Earth Science Pic for Sept. 19th – Portjengrat


September 19, 2011

Photographer: Zoltan Nemeth
Summary Authors: Zoltan Nemeth; Stu Witmer

Recently my friends and I climbed the Weissmies massif (13,198 ft or 4,023 m) in southern Switzerland. We began our climb early in the morning, and by the time the Sun rose we had reached an altitude of 9,495 ft (2,894 m) and the climber’s base at the Almageller hut. The clouds parted and the brilliant Sun filled the landscape dominated by the neighboring Portjengrat peak (11,995 ft or 3,656 m) shown above, which stands on the border between Switzerland and Italy where it’s known as Pizzo d’Andolla. These peaks are part of the Pennine Alps, relatively new mountains that were created during the last 30 million years (Oligocene and Miocene epochs) by the tectonic collision of Africa against Eurasia. Photo taken July 7, 2011.

Photo details: Camera Model: Panasonic DMC-TZ6; Focal Length: 5mm; Aperture: f4.5/5; Exposure Time: 1/500s; ISO equiv: 80; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Light Source: Unknown; Flash Fired: No; Color Space: sRGB.

Earth Science Pic of the Day for Sept. 18th – Spanish Moss

Spanish Moss

September 18, 2011

Spanish moss
: Michelle J. Williams
Summary Authors: Michelle J. Williams; Stu Witmer

Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is neither Spanish nor a true moss. It’s actually a member of the pineapple family, found in southern North America, the West Indies, and Central and South America. It often hangs in large, beard-like, silvery-gray masses from trees and other plants and even on utility poles, but it’s not parasitic nor structurally intertwined with its host. An air-feeding plant or epiphyte, it takes in carbon dioxide and rainwater or dew for photosynthesis through tiny, hairy scales that cover its slender leaves and long, delicate stems. It absorbs nutrients from dust and solvents in rainwater, or from decaying organic matter around its aerial roots. Spanish moss was used by Henry Ford to fill the upholstery in his Model T’s. Allegedly, the “Spanish” in the name got started because early French settlers in Louisiana thought the moss looked like the beards of the earlier Spanish explorers. Photo taken near Monroe, Louisiana on May 5, 2011.

Photo details: Camera Maker: OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.; Camera Model: SP600UZ; Focal Length: 16mm (35mm equivalent: 89mm); Aperture: f/4.5; Exposure Time: 0.017 s (1/60); ISO equiv: 100; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No (enforced);
Orientation: Normal; Color Space: sRGB.