To wrap up Earth Science Week it seemed appropriate to mention the pioneering geologist and professor, Florence Bascom.
When she got her doctorate in geology in 1893, Bascom was the first woman to obtain a doctorate from Johns Hopkins.
She was the second woman to have a PhD in geology in the United States. (The first was Mary Emilee Holmes, University of Michigan, 1888.*) She is also credited with being the first woman to be hired by the United States Geological Service, the first woman to present a scientific paper at the Geological Society of Washington, and the first female officer of the Geological Society of America.
It’s not a secret that I’ve got a soft spot for meteorites, especially the sort that I can get my hands on and turn into jewelry.
Since meteorites are samples of the universe outside our atmosphere they are kind of by definition awesome, excepting the occasional mass extinction event causation. But humans are knowingly creating the current age of mass extinction, so who are we to throw stones at non-sentient space rocks?
A scientist named Clair Patterson (1922-1995) used meteorites to help determine the age of the earth. In studying them to learn about our home, he discovered a much closer and more personal problem-atmospheric lead.
My new Gibeon meteorite pendant in copper.
A short addendum to my earlier meteorite intros.
I just finished wrapping my last piece of meteorite a few days ago. So meteorites were already a little on my mind when I went to a small mineral society show and picked up some tektites. I thought they’d make fun earrings to go with a meteorite pendant. (Otherwise the show was a bust.)
Tektites are small, unprepossessing black stones with an unusual texture and unique origin.
“Tektites are terrestrial rock melted and flung into the atmosphere by the force of an asteroid or comet impact.” Nicely summed up on http://tektites.co.uk/
They’re natural glass of a kind with a high silica content and extremely low water content. The shape was determined by how far the melted rock was thrown into the atmosphere before re-entry. These guys are the most normal type-splash form. They are rounded shapes that range in size from millimeters to centimeters. The shapes are the result of the ground at the impact site being molten or vaporized and ejected from the site of impact and thrown thousands of kilometers away.
The ones I picked up are from what is called the Australasian strewn field. That is the largest, and newest one known. The impact struck around 800,000 years ago, and the strewn field covers at least 10% of the planet’s surface. No one knows where the primary event occurred.
One kind of wild (scary) fact is that tektites from this field have been found with stone axes in southern China, showing that early humans must have been alive and active in that region when the object fell.
Can you imagine? Besides the destruction and likelihood of mass deforestation…It’s scary enough to think of something like that happening when you know what is going on, but to have no idea, a sudden boom, mass destruction and then a rain of small rocks?
Since people sometimes misinterpret/misrepresent these-just to reiterate, tektites are *not* meteorites, they are made from earth disturbed by an extraterrestrial impact.