Thursday, October 23, 2014

Earth and Space Exploration Day at ASU this Saturday

ASU hosting Earth and Space Exploration Day

Saturday, October 25, 2014 (9 a.m. - 3 p.m.) 

LOCATION: Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV (ISTB 4), Arizona State University, Tempe

Earth and Space Exploration day is a free annual fall event hosted by the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) on ASU’s Tempe campus inside/outside ISTB 4. The SESE community offers special science-related activities from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. for students age five and up, families, educators and anyone interested in exploring Earth and space. One of the biggest attractions is ISTB 4 with its Gallery of Scientific Exploration offering a variety of interactive exhibits and the Marston Exploration Theater, which will be running 3-D astronomy shows. Visitors can also see a replica of Curiosity Mars rover, explore "A" Mountain (Tempe Butte) on a guided field trip, bring rock samples for Dr. Rock to examine, and so much more!

SESE’s research portfolio includes projects on every continent of the world, and extends to the Moon, Mars, Mercury, and beyond. We are taking photos of the lunar surface with special cameras, sampling the Red Planet using robotic rovers, studying earthquakes big and small, investigating mud volcanoes in Indonesia and much, much more! Each year, the SESE community brings to life its research through innovative hands-on activities as part of this special Earth and Space Exploration Day.

Attending Earth & Space Exploration Day 2014 is free (including parking). But you can help us anticipate the number of people that will attend by pre-registering at Pre-registration also allows a speedy check-in for you and your family.

The Marston Exploration Theater will be offering 3-D astronomy shows.
The Center for Meteorite Studies features interactive displays, touchable specimens, and a video display of the collection’s specimens. Staff will be on hand to inspect potential meteorite specimens in person. Only one sample will be identified per person.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Science Operations Center, located in Interdisciplinary A, will be open. Visit the Moon rock and enjoy a guided walk through of the Visitors Gallery.

[taken from the ASU SESE site]

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Arizonans to drop, cover, and hold on during the Great Shakeout

Thursday is ShakeOut Thursday. At 10:16 am on 10/16, 120,000 Arizonans and 24 million people worldwide will “Drop, cover and hold on” to practice responding to earthquakes.  The  organizers remind us that everyone, everywhere, should know how to protect themselves in an earthquake. Even if earthquakes are rare where you live, they may happen where you or your family travel.

Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills are an annual opportunity for people in homes, schools, and organizations to practice what to do during earthquakes, and to improve preparedness.

I've lost track of the number of people who say that Arizona doesn't have earthquakes. Not true.  The recent magnitude 5.2 Duncan earthquake with hundreds of aftershocks reminded eastern Arizonans of the risk.  Learn more at

National Fossil Day - Arizona's state fossil is petrified wood

Happy National Fossil Day!   The National Park Service organizes the events and promotional materials -
The Arizona State Fossil, petrified wood, is among a long list of state symbols shown on the Arizona Secretary of State's website.

Monday, October 13, 2014

AZGS hazard viewer added to Arizona Emergency Information Network

The AZGS online hazards viewer is now linked in throught the Arizona Emergency Information Network -

The viewer currently inlcudes information on earth fissures, active faults, earthquake epicenters, flood potential, and wildfire risk.

Geologic data program preserves mining files in Arizona

Congress is considering reauthorization of the National Geological & Geophysical Data Preservation Program, first passed in 2005.    The program, based in the USGS, puts up small matching funds to help state geological surveys to catalog and digitize our vast archives.    Since 2011, AZGS has successfully competed for funds to help digitize the files we acquired in the merger of the Arizona Dept. of Mines & Mineral Resources.    These files are being placed online at for free downloading.   We are working through hundreds of thousands of pages of files and reports, 10,000 maps, and thousands of historical photos, to get them scanned, catalogued, georeferenced and online.

Randy Showstack, reporter for AGU's Eos newspaper, covered the hearing in the House last month, and wrote a story describing the scope of the program nationally and some of its other impacts -

AZGS funding from the program has ranged from about $25 to $40 thousand per year, among the larger grants in the country.   Over, Congress has appropriated about $8 million since 2007, with $4.6 million going to state surveys.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

New role with National Data Repositories

Since the recession hit, the Arizona Geological Survey has relied on external grants to replace state appropriations so that 80-90% of our budget now comes these sources. Fortunately, our expertise in open data and data integration has put us in a national leadership role and increasingly a player in the international data environment, to compete for funding.

I'm back from Baku, Azerbaijan and the meeting of the National Data Repositories consortium, where I was chosen as Chair of the 30-nation organization for the next 18 months.  

The meeting organizer, Energistics, is releasing the following statement regarding the meeting:

Managing growing volumes of data generated by the oil and gas industry is a common challenge for all oil regulators around the world. Typically regulators have resolved the problem by establishing National Data Repositories (NDRs). The twelfth meeting of these oil regulators to discuss common issues and problems was held in early October 2014 in Baku, Azerbaijan. The event was hosted by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and it was appropriate that the conference was held in view of the first commercially drilled oil well in the world. [Right, me standing at the world's first commercial oil well, drilled in 1847]

Regulators from 22 countries plus delegates from major oil industry service companies and software suppliers met to share best practices and update the progress made on collaborative projects since the last meeting. More importantly, they discussed how to improve the quality of data delivered to regulators, how to improve the profile of NDRs and how to enhance the value of the data.  Data management best practices increase efficiency, leverage new technology developments and improves industry compliance while promoting economic development and protecting the environment.

Tirza van Daalen, TNO – Netherlands, and Chair of the meeting said, “This was an excellent meeting that exceeded our expectations. There is a real desire for regulators to cooperate and we are expecting real progress in various data standards areas before the next meeting in North America in 2016”.

Jerry Hubbard, President & CEO of Energistics, organizers of the event said, “I believe the next eighteen months will show real progress in collaboration between regulators as they assimilate the lessons learned and the benefits of sharing."

Two of my goals as Chair are to expand on interactions and collaborations among the data repositories between meetings, and to get more of the many U.S. state and federal oil gas regulatory agencies participating in NDR in advance of the Spring 2016 conference to be held in North America.  The U.S. oil and gas community has a lot to learn from and to share with our international counterparts.

I was excited to find that the work AZGS is doing with the US Geoscience Information Network (USGIN) appears to map easily to a quickly growing area of data "business rules." Delegates to the meeting suggested that the 1,000+ data parameters we developed in 30 data content models might form the basis for a global framework.

For more information on the National Data Repository Work Group and NDR2014, please visit   Find out more about USGIN at