Small hiatus

Guadalupe Peak

I haven’t made any new posts in a while, though I do have some on the drawing table. I’m working on wrapping up a manuscript to submit (hopefully by the end of the weekend). I also was fieldtripping around West Texas and eastern New Mexico for a week.

More posts coming soon, promise.


Drop everything and manipulate your stereonet data in 3D

Stop what you’re doing. Stereonet software now displays data in 3D, let’s you rotate, go crazy.

Geologists, get excited.

Anyone who has worked with stereonets by hand knows that in addition to being an invaluable structural geology tool, they are also a pain, especially for large data sets.

For the unfamiliar, stereonets are circular graphs that are used to represent 3-dimensional data in 2-dimensions.  Data can be everything from bedding measurements, fault orientation, to cleavage planes in a fold. Once this data is plotted on the stereonet it can be manipulated to work out everything from the deformation history of a region to the correct orientation to drill a mineralization zone (ie. where’s the gold at?).

Figure 1: Some bedding plane and lineaion data displayed on a 2D stereonet in OSXStereonet.

Stereonets are notoriously difficult for students to grasp on the first try around. My undergrad (UCSC) structure class used a hamster ball-cd set up to explain 3D bedding plane orientation projected into 2D. That was okay, but also a bit funky. Doing stereonets by hand can be even more funky. Enter stereonet software.

The most widely used free stereonet software (this is from a poll/guess on what people I know use) is Rick Allmendinger and Nestor Cardozo’s OSXStereonet (mac) and Stereonet7 (windows). I haven’t used the mac version much, but from what I’ve seen it is always about 1 version iteration ahead its windows counterpart.

Figure 2: Same data as Figure 1 displayed in 3D, rotated with North pointing top-right. Awesome.

The mac version made a huge leap recently with the introduction of a 3D viewer. Like, hell yea! This feature is so awesome, it blew my face off when I first loaded it up. The stereonet can be rotated to view the data from any angle. I think this could be a great teaching tool to help students grasp what a 2D stereonet is really displaying. Of course they should finish the assignment by hand to be sure that they really grasp the concepts and are not just entering data into a table 😀 .

My first thought when I saw this (after HOLY SHIT THIS IS AWESOME!) was how cool this would be to combine with the KeckCaves software and a 3DTV. It would be SO cool to visualize the stereonet in “real” 3D and manipulate it with a Keck wand.

Also, the stereonet .pdf files it exports look very clean, which is an improvement from previous versions.

And for those who are wonder… no I’m not writing this on a mac, I am running the program in a VirtualBox OSX system.

Oregon Coast Lidar Available

Oregon Lidar Regions

The OpenTopography project has just released over 10,000 km^2 of lidar data for the Oregon coast stretching from the California border through to the Columbia River. Lidar stands for Light Detection and Ranging, and uses laser beams in a similar fashion to radar to create high-resolution clouds of data, in this case topographic data.

The high resolution of lidar causes features that would normally be too subtle to be displayed on a old-fashion topo or even DEM (Digital Elevation Model) map to “pop” out. Who wants to find those faults?

A seismograph in every school

Figure 1: Build your own seismograph activity.

Last month I wrote an article titled A seismograph in every home, where I showcased an in-home seismograph network program created by the USGS. I brought up the idea of placing these in schools and incorporating a geoscience curriculum to bolster interest in the geosciences among the youth (am I allowed to call them that?). I was so excited about this idea (I probably wasn’t the first to have it) that I shot off an email to the USGS.

The reply I received informed me that a few seismographs have been placed in schools. However, if there isn’t already a geoscience program in place it can be difficult starting and maintaining contact with the school.

Good news though! I was informed that IRIS has a Seismographs in schools (SIS) program! This program gives teachers the opportunity to install a seismograph in their classroom and share data in real time. The SIS program includes resources for incorporating seismology into the classroom with everything lesson plans, seismograph activities (locating earthquake epicenters), and even a build your own seismograph activity (Figure 1).

Kids, get this in your classroom!