Saturday, September 15, 2018

Flash Flood!

Sometimes when it rain in the High Atlas, you get a flash flood.
While our research team was in Morocco for field work we experienced one of these events while we were (fortunately) in our Auberge (hotel) safe and dry! Being the Geology nerd I am, I had to take some videos of this awesome geomorphology event happening.

NOTE: If you want to use these gifs/videos for teaching, you are welcome to do so, but please credit me (Dr. Rowan Martindale, UT Austin) when you do.

This was the rainstorm (which also included hail) that started it all!

Our hike that day had taken us up the gully to the top of this hill. We went back to the Auberge when the dark clouds rolled in and started to threaten rain.... I am glad we did!

Here it comes!

While it may not look like much, this stream was easily moving basketball-sized boulders. Sitting in the Auberge, we could feel them hitting the bedrock!

The river built it's own little alluvial fan on the road and started cutting channels!

Fortunately, I never park my car in this spot.

Some very brave people decided they would cross in between rainstorms...

Eventually the bulldozer got in and cleaned up the largest debris...

But then it started raining again and the river roared back up to full flow!

The next day was lovely and we were back up the mountain for field work!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

General Public Talk on Ya Ha Tinda at RTMP

Last week I trekked up to Alberta to give a talk at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology (write up here). I spoke about the exceptional fossils found at Ya Ha Tinda Ranch and how this site can help us understand Oceanic Anoxic Events in the Early Jurassic. The talk was a "general public" talk so it should (hopefully) be easy to understandable for everyone.

Here it is, enjoy!

I also got to (finally) see the display case with the Ya Ha Tinda specimens!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Happy birthday Charles Darwin!

Today, February 12th, 2018, is Charles Darwin's birthday (he would have been 208 today!). To celebrate this auspicious day, here are some photos and gifs from this weekend's "Darwin Day" celebration in Austin.

We dusted off our dino trackway and laid it out! The kids (and adults) put on dinosaur shaped shoes, step in some paint, and then walk along a piece of paper to make a "fossil trackway".

Then, they get to be a Paleontologist! They measure the foot size, and their stride length.

These measurements let them figure out what sort of dinosaur they would have been (Microraptor? Tyrannosaurus? etc.) and how fast they were going (as fast as a raccoon or faster than a horse?). They even get a certificate and their trackway to take home!

It is such a fun exercise, even the grad students running it wanted to have a go during the breaks!

And of course, what kind of a birthday would it be without cake?!?

Happy birthday Chuck!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Ya Ha Tinda on Display

This month, the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology is unveiling a new iteration of their "Fossils in Focus" display. This display is an annual exhibit of the new fossil discoveries and research associated with Alberta's fossils and the museum. 

This year several fossils from the Ya Ha Tinda Lagerstätte are on display! 

 A belemnoid with soft tissue, a crinoid, and a fish skull!

Complete with a little blurb and some drawings!

I'm pretty excited, this is the first museum exhibit at the RTMP that I have helped design.

So, if you're in Alberta, stop by the Tyrrell (the whole museum is worth a visit!), and check out your little display.

To read more about these fossils, check out the following papers and news articles: 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Graduation 2017

Today marks another auspicious day for the Martindale Lab! Today we have two Master's students (Kelly Hattori and Nick Ettinger) and and two fabulous undergraduates (Maria Reistroffer and Walker Wiese).

Kelly Hattori with Charlie Kerans and I (co-advisors); Kelly's MSc was on a Cretaceous coral reef from Arizona!

Nick Ettinger with Charlie Kerans and I (co-advisors); Nick's MSc was on the Toacian Oceanic Anoxic Event in Slovenia.

Nick and Kelly

The carbonates crew (plus Simon)

Walker worked on an undergraduate thesis on Caribbean coral reefs.

Maria's undergraduate thesis was on the recovery from the end-Permian mass extinction.

Congratulations class of 2017!

Saturday, May 27, 2017


One last Morocco post!

As much as I love geology, one of the best parts of doing field work is exploring another country, another culture, and breathing it all in to the fullest! We didn't have too much free time this trip but we did manage to get a free day in Marrakesh so we walked from our hotel over to the Mellah (a very busy spice market) then to the Jemaa el-Fnaa (the main square), over to the Souks (leather market, dying market, woodworking market etc.), over to a bookstore (which was really hard to find! There are not many bookstores in Marrakesh) and finally back to our hotel!

The flowers are beautiful!

The markets are very neat lots to buy (if you feel like paying too much... even with haggling)! Tagines on the left and rugs on the right!

Spice markets of the Mellah!

 And stray cats everywhere...

This is the dyers market (the Souk des Tenturiers). As a fiber artist, it was my favorite Souk

It is all done right it Marrakesh. First you take some wool from the local sheep and spin it up!

 "Bales" of yarn!

Add some local dye...

 And you have a bright array of scarves, wool, and yarn!

I was pretty excited!

A beautiful array of drying yarns!

The Jemaa el-Fnaa in the morning...

Watch out for Snek!

 The tile work is out of this world!

And the food is... of course... amazing!

This is a Lamb Tanjia, a specialty of Marrakesh

This spectacular dish was my favorite of the trip! A chicken pastilla (sweet and savory in a phyllo pastry!)

While Morocco is a Muslim country, you can still get some pretty exciting drinks!

A very fancy Mojito!

Turkish Delight!

We walked all day but we could have ridden around on a camel!

After a long walk around the city, this cool outdoor pool was just the thing!

The next day we were off, a short trip but a good one... and we left with 2 bags full of rocks and a tajine. Definitely a good haul, but there were a lot of bags!

So... the tajine! This is the clay pot that is used in Morocco to cook many dishes. I bought a small, 2-person tajine from one of the auberge's where we stayed (Ahmed got me a great price!) and brought back some spices. Here's a little pictoral "how-to" for a berber tagine dinner (a pretty good recipe can be found here).

The veggies are pretty easy (and there are thousands of varieties of tagines you can make... this was just what we could find in the stores here in Austin). Just grab an onion, carrots, zuccini, peppers, tomato and potato and chop them up.

Lay down a base of onion slices, some garlic, and pile the meat in the middle (here we used beef) then drizzle with lots of olice oil and heat slowly.

After 15-20 minutes, when the meat is browned, pour a slurry of spices and water over the lot to make a delicious bubbling sauce. Then stack the veggies in the middle like a teepee; I keep the softer veggies out for the first hour.

Then you just cook everything for 2-3 hours

Delicious! Beseha!