The case of the Ark and the missing dinosaurs

…has now been solved:

Ark Theory.

(By Bizarro; found at Pharyngula the other day.)

I'm quite happy that I didn't yet have to discuss with students the creationst crap the cartoon makes fun of.

POTD: better than an advent calendar

Unlike an advent calendar, this one is for the whole year. And it doesn't cause weight gain, because there's no chocolate in it, but (mostly) ravenous parasites:

Parasite of the Day

Cymothoa Exigua replaces a fish's tongue. (Photo from Parasite of the Day)

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First results of the geoblog survey 2009

I've waited so long for this, and now I've almost missed it: there are some first results from the geoblog survey 2009. Lutz Geißler presents a summary on (and a shorter German version on Also, there's going to be a publication about it in a not-yet-known journal.

It's interesting (similar to the first survey) that in Germany, geoblogs are limited to the east and north. Is there nobody who likes to write about e.g. the Alps?

“Modern art” – hydrogeology

Quite some time ago, I posted a colourful specimen of modern art and asked whether someone could tell what it is. One or two people seemed to like it, but couldn't add anything to my suggestion of the “Purple Woman Holding a Large Fish”.

So now the picture in its complete context:

Groundwater Map of Bavaria 1:25000, Section 6532 Nürnberg (1970).

Groundwater Map of Bavaria 1:25000, Section 6532 Nürnberg (1970).

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The Geologist and the Engineer, in the year 1928

Sometimes, leafing through old books yields little gems.

The hydraulic processes of groundwater in nature cause great difficulties for calculations. To date, the geologist usually tends to rely on imagination [impression? understanding? concept? How the hell do you translate „Anschauung“?] only, and to disregard calculations completely. The mathematically trained engineer, on the other hand, often lacks the necessary understanding [imagination? etc.] of geologic structure. Especially in this field of groundwater science, progress can only be made by close collaboration of the geologist and the mathematically trained engineer.

W. Koehne (1928): Grundwasserkunde [Groundwater Science]. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart. p. 116–117.

Quite flattering how he denies geologists any mathematical skill. Hopefully this has improved since then. I, however, am a mathematically trained engineer who only needs to be acquainted with the understanding of geologic structure. 🙂

Happy new year!

I wish all my readers a happy new year!

Fireworks in Obermaiselstein, view from Oberdorf chapel

Fireworks in Obermaiselstein, view from Oberdorf chapel

Where on Google Earth #178

Dominion on her/his blog “The Couloir Times” has shown a part of the Blue Ridge Mountains where she/he grew up as WoGE #177.

Just in time before Christmas, I'd like to present the new snowy/icy WoGE #178:

An icy place as WoGE for Christmas season.

A snowy place as WoGE for Christmas season.

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Language Switch / Sprachschalter

Change the language with the flags on the top left.
Sprache ändern mit den Flaggen oben links.

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Practical courses for students of secondary school

This month's Accretionary Wedge (hosted by Magma Cum Laude) is about earth science outreach, so I'd like to write a bit about the practical courses our university (BTU – Brandenburg University of Technology at Cottbus) provides for secondary school students in 11th and 12th grade.

Logo Forschungs-Bildungs-Kooperation Cottbus (FBK)

Our department (Environmental Geology) offers such practicals since 2007, but other departments have started earlier. Students of the secondary schools “Max-Steenbeck-Gymnasium” here in Cottbus and Carl-Friedrich-Gauß-Gymnasium in Frankfurt (Oder) attend practicals here as part of the “Forschungs-Bildungs-Kooperation” programme (FBK). Sorry, the schools' and FBK's websites are in German only.

Both schools have a special focus on mathematics, natural science and technology, and the students choose a practical course topic according to their elected “Leistungskurse” (intensive courses). In our case, these were either biology or chemistry. Sadly, geography intensive courses are not part of the FBK programme.

Up to now, we had three groups and topics:

  • Physical properties of highly concentrated solutions of various salts (Gauß Gymnasium)
  • Water quality of a small ditch flowing through a fen (Steenbeck Gymnasium)
  • Release of nutrients from strongly degraded peat soils (Steenbeck Gymnasium)

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Reminder: Take the geoblog survey

The new geoblog survey is online this month. This aims at getting a better picture of the geoblogosphere, and to find out what's good, what's bad, what's missing.

However, participitation has been low yet. So if you own a geoscience-oriented blog, take this short survey!

The survey is open until 1st November.

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Where on Google Earth #174

David of Cryology and Co. has pulled us firmly into the Quaternary with the climate sequence from the Lac du Bouchet (some additional info about is in David's follow-up post).

Here's my new WoGE picture. I hope to attract some new players (or reactivate the old ones), so I choose something not too difficult.

Where on Google Earth #174. The keyword is “hole”.

Where on Google Earth #174. The keyword is “hole”.

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Where on Google Earth #172

Again, Péter's WoGE took quite some time to solve. (Or was just nobody interested?) He also suggested another twist to the game: the location should be connected to the previous one by some common concept, or “keyword”. His keyword was “type locality” – of komatiite, as it turned out. This prevented some of my nastier ideas and I settled for something nice and easy, I hope:

Where on Google Earth #172. The keyword is “Magnesium”

Where on Google Earth #172. The keyword is “Magnesium”

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Little extra for the blog: article recommendations

My geological data collection on the Nachterstedt landslide received some response, at least in the German-speaking part of the net. (Thanks to Gunnar and Lutz!) Also, I find my articles quite close to the top of Google searches on “Geologie Nachterstedt” (German) and “geology Nachterstedt”. The high rank in the English search is a bit strange, as I have not written in English about it yet… Anyway, I realised that more people do visit my blog.

To help my new guests in browsing around the site, I've installed a little plugin, Must Read Posts (adapted according to the hints in the comments there). Below the heading “recommended posts” you'll find a random sample from those articles that I believe are rather well done.

Modern art quiz

I've stumbled across this nice piece of modern, abstract art:

Modern art.

Modern art.

A purple woman with violet hair, holding a large fish in front of her body? Offer your explanations and interpretations!

Glacial deposits – lost in translation

I'm about to write some posts about maps I rather often use and realised that I'm not always quite sure about translations for various glaciation-related terms. (Pleistocene glacial sediments make up most of the geology in Brandenburg.)

Most information I have found on the net focuses on valley glaciers and their landforms, less on the sediments left by the Pleistocene glaciations. So I'd like to collect some terms about those deposits and ask the native speakers (or those how know the language better than me) to offer corrections and comments. Thanks!

German English Remarks
glazifluvial (glaziofluvial), glazifluviatil (glaziofluviatil), fluvioglazial glaciofluvial, fluvioglacial Which one is the preferred form in English? And I'm still wondering why there are so many variant spellings in German…
glaziliminisch (glazilakustrin, glaziolakustrin) glaciolacustrine (limnoglacial, glaciolimnic) It seems that that glazilimnisch is more usual in German, whereas in English, glaciolacustrine is preferred. Am I right?
Grundmoräne Ground moraine, ground-moraine, or groundmoraine? Not sure about the spelling; “ground moraine” seems to most common. I've also seen “basal moraine”.
Urstromtal Ice-marginal valley LEO has “glacial valley” – but isn't that a valley that has been carved out by a glacier (“U-valley”)? One of my dictionary suggested the rather unusual (Polish) “pradolina”.
Vorschütt…, e.g. Vorschüttsande
Nachschütt…, e.g. Nachschüttsande
Advance sediments, e.g. advance outwash sands? Pre-glaciation deposits?
Recessional deposits, e.g. recessional outwash sands? Post-glaciation deposits?
I've seen “frontal apron” at Geoversum's dictionary, which is wrong IMHO: the apron is in front of the glacier, whereas „Vorschüttsedimente“ were deposited before the glacier arrived. „Vorschütt“ and „Nachschütt“ thus denote the stratigraphic relationship to a ground moraine.
I've found some documents on the web that mention “advance / recessional deposits”.
Glaziale Serie (after Penck) Glacial series, glacial sequence?? Described e.g. in the German Wikipedia article, sadly without a link to an English version. The „glaziale Serie“ is the specific arrangement of geomorphological features produced by a stable ice-margin: ground moraine, end moraine, outwash plain, ice-marginal valley.

Great blackboard art

What else to say besides being green with envy?

Blackboard by John A. Wheeler (photo by Gordon Watts)

Hat tip to Diax's Rake (

Geological Time-Arm

[After switching to multilingual blogging, I have merged this english translation with the original article.]

Maps in the GDR – objects of state paranoia

When working on the local geology, I'm constantly reminded that in the former German Democratic Republic, topographic and geological maps were classified material.

Most of the Lithofacies Map of the Quaternary 1:50000 (LKQ50) and the Hydrogeological Map 1:50000 (HK50) were ranked confidental („VD – Vertrauliche Dienstsache“, literally “confidential offical matter”), the rest was even secret („VVS – Vertrauliche Verschlußsache“, literally “confidential matter to be kept under lock and key”)

Classification markings on a Hydrogeological Map.

Classification marking on a Hydrogeological Map (map sheet 1009-1/2 Luckau/Lübben), map of groundwater vulnerability.

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Geological history and structure of Europe

The Geochemical Atlas of Europe contains a nice short overview of the continent's geological and tectonic framework (PDF) and subsequent Tertiary and Quaternary landscape evolution (PDF).

The “terrane collage” of Precambrian and Phanerozoic Europe.

The “terrane collage” of Precambrian and Phanerozoic Europe. (From the Geochemical Atlas of Europe.)

For more information on the structure, there's a slightly more detailed variant of the map with explanations from Christian Röhr's Upper Rhine Graben site (sorry, German only) and the Terrane Map of Europe by Martin Oczlon.

You also might want to have a look at the International Geological Map of Europe and Adjacent Areas (IGME 5000). Besides the printed copy, it's available as a graphics file (sadly, not in very high resolution) and an “online GIS” at the BGR's IGME site.

The International Geological Map of Europe and Adjacent Areas (IGME 5000).

The International Geological Map of Europe and Adjacent Areas (IGME 5000).

The horror! The horror!

The dreaded day has come. Yesterday was our secretary's last day at work. I dare not think about how things may turn out in the future.