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Geology: El Hierro, the youngest Canary. Island of landslides
El Hierro, the most southwestern island of the Canary Archipelago, is covered with many cinder cones and other young volcanic sediments. The distinct three-armed island structure is defined by the rift system in combination with the collapse of the flanks of the three ridges. Due to recent volcanism, it is a beautiful Geopark, with extensive areas of malpaís and rope lava and cinder cones overgrown by the Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis).
Read the Dutch version of this article in Gea Magazine (September 2022).

© A. van Roekel
Young cinder cone in the southern part of El Hierro. Photo: Annemieke van Roekel

Geoarchaeology: The origin of marble from ancient times: Gortyna, Crete
The origin of natural stone in ancient architecture and sculpture can be traced by studying the rock at a micro level. Three Italian universities determined the origin of marble from the Greco-Roman city of Gortyna (South Crete) and knew exactly from which quarries in the Aegean area it was extracted about 2000 years ago.
Read this article in Dutch in Gea Magazine (June 2022).
Read this article in English on this website.
Read this article in German on this website.

© A. van Roekel
Archaeological site Gortyna, Crete. Photo: Annemieke van Roekel

Geology: Island hopping in the Canaries - 2022
The new cone of the Cumbre Vieja © A. van Roekel In real American style, I "did" the western Canary Islands in two weeks. They are the youngest ones of the archipelago. On El Hierro I was mostly impessed by the extensive and pristine lavafields in the south, in the area of the Geoparque Center, as well as with th actual shape of this young volcanic island, due to very recent mega landslides. The trip to Los Organos, perfectly interlocking basalt columns in northwest Gomera, provided a chance to see the spectacular west coast of the island, cliffs cut by many dikes. La Palma, a month after the eruption was declared to have come to an end, made me realise the gloomy side on the beauty of volanic cones, part of the island being drowned in ash and lava flows. The photo serie is published in Gea Magazine (March 2022); the English version will be exclusively published on this website soon. Photo: The new cone of the Cumbre Vieja, still smoking © Annemieke van Roekel
Paleoantrolopology: Late Miocene footprints - 2021
Late Miocene sediments in Trachilos © A. van Roekel Trachilos' footprints, located in the west of the greek island of Crete, are particularly important to paleoanthropologists because they support an exciting hypothesis about human evolution. Indeed, they are possible evidence of the presence of an upright walking early human species in Europe during the Late Miocene, perhaps even related to the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees. In doing so, they can contribute to a paradigm shift in palaeoanthropology, in which the focus of Africa as the cradle of bipedalism is shifting to the more northern latitudes. The idea is that the Messinian Salinity Crisis plays a role in large-scale desertification, which caused migration waves of animals and our ancestors via the eastern Mediterranean to tropical Africa. This article is published in Gea Magazine (March 2022); read the English version here. Photo: Trachilos sediments © Annemieke van Roekel

Geology: Porto Santo, safe harbor thanks to ice age sand
The distinctive skyline of Porto Santo (Madeira Archipel) is defined by the skeletons of volcanoes: the interior and most erosion-resistant part of Miocene volcanic complexes. The island formed submarine during the Early and Middle Miocene, followed by volcanism above sea level. From 10-8 million years ago, the volcanic activity was limited to the formation of a few dykes, which define the present landscape as the softer rock eroded away.
Read in Dutch in Gea Magazine 2021/2.
Read the English version here.
    © A. van Roekel
The 'picos' are vertical dykes. Foto: A. van Roekel.

Geology: Gavdos Island, a Lifted and Subsided Aegean Crustal Block
To seekers of rest, beach visitors, archaeologists and geologists, the island of Gavdos, the most southern point of the European continent, is a rewarding destination. Right at this spot in the Eastern Mediterranean, an ancient sea floor has risen above the water, presenting to geologists an undisturbed view of astronomical cycles in the geological era of the Miocene.
This article is published in Gea Magazine.
Read the English version here.
    © A. van Roekel
Metochia Section, NE Gavdos. Photo: A. van Roekel.

Biodiversity: The secret lives of microbes
Scientists inspire artists - and vice versa
In the Sea Encounters Art (S.E.A.) project on the Dutch island Texel, marine scientists cooperate with artists. The result is exhibited this summer on various locations on the island. One of the science-art-couples are microbiologist Henk Bolhuis and micro-photographer Wim van Egmond. Their BIOFILM project - exhibited at Ecomare - shows fascinating time-lapse images of microbial life, in which cyanobacteria play the lead role.
BIOFILM is one out of ten projects in the S.E.A. project. Other projects cover e.g. plastic waste, structure of sand grains, seaweed as a new raw material for bio-plastic and bird research about migrating knots. Read this article in EuroScientist journal >>

BIOFILM preview - SEA Art Tour Texel 2019 from S.E.A on Vimeo.

Biodiversity: Earth's biota entering a sixth mass extinction, UN-report claims
Monoculture in modern agriculture. Credits: Wikimedia Commons Five big extinctions, also called the big five by earth scientists, have challenged life on earth in the past 500 million years. It turns out we are now in the middle of the 6th extinction, according to a recent UN report. Up to one million species are now on the brink of extinction. For three years hundreds of scientists have contributed to the project and describe the latest knowledge on biodiversity in the '2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services'.
Foto: Monoculture in modern agriculture. Credits: Wikimedia Commons
Read this article in EuroScientist journal >>
Book review: Academic Life as 'Cash Cow' in the Dutch Golden Age
Cover Nederlandse vertaling The Dutch Golden Age was an outstanding period for Dutch book production and trade. A historic study about this trade has been published recently and reveals that the people in the Republic owned more books than other Europeans. However, publishers generated most of their income producing dissertations and political pamphlets, the latter being considered as the forerunners of newspapers.
This book is available in English and Dutch.
Foto: Cover 'De boekhandel van de wereld'. Credits: Atlas
Read this article in EuroScientist journal >>

Book review: What early farmers can teach us: How Archaeology Can Save the Planet
Cover credits Oxbow Books We can learn lessons from our early human ancestors. Ancient agricultural systems can provide us with knowledge how to make our modern, large scale practices more sustainable. Erika Guttmann-Bond, environmental archaeologist and specialized in geoarcheology, provides us in her new book 'Reinventing Sustainability: How Archaeology Can Save the Planet' with many examples of old agricultural and architectural practices. These techniques could be useful even in modern times.
Image: Cover credits Oxbow Books
Read this book review (in English) in EuroScientist journal >>
Geology: Fossil algae reveal 500 million years of climate change
Chlorofyl. Credits: Kristian Peters via Wikimedia Commons BY-SA 3.0. Earth scientists are able to travel far back in time to reconstruct the geological past and paleoclimate to make better predictions about future climate conditions. Scientists at NIOZ and Utrecht University succeeded in developing a new indicator (proxy) of ancient CO2-levels, using the organic molecule phytane, a debris product of chlorophyll. This proxy breaks a record in its time span, covering half a billion years.
Image: Chlorofyl. Credits: Kristian Peters via Wikimedia Commons BY-SA 3.0
Read this press release (scroll down to the bottom for the English version) at the NIOZ website >>

Geology and environment: Deep sea mining causes long-term damage to ecosystem
Mangaanknollen in de Stille Oceaan. Credits: Kiel ROV 6000, GEOmar The extraction of polymetallic nodules in the deep sea causes irreversible long-term environmental damage. This is the conclusion of NIOZ researcher Tanja Stratmann in her PhD thesis. Stratmann made an inventory of the consequences of the removal of metal-rich manganese nodules on the fauna on and in the deep seabed. The effects affected the filter feeders most, such as corals and sponges. Restoring the deep-sea ecosystem will take decades to centuries, while some species may never return. Image: Polymetallic nodules in the Pacific. Credits: Kiel ROV 6000, GEOmar
Read this press release (scroll down to the bottom for the English version) at NIOZ website >>
Book review: Archaeological heritage vulnerable to climate change
Digging at Ness of Brodgar. Orkney � CC-BY-SA 4.0 by S Marshall Archaeological heritage sites provide us with information about past climates and adaptive strategies of Homo sapiens. Also, in prehistoric times, settling in coastal areas had many advantages for early humans, such as the availability of marine food resources and transport possibilities. Coastal areas are therefore important in archaeological research. But at the same time these sites are under a threat of climate change and other (semi) geological forces. A new publication of Oxbow Books pays attention to various recent projects worldwide, presenting 18 papers on the subject of public archaeology.
Image: Digging at Ness of Brodgar. Photo: CC-BY-SA 4.0 by S. Marshall
Read this book review in EuroScientist journal >>

Geology: The Tetrapod Trackway on Valentia Island
Sporen in de rotsen. Photo: 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. Image: Tetrapod tracks. Photo: Annemieke van Roekel
Read this article in Gea Magazine (in Dutch) >>
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.
Image: Bert Boekschoten in the VU Botanical Garden. Photo: Phiny van Roekel
Download this article (pdf) >>
Read the Dutch version online >>

Energy & geology: Shale gas
Jan de Jager. Photo by 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.
Image: Jan de Jager. Photo by Annemieke van Roekel
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Volcanism: White Island
Fumarole met zwavelkristallen. Photo credits by 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. Image: Fumarole. Photo credits by Annemieke van Roekel. Read summary (in Dutch) >>

Natural stone: Irish bluestone suffers dip due to economic crisis
Kellymount quarry. Photo by 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.
Image: Kellymount quarry in Kilkenny. Photo by Annemieke van Roekel
Read this article on this website >>
Discover Fossils in Downtown Amsterdam
Fossils in Amsterdam Alleys. Photo by 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.
Photo by Annemieke van Roekel
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Renewables: Hold on to the target of 20% sustainable energy in 2020
Windturbine bij ECN in Petten. Photo: 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. Photo: 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. Photo: Sputnik Engineering
Read this article >>

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. Read this article on this site >>
Renewables: Wind power conquers the globe
REpower/Cam�l�on 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/Cam�l�on
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Renewables: Floating wind turbines
Wind-hydrogen park on Utsira. Photo credits: 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. Photo credits: Annemieke van Roekel
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Energy: Digital fields help produce more oil
Troll field. Photo by 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. Photi by 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.
Read on >>
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.
Read on >>
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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