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Andrew Alden

Andrew Alden earned his geology degree at the University of New Hampshire and moved back to the Bay Area to work at the U.S. Geological Survey for six years. He has written on geology for About.com since its founding in 1997. In 2007, he started the Oakland Geology blog, which won recognition as "Best of the East Bay" from the East Bay Express in 2010. In writing about geology in the Bay Area and surroundings, he hopes to share some of the useful and pleasurable insights that geologists give us—not just facts about the deep past, but an attitude that might be called the deep present.

Read his previous contributions to QUEST, a project dedicated to exploring the Science of Sustainability.

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Andrew Alden's Latest Posts

The 2013 Geological Holiday Quiz

KQED Science | December 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

The 2013 Geological Holiday Quiz

The third in this challenging set of questions, most of them related to Bay Area geology: rocks, resources and activity. Answers are now posted.

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Geological BFF’s: Mud Microbes Require Rare Earth Metals to Thrive

KQED Science | December 19, 2013 | 0 Comments

Geological BFF’s: Mud Microbes Require Rare Earth Metals to Thrive

The obscure rare-earth metals turn out to be unexpectedly essential to life in hot volcanic mud--and probably elsewhere.

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Changes in Earth’s Magnetic Field Lead to Renamed Oakland Airport Runways

KQED Science | December 12, 2013 | 15 Comments

Changes in Earth’s Magnetic Field Lead to Renamed Oakland Airport Runways

A geological change of glacial speed finally made itself felt in a way the civil authorities had to acknowledge.

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Four Bay Area Cities Selected as Future Models of Resilience

KQED Science | December 5, 2013 | 0 Comments

Four Bay Area Cities Selected as Future Models of Resilience

A $100 million effort to push the world's cities toward better disaster resistance is making a test case with a "gang of four" Resilient Cities: Alameda, Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco.

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Arctic Algae Offer New Insights on Prehistoric Climate Data

KQED Science | November 21, 2013 | 0 Comments

Arctic Algae Offer New Insights on Prehistoric Climate Data

The short list of climate proxy species gains a new member in the critical Arctic Ocean region, a crusty red alga named Clathromorphum compactum.

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The Physics and Sounds of Seismicity, or Earthquake “Music”

KQED Science | November 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

The Physics and Sounds of Seismicity, or Earthquake “Music”

Listening to the sped-up vibrations of earthquakes offers a tantalizing glimpse of the deep physics behind seismicity as well as everyday sounds.

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Where Should We Look for the World’s Oldest Ice?

KQED Science | November 7, 2013 | 0 Comments

Where Should We Look for the World’s Oldest Ice?

Ancient ice is an important source of information about global climates of the past. Although the ice itself is a valuable record, the real prize is the air bubbles preserved in it, some that could be as much as 1.5 million years old.

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A New “Golden Spike” Monument in Colorado Marks Geologic Time

KQED Science | October 31, 2013 | 0 Comments

A New “Golden Spike” Monument in Colorado Marks Geologic Time

Slowly and painstakingly, geologists are turning the imaginary time scale of Earth's deep history into exact boundaries marked on the ground with metal disks.

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Forecasting the Risk of Earthquake-Related Landslides

KQED Science | October 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

Forecasting the Risk of Earthquake-Related Landslides

A newly published study from the University of Washington demonstrates how we can forecast landslides that will follow a major earthquake in the Bay Area.

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24 Years Later, The Legacy of Loma Prieta Lives On

KQED Science | October 17, 2013 | 1 Comment

24 Years Later, The Legacy of Loma Prieta Lives On

Nature shows almost no signs of the Loma Prieta earthquake 24 years later. But the human landscape still carries scars that should remind us to practice continual preparedness.

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The Science of California’s Seismic Pests, or Earthquake “Swarms”

KQED Science | October 10, 2013 | 3 Comments

The Science of California’s Seismic Pests, or Earthquake “Swarms”

Scientists are creeping their way toward better understanding of earthquake swarms, those annoying and sometimes damaging seismic pests we get in California.

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Remembering Professor Terry Wright, A Creative Juggler of Scientific Ideas

KQED Science | October 3, 2013 | 2 Comments

Remembering Professor Terry Wright, A Creative Juggler of Scientific Ideas

The practice of science is like the practice of juggling: it all depends on the skill and trust of partners. The late Terry Wright, professor emeritus at Sonoma State University, was an exemplar of the type.

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Pakistan’s New Earthquake Island: Can It Happen Here?

KQED Science | September 26, 2013 | 1 Comment

Pakistan’s New Earthquake Island: Can It Happen Here?

The rise of a small, fuming island after a large distant quake may not be such an exotic event. Look for one when the next Big One strikes California.

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New Research Sheds Light on Earthquakes That Occur Far Below Earth’s Surface

KQED Science | September 19, 2013 | 6 Comments

New Research Sheds Light on Earthquakes That Occur Far Below Earth’s Surface

Two new papers shed light on the deepest earthquakes: one by documenting the largest deep event yet recorded, the other by reproducing these events at the nanoscale in the high-pressure lab.

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Blue Oaks Shine New Light on California’s Past Climate

KQED Science | September 12, 2013 | 0 Comments

Blue Oaks Shine New Light on California’s Past Climate

A new climate chronology for California has come from one of our quintessential trees, the blue oak.

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How California’s Warping Microplate Makes Its Faults Creep

KQED Science | September 5, 2013 | 1 Comment

How California’s Warping Microplate Makes Its Faults Creep

A tectonic "Big Drip" beneath the southern Sierra Nevada is connected to the creeping faults of Northern California in a new paper published in Geology.

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A Lifetime Later, a New Plan to Drill Down to the Earth’s Mantle

KQED Science | August 22, 2013 | 6 Comments

A Lifetime Later, a New Plan to Drill Down to the Earth’s Mantle

After a wait of more than 50 years, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program is ready to return to the site of Project Mohole to try and pierce the Earth's crust again.

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Take a Hike at Watershed Lands in the Bay Area

KQED Science | August 15, 2013 | 0 Comments

Take a Hike at Watershed Lands in the Bay Area

Watershed lands aren’t destinations, like state or national parks. Their natural features aren’t unusual, and to me that’s a key part of their charm.

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Lost and Found: The 1906 Earthquake Rupture in Portola Valley

KQED Science | August 8, 2013 | 0 Comments

Lost and Found: The 1906 Earthquake Rupture in Portola Valley

New tools and old-fashioned sleuthing have cleared away a century's worth of errors from our detailed picture of what the San Andreas fault did to Portola Valley in 1906.

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The Temptation to Treat Hunches As Science in Earthquake Prediction Research

KQED Science | August 1, 2013 | 8 Comments

The Temptation to Treat Hunches As Science in Earthquake Prediction Research

The science of earthquake prediction is fraught with the human tendency to seek conclusions beyond the reach of the data. In this setting, even the fruitless hypothesis of sunspots is seductive.

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