Soap that Rocks

30 06 2007

You may have seen soap “minerals” in shops but most likely not these hand-made ones, which are quite spectacular.

It looks like a fluorite specimen, but it’s actually lavender and clary “crystal” soap. Different scents available upon request. What an awesome gift for a rock collector.

Crystal Soap

Available at Patchouly Moon.


When Kilauea Volcano Collapses

26 06 2007

Last month a large chunk of the Kilauea Volcano splashed into the sea. When the Lae`apuki lava delta, on the volcano’s south shore, partially collapsed on May 10, it formed a large scalloped bay. Although scientists initially estimated the area of collapse to be 6 hectares (16 acres), the total area of collapse is now estimated at 9 hectares (23 acres), according to USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

Further collapses may occur without warning, according to USGS.

How The Collapse Happens

When pahoehoe lava enters the ocean for extended periods of time, new land is created in the form of a fan-shaped platform known as a lava delta. Lava pouring into the ocean from either surface flows or lava tubes cools rapidly, usually shattering into sand- to block-size fragments. These fragments accumulate along the submarine slope to form a loose foundation that will eventually support overlying lava flows that build the delta above sea level.

When the lava fragments accumulate on a relatively steep submarine slope, the leading edge of a lava delta will collapse frequently to form a series of submarine landslides. These collapses can sweep unwary visitors into the sea and trigger strong explosions. A lava delta will grow both laterally and seaward until a collapse occurs or the supply of lava to the ocean is interrupted.

Below: Pahoehoe lava entering the ocean at a new location either oozes across a cobble or black sand beach or spills over a sea cliff, typically 1 to 5 m tall. As waves splash over the advancing lava, the surface of the molten stream cools quickly and shatters into small, glassy fragments.

Pahoehoe lava enters ocean

Lava reaching the ocean is cooled so rapidly by the incoming waves that it “freezes” to form to a black glass and shatters into sand- to block-sized fragments that accumulate along the submarine slope just offshore. These loose lava fragments form the unstable foundation for all subsequent lava flows and loose debris, eventually resulting in dangerously unstable land.

For more photos, as well as diagrams of the process, visit When Lava Enters the Sea: Growth & Collapse of Lava Deltas at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory of the USGS.

Situated on the southeastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii, and known as the home of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, Kilauea has erupted 34 times since 1952. The latest period of eruptive activity has been ongoing since 1983, the volcano’s longest in more than 600 years, with its most recent eruption on May 24.

Sources: Carolyn Gramling for Geo-TimesHawaiian Volcano Observatory (USGS)

Geo-Pict: Yellowknife Wetlands as Art

23 06 2007

Extensive wetlands lie near the town of Yellowknife, near the Great Slave Lake in northern Canada. The shallow lakes seen in this image have formed in grooves in the landscape that were carved by glaciers during the last Ice Age.


Yellowknife Wetlands as Art


You can download poster version of this image! Click here.


Image courtesy of USGS National Center for EROS and NASA Landsat Project Science Office


19 06 2007

I went to the CFMS Tri-State Convention and Lapidary Show in Palmdale, CA, yesterday. This was their 68th year! By the time I got there it had been going on for three days so unfortunately I missed most of the demonstrations and talks. But I saw the many cases of impressive displays and had the chance to chat with some vendors and club members.

I took a few photos, but alas, I have no macro lens so the impressiveness of the specimens doesn’t quite translate. But I’ll post a few, with thanks to the vendors.

Pyrite, sulfur, museum-grade citrine and quartz from Brazil
Pyrites! ARRR!!!Sulfur

Museum Quality CitrineQuartz from Brazil

Thanks to Dragon Minerals, Kristauphe Gems and Glidden Enterprises.
Please visit their sites 🙂

Satellite Imagery for Mauna Loa Seismic Activity

14 06 2007

Using a state-of-the-art satellite imagery technique, researchers are able to more precisely predict volcanic activity, bringing them steps closer to understanding where an eruption may occur.

mauna Loa

A new research study, titled “Stress Control of Deep Rift Intrusion at

Mauna Loa Volcano, Hawaii,” uses satellite imagery to study volcanic

activity at Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii. With this new technique, researchers can more precisely forecast locations of volcanic activity — providing critical information to improve warning systems and hazard assessment of populated areas surrounding one of the world’s most naturally dangerous ecosystems, volcanoes. The study was published in the May 18 issue of the journal Science.

Researchers are studying Mauna Loa because it’s the largest and one of the most active volcanoes on Earth.

Read the whole article here.

This image of the Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii shows the capability of imaging radar to map lava flows and other volcanic structures. Mauna Loa has erupted more than 35 times since the island was first visited by westerners in the early 1800s. The large summit crater, called Mokuaweoweo Caldera, is clearly visible near the center of the image. (Image: NASA/JPL)

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. Via Science Daily.

Dynamic Earth

7 06 2007

Very cool website from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History . I thought this was such a fun and well-executed interactive web display. It includes sections on gems and minerals, rocks and mining, plate tectonics and the solar system!