Earthquakes and volcanoes can provide us with surprising and unexpected new data. Just within this century, several dramatic events have increased our understanding of these natural hazards, including the catastrophic 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan. Now, examination of the events leading up to a 2021 volcanic eruption has brought new – and sobering - information.
Safeguarding ancient Egyptian cultural treasures in the 1960s laid the groundwork for the UNESCO World Heritage Site program. These designations provide protections for places having outstanding cultural and natural heritage. Both Egypt and Peru have fabulous archaeological sites with World Heritage designations, and I’ve had the good fortune to see many. I hope to visit World Heritage Sites in many other countries.
Ancient Moche artists created an exceptional level of ceramic art over 1,500 years ago when this culture prospered along the arid north coast of Peru. They produced realistic three-dimensional ceramic forms of people and animals, and they decorated vessels with exquisite fine-line drawings. Several aspects of Moche ceramics recently caught my interest, especially the realistic ceramic animals and the drawings of supernatural creatures.
Many researchers are working on new and intriguing renewable energy storage sources. Interesting approaches for gravity, compressed air, and thermal storage are under development. A few of these, each based on relatively simple mechanical engineering fundamentals, have captured my interest and I describe them in this post.
Renewable energy from sunlight, water, and wind plays an important role worldwide—and renewable storage is essential to reduce imbalances between energy demand and energy production. We need to develop much more storage capacity; fortunately, there are efficient storage technologies already in use, as well as innovative alternative approaches under development.
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.