Sheared ruby

A rather nice little crystal of red corundum from the Mogok stone tract of Burma testifies to the geological forces accompanying its birth and subsequent life in the crust. The gems themselves were born in the fire and pressure of metamorphism during the Himalayan mountain building event, as marine limestones were baked and recrystallised into marbles. The aluminium liberated in the process mixed with oxygen to form the corundum since it doesn’t fit into the calcite crystals in the forming marble, also sucking into its crystal lattice the chromium that gives it its colour. The forces are still present and the mountains are tectonically active, and at some later point the crystal was snapped by shear forces, part of the response of crust when it forcible meets other crust.

Loz

Image credit: Dick Hughes

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Conservation in Myanmar: a cause for optimism?

by Hannah Watson

Home to some of the largest remaining contiguous forests in Southeast Asia, as well as more than 1,700 species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles, Myanmar is well-known as a biodiversity hotspot. In 2014 alone, 26 new species were found in Myanmar, including the peculiar Glyptothorax igniculus, a catfish that uses an unusual flame-shaped suction cup on its throat to attach itself to rocks.

Fifty years of relative political and economic isolation have yielded slow economic growth and contributed to the conservation of many of Myanmar’s native species. However, the dissolution of Myanmar’s military junta in 2011 marked the beginning of a new age of increasing political and economic liberalization and international engagement.  Many experts fear that possible rapid development fuelled by international investment, improved infrastructure and expanded transport networks, pose a grave risk to Myanmar’s biodiversity and forests…

(read more: MongaBay)

photographs by Marc Veraart and Stephan Brending