08 January, 2006

What does 'Highly Allochthonous' mean?

There are two different answers to this question, the first of which is the technical one. An allochton is a chunk of landscape which has been superimposed by faulting on top of rocks representing a completely different depositional environment; for example, a sequence of deep marine sediments which has been thrust over shallow marine or continental deposits. Therefore, a 'highly allochthonous' sequence is one that has been transported a large distance, usually by thrust faulting (I want to put a graphic in the title bar which expresses this concept, and who knows, maybe I'll actually get round to it at some point).

The second answer (which I know doesn't really flow from the question except in a highly tenuous way - deal with it) is the 'so what's this blog all about then?' one. I could tell you that the name 'poetically reflects my aspirations to cover the vast diaspora of disciplines which make up Earth Sciences', but in truth it's just a cool phrase which formed part of the banter when I was a geology undergrad, and it just seemed appropriate. On balance, I think the geeky true answer is preferable to the poncy false answer. Probably.

As for why I'm doing this - well, I like writing and I like science (my interest just about surviving exposure to the National Curriculum), so I've always been interested in science communication. More recently, as my PhD submission loomed, I've been looking for jobs in that sort of area, but with very little success. So, inspired by some of the excellent science blogs out there, and the fact that Geology appears to be a little underepresented in the blogosphere (from my searching thus far,at least), I thought this would be a good way to practice and develop my writing. It's good for me scientifically too, forcing me to read more widely that I might otherwise; for example, whilst writing my last post, I had to learn about aspects of oceanography I hadn't really covered in detail before. And I'm sure my teaching can only be improved by thinking more about ways to explain technical details of my subject more accessibly. Perhaps fortunately, none of these things specifically require my outpourings to be read! If people do visit and get something from my postings, that will just be a nice bonus (and of course is the thing that I hope for deep in my heart).

I started this blog in a blaze of enthusiasm last September, and realised quite quickly that producing regular posts was not quite as easy as I thought it would be. My so-called 'technical' job has involved a lot of teaching and other tasks strangely reminiscent of an academic position, on top of running the paleomagnetic laboratory and processing data for people. This has given me little enough time to do anything about my own research, so finding the time to write for this blog when I actually felt like writing has proven tricky. And writing each post seems to take much longer than I expect it to, although I'm hoping to get faster with more practice. I'm probably not helped by the fact that for the most part I don't really see the point of posting short links to news stories published elsewhere without adding my own analysis of my own. I'm not sure that will change, but I am hoping to post more regularly than the monthly spurts I've managed up to now. As for sustaining it - well, I have several ideas for posts stored in my brain (and even occasionally partially begun on my laptop), and more seem to pop up all the time, so it bodes well, or ill, depending on your perspective!

No comments: