The U.S. Is Getting Shorter, as Mapmakers Race to Keep Up
> Scientists are hard at work recalibrating where and how the nation physically sits on the planet. It’s not shrinkage — it’s “height modernization.”
> The grand recalibration, called “height modernization,” is part of a broader effort within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, to establish more accurately where and how the United States physically sits on the planet. This new National Spatial Reference System, encompassing height, latitude, longitude and time, is expected to be rolled out in late 2022 or 2023, Ms. Blackwell said. It will replace reference systems from the 1980s that are slightly askew, having been derived from calculations that were done before the advent of supercomputers or global navigation satellite systems such as GPS.
Arch Rivals Quarrel Over Quirky Geological Formations
> Controversies abound in the world of natural-arch hunters: Are there 11 categories or 17? Tape measure or laser range finder?
Walker Lane Redux
> To make a story short, a handful of geologists have speculated, at least since the late 1980s, that the San Andreas Fault could actually be dying out over time—that the San Andreas is jammed up in a place called the “Big Bend,” near the town of Frazier Park, and that it is thus losing its capacity for large earthquakes.
> As a result, all of that unreleased seismic strain has to go somewhere, and there is growing evidence—paleoseismic data, LiDAR surveys, GPS geodesy—that the pent-up strain has been migrating deep inland, looking for a new place to break.
> That new route—bypassing the San Andreas Fault altogether—is the Walker Lane (and its southern continuation into the Mojave Desert, known as the Eastern California Shear Zone).
> I was thus instantly fascinated several years ago when I read about something called the Walker Lane, a huge region of land stretching roughly the entire length of the Eastern Sierra, out near the California/Nevada border, which some geologists now believe is the actual future edge of the North American continent—not the San Andreas. It is an “incipient” continental margin, in the language of structural geology.
Drift of the North Pole forces early magnetic map update
> As the magnetic field’s quirks are dynamic, the model has to be updated, which is done on a five-year schedule. The rate of the North Pole’s motion, however, has been fast enough that the agencies who produce the model aren’t comfortable with waiting for the current model expiration at the end of 2019.
The Anthropocene Project
> The Anthropocene Project is a multidisciplinary body of work from world-renowned collaborators Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky and Jennifer Baichwal. Combining art, film, virtual reality, augmented reality, and scientific research, the project investigates human influence on the state, dynamic and future of the Earth.
> This photo essay bears witness to a critical moment in geological history, showing the breadth of impact that our human systems and technologies have imposed onto natural landscapes.
The labs that forge distant planets here on Earth
> High-pressure experiments explore what it might take to make exoplanets habitabl
Tolkien’s Map and The Messed Up Mountains of Middle-earth
> The man might have made up some beautiful languages and written stories that generations of writers have responded to in ways ranging from homage to bad photocopy, but I’m going to guess he was no connoisseur of geography.