Stuff I'm reading

There has been a lot of cool stuff posted while I was getting this blog set up. From my Google Reader shared items:

Exotic rocks. There's an art exhibit in Oakland, California, that includes metamorphic rocks from Maine. Why? Because the schists sound like xylophone keys when they're struck. I knew there was a reason why I liked hitting metamorphic rocks with my hammer...

Fermi paradox meets the timescale. Why haven't we been visited by intelligent life? Well, if we had been visited by intelligent life sometime during Earth's 4.6-billion-year history, odds are that there wasn't any macroscopic life to greet it. And there's a good chance that there wasn't even an oxygenated atmosphere. There are a lot of great ways to visualize the length of geologic time; this is a fun approach to the problem.

The 20 links game. Can you come up with 20 links supporting a statement like "the earth is flat"?

Concern lingers, angers flare at Chaiten and Volcanism and society: what to do about Chaiten? There's an erupting volcano above your valley. The eruption has been going on for months. Your town has been buried by mudflows. But... it's home. Do you fight back against the volcano and defend your home, or do you leave? If people won't leave, what do you do?

How low will it go? The water that goes down the Colorado River is allocated to various states by the Colorado River Compact. Trouble is, the Compact promises more water than the river usually carries. The upper basin states (Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico) want to use the water. What will happen when there isn't enough water to go around? (Thanks to John Fleck for the link.)

More like this

I have never had to leave my home in an evacuation from a natural disaster. I'll put that out there right now. So, I might not fully understand the emotions going through people when they find out that they have to leave their home by no fault of their own because nature has decided that where…
The New York Times summarizes the challenges facing much of the Western US: Preparing for worst-case outcomes, the seven states that draw water from the Colorado River — Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico in the upper basin and California, Arizona and Nevada in the lower basin — and the United…
Hey, geobloggers: If you're going to AGU, will you tell us what you hear that is new and different? PLEEZ? Emily Lackdawilla at the Planetary Society Blog can't make it to all the sessions she wants to see and is hoping to swap notes about Enceladus: I desperately need help from someone who will be…
Here it is, my attempt to recap a year's worth of volcanic events. By no means is this supposed to capture every event, but rather the highlight/lowlights and what most captivated me during 2009. I'll be announcing the winner of the 2009 Pliny for Volcanic Event of the Year tomorrow. Waimangu…

If aliens visited Earth but before intelligent life evolved, couldn't they leave a durable, unambigious message? (Alternatively, would we think to do that, if we found bacteria on another planet?)

Glad to see you at ScienceBlogs, Kim!

The fair thing to do about the Colorado River Compact would be to redefine the split in percentages of actual river capacity so downstream states were not screwed in dry years. Think I shouldn't hold my breath for that.

Tim: Based on the discussion in the article, it looks like the upstream states would actually be the ones in trouble in dry years. Besides dividing the water rights amongst the states, the Compact requires that the upper basin states provide a certain amount of water to the lower basin. And beyond that, western water law generally gives rights to the first people who use the water. California, Nevada, and Arizona have been using their water much longer than Colorado and New Mexico have. (Both Colorado and New Mexico pump water across the Continental Divide, so Colorado River Basin water has supported the recent rapid growth of the Denver and Albuquerque areas.)

Under current law, if water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead get too low, the upper basin states would need to cut their consumption first. (Though it would be quite a battle, I expect.)

A bit late to the welcome party! Totally love the wordplay in your blog title!!!

Looking forward to reading your blog on a regular basis. Glad to see one more geologist to balance out the biologists at SB.

"If aliens visited Earth but before intelligent life evolved, couldn't they leave a durable, unambigious message? (Alternatively, would we think to do that, if we found bacteria on another planet?)"

But would we know what this umambigious message was? Something that is unambigious to others may look like nothing to us.

How low will it go?
Well, if you all get tired of trying to wring a living out of uninhabitable desert, you can come here to Virginia. We've got plenty of water for everyone, and the gun laws are crazy enough that you'll feel right at home.