Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Romania!

On December 1st Romanians everywhere celebrate the National Day of Romania. To do my part, I put together some of the photos from my trip to Romania this summer. The pictures are from Bucharest, Zarnesti, Piatra Craiului Mountains, Brasov, Bran, Rucar-Bran. The music is composed by Ciprian Porumbescu. This is for "My Romania", with love, and for all of you to enjoy!
PS sorry for the less-than-perfect image quality. Blogger did not let me upload the hi-rez version :(

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Romanian National Parks

On my to-do list in Romania is to hike all of the National Parks.  As a note to self, and also to entice others to go and visit these beautiful places, this post provides a map and links to some of the parks.  One of the best things about National Parks, in Romania or elsewhere, is the geology associated with the breathtaking views. This post is about some cool places in Romania where you can see awesome geology and experience great landscapes, views and culture.

View Romanian National Parks in a larger map
Apuseni Nature Park (Rom. Parcul Natural Apuseni): best known for the beautiful karst landscape and its numerous caves.
Bicaz Gorge - Hasmas National Park (Rom. Parcul National Cheile Bicazului-Hasmas): best known for the spectacular Bicaz Gorge
Calimani National Park (link in Romanian) (Rom. Parcul National Calimani): located in the Calimani volcanic chain.
Ceahlau National Park (link in Romanian)(Rom. Parcul National Ceahlau): Ceahlau Mountain is also called the Olympus of Romania, because of its significance in the history of the Dacians, the ancestors of the Romanian people.  Ceahlau was considered to be the sacred mountain of Zalmoxis, the ancient deity of the Dacians.
Piatra Craiului National Park (Rom. Parcul National Piatra Craiului): one of my favorite places to hike. Beautiful Mesozoic limestone landscape.
Retezat National Park (link in Romanian)(Rom. Parcul National Retezat): best known for the beautiful landscape sculpted by long gone glaciers, it is the park in Romania with the highest number of mountain peaks over 2000m in height.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Your path looks boring? Explore the edges!

Everyone's research (or career) path looks like this at one point in time or another.
Whether looking ahead ...

... or in the rearview mirror....
... the path may look flat, predictable, and downright boring. When that happens, there are three choices: continue ahead and hope some exciting breakthrough is waiting around the corner (good luck with that!); change course to a more exciting destination (take the train if needed, to get there faster); or go off the beaten path and explore the edges of your own discipline, and in the process listen to the echoes coming from fields outside your own.  It is the latter that has the potential to bring the biggest breakthroughs.
Happy trails, and remember: it is the journey that counts.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Geology field notes - Process to product: ripples

One nice thing about beaches is that you can observe processes and the resulting products  at the same location.  The video clip and the picture were taken from a beach not far away from my home (ok, about an hour drive...).
In the short movie below, the wave action on the beach creates a water flow that entrains the sand and generates moving bed-forms (ripples) on the bed surface.

The resulting rippled bed surface looks like this.
Ripples on a beach                                 ©RomaniaRocks
If the process continues and net sediment accumulation takes place, the result is a ripple-laminated sand.
Enjoy your next walk on the beach and take your own pictures and video-clips of ripples in the making.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Speleology in Romania - Frasin Aven

Speleology is what got me into geosciences in the first place, therefore a series of posts on caves of all sorts in Romania is in order.
An aven in caving is a very steep or vertical section in a cave that needs ladders or ropes to ascend  and descend. The Frasin Aven (link in Romanian) is located in the Obcina Mare Mountains, which are part of the Eastern Carpathians mountain range.

The Frasin Aven is the northern-most pin on this map; zoom out for better viewing.  Locations of other caves in Romania are also indicated on the map.
View Romanian caves in a larger map

The Frasin Aven can be accessed from Frasin village, on the National Highway #71, between Gura Humorului and Campulung Moldovenesc. The aven was discovered in 1975, it has an elevation change of 73.2 meters, which placed it in the 20th place in the world for elevation change for sandstone caves (based on 1989 statistics).
Frasin Aven sketch, after Giurgiu and Muraru, 1977
From a geologic point of view, the aven is located in the Carpathian Fold and Thrust Belt (Tarcau Nappe), and it is developed in Kliwa Sandstone Formation (Oligocene in age). Kliwa is a deep-water siliceous sandstone (98% silica content), and the aven is thought to have formed within a fracture caused either by extension associated with its position on a crest of an anticline, or via detachment and sliding of the sandstone block along its basal contact (the Kliwa Formation consists of a succession of interbedded sandstone and mudstone).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Seismic geomorphology research conference

If you are in or near Houston-Texas, or can get to Houston in early December, I highly recommend this: the 30th Annual GCSSEPM Foundation Bob F. Perkins Research Conference - "Seismic imaging of depositional and geomorphic systems".  With a 3-day full program, the BEG visualization center set up for people to view data volumes, and keynote speakers such as Kurt Marfurt, Sergey Fomel, Henry Posamentier, this will be THE conference on this topic for years to come.
The conference will be held at the Houston Marriott Westchase,  on December 5-8, 2010.  You may register for the event here.
The conference will cover the entire spectrum of depositional systems, clastics and carbonates, a wide variety of geographical locations, basins and geological settings: incised valleys on the Sunda Shelf, Indonesia; carbonate platform systems in the Browse Basin, Australia; estuarine deposits in the Gulf of Cambay, India; Pleistocene turbidites from NE Nigeria; point-bars in the McMurray Formation, Canada; channel-levee complexes, slope valleys and canyons from East Kalimantan, Indonesia; and much more.
I will be sharing on Twitter and blogging from the conference (hopefully).

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fluvial and aeolian rocks from the Triassic of Utah

Rocks are like people...in some ways. You take the same "material" (be it genetic for people, sedimentary for rocks) and place it in different environments, and you will get different results.
One of the principal goals in sedimentary geology is to identify the environment of deposition by looking at rocks and their characteristics.  It is very important to be able to determine if a package of rocks was formed by wave processes pounding on a beach, by river processes, or by gravity flows traveling from submarine canyons to the abyssal plain of oceans.  It is important because by doing so, we can understand, for example, past climate (and use it to predict future climate), we can understand the Earth complex systems, we are able to make predictions about the presence (or absence) at a certain location of a certain rock type, etc.
This post shows an example  of the difference between fluvial and eolian rocks.  Both pictures (above and below) show the eolian Wingate Sandstone, overlying the fluvial Chinle Formation.
The Wingate Sandstone forms the steep, upper pat of the cliff. It is called an aeolian sandstone because it was deposited by the action of the wind in a desert environment, not unlike what the Sahara desert is today.  
The Chinle Formation can be seen immediately below the Windgate, it is more heterogeneous from the point of view of the lithology, consisting of mudstone, sandstone and conglomerate.  The Chinle was deposited by rivers flowing on a floodplain.

Immediately after hitting the "Publish post " button I saw "Where does desert sand come from?" talking about the Namib Sand Sea, and posted on the AGU blogosphere site by Vivienne.  An appropriate present day analogy for the Wingate of the Triassic.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Geology field notes - Mud cracks


When muddy sediment is exposed to the atmosphere and dries up it commonly develops polygonal shape cracks in plan view, V-shaped in cross section.
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