Rhinos and dinos and whales, oh my!

A few weeks ago I took a road trip down to visit the smaller Arbour sibling who is currently based at the University of Washington, and we made a point of visiting the Burke Museum on campus. The museum is about to be on the move, so in a couple of years this post will be out of date – despite it getting some shiny new digs in the near future, it’s still a pretty impressive museum for a university campus, and it has some unique treasures! Let’s get to it!

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A Geology Road Trip through North Carolina: Part 2, the Piedmont

Next up on our NC geology road trip, we’re stopping on the Piedmont. A big swath of central North Carolina is represented by this physiographic region, which basically equates to the foothills of the Appalachians. I think I have made some people very confused when I’ve pronounced this in the French way that it looks to me, damn my Canadian upbringing, but apparently it sounds like PEEEEEEED-monT.

This is going to be a bit of a metaphorical road trip stop because most of the middle of North Carolina looks like this:

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Ankylosaurs by the sea

Ankylosaurs, like probably most other dinosaurs, were landlubbing, terrestrial animals without obvious aquatic adaptations. And yet, surprisingly, their fossils are found in marine sedimentary environments more often than most other dinosaurs (except hadrosaurs). Some, like Aletopelta, wound up in shallow or lagoonal environments – Aletopelta’s carcass became a reef! – but some, like the Suncor nodosaurid, wound up far away from shore.

Aletopelta! See if you can spot the oyster marks, invertebrates, and shark teeth around the pelvis and legs.

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Wading With Dinosaurs

It’s that time of year again! Time to talk palaeontology with a 1000 of my closest friends in a convention centre somewhere far, far away! That’s right, it’s the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, this time in Dallas, Texas. This year I tried out an SVP meeting field trip for the first time. We chased dinosaurs and their friends through the mid Cretaceous near Dallas!

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This Christmas break my family decided to trek down to Pompeii to visit the ruins and Mount Vesuvius, something that I have wanted to do for a long time. If you’ve ever taken an introductory geology class, then you’ve probably heard the story of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, as it is used to illustrate several concepts about volcanic eruptions. The 79 AD eruption began with a Plinian eruption, where a large column of ash extends high into the air, as far as the stratosphere. The term “Plinian eruption” is derived directly from the 79 AD Vesuvius eruption – Pliny the Younger was one of the first people to describe a volcanic eruption in detail. There are many examples of Plinian eruptions from the last few decades – Mount Pinatubo in 1991, Mount St. Helens in 1980, and most recently, Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. After a day of Plinian-style eruption, several pyroclastic flows covered the cities of Pompeii, and, in particular, Herculaneum. Like many other volcanos, Mount Vesuvius is found at the intersection of two plate boundaries. The African Plate is subducting (diving down) beneath the Eurasian Plate, and as this occurs, melted rock moves up towards the surface and eventually erupts from the volcano. Continue reading

Flying away again…

I arrived in Ulaanbaatar last Saturday and am heading out to the Gobi Desert tomorrow morning. I’ve got a few blog posts that will appear while I’m away, but emails and facebook will be on hiatus until I return in late September.

However, I will leave you with a few palaeo notes and photos before I disappear for four weeks. During the Flugsaurier Symposium Scott and I had the opportunity to go on a field trip to Liaoning province to visit Jehol group outcrops and museums. Yesterday I posted a few photos of the Chaoyang Geopark. Today I’ve got some pictures of the Sihetun Fossil Museum and Darwinopterus field locality.
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