Ancient people with hunting and gathering lifestyles were making fired clay pottery as far back as at least 20,000 years ago. This is surprising! Until recently, scholars believed that pottery appeared only when people adopted sedentary, farming lifestyles. Except that isn’t what actually happened.
When most of us think about the impressive geology of the Grand Canyon, our focus is on the ancient rocks. Within the past 1 million years, however, volcanoes have created striking displays in the canyon. Hot lava often flowed down the Colorado River channel for tens of miles; other times, it dammed the river, impounding water behind dams that eventually breached, sometimes releasing catastrophic floods.
Dinosaur fossils are on spectacular display at Dinosaur National Monument, on the border of Colorado and Utah. A recent blog post on Volcano Café stirred my interest in the dinosaurs found in the Monument quarry, plus the movie "Jurassic Park", and what happens to dinosaur fossils found on private land.
In the earthquake-prone central Andes Mountains, there archaeological sites with monumental adobe and stone block structures standing that were built by ancient people hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Clearly, the ancient builders planned to have their important structures last–-and they had the knowledge to build appropriately for their environment. Buildings that promise to last a long time are also being constructed today.
Many ancient cultures revered red, the color of blood and historically associated with danger, courage, and sacrifice. Thousands of years ago in South America, ancient Andean artists happened upon an extremely vivid red dye: cochineal. The use of cochineal continues today, along with lots of controversy.
Ukraine has a vast area covered with extremely rich soils that are well suited for growing grains and other agricultural products. In past years, the country has exported enormous quantities of crops to countries throughout the European Union, as well as in Asia and Africa. In 2019, almost half of Ukraine was cultivated land, feeding millions of people. Now, things are changing fast.
The title says it all: “The Mw 5.1, 9 August 2020, Sparta Earthquake, North Carolina: The First Documented Seismic Surface Rupture in the Eastern United States”. Lots of information is packed into those words. Importantly, it provides evidence of our limited knowledge about the hazards presented by earthquakes.
In the past century, manufacturing nitrogen fertilizers with ammonia has been explosive (even literally...). Increases in crop production from manufactured fertilizers have benefited tens of millions of people. Unfortunately, this fertilizer produces tremendous waste in an inefficient process that is highly polluting; we could lower global use with alternative methods. Over 500 years ago, the Incas implemented laws to conserve their valuable guano fertilizer.
Food security is a growing concern for our global population of close to 8 billion people. The essential natural resource that controls food production is soil, which is being eroded away and degraded worldwide. Without healthy soils, our capability to provide adequate food for billions is seriously in question. Methods for improving degraded soils are available.
Teeth reveal a vast amount of information about the creatures that once used them. From information about who was eating whom among dinosaurs, to the diets of our ancestors, to possible speaking ability in Neanderthals, teeth reveal valuable information. I’ll share some of those stories in this post.