Select Page

Science (mostly history, and mostly gravity)

Chasing the history of the gravity method sometimes took me down side-tracks that did not quite fit the theme, and so never made it into ‘The Hunt’. Also, and inevitably, there were stories that should have been in ‘The Hunt’ but which I missed. Here are some of them, and bits of new Earth Science are sometimes included!

Before longitude

In her best-selling book  Longitude, Dava Sobell told the story of the ultimately successful efforts made in the England of the first half of the Eighteenth Century to measure longitude at sea using very accurate clocks, and also mentioned that attempts had been made in the second half of the Seventeenth Century to do the same thing. Christiaan Huygens figured prominently in the account but there is much more to that part of the story than appeared in the book. It began with an obscure Scottish nobleman.

read more

The perils of processing gravity data

LinkedIn is full of people claiming that just because their opinions conflict with the those of the majority, that does not mean they are wrong. No quarrel with that, but problems arise when they reverse the argument and claim that it somehow proves they are right. When, in doing so, they wander into areas about which I think I know something, I have to protest. And increasingly I see that happening when gravity is being used to investigate geology.

read more

The perils of big gravity data

According to NASA, the new Earth Gravity Model EGM2020, although not yet released, has been completed, .It will be based on a great deal of new data and will be a valuable addition for regional studies. But, like its predecessors, there is a danger that it will be misused.

read more

The break-up of the Banda slab

Plots of earthquake hypocentres on north-south swathes across the Banda Sea show that the northern and southern Wadati-Benioff Zones zones involve the same slab of subducted lithosphere. But can that scoop-shaped slab hang together?

read more

Tomography and the Molucca Sea

Improvements in seismic tomography have allowed subducted slabs to be identified in the mantle even when they are no longer seismogenic. How well do tomographic models from different researchers compare?

read more

The shrinking of Adria

Adria, or at least that bit of it positioned near the top of the crustal stack, just got a little bit smaller. At about half past eight local time in the morning of the 9th of November 2022, a Magnitude 5.6 earthquake nucleated at a nominal depth of 10 km beneath the Adriatic sea near Ancona.

read more

What was Adria?

Despite more than two hundred years of geological investigations, there are still huge unanswered questions regarding the Alps. Given my own geographical bias towards the extreme northern Adriatic, one question in particular dominates my thought. What was Adria?

read more

A scientific hatchet job

Scientific debate can sometimes be carried on in a most unscientific fashion, even by the most reputable of scientists. An article by Professors Alice Roberts and Mark Maslin entitled “Sorry David Attenborough, we didn’t evolve from ‘aquatic apes’ – here’s why”, first published in Scientific American, is a good example.

read more

Apolaki and Anagolay: closely related LIPs

From the 12th to the 14th of September this year the 15th Emile Argand Conference on Alpine Geological Studies is being held in Ljubljana and on the final day of the conference I am down to give the keynote address. I shall be talking about the Philippines, and I shall be building my talk around the Tagalog mother and son deities Anagolay and Apolaki. How can that possibly be?

read more