Monday, August 16, 2010

AMQUA 2010!

My initial intent this weekend was to blog from my hotel while away at my meeting. However late evening out and catching up with friends and colleagues made that difficult. I'm now back in Albuquerque, with my new home internet (yay!), and ready to recap the weekend.

This past weekend I was at the University of Wyoming in Laramie for the biennial meeting of the American Quaternary Association, a professional/academic organization for those who study the Quaternary. These meeting give people a chance to network and show off their research. The focus of the meeting was the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, which is what I study. I gave a poster on changes in environmental gradients based and changes in small mammal ranges during this time. There were four students from Penn State, and we all had posters. I think we pretty well represented the diversity of research that is going on in vertebrate paleontology in the Geosciences department at PSU, and I feel like we all had really interesting posters.

Here's a free hat I got. Notice the cowboy riding a mastodon.

In addition to the poster sessions, there were talks that went throughout the meeting that ranged on a variety of subjects: paleontology, paleobotany, archaeology, landscapes, and soils to name a few. The underlying connection was our study of the Quaternary. Russ gave a talk on biotic changes during the late Pleistocene, and to my surprise, had a slide with my work on it to entice people to go see my poster.

Saturday afternoon there was a special set of talks on the highly controversial Younger Dryas Boundry (YDB) impact hypothesis. The Younger Dryas is a period of time in the late Pleistocene that represents a very quick cooling trend right before the warming into the Pleistocene. The YDB impact hypothesis states that some kind of extraterrestrial impact caused the Younger Dryas and precipitated the environmental and biotic changes at that time. Very few people actually think this hypothesis holds any water: there are some serious issues with reproducibility of results that support the hypothesis, and the timing of biotic events don't quite match up. There are a lot of problems with the hypothesis, so much so that I could spend an entire blog post on the subject. The symposium on the meeting was really interesting, and it makes we want to go back to the original literature and read more about it. These kinds of controversies can get kind of messy, with personal attacks from one scientist on another. One unfortunate thing is that some of the scientists who have presented evidence against the YDB impact hypothesis, and who I tend to agree with, are kind of arrogant. So while I agree with much of their work, I think they need to rethink what they say and their attitude.

This was a very enjoyable meeting in general. The Penn State Students kind of got blown off for dinner by the rest of the student community at the meeting, but aside from that I was happy with all the people I talked to and the time I spent with people important to me. Any time I get a chance to hang out with one of Russ's advisers, it's a good time. There are just too many hilarious stories that get shared at these things, and you get to know the people you work with on a more personal level. I'm just lucky that the people I collaborate with are such nice and interesting characters. I have noticed, however, that when I meet up with my classmates my true colors as a geologist start to show. Especially if there are copious amounts of beer, even worse if it is free beer. There were time when I was laughing so hard that I cried. Also, by the end of the meeting, I couldn't help talking in a really bad New York accent and quoting My Cousin Vinny, thanks to my ridiculous friends.

Sunday was a travel day, which consisted of driving back to Denver, waiting around and drinking beer at the airport, and making my way back to Albuquerque. Through my own fault, I didn't schedule my flights early enough and had to talk a detour through Las Vegas to get back to NM. My flight was delayed by over an hour, so I sat around in the Vegas airport for longer than I ever wanted to. That airport of kind of dumpy, which surprised me. There were, however, lots and lots of slot machines. I'm happy to say, I didn't gamble any during my stay there. To put all of this into perspective: it is a 1 hour direct flight from Denver, CO to Albuquerque, NM. It took me about 6 hours to finally get home from the time I got on the plane in Denver to the time I stepped off in ABQ.

The flight into Vegas is really pretty, and I don't mean the buildings or the casinos. The landscape and views from the plane were just amazing. I didn't see the Grand Canyon, I was on the wrong side of the plane and we were too far north, however I saw Lake Mead. Lake Mead is kind of a weird feature, seeing as how this is a desert and suddenly there is the enormous body of water created by man. There was also a few mountain ranges we flew over and dozens of canyons that had been eroded through time by rivers. There is this cool dendritic pattern, and viewed from the air it looks like art. The colors are also just unbelievably beautiful, splashes of reds, oranges and tans. I'd like to go back and actually explore these areas, although the terrain looks pretty rough.

The view of Las Vegas at night is pretty neat too, though I couldn't for the life of me get a picture that wasn't blurry.

So I'm back now in my apartment, and it's good to be back here with Matt. I missed him, he should really come along on one of these meetings some time, I think he'd have fun.


  1. As an age 68 scientific layman, since Nov 2008 I've enjoyed locating craters within 160 km of Santa Fe that may be from Holocene ice fragment impacts, as well as finding rather rude stone tools.

    Dennis Cox blog, plain text, with images of samples of magnetic black glaze on melt rocks from 13 Ka ice comet fragment extreme plasma storm geoablation in Fresno, California: Rich Murray 2010.07.02
    Friday, July 2, 2010
    [ at end of each long page, click on Older Posts ]
    [you may have to Copy and Paste URLs into your browser]

    Since November, 2008, I've found many sites within 160 km of Santa Fe, New
    Mexico with similar features, including red-brown sandstone, white-pink
    granite, lava, and other surface bedrocks, popular as 1 m size parking lot
    decorations, with ubiquitous black and redbrown surface glazes up to 1 cm
    size thickness, as well as many rocks with white surface coatings.

    Common are rounded, often broken, quartz rocks from 2 to 25 cm size with
    softened and melted surface layers, often with a light yellow color -- I
    imagine quartz rocks suddenly heated and cooled, like glass, will store
    internal stresses from thermal contraction that cause them to easily and
    even explosively fragment -- a hazard well known to glassblowers.

    Sun Mountain
    35.659284 -105.912294 2.421 km el, about .191 km rise,
    S of St. John's College, parking lot 2.230 km el

    Sun Mountain just SE of St. John's College, on its NW slope, below the
    summit, has many intersecting cracks in the white-pink granite bedrock,
    about 10 cm thick, about 1 m apart, filled with irregularly crystalized
    quartz -- I imagine that the extreme pressure plasma impact may have opened
    cracks that were filled the next moment by melted quartz -- there are many
    smaller rocks with similar filled cracks of various colors.

    Two Mile Reservoir
    35.689440 -105.894726 2 miles E of Plaza, E of end of Cerro Gordo Road
    against Upper Canyon Road, the Santa Fe River, a 0.13 km long pond left over
    from a drained reservoir for hydroelectric power.

    The top to the N is 2.259 km el, 21 m above the pond's 2.238 km elevation.
    The steep rise to the NW of the pond has a good walking path along a 1 m
    high aluminum wall, giving easy access to many kinds of blasted, broken and
    glazed rocks in this public park.
    [ many fine color photos on this article -- this plain text copy has been
    mildly edited, nothing taken out, to fix minor typos and add spacing to
    increase readability ]
    [ more... ]

    Rich Murray, MA
    Boston University Graduate School 1967 psychology,
    BS MIT 1964, history and physics,
    1943 Otowi Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
    505-501-2298 new primary archive
    group with 146 members, 1,609 posts in a public archive

    participant, Santa Fe Complex

  2. Hi Mel,

    May I copy your lucid, balanced paragraph about the YDB debate to put on and other venues on the Net?

    Laguna del Perro, 34.574648 -105.956519
    31x21 km, 1.877 km high point,
    Holocene barrage of ice comet fragments S to N?
    crater on S end has 1.840 km low (37 m deep),
    with Route 60 and the main railroad crossing EW,
    a few km SE of Estancia, NM.

    35.522959 -105.175489 McAllister Pond,
    1.962 km el, 1.24 km NS size,
    a federal wild bird preserve, a few km SE of Las Vegas, NM -- nearby are dozens of similar, often aligned, shallow craters in the high flat landscape.

    Rich Murray 505-501-2298


    These are remarkable views, which comprise convincing evidence.

    click on each Google Earth view and download Google attachment to get Google Earth view with its coordinates -- click on it again to enlarge.

    Dennis Cox, final Google Earth view
    N 48 21 50.94 W 94 33 57.17
    1,190 feet elevation, eye view 11.93 miles high
    view about 15 km wide

    my very similar Google Earth view
    48.364150 -94.565881
    .362 km elevation, eye view 12.00 km high

  4. UNM geology PhD student Mel blogs lucidly re AMQUA YDB debate Aug 14 -- Thomas W. Stafford, Jr 2009 talk on Hall's Cave strata at YDB, and other treats: Rich Murray 2010.08.19
    Thursday, August 19, 2010
    [ at end of each long page, click on Older Posts ]
    [you may have to Copy and Paste URLs into your browser]

  5. excellent Google Earth and ground views of shallow oval craters worldwide,
    Pierson Barretto: Rich Murray 2010.08.22
    Sunday, August 22, 2010
    [ at end of each long page, click on Older Posts ]
    [you may have to Copy and Paste URLs into your browser]

  6. expert geologists discuss Spade Ranch crater, 170 km SE of Lubbock, .4 km size, 2 fine Colorado City Record articles with photos: Charles E. Porter: Michael Makowsky: Rich Murray 2010.08.26
    Thursday, August 27, 2010
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    First, here's today's treat:

    [ Accepted August 19, 2010 by the Journal of Glaciology -- # 37 on this list of papers to be published ]

    vitae of
    Wendy S. Wolbach
    Department of Chemistry, DePaul University
    1110 West Belden Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614-3214
    (773) 325-4262 (phone); (773) 325-7421 (fax);

    1984-1990 The University of Chicago
    Ph.D., Chemistry, March 1990
    Thesis subject: Study of environmental changes at the Cretaceous-Tertiary
    boundary through characterization of reduced carbon.
    1980-1984 Franklin & Marshall College


    40. Methods for the Extraction and Purification of Nanodiamonds from
    Cretaceous-Tertiary and Younger Dryas Boundary Sediments
    Charles R. Kinzie and Wendy S. Wolbach
    In progress.

    39. Evidence for an extraterrestrial impact event 12,900 years ago that
    contributed to megafaunal extinctions and the Younger Dryas cooling - Part 2
    L. Becker, R. Poreda, T. Darrah, A. West, J.P. Kennett, D. Kennett, J.M.
    Erlandson, R.B. Firestone and W.S. Wolbach
    In progress.

    38. Evidence for Widespread Biomass-Burning at the Younger Dryas Boundary
    (YDB) at 12.9 ka
    J.P. Kennett, A. West, P.A. Mayewski, T.E. Bunch, T.W. Stafford, Jr., J.
    Ballard, and W.S. Wolbach
    In progress.

    37. Discovery of Nanodiamond-rich Layer in Polar Ice Sheet (Greenland)
    A.V. Kurbatov, P.A. Mayewski, J.P. Steffensen, A. West, D.J. Kennett, J.P.
    Kennett, T.E. Bunch, M. Handley, D.S. Introne, S.S. Que Hee, C. Mercer, M.
    Sellers, F. Shen, S.B. Sneed, J.C. Weaver, J.H. Wittke, T.W. Stafford, Jr.,
    J.J. Donovan, S. Xie, J.J. Razink, A. Stich, and W.S. Wolbach
    Submitted to Journal of Glaciology.

    36. Tracing the Manson impact event across the Western Interior Cretaceous
    David J. Varricchio, Christian Koeberl, Russell F. Raven, Wendy S. Wolbach,
    William C. Elsik, and Daniel P. Miggins
    In: Proceedings of the Conference on Large Meteorite Impacts and Planetary
    Evolution (eds. W.U. Reimold and R.L. Gibson).
    Geological Society of America Special Paper.
    In press.


    Now, here's my two cents: Can we get small samples of the "pig iron" rocks from the top of the central rise, and have them studied for whether the black surface glazes show evidence consistent with a very high temperature, high pressure plasma blast?

    See the Mark Boslough supercomputer 3D simulations of meteor air bursts becoming complex directed flows of very high temperature and pressure plasma plumes -- 2007 -- Dennis Cox gives evidence that this was real on a
    continental scale, causing "vertical ablation".

    [ more... ]

  7. a definitive result -- "No evidence of nanodiamonds in Younger Dryas
    sediments to support an impact event," Tyrone L Daulton, Nicholas Pinter,
    Andrew C Scott, "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences": Rich
    Murray 2010.08.30
    Monday, August 30, 2010
    [ at end of each long page, click on Older Posts ]
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    [ Rich Murray: However and nevertheless -- since widespread ice comet
    fragment air bursts probably caused relatively milder ground shocks, there
    remains research opportunities re blasted and melted ground rocks and their
    surface coatings, as proposed by Dennis Cox and others. ]

  8. Hi Mel, I hope you're enjoying all this -- let me know if you want less or more...

    Cox crisply comments; full text of "No evidence"; Comet theory carbonized,
    Rex Dalton,; fungus found abstract: Rich Murray 2010.08.31
    Tuesday, August 31, 2010
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  9. I ran up my white flag too soon -- 23 experts firmly show YDB era Greenland ice layer that has unique huge numbers of impact nanodiamonds in 11-page paper in J Glaciology: Rich Murray 2010.09.02
    Thursday, September 2, 2010
    [ at end of each long page, click on Older Posts ]
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