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Category Archives: info

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Just happened upon a sweet and simple geobrowser called Flash Earth…very smooth and easy to understand. Added bonus for me is that it links to high-res images of my favorite field area that are available only in Yahoo and Bing Maps:


Seems my pals at Google still just don’t care about SE Oregon. Anyway, I found the site by perusing the details in an exif header in one of my geotagged photos. Was checking that out in Irfan View, a program I was aware of but hadn’t tried yet. Turns out, it is well worth a look:



Which led me to the GeoHack wiki:



The internets are amazing, no? Totally cool.



Posted via email from Fresh Geologic Froth

I am damn happy to report to you that the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Portland, OR (October 18-21) has given a nod to the geofroth. I teamed up with some folks smarter and nicer than I (always a good approach) to devise some session proposals about digital methods in geology. It worked! There will be two sessions. One is a Pardee Keynote Session on Sunday Afternoon (Oct. 18) entitled:

Google Earth to Geoblogs: Digital Innovations in the Geosciences

This session is being developed by Me (UNR/NBMG), John Bailey (UAF; AVO), Ron Schott (Ft. Hays State), Mano Marks (Google Geo), Glenn Richard (MPI / Stonybrook / SERC), and Peter Selkin (UW Tacoma). This session will be consciously and blatantly unconventional with a few talks, possibly a discussion or two, and will ultimately transmogrify into a interactive session with displays and tutorials of Google Earth applications and kml programming; examples and demonstrations of gigapixel photography (ranging from the do-it yourself to some amazing examples by professionals from xRez; stellar examples of using GE for education and outreach; and demonstrations of some of the other things that you may have read about at Geologic Frothings. We are also planning on unleashing a geo-mashup  on the masses willing to attend. Oh yeah, and there will be free (frothy) Oregon microbrew, but don’t tell anybody.

The aforementioned cast of characters have been let loose by GSA to build the keynote as they wish. Please plan on stopping by if you are attending GSA. It will be fun even if it doesn’t work.

As for an alternate venue for direct participation, the same crew (only in a different order) are heading-up a technical session entitled:

Digital Innovations in Geoscience Research, Education, and Outreach

If the sound of this warms the digital part of your heart then please submit an abstract. Abstracts are due August 11, 2009 so you should have plenty of time to get your act together.
Come and help us bring geology into the 21st Century.

By the way, my proposal to GSA for the keynote originally had the term Geoscience 2.0, but the selection committee didn’t get it…and not because they thought it should be 3.0!

I have managed to steer largely clear of instant messaging (IM) for some time. This owes mainly to the lack of collaborators (beyond some family members) that are among the initiated. Well, it turns out that IM is pretty darn useful for communicating with colleagues,  particularly when you are both riveted to your computer screens working on a related topic (ideally, a geologic one). I have drowned in the Google Kool-Aid, so I obviously use Google Talk for this process. Recently, I had a friendly exchange with a colleague about getting some served imagery online. This has also been quite handy for quick, but mandatory queries about other topics with other collaborators. Sometimes a phone call takes too long and sometimes email languishes for days, why not try IM for some brief and instant results?

Fruitful IM Exchange about Geologic Mapping

Fruitful IM Exchange about Geologic Mapping

I added the Google Talk app to my Blackberry (yes)  in addition to a Google Map app that can show high-res satellite imagery keyed to my location (and, yes, I have used it in the field).  Recently someone at Google took the obvious step to approximate the combination of these two applications and developed Google Latitude. This application makes it possible (following a bit of setup) to make your location visible to a select group of collaborators. This has some pretty cool implications for mapping with a group. For one, if you are in an area with good coverage (and have an amenable provider) you can keep track of a mapping team and converse about what you may be checking out at the time. Of even greater interest is being able to remotely track a colleague who is in the field while you are in the office.

Google Latitude in my Neighborhood

Google Latitude in my Neighborhood

I recently approximated this approach with a combination of sms (text-messaging) and Google Maps. My geopal was down in southern Nevada looking for some key map units I had described. She sent me a text message requesting some coordinates. I was in my car more than 400 miles away, but headed to a coffee shop to log on to Google Maps, loaded the satellite view in the area and began to send key coordinates (decimal degrees if it matters) of key outcrops in the area as inferred from the imagery.  She hit the outcrops, took photos, geotagged them, and uploaded them to Picasa web albums that night. I checked them out the next morning. A sweet virtual mapping experience was had by all. Next time, we will try to directly incorporate Google Latitude into this process. We ran into coverage issues in this case, but it was still a success.

Imagine an ink pen that ~instantly converts your field notes into digital data. That’s right. An ink pen that simply, and nearly instantly, converts all you have written into your field book into a digital notebook. There is one, I have tested it, I really like it, I have no reservations about recommending it. There are few reasons not to use it.

The pen and field book combo is made by Adapx. Through a complex combination of sensors in the pen and embedded patterns (Anoto pattern) in the paper (in this case, an actual Rite in the Rain field book), the pen’s brain keeps a precise record of all the strokes it has made during the day. Once the day has ended, plug the thing into your computer and it uploads all the pages of notes. The latter, and most important step, requires that you use Microsoft OneNote software. This is not a dreadfully negative factor, however. The software is surprisingly useful.

The screen clipping below shows an example of the digital data pulled off of the pen. This (for what it is worth) does look precisely like my handwriting. The sample below is from a recent field stint on the Owyhee River. The embedded image and clean text were added later using simple tools in OneNote. (Read about OneNote here)

Also, OneNote can attempt to convert your handwriting to text. It does a fair job depending on your penmanship. At the very least, it gives you a decent start on converting your chicken-scratches.
The example above shows: 1. Field notes, 2. OneNote conversion, 3. Corrected note (with mistake, whoops)

Geologic mapperz stay tuned. This device is also designed to allow you to draft on to paper maps, yes paper maps, and automatically convert your analog mapping to digital mapping. It works with ArcGIS (must have the .NET framework installed) and has lots of promise. I will be testing this application in the field soon.

Notes: the pen and OneNote add-on cost me $300. Battery power is good for more than 1 day. The ink used by the pen is Rite in the Rain’s proprietary ink. It gets a little thick in the cold. I would kill for a pencil, my preferred note taking device. Alas.

Greetings subscribers (all 3 or so of you). I am on hiatus for the next 3 weeks. I will be trying out my new waterproof / dustproof Pentax camera on a trip down Grand Canyon from Phantom Ranch to South Cove. Will be sure to provide some follow up. For now, check out some bedforms on the floor of the shallow part of Lake Tahoe. I am confident the camera will work on the river…

I attended the USGS-AASG sponsored ‘DMT’ meeting for the first time this year. I should have been attending this meeting for the last several years. This year, it was in Moscow, Idaho. I applied too late to give a talk, but forced myself on the audience anyway under the guise of a discussion.

Principal Take Home Messages (through the cynical filter of DrJerque):

1. Paper maps aren’t dead, but they are dying, albeit slowly.
2. ESRI is coming to terms with the power and sway of Google Earth and kml
3. Existing USGS 24 k basemaps are no longer loved by all (and hated by some)
4. LiDAR kicks proverbial butt.
5. Some geologists still use Garmin 12xl GPS units….ouch!
6. Geotagging digital photos is still news to some.
7. Geologists are generally uninterested in carting computers around in the field.
8. Many state surveys still publish maps using graphic arts programs.
9. Archiving digital data is a major concern.
10. Geologic data standards are emerging. They need to be adopted.

I recently realized that I had more than 1200 slides that I had taken in the field between about 1990 and 2001. For example, this insane waterfall I visited in Iceland in July 2000. I also realized that they were becoming distant memories as the years passed and the files from my digital cameras piled up on my hard drive. It was obvious that I was never going to see all or most of these slides again, so I took an evening to go through all of them, toss out the real losers, crudely organize the remaining 996 and send them to a service that scans and archives them to DVD at a cost that I could never, ever match. I chose where they scanned my many slides at 2000 dpi, burned them to DVDs (as full res tifs and medium res jpgs), archived them, printed out a thumbnail album, and mailed them back in less then a month for only $550! After having the digital results in my hot little hands for a couple of hours, I am convinced that it was money well spent.

If you are an aging geologist with a rich photographic slide archive, sit back and think about the likelihood that you are ever going to delve very deeply into it again. My guess is that you may never see most of them again. Have them scanned and you will be able to peruse every single one of them, otherwise they will just get more deeply buried, more disorganized, and ultimately fade away. Take a few minutes to think it over…once you have faded away, no one wants to go through your slide collection if it is not digital (at least probably not).

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I have known that Lee Allison, the state geologist of Arizona, maintains a blog for some time now. Today I noticed that he collated a nice set of links to other geology blogs:

This list is a refreshing indication that I am not the only geologist that thinks this is a useful thing to do.

I also noticed that the AZGS is being subjected to some budget cuts and pressures for reorganization. Something is in the air.

I think it is important to consider the types advances shown below and their promulgation into all levels of popular culture as clear indications of transformation in the expectations of end users of maps of all kinds. The advances in 3D representation are particularly interesting.

Here are some links I found today that indicate various types of transformation in communicating and displaying geographic data:

Check this link to a recent article and video in the Wall Street Journal: Digital Maps

Check out this new GPS unit from Garmin: The ‘Colorado‘. This looks like a promising foray into the type of interface that would be particularly useful for geologists. I have been experimenting with a variety of gps field tools (palmtop computer, Panasonic toughbook) but I have the fewest qualms about simply using my Garmin 76csx. This new unit looks great to me.
Yes, I do want one….however, $599.

Follow the link below to see a lengthy presentation about virtual volcanology in Google Earth. The author is a strong proponent of using Google Earth in Geoscience, and presented at AGU’s virtual globe session. The presentation is a bit long, but it reinforces the obvious point that Google Earth is an essential tool for geologists. Its potential for teaching geology is vast. The instructional value of you tube also comes across in this context. Stay tuned to this blog for an example of the value of new online presentation software as well.

Virtual Volcanology