Current Earth Sciences Library News, No. 524, the Hot Lava edition

We’re in the media a lot right now!

It started when Jen Hoyal Cuthill & Simon Conway Morris’ paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences  got picked up by a vast number of media outlets, these are juts a few of them;

Then Martin Smith & Javier Ortega-Hernández’s Nature paper seemed to go viral, as above these are just a few instances of media coverage we’re getting

Below are two screen shots of the Altmetric results for these papers. Almetrics gathers data to showcase the impact & reach that papers may have, collecting the number of times a paper has been tweeted about, written up in a blog post, newspaper or other news outlet, cited, etc. You can see how your papers have done via your Symplectic page.

And then there’s Iceland, RIGHT NOW …


As most of you will know a number of department members are currently in the field in Iceland and the work they are doing is being reported. By the BBC on-line team, Simon Redfern was interviewed yesterday for Today  BBC Radio 4  from 01:43:55. Thorbjorg Agustsdott (Tobba) has written a piece for the University’s Research  features pages. You can keep up with the latest developments via Twitter by following Tobba –  ‏@fencingtobba and of course Simon @Sim0nRedfern who has just arrived there today I believe. Remember you don’t have to be on twitter to follow someone’s posts. And today the BBC is using even more of Tobba’s images.

Lots of pictures and news from those two.

Bob White has forwarded this message from Rob Green of the latest activity

You may have a text but a fissure eruption has just started at holuhraun to the south west of the closest deployed stations. It was very fortunate we deployed those extra three yesterday evening.
At around midnight there was a message on the tetra radio saying they had maybe seen something on a web cam at bardabunga so benni and Sveinbjorn went to investigate. The saw the fissure as soon as they approached dynguvatn and confirmed the eruption. We all then jumped in cars and drove over with steinni to meet up with Sveinbjorn and benni. Bit by bit we approached and at one point when the activity increased and the fissure was propagating north we retreated. It has been mostly white steam plumes coming off the vents but was a thick black ash plume at times. We have now turned back to dreki to get some sleep and have left Tobba and steinni to watch over the eruption for the first shift. Some of us will return in the morning. I have been taking notes during the eruption and Tobba will continue with this on her shift.
If you are interested they are copied below. They are very brief and blunt as they were written with cold fingers.


Eruption notes: Holuhraun eruption 29th August (night of 28-29th)

Visual confirmation of the eruption at around 00:30 by Sveinbjorn and Steinni.

Low activity at first. Lava flows were clearly visible on arrival at 1:30 emanating from a fissure. Just a gentle effusive eruption.

From 1:30 onwards the fissure appeared to extend south gradually and then eased off to a low rate until around 2:15.

Then there was a a rapid increase in activity at 2:15. The smoke went black and large fountains broke out. At the same time the fissure advanced north rapidly though distances are hard to estimate maybe half a km. It appears that the northern most vent is whiter steam and the southern vent is black. There are at least two distinct plumes.

The wind is taking thick plumes northwest and we can see the ash dropping out within 5km.

At 2:40 the southern most plume was the most active and the sounds are easily heard from our view point.

We can see 3 regions of activity at north middle and south. The fires along the fissure are less visible but there is some topography. Never the less the effusive activity has concentrated at certain points.

At 2:45 the southernmost vent is the most active with largish fire fountains and the southern most is lighter. I now think there are 3 plumes. North is white middle is black and south is grey but that plume is smaller.

Southernmost is the only one fountaining at 2:50. Northernmost white plume is getting wider and the sound is getting louder. Visible fires have reduced but plumes continue.

3:00 still 3 separate vents but they are only very faint glows. Northern one appears brightest against the white steam. There was a little splatter and fountaining on the northern one. The plumes density has reduced drastically so no longer phreatic. Plumes back to same density as arrival.

3:05 all plumes are white. Only visible active vent is the northernmost one which is bright but obscured by a dense white plume.

Activity is very low as we leave. All still have white plumes but much smaller. At this point website leaving for dreki to sleep. Steinni and Tobba will watch for the first shift while we sleep and then come back to swap.

Depart 3:20


Another University Research highlight from June

‘Extreme sleepover#14’ – all aboard the floating science factory by Julia Gottschalk



Smartphone compass/clinometer apps. Warning from Nigel Woodcock

I keep being told that the complete answer to collecting field orientation data is a smartphone app such as FieldMove Clino. This does a lot of good things, BUT you should be aware of possibl errors. This is a regular topic of discussion on the Geotectonics discussion  group at You can sign up there to see the FieldMove Clino thread beginning on 27/8/14, but the gist of the widely held concerns is in the post below from Richard Jones at Geospatial research at Durham. I’m sure that we will get reliable app/smartphone combination within a few years, but be careful in the meantime.

“We have carried out quite a lot of systematic testing of the suitability of iPhones as compass-clinos for measuring geological planes – and we have experienced very mixed results.

The good news is that ...

  1. we have managed to get good, repeatable results that are approximately as precise as a set of analogue compass-clinos (Silva liquid filled housings, double spirit-level, no electronics).
  2. once we’re up and running, using an iPhone is much quicker than any analogue compass-clino we’ve used; so ideal for taking large numbers of measurements from a single sampling site (e.g. fracture transects).
  3. we’ve now taken many, many thousand measurements with iPhones that we believe are within acceptable precision.

The bad news is that …

  1. if we’re not very rigorous in setting-up and calibrating the devices, we usually get randomly bad results.
  2. even if we are very careful, the iPhones sometimes don’t self-calibrate properly – so we always cross-check the iPhone against an analogue compass-clino before and after a measurement session.
  3. there’s no obvious way of examining the device itself to see whether it’s likely to be functioning correctly – you must have another device with which to compare it.

So personally, I’m extremely sceptical of the general validity of any orientation data that have been collected with smartphones – unless the user has documented their calibration procedure carefully, and that the calibration has not relied wholly of the device’s own calibration [… or until someone has documented why this isn’t necessary].
Based on this, I’d also recommend that any orientation data that are published (or form the basis for interpretations that are published) include a statement on the equipment and method used.”


The art show

Don’t forget to prepare your entries for the Art Show. There will be CAKE. This is what we did last year

Additionally, money was raised for charity without a single person getting soaked.


Computers, possible disruptions

Notifications of network downtime received from the Computing Service. This may affect connections to Voyager.

In the event of any queries please contact the Computing Service.


Tue 2 Sep, 07.30 – 09.00: Data network (CUDN) service at West Cambridge liable to interruption

The Data network (CUDN) service at West Cambridge will be liable to interruption on Tuesday 2 September between 07.30 – 0900 (Router software upgrade).


Thu 4 Sep, 07.30 – 09.00: Data network (CUDN) at New Museum Site Downing St. liable to interruption

The Data network (CUDN) at New Museum Site Downing St. will be liable to interruption on Thursday 4 September between 07.30 -09,00 (router software upgrade).


Tue 9 Sep, 07.30 – 09.00: Data network (CUDN) service link to Janet/Internet likely unavailable for 5 – 10 minutes

The Data network (CUDN) service link to Janet/Internet likely unavailable for 5 – 10 minutes on Tuesday 9 September between 07.30 – 09.00 (Router software upgrade).


This is SO cool

The British Library’s Georeferencer project is crowdsourcing location data to make a selection of its vast collections of maps fully searchable and viewable using popular online geotechnologies. Check out the maps which have already been georeferenced here.

Publications- I know there’s lots more to come, they’ll be in the next edition

Anenburg, Michael and Bialik, Or M. and Vapnik, Yevgeny and Chapman, Hazel J. and Antler, Gilad and Katzir, Yaron and Bickle, Mike J. (2014) The origin of celestine–quartz–calcite geodes associated with a basaltic dyke, Makhtesh Ramon, Israel. Geological Magazine, 151 (05). pp. 798-815. ISSN 0016-7568, ESSN: 1469-5081

Copley, Alex (2014) Postseismic afterslip 30 years after the 1978 Tabas-e-Golshan (Iran) earthquake: observations and implications for the geological evolution of thrust belts. Geophysical Journal International, 197 (2). pp. 665-679. ISSN ISSN: 0956-540X, ESSN: 1365-246X

Cottaar, Sanne and Heister, Timo and Rose, Ian and Unterborn, Cayman (2014) BurnMan: A lower mantle mineral physics toolkit. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 15 (4). pp. 1164-1179. ISSN 15252027

Deuss, Arwen (2014) Heterogeneity and Anisotropy of Earth’s Inner Core. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 42 (1). pp. 103-126. ISSN 0084-6597

Hoyal Cuthill, Jennifer F. and Conway Morris, Simon (2014) Fractal branching organizations of Ediacaran rangeomorph fronds reveal a lost Proterozoic body plan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. p. 201408542. ISSN 0027-8424, 1091-6490

Leuthold, J. and Blundy, J. D. and Holness, M. B. and Sides, R. (2014) Successive episodes of reactive liquid flow through a layered intrusion (Unit 9, Rum Eastern Layered Intrusion, Scotland). Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 168 (1). pp. 1-27. ISSN 0010-7999, 1432-0967

Levine, J. G. and Yang, X. and Jones, A. E. and Wolff, E. W. (2014) Sea salt as an ice core proxy for past sea ice extent: A process-based model study. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 119 (9). 2013JD020925. ISSN 2169-8996

Liu, A.G. and Matthews, J. J. and Menon, L. R. and McIlroy, D. and Brasier, M. D. (2014) Haootia quadriformis n. gen., n. sp., interpreted as a muscular cnidarian impression from the Late Ediacaran period (approx. 560 Ma). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281 (1793). p. 20141202. ISSN 0962-8452

Lopez-Mir, Berta (CASP) and Muñoz, Josep Anton and García Senz, Jesus (2014) Restoration of basins driven by extension and salt tectonics: example from the Cotiella Basin in the central Pyrenees. Journal of Structural Geology. (Submitted)

Martel, Laura and Magnani, Nicola and Vigier, Jean-Francois and Boshoven, Jacobus and Selfslag, Chris and Farnan, Ian and Griveau, Jean-Christophe and Somers, Joseph and Fanghänel, Thomas (2014) High-Resolution Solid-State Oxygen-17 NMR of Actinide-Bearing Compounds: An Insight into the 5f Chemistry. Inorganic Chemistry, 53 (13). pp. 6928-6933. ISSN 0020-1669, ESSN: 1520-510X

Misra, Sambuddha and Owen, Robert and Kerr, Joanna and Greaves, Mervyn and Elderfield, Henry (2014) Determination of δ11B by HR-ICP-MS from mass limited samples: Application to natural carbonates and water samples. Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta, 140. pp. 531-552. ISSN 0016-7037

Oviedo, Angela M. and Langer, Gerald and Ziveri, Patrizia (2014) Effect of phosphorus limitation on coccolith morphology and element ratios in Mediterranean strains of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 459. pp. 105-113. ISSN 0022-0981

Roberts, Natalie L. and McManus, Jerry F. and Piotrowski, Alexander M. and McCave, I. Nicholas (2014) Advection and scavenging controls of Pa/Th in the northern NE Atlantic. Paleoceanography, 29 (6). 2014PA002633. ISSN 0883-8305

Smith, Martin R. and Ortega-Hernández, Javier (2014) Hallucigenia’s onychophoran-like claws and the case for Tactopoda. Nature. ISSN 0028-0836

Wilson, J. W. P. and Roberts, G. G. and Hoggard, M. J. and White, N. J. (2014) Cenozoic Epeirogeny of Arabian Peninsula from Drainage Modeling. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. ISSN 1525-2027 (Submitted)

Wilson, Lucy A. and Butterfield, Nicholas J. (2014) Sediment Effects on the Preservation of Burgess Shale–Type Compression Fossils. Palaios, 29 (4). pp. 145-154. ISSN 0833-1351

Yu, Jimin and Elderfield, Henry and Jin, Zhangdong and Tomascak, Paul and Rohling, Eelco J. (2014) Controls on Sr/Ca in benthic foraminifera and implications for seawater Sr/Ca during the late Pleistocene. Quaternary Science Reviews, 98. pp. 1-6. ISSN 0277-3791

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