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Babel (redux balal)

My father worked for the phone company all his life. Actually, that isn’t completely true. In 1943, during World War II, he joined the Marines, got married and managed not to get killed. After the war he returned to his job at the C&P Telephone Co., played around on boats in and around the Potomac [...]

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(Not) Freezing in Inner Mongolia

Thirty seconds seems like an incredibly short amount of time. But a lot of things can happen in thirty seconds. I had removed one of my gloves to turn the page in my field notebook to jot down some measurements on the coal we were sampling. It was a bad idea. In that short amount [...]

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Queensland University of Technology/China University of Mining and Technology 2nd Annual Field Trip

The second year of this field trip saw us going up the southern Queensland coast looking at both the modern and ancient geological environments. The students are first and second years, from the School of Resources and Geosciences from Xuzhou, China and come for 15 days. In almost all cases this is the first time [...]

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Fire and Brimstone in the Cretaceous

The Hailaer Basin in Inner Mongolia, China has a lot of coal, mostly of Cretaceous age; some beds are over 40 m in thickness. Setting aside any of its economic uses, the scale of peat accumulation is phenomenal. The basin itself is tectonically dissected into coal fields ranging in size distribution from 20×80 km to 40×120 [...]

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QUT and CUMT Field Trip in Queensland

In early August of this year (2018), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, Australia conducted a field trip for undergraduate geologists from China University of Mining and Technology (CUMT), Xuzhou, China. Over the last year in my dual roles as an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences, QUT and [...]

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Still an interesting read – COAL: A Human History

A while ago I reviewed a book on coal. Recently I saw it on my book shelf and thought it might be interesting to put that review up on the Cipher blog. Below is a slightly abridged version of the original review. Enjoy. I knew something was up when upon entering the shop the friend [...]

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Blue Skies Beijing

Yes, I know. Normally the words ‘blue skies’ and ‘Beijing’ aren’t in such close proximity. Yet, when I was there just a couple of weeks ago, it was indeed blue skies. Warm, yes; smoggy, not really. Though I was inside much of the time … I was in the captivating capital of China for the [...]

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Bangers and Mash with a good dash of Pickel

The fantastic thing about geology is that it is the perfect mix of both science and imagination. There is that old saying of Einstein about imagination* and geologists, on a daily basis, have to exercise that muscle. But it is the shear scale that geological imagination has to transgress – from continents to subatomic particles [...]

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Cretaceous Greenhouse World

My son asked me what scores of other children ask their parents at some point: “Dad, have you ever been on TV”? I was in the middle of painting a wall inside the house and was poised to say no… no, sorry son, I have not, when I realized I actually have. So instead I [...]

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A Fish Story

I have an old fish on the wall, and I get to ponder it’s life every time I walk into my loo at home. I’ve been pondering this fish for the last 24 years. Considering its age, it is not a stinky, yucky fish. In fact it is over 48 million years old, so any [...]

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