geological surveys

Among the many, many reasons I like the idea of Lyra Erso as a rejected Jedi-hopeful relegated to the Jedi Engineering Corps is because it gives her a reason to know Saw Gerrera before the rise of the Empire.

Also, I just like imagining graduate student Lyra being assigned to answer all the inquiry transmissions received by the Corps. Most of them are boring—scientists across the galaxy double-checking their facts, senators or contractors requesting results of geological surveys, the occasional oddball request for treasure maps, or a list of which mineraloids are poisonous if ingested.

But one day, she gets an inquiry from a man on Onderon. And though he’s circumspect about it, it’s very clear to her that he’s talking about making chemical weapons. (The war against the Separatists has been raging for some time now. She’s only surprised it’s taken someone this long to ask.)

She opens a new transmission, and keys out:

Dear Master Gerrera,

Thank you for your inquiry to the Jedi Agricultural Corps, Engineering Division. The official uses of the cyanogen silicate compound known as “Sith’s breath” are limited to the construction of Celegian life support chambers, due to the compound’s extreme toxicity to most carbon-based sentient life. Additionally, the components are difficult to procure, and their synthesization without proper licensure under Galactic Republican Statute 1184.2-4 Aleph constitutes fraudulent business practices and illegal production of a controlled chemical compound.

The Jedi Order must warn you that should you pursue this course of action, it will have no choice but to enforce the law to the fullest extent of its authority.

On an unrelated note, baradium bisulfate is an accessible liquid compound, used frequently in mining. Unlike cyanogen silicate, it does not sublimate at 20°C, but it is highly unstable and a very small amount can do a surprising amount of damage. Several years ago, a careless engineering trainee did not calibrate a suspension field carefully, and leveled a small mountain.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have further questions.

May the Force be with you,
Lyra Inair, Geological Engineer, Jedi AgriCorps 

She expects that to be the last of it, and so she’s extremely surprised when he replies directly. Less surprised when she realizes he’s asking how one goes about constructing a suspension field. Possibly one that would destabilize with some sort of trigger or timer or maybe on impact…?

And they keep—writing one another. Even after she’s moved off the transmissions desk, to actual geological work. Rocks and weapon mechanics turn to small talk, turn to little details of their lives, turn to the Force and the Republic. He talks about his sister, about the warfront; she complains about the internal politics of the Corps and Galen (though he’s not Galen, yet, he’s just the handsome Republican engineer with cheekbones like sheered silicate). They argue theology, and justice, and violence. She cries for him, when his sister dies. They—are friends. 

Saw is the only one she tells, when she decides to turn her back on the Order. She is in love and Galen has friends in Coruscant, a prestigious job with an engineering guild—

Please do not stop writing me, she begs.

I will be here, Saw writes, if you ever need me.

Since 2009, earthquake activity has increased throughout the central United States, specifically in areas employing new and emerging oil and gas production technologies. Join Dr. Justin Rubinstein, deputy chief of the Induced Seismicity Project at the United States Geological Survey, as he discusses this new breed of human-caused earthquakes.

This lecture took place at the Museum on November 10, 2016.

The Annual IRIS/SSA Lecture Series is presented in collaboration with the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology and the Seismological Society of America.

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A skylight​ is not just a view to the world above you, but ​a window to the world beneath. In this photo​,​ taken last month on the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater at Kīlauea​ in Hawaii, a volcanic skylight reveals a river of molten rock, drifting just below the charred surface. It’s a powerful reminder of the forces at work below us. Photo by U.S. Geological Survey.

As the wars and relocations of the later 19th century devastated the indigenous population of the Great Plains, many whites became interested in documenting American Indian life. The photographer William Henry Jackson, famous for his images of the western landscape, likely produced this portrait of a Crow man and woman while working on a federal geological survey. 

William Henry Jackson. Kam ne but se or “Blackfoot”. circa 1880. New-York Historical Society.

How to Study for the GRE

Step 1: Find a test taking center near you.

Step 2: Decide which date you want to take the GRE

Step 3: Download practice tests online.

Step 4: Go to your local library to find geologic surveys of your area.

Step 5: Use these resources to locate a nearby cave.

Step 6: Move into cave, leaving all your possessions behind.

Step 7: Abandon all your career goals.

Step 8: Gather roots and berries to survive.

Step 9: Let your hair and/or beard grow out.

Step 10: Try to forget the life you once hoped to lead.

Step 11: Cry.

Here we see a a desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) hatching from its egg at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Western Ecological Research Center located in Sacramento, California.

The desert tortoise is a federally listed threatened species only found in the Mojave Desert. Young ones like the little guy pictured above are especially prone to predators like dogs and ravens, whose numbers can increase around areas of human activity and structures.

Adult tortoises can be killed by car traffic, ingesting trash, and wildfires, and are affected by loss of habitat from urban and industrial development, cutting short their potential lifespan of 100 years.

(By: K. Kristina Drake, USGS)

The largest of the eared or tufted owls in North America, the great horned owl is a wonderful and fascinating bird. Covered in extremely soft feathers that insulate them against cold weather and help them fly very quietly in pursuit of prey, their short, wide wings allow them to maneuver among the trees of the forest. Rarely seen because of their camouflage coloring, their calls are familiar across the U.S. We wonder what this one is thinking. Photo by Dennis Demcheck, U.S. Geological Survey.


Alpha, TR. 1970. Central San Francisco Bay. Menlo Park, CA:United States Geological Survey.

I’m really glad I found this map, the detail is amazing.  It’s an absolutely wonderful hand drawn map by Tau Rho Alpha who worked for USGS.  The USGS on their website dubbed Alpha “marine geology’s illustrator extraordinaire.”  My favorite pieces of this map are the Golden Gate and the location and design of the north arrow. Beautiful. 


IMPORTANT INFORMATION. Central Domino City has suffered a hit from a 5.4 magnitute earthquake. Domino Geological Survey says the earthquake was unexpected, came without warning. No casualties have been reported, although there are still concerns as several poorly constructed buildings have collapsed or received serious damage, especially around Domino Plaza. Authorities urge residents who live in coastal areas to evacuate to higher grounds. 

It’s National Bird Day! Besides being a source of beauty and inspiration, birds are an important part of our ecosystem. Many species are at risk because of habitat loss, disease and climate change. Public education and conservation are the best tools to ensure a better future for these wonderful animals. This great horned owl wants to know what you think. Photo by Dennis Demcheck, United States Geological Survey.

I can’t decide which Star Trek headcanon I like better:

1) Every ship in Starfleet runs into just as much space trouble as the Enterprise (and other main character ships), to the point where it becomes nonchalant

“Hey Susan, how was your time on the Victory?”

“Oh, it was awful. We got sucked into an interdimensional rift for 3 weeks! Uhg, it was terrible. What about you?”

“Yeah, our ship entered a nebula, and then gravity reversed direction, so everything repelled everything else. It was so tedious, pushing buttons was hard, because you would be repelled away from your station panel. Glad that nonsense is over.”

2) Only the main character ships experience weird space anomalies.

“Hey, how was your assignment on the Constitution?”

“We charted some stellar nurseries and did some geological surveys. One time, we had a little conflict with the Romulans, but it never escalated to a fight. What about you?”

“My mission was pretty boring. But have you heard about Fred? He got assigned to the Enterprise! He was telling me about how they encountered an omniscient space cloud and that they faced “space bullshit” as he called it, every other week. He says he’s lucky to be alive.” 

Like, other starships occasionally have a battle, but none of them encounter these weird space anomalies, or travel through time, or meet omniscient beings, or anything weird like that. It’s literally only the various Enterprise ships, Deep Space 9 and Voyager. That’s it. Every other ship in all of Starfleet is pretty much boring.


BLM Wyoming Surveys Devils Tower 

Story by John Lee, Chief Cadastral Surveyor, Wyoming State Office

BLM Wyoming’s Branch of Cadastral Survey had a unique opportunity last summer. The National Park Service (NPS) was a little unsure of where the legal boundaries were for Devils Tower National Monument, so NPS hired the BLM team to perform a cadastral (boundary) survey of the north, east, south, and west boundaries of the iconic landmark.

Devils Tower was designated a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in September 1906. This was the first use of the American Antiquities Act passed by Congress in June of that year.

The proclamation states:

“And, whereas, the lofty and isolated rock in the State of Wyoming, known as the "Devils Tower,” situated upon the public lands owned and controlled by the Unites States is such an extraordinary example of the effect of erosion in the higher mountains as to be a natural wonder and an object of historic and great scientific interest and it appears that the public good would be promoted by reserving this tower as a National monument with as much land as may be necessary for the proper protection thereof; …"

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The map was hand drawn by Eleanor Lutz, a designer known for slick and informative infographics like “How to build a human.” Lutz made the map by blending that old-world aesthetic with actual topographic imagery from NASA, cartography from the US Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Science center, and official names from the International Astronomical Union.