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Geosciences, Volume 4, Issue 3 (September 2014), Pages 73-239

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Hydrological Implications of Covering Wind-Blown Snow Accumulations with Geotextiles on Mount Aragats, Armenia
Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 73-92; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030073
Received: 29 April 2014 / Revised: 16 June 2014 / Accepted: 25 June 2014 / Published: 2 July 2014
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Abstract
Snow is an excellent water reservoir, naturally storing large quantities of water at time scales from a few days to several months. In summer-dry countries, like Armenia, runoff due to snow melt from mountain regions is highly important for a sustained water [...] Read more.
Snow is an excellent water reservoir, naturally storing large quantities of water at time scales from a few days to several months. In summer-dry countries, like Armenia, runoff due to snow melt from mountain regions is highly important for a sustained water supply (irrigation, hydropower). Snow fields on Mount Aragats, Armenia’s highest peak, often persist until July, providing vital amounts of melt water. Artificially managing these wind-driven snow accumulations as a natural water reservoir might have considerable potential. In the context of the Swiss-Armenian joint venture, Freezwater, snow fields are covered with geotextiles in order to delay snow melt long enough to provide additional melt water in the dry season of the year. In this study, we analyze the hydrological effectiveness of the artificial management of the natural snow cover on Mount Aragats based on various field measurements acquired over a three-year period and numerical modeling. Over the winter season, partly more than five meter-thick snow deposits are formed supported by snow redistribution by strong wind. Repeated mappings of snow fields indicate that snow cover patterns remain highly consistent over time. Measurements of ablation below manually applied geotextiles show a considerable reduction of melt rates by more than 50%. Simulations with an energy-balance model and a distributed temperature-index model allow assessing the hydrological effect of artificial snow management for different initial snow depths and elevations and suggest that coverage is needed at a large scale in order to generate a significant impact on discharge. Full article
Open AccessArticle Far-Field Deformation Resulting from Rheologic Differences Interacting with Tectonic Stresses: An Example from the Pacific/Australian Plate Boundary in Southern New Zealand
Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 93-113; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030093
Received: 21 April 2014 / Revised: 25 June 2014 / Accepted: 27 June 2014 / Published: 10 July 2014
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Abstract
The Miocene in Southern New Zealand was dominated by strike-slip tectonics. Stratigraphic evidence from this time attests to two zones of subsidence in the south: (a) a middle Cenozoic pull-apart basin and (b) a regionally extensive subsiding lake complex, which developed east [...] Read more.
The Miocene in Southern New Zealand was dominated by strike-slip tectonics. Stratigraphic evidence from this time attests to two zones of subsidence in the south: (a) a middle Cenozoic pull-apart basin and (b) a regionally extensive subsiding lake complex, which developed east and distal to the developing plate boundary structure. The lake overlay a block of crust with a significantly weak mid-crustal section and we pose the question: can rheological transitions at an angle to a plate boundary produce distal subsidence and/or uplift? We use stratigraphic, structural and geophysical observations from Southern New Zealand to constrain three-dimensional numerical models for a variety of boundary conditions and rheological scenarios. We show that coincident subsidence and uplift can result from purely strike-slip boundary conditions interacting with a transition from strong to weak to strong mid-crustal rheology. The resulting pattern of vertical displacement is a function of the symmetry or asymmetry of the boundary conditions and the extent and orientation of the rheological transitions. For the Southern New Zealand case study, subsidence rates of ~0.1 mm/yr are predicted for a relative plate motion of 25 mm/yr, leading to ~500 m of subsidence over a 5 Ma time period, comparable to the thickness of preserved lacustrine sediments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geological Mapping and Modeling of Earth Architectures)
Open AccessArticle Anthrax and the Geochemistry of Soils in the Contiguous United States
Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 114-127; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030114
Received: 26 March 2014 / Revised: 15 July 2014 / Accepted: 5 August 2014 / Published: 11 August 2014
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Abstract
Soil geochemical data from sample sites in counties that reported occurrences of anthrax in wildlife and livestock since 2000 were evaluated against counties within the same states (MN, MT, ND, NV, OR, SD and TX) that did not report occurrences. These data [...] Read more.
Soil geochemical data from sample sites in counties that reported occurrences of anthrax in wildlife and livestock since 2000 were evaluated against counties within the same states (MN, MT, ND, NV, OR, SD and TX) that did not report occurrences. These data identified the elements, calcium (Ca), manganese (Mn), phosphorus (P) and strontium (Sr), as having statistically significant differences in concentrations between county type (anthrax occurrence versus no occurrence). Tentative threshold values of the lowest concentrations of each of these elements (Ca = 0.43 wt %, Mn = 142 mg/kg, P = 180 mg/kg and Sr = 51 mg/kg) and average concentrations (Ca = 1.3 wt %, Mn = 463 mg/kg, P = 580 mg/kg and Sr = 170 mg/kg) were identified from anthrax-positive counties as prospective investigative tools in determining whether an outbreak had “potential” or was “likely” at any given geographic location in the contiguous United States. Full article
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Open AccessArticle GIS-Based Landslide Susceptibility Mapping on the Peloponnese Peninsula, Greece
Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 176-190; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030176
Received: 16 May 2014 / Revised: 12 August 2014 / Accepted: 13 August 2014 / Published: 20 August 2014
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Abstract
: In this paper, bivariate statistical analysis modeling was applied and validated to derive a landslide susceptibility map of Peloponnese (Greece) at a regional scale. For this purpose, landslide-conditioning factors such as elevation, slope, aspect, lithology, land cover, mean annual precipitation (MAP) [...] Read more.
: In this paper, bivariate statistical analysis modeling was applied and validated to derive a landslide susceptibility map of Peloponnese (Greece) at a regional scale. For this purpose, landslide-conditioning factors such as elevation, slope, aspect, lithology, land cover, mean annual precipitation (MAP) and peak ground acceleration (PGA), and a landslide inventory were analyzed within a GIS environment. A landslide dataset was realized using two main landslide inventories. The landslide statistical index method (LSI) produced a susceptibility map of the study area and the probability level of landslide occurrence was classified in five categories according to the best classification method from three different methods tested. Model performance was checked by an independent validation set of landslide events. The accuracy of the final result was evaluated by receiver operating characteristics (ROC) analysis. The prediction ability was found to be 75.2% indicating an acceptable susceptibility map obtained from the GIS-based bivariate statistical model. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geological Mapping and Modeling of Earth Architectures)
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Open AccessArticle Recent Alpine Glacier Variability: Wind River Range, Wyoming, USA
Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 191-201; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030191
Received: 30 May 2014 / Revised: 1 August 2014 / Accepted: 18 August 2014 / Published: 26 August 2014
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Abstract
Glacier area and volume changes were quantified through the use of historical aerial photographs in the Wind River Range, Wyoming. Forty-four glaciers in the Wind River Range were analyzed using orthorectified aerial photography from 2012. This is an update to the work [...] Read more.
Glacier area and volume changes were quantified through the use of historical aerial photographs in the Wind River Range, Wyoming. Forty-four glaciers in the Wind River Range were analyzed using orthorectified aerial photography from 2012. This is an update to the work of Thompson et al. [1] in which the surface area changes of the 44 glaciers were estimated from 1966 to 2006. The total surface area of the glaciers was estimated to be 27.8 ± 0.8 km2, a decrease of 39% from 1966 and a decrease of 2% from 2006. The 2012 volume changes for the 44 glaciers were estimated using the Bahr et al. [2] volume-area scaling technique. The total glacier volume in 2012 was calculated to be 1.01 ± 0.21 km3, a decrease of 63% from 1966. These results, once compared to temperature and snowpack trends, suggest that the downward trend in snowpack as well as increasing temperatures seem to be the most likely driver of the glacier recessions. With Global Circulation Models (GCMs) forecasting higher temperatures and lower precipitation in the western U.S., it is likely that glaciers will continue to recede.Glacier area and volume changes were quantified through the use of historical aerial photographs in the Wind River Range, Wyoming. Forty-four glaciers in the Wind River Range were analyzed using orthorectified aerial photography from 2012. This is an update to the work of Thompson et al. [1] in which the surface area changes of the 44 glaciers were estimated from 1966 to 2006. The total surface area of the glaciers was estimated to be 27.8 ± 0.8 km2, a decrease of 39% from 1966 and a decrease of 2% from 2006. The 2012 volume changes for the 44 glaciers were estimated using the Bahr et al. [2] volume-area scaling technique. The total glacier volume in 2012 was calculated to be 1.01 ± 0.21 km3, a decrease of 63% from 1966. These results, once compared to temperature and snowpack trends, suggest that the downward trend in snowpack as well as increasing temperatures seem to be the most likely driver of the glacier recessions. With Global Circulation Models (GCMs) forecasting higher temperatures and lower precipitation in the western U.S., it is likely that glaciers will continue to recede. Full article
Open AccessArticle Risk Factors for E. coli O157 and Cryptosporidiosis Infection in Individuals in the Karst Valleys of East Tennessee, USA
Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 202-218; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030202
Received: 25 June 2014 / Revised: 14 August 2014 / Accepted: 15 August 2014 / Published: 27 August 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (6554 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This research examines risk factors for sporadic cryptosporidiosis and Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157 infection in East Tennessee, using a case-control approach and spatial logistic regression models. The risk factors examined are animal density, land use, geology, surface water impairment, [...] Read more.
This research examines risk factors for sporadic cryptosporidiosis and Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157 infection in East Tennessee, using a case-control approach and spatial logistic regression models. The risk factors examined are animal density, land use, geology, surface water impairment, poverty rate and availability of private water supply. Proximity to karst geology, beef cow population density and a high percentage of both developed land and pasture land are positively associated with both diseases. The availability of private water supply is negatively associated with both diseases. Risk maps generated using the model coefficients show areas of elevated risk to identify the communities where background risk is highest, so that limited public health resources can be targeted to the risk factors and communities most at risk. These results can be used as the framework upon which to develop a comprehensive epidemiological study that focuses on risk factors important at the individual level. Full article
Open AccessArticle Assessment of Geogenic Contaminants in Water Co-Produced with Coal Seam Gas Extraction in Queensland, Australia: Implications for Human Health Risk
Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 219-239; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030219
Received: 14 July 2014 / Revised: 8 August 2014 / Accepted: 13 August 2014 / Published: 5 September 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (4321 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Organic compounds in Australian coal seam gas produced water (CSG water) are poorly understood despite their environmental contamination potential. In this study, the presence of some organic substances is identified from government-held CSG water-quality data from the Bowen and Surat Basins, Queensland. [...] Read more.
Organic compounds in Australian coal seam gas produced water (CSG water) are poorly understood despite their environmental contamination potential. In this study, the presence of some organic substances is identified from government-held CSG water-quality data from the Bowen and Surat Basins, Queensland. These records revealed the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in 27% of samples of CSG water from the Walloon Coal Measures at concentrations <1 µg/L, and it is likely these compounds leached from in situ coals. PAHs identified from wells include naphthalene, phenanthrene, chrysene and dibenz[a,h]anthracene. In addition, the likelihood of coal-derived organic compounds leaching to groundwater is assessed by undertaking toxicity leaching experiments using coal rank and water chemistry as variables. These tests suggest higher molecular weight PAHs (including benzo[a]pyrene) leach from higher rank coals, whereas lower molecular weight PAHs leach at greater concentrations from lower rank coal. Some of the identified organic compounds have carcinogenic or health risk potential, but they are unlikely to be acutely toxic at the observed concentrations which are almost negligible (largely due to the hydrophobicity of such compounds). Hence, this study will be useful to practitioners assessing CSG water related environmental and health risk. Full article

Review

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Open AccessReview Health Effects Associated with Inhalation of Airborne Arsenic Arising from Mining Operations
Geosciences 2014, 4(3), 128-175; doi:10.3390/geosciences4030128
Received: 30 June 2014 / Revised: 25 July 2014 / Accepted: 29 July 2014 / Published: 13 August 2014
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Abstract
Arsenic in dust and aerosol generated by mining, mineral processing and metallurgical extraction industries, is a serious threat to human populations throughout the world. Major sources of contamination include smelting operations, coal combustion, hard rock mining, as well as their associated waste [...] Read more.
Arsenic in dust and aerosol generated by mining, mineral processing and metallurgical extraction industries, is a serious threat to human populations throughout the world. Major sources of contamination include smelting operations, coal combustion, hard rock mining, as well as their associated waste products, including fly ash, mine wastes and tailings. The number of uncontained arsenic-rich mine waste sites throughout the world is of growing concern, as is the number of people at risk of exposure. Inhalation exposures to arsenic-bearing dusts and aerosol, in both occupational and environmental settings, have been definitively linked to increased systemic uptake, as well as carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health outcomes. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to identify human populations and sensitive sub-populations at risk of exposure, and to better understand the modes of action for pulmonary arsenic toxicity and carcinogenesis. In this paper we explore the contribution of smelting, coal combustion, hard rock mining and their associated waste products to atmospheric arsenic. We also report on the current understanding of the health effects of inhaled arsenic, citing results from various toxicological, biomedical and epidemiological studies. This review is particularly aimed at those researchers engaged in the distinct, but complementary areas of arsenic research within the multidisciplinary field of medical geology. Full article

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