Google is mapping Gas Leaks
This is a really cool project arranged through a partnership between Google and the Environmental Defense Fund.
Google has vehicles regularly driving around cities taking photographs for Google’s street view system. Their presence gives them the ability to collect other data as well if the cars are equipped to do so.
In this partnership, the cars in 3 cities had a gas detecting system installed on them to search for natural gas leaks.
Natural gas is piped through many major American cities and is used for things like heating, cooking, and energy in general, but those pipes are of different levels of quality. Old pipes made out of metal have a habit of leaking, whereas newer pipes with plastic layers tend to be more solid.
These two maps show the places where Google measured excess natural gas in two cities: Boston and Indianapolis (chosen as test cases). In Indy, most of the gas lines are lined with plastic and thus don’t leak much, whereas Boston’s older system is losing gas all over the place.
By being able to detect the location of these leaks, utility companies could potentially begin tracking them down and upgrading or replacing the old pipes in order to cut emissions to the atmosphere while saving money at the same time.
Image credit: EDF/Google
The Rama Schist
This is another part of the complex of twisted, bent, metamorphosed, nearly 2 billion year old rocks that sit at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and make up some of the oldest, deepest rocks exposed anywhere in the western U.S.
The other parts of the schist we’ve seen, the Vishnu Schist and the Brahma Schist, look a lot like metamorphosed parts of the ocean, metamorphosed sedimentary rocks and metamorphosed basaltic rocks. Those sit in contact with granites that look like an island arc that slammed into North America about 1.7 billion years ago.
These rocks fit into that same story. The Rama schist is a third component in the mixture of schists; more felsic, quartz and plagioclase rich metamorphosed rocks.
These rocks have the chemistry of volcanic rocks erupted close to the Earth’s surface, as happens often in island arcs. The rocks may have been faulted or moved around prior to running into the growing continent, but they were pulled into the same mountain building and metamorphic event as the surrounding sediments and basalts.
These rocks were probably volcaniclastic before they were metamorphosed, produced by explosive volcanic eruptions. Some of the layering is even maintained in the second image. Based on those details, the protolith of these rocks (what they were before metamorphism) was probably a tuff.
In other words, it would be fully accurate to call this rock a tuff schist. You’re welcome.
Image credit: Tisha Irwin (with permission, taken on sample on GC National Park Rim Trail) https://www.flickr.com/photos/tishairwin/14491015401
Visit her page: http://www.photonsandplutons.com/
Also used: Ilg et al., GSA Bulletin, 1996http://gsabulletin.gsapubs.org/content/108/9/1149.short
What a buildup to a punchline
Humans will now be forever inscribed into the Earth’s geological history. Our everlasting signature? Plastic-infused stones. The newly identified stone, according to a report from The Geological Society of America, has been officially named plastiglomerate. It is formed when plastic trash melts and fuses together with natural materials such as basaltic lava fragments, sand, shells, wood and coral, resulting in a plastic-rock hybrid. Researchers say the new material is likely to last a very long time, possibly becoming a permanent marker in Earth’s geologic record. In the photo above: An example of clastic plastiglomerate found on Kamilo Beach. Clastic type is a combination of “basalt, coral, shells, and local woody debris” that are “cemented with grains of sand in a plastic matrix.” (via Plastiglomerate: The New And Horrible Way Humans Are Leaving Their Mark On The Planet)
Source: The Huffington Post
This image shows Earth’s tectonic plates, and the location of earthquakes and volcanic activity along the plate boundaries.
What causes earthquakes, and why are they so unpredictable? Seismic waves that pass through the planet hold the answer to these questions. Their patterns can reveal hidden dynamics—hotspots, deep-diving rock, melting mantle—in Earth’s interior.