Thursday, December 30, 2010

Earthquake in Central Indiana

The reports that at 7:55 this morning local time, a rare earthquake struck Central Indiana. From the story by Nick Werner:
What makes today’s earthquake so rare is that it was centered in Greentown, about 13 miles southeast of Kokomo.

“They are so infrequent in central Indiana,” Steinmetz said.

The Indiana Geological Survey had no records of an earthquake this size in Central Indiana ever. He said he needed more time to research when — if ever — central Indiana had been the center of even a more minor earthquake.

Central Indiana is home to a faultline, the Fortville Fault, which runs through Madison and Hancock counties. But Steinmetz said it was too premature as of 9 a.m. to determine whether the quake originated on the Fortville Fault.
The quake was a relatively mild 3.8 magnitude, and thankfully there hasn't been any reported damage. Indiana is home to a few faults, and when I spoke to Walter Gray of the Indiana Geological Survey this fall, he told me that the next couple years of his outreach efforts would be largely dedicated to earthquake awareness. Though Indiana is not located at the seam between two tectonic plates, as is earthquake-prone California, the potential for damaging earthquakes is considerable. I'll be writing more about Indiana earthquakes in the future, as it's one of the reasons I decided to start this blog.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Short-Eared Owls in Indiana

The Indiana Audobon Society has a wonderful photo pool on Flickr, which I heartily recommend following. Photographer Steve Gifford has been sharing striking photographs of Short-eared Owls, taken near Somerville, IN. Seeing an owl is such a rare treat. You can't help but stare at those eyes.

Short-eared Owl by Steve Gifford
Photograph by Steve Gifford, via Flickr.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Bryozoan in Lake Monroe

Today on the Scientific American Guest Blog, Jennifer Frazer writes about bryozoans. I was pretty thrilled to see that a video she linked to as a visual aid was shot right here in Monroe County, Indiana. It's short, but nicely illustrates this obscure organism. Frazer gives a fantastic introduction to the bryozoan clan, writing:
Bryozoans are like the whales of the coral world -- they are not coral, but have evolved into the same filter-feeding polyp-like niche. They're really old -- like 500,000,000 years old. And some bizarre details of their biology have helped them elude the best efforts of biologists to try and pin them down in the Earth family tree.
Head over to SciAm for the rest. Frazer writes The Artful Amoeba and tweets, too.

Here's a fossilized bryozoan I photographed at Falls of the Ohio State Park in September.

Fossil Bryozoan

You should also head over to Mike Popp's great blog Louisville Fossils and Beyond for his own post on bryozoan fossils, posted today. If you aren't following his blog, get with it! It's a daily must-see.

The Guest Blog is also a consistently great read. That tireless promoter of online science communication, Bora Zivkovic, has really raised its importance since taking the lofty title of Chief Editor and Community Manager for SciAm, bringing in a diverse group of bloggers to contribute on all kinds of scientific topics. Speaking of which, you might be something from yours truly popping up there pretty soon...