domingo, 26 de febrero de 2017

Monthly Geological Pics


Although we have grown accustomed to the fact that the Canary Islands have always been there, 
only an hour later than the Iberian peninsula, the fact is that, 
in geological terms, its origin goes back only about 20 million years ago ... quite little, as a matter of fact. 

Aunque desde niños, nos hemos acostumbrado a que las Canarias siempre han estado ahí, solamente una hora más tarde que en la Península, lo cierto es que, en términos geológicos, su origen se remonta solamente a unos 20 millones de años… poca cosa, para entendernos.

The volcanism of the Canaries, as a propagation of a "hot spot" under the oceanic crust, has its origin in the most eastern islands, which share platform: Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, whose volcanism below sea level occurred during 50 million years, until 17 million years ago, the submarine volcanic building surfaced and there appeared what would be the islands themselves.

There have been several theories about the formation of the Canary Islands. The most recent Unifying Model (Anguita and Hernán, 2000) considers that the magma, originated in a hot spot of residual character, reaches the outside as a consequence of tectonic origin compression and distension movements. During the distension the crust is fractured and compression rises the blocks.

On the oldest "Basal Complex" of Fuerteventura (Left) , formed from the bottom of the ocean, three large stratovolcanoes grew: first the Central Building, then the Jandía Building in the south, and finally the North Building. These volcanoes would be very high, but due to problems of instability or great earthquakes, disappeared by sliding, their material accumulating in the bottom of the sea.

Natural monument of Puerto de La Peña (Ajuy - Fuerteventura)
Due to this cataclysm, the rocks of the Basal Complex were exposed, being possible its study and visit in the zone of Betancuria and Ajuy. The following geological units can be seen here.

Monumento natural de Puerto de La Peña (Ajuy – Fuerteventura)  - Debido a este cataclismo, las rocas del Complejo Basal quedaron al descubierto, siendo posible su estudio y visita en la zona de Betancuria y Ajuy.

1.- The Basal complex is formed by oceanic sediments, volcanic deposits and lava, traversed by intrusive dikes and plutonic rocks. The oldest rocks date from the Jurassic-Cretaceous period. They are the oldest rocks in the Canary islands.

2.- An old beach raised more than 14 meters above the present sea level. Its sediments contain fossils of 5 million years of age. (Left down)

3.- Pliocene basaltic pillow lavas are visible, which origin is a flow from Morro Valdés volcano in Betancuria. (Left up)


4.- Recent alluvium consist of water transported rock fragments, from inland to the sea side. (Right)

5.- Pliocene dunes consist of calcarenites, formed by the fossil remains of shells and seaweed, indicators of the existence of a warmer climate.

viernes, 24 de febrero de 2017

The landscape collector

Aneto y Pico Coronas (Macizo de La Maladeta)

Hielo inmaculado y roca descarnada, en donde la vida no solo es posible, sino que se manifiesta desde la proliferación de las bacterias que bullen en una sola gota de agua, hasta el organismo pluricelular más desarrollado y capaz de todo lo bueno y de todo lo malo.

Un mundo cercano de roca y hielo… que no se encuentra a 40 años luz, ni está fuera del alcance de cualquiera… 
pero que no es para cualquiera...

Es para aquellos que se sienten vivos con el brillo de millones de diminutos cristales,
en la nieve que reverbera al sol, 
como si estuviera cubierta de purpurina… 

Para aquellos que sienten consciente y felizmente dolerles los músculos de las piernas, 
a cada paso que dan en la dirección elegida…

Para aquellos a quienes cada minuto, cada zancada, 
cada imagen y vivencia del día 
les queda escrita con título propio en su corazón.

miércoles, 15 de febrero de 2017

La negra noche... / Black night

La negra noche tendió su manto de profunda niebla, y surgiendo de entre la tenebrosa oscuridad, la muerte fría, dama blanca como la escarcha, ha congelado el corazón de este corzo.

Nada en la naturaleza es inútil ni superfluo… y la vida quizás insignificante de este corzo es un tributo que alimenta el ciclo esencial.

El tiempo pasa demasiado rápido cuando se trata de la muerte, pero cuando se trata de que prospere la vida, es ligero y pausado como el planeo de una rapaz y leve y suave como los pasos del lobo en el bosque. 

The black night stretched her deep fog cloak, and rising from the profound darkness, cold death, white lady like frost, has frozen the heart of this roedeer.

Nothing in nature is useless or superfluous ... and the insignificant life of this roedeer is a tribute that feeds the essential cycle.

Time passes too quickly when it comes to death, but when it comes to life prospering, it is light and leisurely as the glide of a raptor and light and gentle as the footsteps of the wolf in the woods.

domingo, 12 de febrero de 2017


Supplanting ecosystem services provided by scavengers raises greenhouse gas emissions

Sustituir el servicio al ecosistema que aportan los  carroñeros no solo aumenta la emisión de gases invernadero, sino que supone importantes e innecesarios costes medioambientales y económicos…

Paper in NATURE by ten spanish scientists from Elche, Sevilla, Madrid, Lleida, Berna (CH) Universities and Estación Biológica de Doñana (CSIC). January 2015

Global warming due to human-induced increments in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) is one of the most debated topics among environmentalists and politicians worldwide.

After the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Europe, the sanitary regulation required that livestock carcasses were collected from farms and transformed or destroyed in authorized plants, contradicting not only the obligations of member states to conserve scavenger species but also generating unprecedented GHG emission.

In Spain (home of 95% of European vultures), supplanting the natural removal of dead extensive livestock by scavengers with carcass collection and transport to intermediate and processing plants meant the emission of 77,344 metric tons of COeq. to the atmosphere per year, in addition to annual payments of ca. $50 million to insurance companies.

First to find a carcass in the field, crows and ravens cries and feather reflections will soon attract vultures.

Blue magpies are a frequent visitor of carcasses where they will eat small and soft bits before vultures arrive.

Once the flying griffons are sure the land is quiet and secure, they will gregariously sink down to the ground.

A frenetic race for the best meal occurs in the first minutes, including pushes and pick attacks.

With satisfied stomachs, it’s time for some individuals to relax and bask their wings to the sun, while leaving their place to other colleagues.

Feeding griffons keep their attention alert to the suspect shadow of some intruder wanting to share the meal.

Vultures and eagles share the meal without queries. They just want to eat and there’s enough for everyone.

A near pine tree lodges satisfied vultures and others not having decided yet to drop down to the carcass.

Black vultures are attracted to the meal too.

Time has passed, meal is finished and it’s time for vultures to regain their sleeping grounds.

viernes, 10 de febrero de 2017

Pir Panjal (India)

As February goes on,… we are shown the bucolic landscapes that heavy snowstorm are producing in our northern hemisphere mountains… and flatter land other than mountains as well… 
But not only bucolic landscape, it’s true…, as transport, schools, work and every day’s life might be paralyzed… 

It’s time for a good walk, to throw snowballs and make a snowman and when you’re cold and not feel your hands, drink a hot chocolate in front of the fireplace, while dreaming of a ski vacations… Ski vacations you can take, if dreaming, in Gulmarg, the ultimate powder ski experience site in the Himalayas… 
Gulmarg is in the Pir Panjals, one of the six ranges which make up the Himalayas, with maximum height being 6,028 m. Located at the western extremity of the world's highest peaks, the Pir Panjal's are the first mountains hit by westerly and south westerly storms which roll in over Indus River flood plains each year, providing the greater part of the Himalayas' winter snowfalls.

Pir Panjal slopes are steep and strongly covered with glaciers, glacial lakes and dense coniferous forests. 
Pir Panjal is separated from the Greater Himalayas by the Vale of Kashmir. 

The Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel crossing under the middle Himalayas range, in Jammu and Kashmir state, India, north of Banihal town. It was open to operation in June 2013 after six years construction. 
It’s 11.215 km (7 mile) length crosses through limestone, andesite and basalt.   

viernes, 3 de febrero de 2017

Whale watching in the Egyptian desert...

Imagine swimming in the ocean with an over 20 meter long whale, looking rather like both an alligator and a snake. 
Now imagine being afraid to even take a bath ever again.

The modern ocean is a scary place, filled with barracuda, sharks, giant-squids, and what possibly else. However, no matter what we find in the depths these days, none of it seems to come close to the giant terrors that roamed the seas in the Earth’s past. Megalodon being probably the best-known creature in the list, this included giant sea-lizards, monster sharks and even “hyper-carnivorous” whales, for most of which, humans would barely qualify as a snack.

The Tethys sea

Birthplace of the whales, the ancient Mediterranean Sea is called the Tethys Sea. Its shoreline ran across northern Egypt. Throughout the Eocene, this sea, which had then reached as far south as to where Luxor is now located, began to retreat northward. In the meantime, continental river deposits effected the long-term regression of sea level. By the end of the Eocene, deep marine water was restricted to lagoons and eventually deltaic and riverine conditions in northern Egypt. 

Wadi el Hitan whales

Some 50 million years ago, in the Eocene, land mammals started to evolve to a fully aquatic life, through some remarkable intermediate stages in which they became “walking whales”, living on the abundant food there, until they eventually left the land altogether. A tropical forest and mangroves existed in Oligocene time in the presently Egyptian Fayun desert… which witnessed a flourishing of biological diversity and the emergence of species which descended from the preceding Eocene.

Heavy rains formed seasonal rivers bringing rich nutrients to the shallow seas. This attracted an abundance of marine life and organisms, including carnivorous whales, especially the large Basilosaurus and its smaller prey Dorudon. Despite its name and appearance, Basilosaurus was not a reptile, but actually a fearsome predatory whale and an ancestor of modern whales. 15 to 20 meter long, it is described as being the closest a whale has ever come to being a snake because of how long and sinuous it was. 

Dorudon and Basilosaurus evolved around 40 million years ago. Skeletal adaptations allowed them to adopt a fully aquatic lifestyle and permitted their limbs to be used more for steering than for paddling. Their hind limbs are important in verifying the evolutionary process from primitive whales witch had them fully developed, to recent whales that lack external hind limbs. 

Basilosaurus and Dorudon whales 

Basilosaurus was present in Wadi el Hitan some 37 million years ago. Its name means “King lizard” and it was chosen when people first thought that its bones belonged to some sort of reptilian sea monster. 

Wadi el Hitan was at the time also inhabited by Dorudon, whose name means ”spear tooth”. As fierce as they may have appeared, Dorudon were preyed upon by much larger Basilosaurus. Dorudon, or a species of an early whale like it, was probably the ancestor of all the modern whales. 

Basilosaurus and Dorudon rear feet, a small one for such a big animal, hasn’t got its pelvic bone attached to its vertebrae, as in land mammals. There is no way they could use them for walking, but were possibly used as claspers to help them mate in the water. These hind limbs are very important in verifying the evolutionary process as an intermediate between primitive whales with large hind limbs and recent whales that lack hind limbs altogether.

UNESCO Wold Heritage

A unique landscape of huge boulders of varying sizes, shapes and textures provide a striking background for the Wadi el Hitan fossils. 

A geological survey of Egypt visited the valley in 1902 and recorded the existence of fossil remains. In 1912, the first national team to work in the field of Vertebrate Paleon- tology was able to make new discoveries of previously unknown species, and efforts were crown with the discovery of the largest complete Basilosaurus fossil in the world. 

Still, it wasn’t until 1983 that an early whale displaying the remains of hind limbs and feet was discovered. This discovery triggered intense interest in the valley and especially in the evolution of whales.

Designing and building facilities for this sensitive site of global importance presented several challenges, as how to be least intrusive on such a unique landscape, counter the hot climate, benefit the local people and also take advantage from their local knowledge and skill. The result was a World Heritage facilities which were inspired by nature through mimicking the earth tone colors, textures and shapes of the landscapes.

Wadi el-Hitan o Valle de las ballenas es una región de la gobernación de El Fayún, en el desierto occidental de Egipto que contiene importantes restos fósiles del suborden de los arqueocetos (antepasados de los cetáceos modernos). Fue incluido en la lista de Patrimonio de la Humanidad de la Unesco en julio 2005.

Esos restos paleontológicos representan uno de los principales registros de la historia de la evolución de las especies: la transformación de animal terrestre en uno acuático sufrido por las ballenas. El Valle es el sitio más importante del mundo para demostrar esta evolución. 

Se retrata con precisión la forma de vida de esos mamíferos durante su evolución. El número, la concentración y la calidad de los fósiles son únicos. Los restos muestran a los animales perdiendo sus miembros traseros, los cuerpos hidrodinámicos, como los de las ballenas modernas, al mismo tiempo que presentan aspectos primitivos de estructura ósea. Otros materiales fósiles encontrados en la localidad permiten reconstruir el ambiente y condiciones ecológicas de la época.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...