with my selenite gypsum (that I lost =[)

Knight Peak in NM (1st mapping area)

Me with Knight Peak in the background

Fire near Silver City, NM

Little amphibolite fold in a quartzite dike
(at 2nd mapping area: Bullard Peak in NM)

Petroglyphs at Parowan Gap, UT (3rd mapping area)

12,000+ ft Mt. Tuk North (4th Mapping area, UT)

We were originally known as the foreigners (we all came from different schools while the rest of our class came from SFA).  We met each other at the beginning of field camp and spent literally every minute together for the next six weeks.  By the end we became known as the family.  Left to Right: Naomi, Michael, Ana, Kyle, Jess, and Me.  (At the Grand Canyon's South Rim)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Carhué, Argentina

During the early 20th century, Villa Lago Epecuén, Argentina was a popular destination for tourists because of the many spas that the town had to offer.  The town resides by an inland salt lake where many people believed the water had healing properties.  On November 10, 1985, Lake Epecuén began to overflow its banks into the town.  By 1993, some parts of the town had been submerged by ten meters.  In 1989, nearby town, Carhué, was dry and above ground so people began to relocate there.

By 2009, a dry spell greatly receded the waters of the lake.  This helped expose the ruins of the old town.  The photos of the ruins are fascinating,  I highly recommend turning on the photos layer on Google Earth and exploring this place yourselves!  It is quite an interesting place.

January 3, 2003

February 28, 2011

February 28, 2011 (From a Wider View)

February 28, 2011 (Zoomed In- Villa Lago Epecuén)

February 28, 2011 (Zoomed In- Area West of Carhué)

You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:      37°09'41.11"S     62°46'08.44"W

I highly recommend that last link to the Geochemists!

Check back next week to see something I've been trying to find on Google Earth for a very long time!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Mount Merapi is an active stratovolcano located on the island of Java.  It erupts fairly frequently, with larger eruptions happening every 10 to 15 years.  The most recent eruption was in 2010 and killed 353 people.  However, in 2006 another eruption occurred.  This eruption was less powerful but it was captured pretty well on satellite imagery.  The eruptions began around the end of April and lasted through May.  Below are before, during, and after images. 

(facts and figures from wikipedia)

May 12, 2006
Wait for it...

May 25, 2006
Kablammo!  Gasses and ash abound!

September 10, 2006
Check out those new lava flows!

You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:      07°32'41.22"S    110°26'41.90"E

Check back next week to see the town that returned from the depths.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

This is Port Everglades, one of the three busiest cruise ports in the world (according to wikipedia).  It is also the "home" of the world's largest cruise ship, the Oasis of the Seas (check out the last image!).  Scroll down to watch the boats move in and out over the years.  They seem to get bigger over time!

January 25, 1995

December 31, 2001

November 30, 2005

January 19, 2007

March 26, 2011
That's the Oasis of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world!

You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:      26°05'15.73"N      80°07'02.16"W

Check back next week to see a volcanic ash cloud!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Muynak, Uzbekistan

The shrinking Aral Sea is one of the largest effects of environmental alteration by humans.  The sea went from an area of 68,000 square miles in the 1960s to ten percent of that size by 2007.  It first began to shrink after Soviet irrigation projects rerouted the rivers that fed into it for irrigation purposes.  The huge population depending on the sea for shipping and fishing lost their jobs when the waters receded. Efforts to bring water back to the sea have shown some improvement since 2007 but will continue to be a very long and expensive project.

December 1973

December 1986

December 1999

September 2010

You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:      45°00'19.22"N      59°42'00.23"E

Check back next week to see a busy bay of big boats!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

El Portal, California

In April of 2006, a rock slide began on Highway 140, one of a few routes route into Yosemite National Park.  From the articles I found on the slide, it sounds like it began in late April and lasted through May.  No one was injured or hurt but businesses along the highway suffered economic losses when tourists had to find other ways into the park.

While researching further, I found a blog post by Gary Hayes who runs the blog Geotripper.  He also experienced a rockslide in April 2011 while traveling on this same highway.

I'd love to be the one putting a hazard map together for this highway!

December 31, 2004

May 24, 2009
Notice the bridges across the river that re-route the highway around the landslide.



You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:     37°39'23.41"N     119°54'07.64"W

Check back next week to see the shrinking sea!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Christchurch, New Zealand

EDIT: I had the wrong dates on the images.  They are now correct.

On February 2nd, 2011, Christchurch, New Zealand was struck by an magnitude 6.3 aftershock from a quake in the October 2010.  Despite the 2010 quake being a magnitude 7.1, the February 2011 aftershock was rated a IX on the Mercalli intensity scale, causing heavy damage and liquefaction across the city.

These images take some scanning, but if you look at the top left of the "before" image, you should see the shadow of the large bell tower on the Christchurch Cathedral.  On the "after" image, notice that the bell tower has collapsed.  If you look at the bottom right, you'll see the CTV building that collapsed during the quake, killing 115 people.

February 14, 2011

February 25, 2011

You can find it yourself on Google Earth using these coords:      43°31'54.62"S     172°38'21.66"E

Check back next week to see my blog's first entry on a landslide!