Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Monday, April 27, 2015

Down the mountain

After an exhausting climb to the "summit" at Xiaogoubei, the "climb" down was easy.

They strap a canvas sack around your waist and you slide down a stone chute.

If you pick your feet up you get moving surprisingly fast. There are no banked curves, only distinct angles, so each bend gives you a nice jolt if you are moving quickly enough. Unfortunately I soon caught up to the people ahead of me, and had to slam on the brakes.

At the end it flattens out and there is some sort of beat-up cushion that prevents you from braining yourself on the retaining wall. I had to go slow on the last part because the couple ahead of me were so slow, but I did see some people flip end-over-end when they reached the end of the track. I had to wait awhile for the ladies in the top picture to rejoin me at the bottom.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

If I stop posting altogether . . .

. . . it will be because of these.

Paralytic shellfish toxin and all that.

Growing problem in some areas of China, especially around Hong Kong (but possibly because they are the only ones that notice it).

Monday, April 20, 2015

Xiaogoubei Geological Park

Just back from a day-trip to Xiaogoubei Geological Park, just north of Jiyuan, in the western part of Henan province. Unfortunately, the group that I was travelling with was not very interested in the geological highlights of the park, so we stuck mainly to the scenic areas. Hopefully I'll be able to go back in a few weeks and source some of the interesting boulders that litter the park.

Once again, we got off the loess plain--and my expectation that this would be another escarpment (as near Huixian Xigou) were shattered by the boulders of a very striking reddish conglomerate that litter the valley on the way up the road to the park.

There are also some very nice blocks of sandstone among the detritus in the river valley.

Dribbling little waterfalls feed into the main river channel.

All the steep slopes add up to one thing-falling rocks.

This could ruin your day. I was going to crawl under there and have one of my companions photograph me with my feet sticking out, but thought better of it. With my luck, the rock would just shift a little bit.

I'm having a bit of trouble putting the geological history of the park area together. It seems that the area is part of the North China Block. Driving up to the park it seemed we passed through a series of sheared metamorphic rocks, but within the park proper, most of the rocks at the base of the mountain are andesites, usually with one or two generations of amygdaloidal bodies. The most prevalent set of amygdaloidal bodies is composed of silica, some of which qualify as agate. Another less common set is a reddish chert. Some stones carry both sets.

The amygdaloidal bodies are the irregular white flecks in the grey rocks.

Andesites typically form during continental collision, or the assembly of small crustal pieces into a larger continent. Sometimes after the blocks have accreted together, they split (or 'rift') apart again.

Such a rifting event happened here about 1.5 billion years ago. Rifting is recorded first by some pillow basalts (which record the eruption of basic magmas directly into the sea) as a new ocean began to form, followed by erosion and infill of the rift basin with the reddish conglomerates noted above.

Pillow basalts with the loveliest scale a geologist could want.

Conglomerate with a not-so-lovely scale.

Presumably  the coarse sandstone boulders that litter the valley come from a unit atop the conglomerates.

'Herringbone' cross-bedding in sandstone from a loose boulder in the park.

I'll have to post more on this place later, but will just leave you with one interesting feature in the park. One of the bridges was a sort of suspension bridge composed of disarticulated wire baskets, each hanging separately from a set of cables. As is normally the case in China, it is up to you to recognize the dangers involved and act appropriately.

My main regret was not being able to wait around to see how one of the families with strollers crossed it.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Inflation comes to China

Yesterday at lunch I went out to buy steamed buns, and was shocked to find the price had risen from 1 yuan (a little less than 20 Canadian cents) to 1.2 yuan. Not only that, but my usual drink has gone from just over 4 yuan to 5. So there's 20% inflation right there, just yesterday.

Did they devalue or something without my noticing?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hong Kong bling

Hong Kong is a tremendous shopping destination for the Chinese. Before going there, I was advised that there would be a lot of good deals, but to be perfectly honest I didn't see anything that appealed to me.

Lots of gold, mostly sold by weight, which is given in taels (about 37.5 g). The bracelet at front right is almost 7 taels.

These were neat--fossil ivory, carved from mammoth tusks. Mostly out of my price range; some of the pieces cost as much as a small house.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Gold and copper rising together for the first time in a long while

I only point this out because the last time it happened was a good time to make money.

For this graph both metals are actually their price multiplied by the value of the US dollar index. This reflects the impact on metals prices for companies mining outside of the United States.

A lot of money was made through 2010 and the first half or so of 2011. It almost looks like the weakening in copper in mid-2011 could have been a warning sign for the overall sector. Possibly a lesson for next time.

For most of 2015, gold x USDX and copper x USDX have risen together (I am speaking of trends, not literally rising each and every week). Hopefully we'll have more than a year this time too.

Friday, April 10, 2015

HK and the fists of fury

Weird internet response today. Mostly dead slow, and now all of a sudden working normally. Perhaps there was another mysterious power outage somewhere.

Just back from Hong Kong. Took in some of the kung fu sights.

First up we have Ip Man's studio, where Bruce Lee learned kung fu.

Home of Wing Chun (also spelled 'Ving Tsun').

Then we have the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, and its Avenue of Stars.

A few of the many stars: Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Michelle Yeoh. There are plenty of others, but who wants to spend all day looking at plaques?

Lastly, it wouldn't be a lazy Sunday afternoon without kung fu in the park.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Come on

I'll be travelling the next few days, so I'll just leave you with Janis.