Before I write any more about FT2008, the International Conference on Thermochronometry, I need to take care of one blog related item. Last week I was named a "blog of note" on blogger.com, and have since seen a drastic increase in my readership. Above is a bar graph of my daily page loads from 10/10/2008 until today. Take the statistics challenge, see if you can tell what day I was named a blog of note. I removed the actual numbers, well, mainly because I have been shamed into realizing I was letting my blog suffer tremendously and therefore are unwilling to admit my average readership. But, thanks to the recognition, my page loads really spiked, that first day they were 2 orders of magnitude higher than average, and although they have settled down, are still 20 times what I am used to. Now, based on the comments, many people want to attribute this to my pretty pictures from Alaska, but that is probably only because they are embarrassed to admit how addictive thermochronology can be. I understand gentle readers, but don't be ashamed, it is OK to admit that you are fascinated by thermochronology, that you now want to quit your career and pursue this new passion, that you now try to work in the phrase "thermally activated volume diffusion" into everyday conversations, and you are constantly frustrated when reviewing papers that compare apparently phase-independent "40Ar/39 ages" to U-Pb zircon ages like they are the same thing.
Seriously though, thank you to whoever named me a blog of note, and to all of the people who've had so many nice things to say about the blog and my pictures. I appreciate the kind words.
So back to FT2008, the International Conference on Thermochronmetry. In a previous post, I discussed some of the methodoligical advancements I was most interested in. Today I just wanted to highlight a few of the case studies I found most intriguing. Again, if you are interested in these topics, make sure to check out the free and downloadable extended abstracts from the meeting, available from the Union College FT2008 website. Of course, these will be interspersed with random pictures from the field trips, in no particular order.
- There was one talk and a few posters that dealt with apatite fission-track and (U-Th)/He ages from tunnels in the alps. The talk was by Reinecker, and I apologize for not remembering his first name, and the posters were by Glotzbach and Spiegel. All of these papers were in the Alpine Orogen session on the Thursday of the talk. So why tunnels? Well, these tunnels go straight through significant topographic peaks. Isotherms, or surfaces of equal temperature in the earth, tend to mimic topography, especially at relatively shallow levels. In some ways this is a problem in thermochronology. We often would like to know how fast things came to the surface, but that depends on the depth of the closure temperature isotherm, which in turn depends on toppgraphy (and many other things), which we don't necessarily know. Isotherms are deflected up under large topographic peaks, meaning that if you drill sideways through a mountain, you will experience hotter and hotter temperatures towards the core of the mountain. So I mentioned that the deflection of isotherms is a problem for us brave thermochronologists, but used correctly, it could also be a relatively powerful tool. If topography can affect isotherms, then topography should also be recorded in thermochronometers. The tunnel studies should see evidence for the topography being recorded in the low-temperature thermochronometers. Turns out it isn't so obvious, but I'll leave the abstracts for you to read.
- In the last few years there have been a number of studies investigating the link between climate and tectonics. Specifically, which drives which? My own personal belief is that it just isn't an either or, but the idea that climate (namely erosion) could drive crustal processes is kind of hard to swallow for many geologists. Some of the evidence for this involves correlations between erosion rates, rainfall, and uplift rates in active mountain belts. This isn't supposed to work everywhere, there are plenty of places that get tons of rain but where nothing is being uplifted (like the Amazon basin), but many people think of it as a major driver in mountainous regions. Frank Lisker presented a paper on some of his results from Sri Lanka, and what struck me is that the southern part of the island has a rather large mountain (2000+ meters) and gets buckets of rain, but has i n c r e d i b a l l y s l o w uplift rates, slow enough they are reported in meters per million years (typically we report uplift rates in kilometers per million years).
So I think that is all I'm going to write on this. It gets difficult to decide what talks to highlight and what talks not to highlight. If you have found any of the things I've discussed intriguing, download and enjoy the abstract volume.