Category Archives: Geosciences & Geology

Fossil Rock Anthem!

Another great parody by Tom McFadden. Rock on, we shovelin’!

Merapi Eruption and Mentawais Tsunami

Guardian Slideshow

Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are no rarity here in Indonesia. The Indonesian archipelago is a series of thousands of volcanic islands which emerged from the ocean millions of years ago. These islands are the product of the convergence of the Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates. It is our home.

The trade-off for the fertile lands, natural resources and wonderful seas around the area is the ever-present risk of disaster. The price of these disasters, when they occur, is usually paid in the lives of the poor.

Since the tsunami of 2004 an early-warning system has been developed and implemented in many locations in the Indian Ocean. In 2006, it appears that early-warning messages were not relayed appropriately, costing more lives in Pangandaran. No early warning existed for the recent Mentawais tsunami, as it was not considered cost-effective to install the system for such a small population. At least 430 people were killed.

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The Mentawais are an internationally-renowned spot for high-class surf, and SurfAid International are leading fund-raising and relief operations in the area. Through the Surf-Aid schools project, you can access free resources and teaching materials to help students learn about global issues, the oceans and citizenship.To make a donation to the Mentawais relief efforts, please visit their site. Here is a video report on the affected area from their website:

Edit: You can see a recording of a presentation given by Milton Brown as part of the Global Education Conference 2010 by clicking here. You will need Elluminate installed.

Another ongoing story is the eruption of Gunung Merapi in central Java. This is a little closer to home for us here in Bandung, though our city is not directly affected. However, thousands have been displaced and many lives lost, with a high demand still for aid and support. For a gallery of hard-hitting images from the Guardian, click on the photo below:

Click on the image to see a stunning slideshow from the Guardian. Photo by Clara Prima/AFP/GettyImages

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Among those affected are SOS Children’s Villages in the region. These are orphanages and community projects which provide homes and education for hundreds of children. They are in real need of basics – clothes, nappies, baby needs and more. If you wish to donate directly to SOS in Indonesia, please follow the link here. If you wish to make a donation to the international organisation, please visit their international website here. Tax advantages are applicable in some countries and you get some say over where your money goes.

BIS students are aiming to help the Merapi SOS Children’s Villages that were affected by raising money through the annual Talent Show and collecting materials and resources needed . Good luck!

Here’s some AP video footage of Merapi in action:

The 11th Hour re-up: Human Impacts on Ecosystems

In 2007, Leonardo DiCaprio released his environmental call-to-arms, The 11th Hour. And it’s very good. It really knocks home the old proverb that we are not inheriting the Earth from our ancestors, but borrowing it from our children.

Update 2009: the whole film is available on GoogleVideo (as all good documentaries should be):

The movie contains contributions from the likes of Stephen Hawking, Nobel-winner Wangari Maathai and David Suzuki. Particularly useful is Gloria Flora‘s sentiment that we all vote, every day – even those who are too young to cast a ballot – by making informed choices about what we consume, spend our money on and throw away.

Watch It!

Watch It!

The first half of the movie is a talking-heads and imagery look at our impacts on the Earth, with plenty of soundbites and starting-points for further discussion. The political middle section describes how economic growth and interests are driving destruction. The final act is a great collection of ideas and hope – a call to arms and a realisation that the environmental movement is growing quickly and strongly. But is it going to be in time to save our species and the thousands that we drive to extinction each year?

Now here’s Leo’s video message (including the ‘vote’ quote from Gloria Flora):

For some further reading, go to the 11th hour Action website.

IB Biology students:

Here is a quick question sheet for the movie, linking some of the topics to the Ecology and Conservation option.

Higher Level students: pay attention to the parts about the role of trees in the environment, in particular through water-uptake. Also, do you understand how mycofiltration (using fungal mycelia) could be used to clean polluted soils?

For good measure, here’s Linkin Park’s accompanying music video, What I’ve Done :

Tonga Boom! Undersea volcano erupts off Tonga

Imagine being on a fishing boat making a holiday video and then the whole ocean explodes around you. Well that’s not exactly what happened, but it would be a good story…

According to the Global Volcanism Program, this volcano started to erupt on the 16th or 17th March and has been going since. This video shows a team of scientists who took their boat out to the site to capture footage and record local and wide-spread changes. Apparently, no-one has been hurt by the volcano.

To see some aerial photos of the volcano, with coordinates, visit the ASTER volcano archive.

Click on the image below for some great photos from the Guardian.

A spectacular cloud of ash and steam

A spectacular cloud of ash and steam

As you can see, the plume of ash and steam is huge. A line from the AP states “the eruption does not pose any danger to islanders at this stage, and there have been no reports of fish or other animals being affected” – other than by the great big explosion, then.

To learn more about volcanoes in general, visit the Science Education Resource Centre’s Volcano visualisation library. For more about how underwater volcanoes are monitored, check out this flash animation from NeMO Net, from NOAA.

For another good article on vocanoes, click on the image below to see what has to say

Mt Cleveland erupting, as seen from space

Mt Cleveland erupting, as seen from space

NOAA Environmental Visualisation Library

Education Resources, Animations, Videos and Satellite Images

Education Resources, Animations, Videos and Satellite Images

Awesome. NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) has revamped its Environmental visualisation libray – bringing new educational materials, visualisations, animations and resources to educators and the public. See the images of the 2008 hurricane season, animations of the ocean damage caused by humans or check out their library of satellite images.

They also have a YouTube channel where you can view and download some of their video resources. In relation to our upcoming Earth Day theme of “Reefs and Oceans“, here’s a clip about the effects of coral bleaching:


Check out the NOAA image galleries too...

Check out the NOAA image galleries too...

On the Cutting Edge – Visualising Geosciences

On the Cutting Edge is an impressive collection of animations and teaching/learning resources for the geosciences, including Climate Change, Early Earth and Oceanography.

It is a site designed for professional development in geosciences faculties, but there is a lot of useful material for middle-high school Science and Geography.

One really interesting resource is their map showing the changes in land use over the last few hundred years:

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