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Stories by David Bressan

March 27, 1964: The Great Alaskan Earthquake

" One day earthquake and thunder decided to explore the world, but doing so they reached only a desolate and dry plateau. Earthquake noted that the land was located much too high in the sky for humans "They will have no food, if there is no place for the creatures of the sea to live in!" Earthquake begun to shake, stronger and stronger, until the earth finally collapsed and the sea inundated the land...

March 27, 2012 — David Bressan

The Geological Heritage of the Irish

According to a popular myth, long time ago lived a giant named Finn McCool on the shores of the county of Antrim in Ireland. On the opposite shores lived the Scottish giant Benandonner.

March 17, 2012 — David Bressan

A short History of Earthquakes in Japan

Japan is situated in the collision zone of at least four lithospheric plates: the Eurasian/Chinese Plate, the North American Plate, the Philippine Plate and the Pacific Plate.

March 11, 2012 — David Bressan

Namazu the Earthshaker

According to a popular Japanese myth the cause of earthquakes is the giant fish Namazu , often depicted as a giant catfish in woodcuts called namazu-e .

March 10, 2012 — David Bressan

Geologizing Women into the Field!

Geology usually requires outdoor activities in remote, inhospitable, hazardous or dirty environments. At the beginning of the 19th century it was hard to imagine that a gentleman would engage voluntarily in such an activity and it's seemed even less comprehensible that a woman could and should be allowed to do the same thing!As results of these social prejudices throughout history women geologists have encountered difficulties travelling to their field locations or working in the field.Girls and women working in the field were tolerated in the social lower classes, like professional fossil collector and dealer Mary Anning (1799-1847) of Lyme Regis (Dorset), daughter of a craftsman, but for upper-class women engaging in field research was almost impossible.Women could minimize these "problems" by collecting fossils and studying rocks in their local environment, for example on private property or in the surroundings of their home, where their social status was known and such behaviour regarded as eccentricity and somehow tolerated...

March 8, 2012 — David Bressan

Book Review: Environmental Hazards and Disasters

Environmental Hazards and Disasters: Contexts, Perspectives and ManagementBy Bimal K. PaulWILEY-BLACKWELL334 pages | Softcover1st edition | November 2011ISBN 0-470-66001-5Asked to explain a natural disaster, most people trained in physical sciences will probably describe how plate tectonics cause earthquakes or how climate change affects floods or droughts...

March 5, 2012 — David Bressan

What Bugged the Dinosaurs?

" Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious Bandersnatch! "" Jabberwocky ", by Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)Insects are the most successful multicellular animals on earth today and there is no reason to assume that in the geological past this situation was very different...

March 1, 2012 — David Bressan

Accretionary Wedge #43: "Awful Changes"

The monthly gathering of the Geoblogosphere - The Accretionary Wedge - hosted this time on the blog " In the Company of Plants and Rocks ", is asking for my favourite geological illustration...

February 29, 2012 — David Bressan

How Darwin's rats revealed evolution

Charles Darwin, in his most famous book " On the origin of species ", almost doesn't mention the fossils that he discovered in South America, apart the brief reference in the introduction:" WHEN on board HMS 'Beagle,' as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of that continent...

February 27, 2012 — David Bressan

How Plants survived the Ice Age

" No such hypothesis is sufficient to explain either the cataclysms or the glacial phenomena; and we need not hesitate to confess our ignorance of this strange, this mysterious, episode in the history of the globe......

February 23, 2012 — David Bressan

How Volcanoes became a Symbol for Revolution

More than a year ago a wave of uprisings and insurrections in the North African countries of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya inspired a cartoon (still visible on the geology blog " Pawn of the Pumice Castle ") comparing the rage of the people with a sort of magma chamber ready to erupt.The use of natural forces as metaphor has a long tradition, especially phenomena as fire, floods or storms were often associated with negative historic events like war, invasions or plagues.During the 18th century the European revolutions against aristocracy and monarchy, especially the French revolution of 1789-1799, changed this negative to a positive view...

February 19, 2012 — David Bressan

Darwin the Geologist

In an autobiographic note Charles Robert Darwin (February 12, 1809 - 1882) remembered a childhood wish:" It was soon after I began collecting stones, i.e., when 9 or 10, that I distinctly recollect the desire I had of being able to know something about every pebble in front of the hall door--it was my earliest and only geological aspiration at that time...

February 12, 2012 — David Bressan

Frauds, Fakes and Fossils

" What are they? Creations of mind?- The mind can make Substance, and people planets of its own With beings brighter than have been, and give A breath to forms which can outlive all flesh "" The Dream ", Lord Bryon (1788-1824)In the year 1725 the professor of medicine and personal physician of the bishop of the German town of Würzburg, Dr...

February 7, 2012 — David Bressan

Forensic Seismology

On July 25, 1946 the United States detonated the first underwater nuclear weapon in history - code name " Baker " - at the Bikini Atoll . The explosion generated a gas bubble that pushed against the water, generating a supersonic shock wave which crushed the hulls of nearby target ships as it spread out...

January 23, 2012 — David Bressan

January 17, 1995: The Kobe earthquake and early Antiseismic Architecture

In the morning of January 17, 1995 a strong earthquake hit the Japanese city of Kobe and despite the modern city infrastructure was assumed earthquake-proof more than 6.000 people were killed, 26.800 injured, 46.000 buildings destroyed or damaged and more than 300.000 people were made homeless.The Kobe earthquake lasted for 14 to 20 seconds and reached a magnitude of 7.2 after Richter (7 according to the Japanese intensity scale - shindo , the maximal possible value), the strongest earthquake in western Japan since 1923...

January 17, 2012 — David Bressan

Post-Disaster Recovery: Lessons from the 2010 Haiti earthquake

November 1, 1755 the city of Lisbon was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake followed by a tsunami, estimated 30.000-100.000 people died. For the first time in history a kind of crisis management was organized to deal with the aftermath of this disaster...

January 12, 2012 — David Bressan

Deciphering the Layers of Earth

"This was the man to whom all things were known; this was the king who knew the countries of the world. He was wise, he saw mysteries and knew secret things, he brought us a tale of the days before the flood...

January 12, 2012 — David Bressan

January 6, 1912: Continental Drift!

" Beautiful is what we see, More beautiful is what we understand, Most beautiful is what we do not comprehend. "Anatomist and self-educated geologist Nicolaus Steno , 1673January 6, 1912 the German meteorologist Alfred Wegener presented in a lecture entitled " Die Heraushebung der Großformen der Erdrinde (Kontinente und Ozeane) auf geophysikalischer Grundlage " (The uprising of large features of earth's crust (Continents and Oceans) on geophysical basis) for the first time his hypothesis of the ancient supercontinent Pangaea , from which all modern continents split apart.Three years later he will publish his book " Entstehung der Kontinente und Ozeane ", translated in the third edition and published in 1922 as " The origin of continents and oceans...

January 6, 2012 — David Bressan
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