Friday, 29 November 2013

Geology in the Headlines!

So if you’ve been tracking my blog you will have noticed that I have pointed out many ways which show that geology is not just about rocks.
To prove just how diverse this subject is, here is a list of some headline news from just this week which are part of geology:

1.       Giant prehistoric toilet unearthed (BBC News)
Now this headline would catch anyone’s eye. I don’t know about you but when I first saw this I imagined quite literally a large (and smelly) place where prehistoric animals went to go and do their business. But when you read the story, you go on to learn more about a specific species which left these traces.

These dinosaurs were called dicynodonts which were large mammal-like reptiles whose diet was entirely plants, making them megaherbivores.  Dinosaur poo which has been preserved is called a coprolite, and in this case they discovered coprolites up to 40cm wide! Finding these is fantastic news for any palaeontologist as they can provide clues to the environment that the animal was in at the time such as; the vegetation around, the food chain and even animal behaviour. Because faeces degrade so easily, finding a site with such good preservation of coprolites was very exciting for the scientific community, and because the story is so relevant to any animals (including us), it makes for a fantastic read:

2.       Last-minute deal saves fractious UN climate talks (BBC News)
So this story might sound a little dry, but the background story behind this is that the UN is trying to find ways to reduce the negative effects which developed and developing countries may be having on the changing climate. Behind this debate, there are geologists studying past climate change who are researching the effects, timing and frequency of these events to find out as much as possible about how climate change is controlled.   

3.       Indonesia raises Sumatra volcano alert to highest status
Now this one is a bit more exciting! Mount Sinabung has been showing signs of eruption recently which means and so the local authorities have been raised from "stand-by" to "caution". This has meant drastic changes for local people who are advised not to go closer than 5km away from the crater and 15,000 villagers in the area have been moved to temporary shelters. As you can imagine this brings masses of disruption to everyday life for these people and it is up to the scientists (including geologists) to determine when it is safe for them to return to their homes.

These are but a few examples this week of how geology and being able to communicate it fit into real world scenarios. Keep an eye out, and when you see an interesting story, take a minute to consider if there is a connection to geoscience, I bet you’ll be surprised by how often there is.

Happy reading!

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