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Geology: The Tetrapod Trackway on Valentia Island
Sporen in de rotsen © Annemieke van Roekel Valentia Island is the home of one of the oldest tetrapod trackways in the world. The Irish tracks, dating from the Middle-Devonian (Givetian), are 2 cm deep maximum. The animal, a slow walker, must have been 1 m in length, its tail one third of its body length. Most early tetrapods disappeard at the end of the Devonian, when 75% of all species and 50% of the genera became extinct.
Foto: Tetrapod tracks © Annemieke van Roekel
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Geology: Hippos in Holland
Bert Boekschoten in the Botanical Garden of the Free University © Phiny van Roekel The Dutch paleontologist/geologist Bert Boekschoten turned 80 in September. In the September issue the The Netherlands Journal of Geosciences payed attention to his carrier. The last article is an interview with Boekschoten about his work and passion.
Foto: Bert Boekschoten in the VU Botanical Garden © Phiny van Roekel
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Energy & geology: Shale gas
Jan de Jager © Annemieke van Roekel Don’t expect a US-style boom in shale gas production in Western Europe. It’s still not proven that economically viable reserves of shale gas even exist over here. Compared with North America, the regions in Europe characterized by the necessary geological conditions for shale gas are scarce, says Jan de Jager, newly appointed professor in Regional and Petroleum Geology at Utrecht University.
Photo: Jan de Jager © Annemieke van Roekel
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Volcanism: White Island
Fumarole met zwavelkristallen © Annemieke van Roekel Only 1,5 hours sailing from the coastal town of Whakatane, the most spectaculair marine volcano in New Zealand is situated. The area above sea level is only 1.5 percent of its total mass. Walking on White Island can literally be an almost breathtaking experience. Hardly any vegetation survives in this acidic environment inside the crater walls. Wonderful colours are caused by the bright yellow sulphur crystals. The fumaroles are active 24 hours a day. Photo: Fumarole © Annemieke van Roekel
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Natural stone: Irish bluestone suffers dip due to economic crisis
Kellymount quarry © Annemieke van Roekel The beautiful sections of fossil brachiopods from the Early Carboniferous in the center of Amsterdam originate from shell banks in Kellymount quarry, in Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. It is one of Ireland's four major limestone quarries offering bluestone that has the quality for a building material.
Photo: Kellymount quarry in Kilkenny
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Discover Fossils in Downtown Amsterdam
Fossils in Amsterdam Alleys © A. van Roekel Tourists in Amsterdam may benefit from geological and paleontological knowledge when they roam the streets and alleys downtown. The city centre of Amsterdam is covered with natural limestone containing lots of interesting fossils, originating from a shallow, tropical sea covering Europe hundreds of millions years ago. Read more about ancient ocean life in Amsterdam alleys in a popular walking guide about fossils in Amsterdam.
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Renewables: Hold on to the target of 20% sustainable energy in 2020
Windturbine bij ECN in Petten © Annemieke van Roekel European governments must take action to stimulate investment in the production of renewable energy. If they fail to do this, the credit crisis will cause a setback in sustainable energy projects. This will make it very hard to meet the EU’s target of 20% primary energy from renewable sources by 2020. That is the main message of a recently released report Crisis or not, renewable energy is hot by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Photo: Wind turbine at ECN in Petten
Read this article in European Energy Review (pdf) >>
     
Renewables: Solar power in growing pains
CIS PV plant, Albacete, Spain © Sputnik Engineering The production of solar cells across the globe is experiencing unprecedented growth. In 2007 production increased by 70%, as opposed to an average of 40% in previous years. Today, the installed worldwide capacity amounts to 10 GWp. This is still only about 10% of installed wind power in the world. Experts say that in about ten years’ time, the price of solar will equal the price consumers pay for conventionally generated electricity.
Photo: Thin film solar plant in Albacete, Spain © Sputnik Engineering
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Oceans: Global map shows pristine areas are scarce
Pollution of the oceans 41% of our oceans is severely effected by human actions, according to an international team of American and Canadian scientists. They produced a global map of all human activities on the oceans, as detailed as 1 km-square sections. 'Only 4% of the oceans is relatively undamaged, mainly located in icy areas in polar regions,' lead scientist Ben Halpern says.
Illustration impacted oceans by Ben Halpern et al.
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Renewables: Wind power conquers the globe
© REpower/Caméléon Over half of the world's wind capacity is currently installed on European soil: 57 GW out of a world total of almost 100 GW. Europe’s wind capacity target is 180 GW by 2020, generating enough electricity for half of all EU households. But even these ambitious growth figures pale into insignificance when compared with the ambitions of the most important growth markets for wind energy – China and the United States.
Foto: REpower/Caméléon
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Renewables: Floating wind turbines
Wind-hydrogen park on Utsira © Annemieke van Roekel Compared to other European countries, Norway has very little installed wind power capacity. But this is about to change. Two different prototypes of a floating wind turbine will soon be tested in the North Sea, off the Norwegian south-west coast. Near the island of Utsira a consortium of companies want to build Europe’s first floating wind park.
Photo: Wind-hydrogen park on Utsira island, Norway © Annemieke van Roekel
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Energy: Digital fields help produce more oil
Troll field © Marit Hommedal/StatoilHydro An important strategy to meet growing global oil demand is to increase oil production from existing fields, as new fields are becoming scarce. Oil companies are developing digital fields to increase production. A combination of smart technologies and new workflows can also prove useful in areas that are geologically more complex, remote such as unmanned deepwater reservoirs or in polar climates.
Photo: Troll field © Marit Hommedal / StatoilHydro
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Transport: 'Hydrogen is a choice'
Hydrogen truck © A. van Roekel A substantial part of the European fleet could drive on hydrogen gas by 2030. Policy incentives for technology deployment, harmonization of legislation, more R&D, and a lower sales price for hydrogen vehicles are the necessary prerequisites. But it will only happen if Europe makes an explicit choice for hydrogen as a long-term solution. Photo: A. van Roekel.
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Great Apes in Danger
Chimp ant fishing © Ilka Herbinger Not only on the African continent but also in some European restaurants meat of the great apes is on the menu. This depressing trend shows that our closest relatives may not survive the 21st century in the wild. In the very first World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation by UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the state of the art of the African and Asian great apes is described in detail. Photo: Ilka Herbinger
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Fulmars as the Ocean's Dustbin
Fulmar © Jan Andries van Franeker/IMARES Most Fulmars in the North Sea have plastics in their stomach. These pelagic birds eat anything that floats on the ocean's surface. Fulmarus glacialis serves as monitoring instrument for marine litter in the North Sea and Northern Atlantic Ocean, since the ministers of the North Sea countries decided to start the Ecological Quality Objectives - EcoQO's - in 2002. A pilot study for monitoring EcoQO's includes setting target levels for a cleaner North Sea.
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Bird's Paradise Selvagens
Cory's shearwater © Isabel Fagundes The Portuguese archipelago Ilhas Selvagens, in between Madeira and the Canary Islands, is a paradise for more then 100.000 pelagic birds such as the once endangered Cory's Shearwater and the White-faced Storm-petrel. Belonging to the Natura 2000 network, the archipelago constitutes Portugal's most southern territory (30N/16W) and is part of Macaronesia, the volcanic islands in the North Atlantic at low latitude.
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Pollution effects Dutch Ecosystems
Grutto © Maja Roodbergen 175.000 sites in rural areas in the Netherlands are severly polluted. In the Stimulation Program System-oriented Ecotoxicological Research (SSEO), a selection of rural sites (estuaries, wetland and peat meadows) has been subject to ecotoxicological research. Effects of heavy metals on animals are indicated, although natural circumstances such as drought, flooding and food scarcity may have more effect.
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Seas On Fire
Dolphin in the Atlantic Ocean © A. van Roekel Adipose (fatty) tissue of dolphins in European seas contains high levels of brominated flame retardants. These chemicals are mainly used in the production of textile, carpet, foam and electronics. The EU phased out PBB's and Pentamix (a PBDE) was banned recently. The most popular PBDE these days is Decamix. NGO's doubt the supposed low toxicity of Deca-BDE and point to the risk of their metabolites.
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Laatste wijziging: 4 October 2013
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