Dust flux, Vostok ice core

Dust flux, Vostok ice core
Two dimensional phase space reconstruction of dust flux from the Vostok core over the period 186-4 ka using the time derivative method. Dust flux on the x-axis, rate of change is on the y-axis. From Gipp (2001).

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Those rich monks at Baoen temple

The Bao'en temple in Nanjing once boasted a pagoda 80 m tall that was entirely clad in decorative porcelain. Built during the fifteenth century, it was described by the first European explorers who viewed it as one of the seven wonders of the world. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in a series of unfortunate events during the 19th century, beginning with a lightning strike, and culminating in the chaos of the Taiping Rebellion.

The pagoda is being rebuilt, and it is presently made of glass, rather than porcelain. But the tower's base is porcelain.

The tower must have been quite a spectacle when built. Apart from the glittering white porcelain, the Chinese had many techniques for colouring porcelain, which were still unknown in the west, and had used these to cover the tower with Buddhist imagery.

Original tower arch (on display at provincial museum)

The tower today

Climbing it is a bit like climbing up a staircase in a greenhouse, especially near the top. But most of the lower layers are open and give clear views of the surrounding terrain.

Looking past the city wall into the old city.

Within the rebuilt temple is a display of the artifacts of the old temple, as well as some newer displays. I will gloss over most of these and focus on one thing--precious metals. These monks were rich. They have a lot of gold and silver items on display, although most of these are small..

Gold crown with cloud motif.

Gilded silver boxes (for incense)?

Gilded silver incense burner

A gold coffin, which may have contained holy relics of Sakyamuni, founder of Buddhism

Probably the most significant piece was discovered in the ruins of the old temple a little less than ten years ago. It was a tall (1.1 m) pagoda-shaped shrine, called an Asoka Pagoda. It contained the coffin depicted above, and, according to an accompanying stele, part of the skull of Sakyamuni, in a separate metal case

The King Asoka pagoda that bore the relics

Gilded silver king Asoka pagoda

A gilded stamp

Various bits of jewellry

A gilded silver spoon

Glass bowl with a silver rim

Silver and glass bottles, with gilding


Updated Sept. 22. I've had some labels translated, and it seems that at least some of the jewellery above came from rich people's tombs, so they aren't all artifacts from the temple.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Nanjing part 1

China has had many capitals. During the relatively short-lived republic times, the capital was Nanjing (known then in the West as Nanking).

Another fine example of psychetecture.

Thinking about Nanjing, one's mind is inevitably drawn to the massacre that happened there when the Japanese captured the city in late 1937. So here are some scenes from a reconstructed street view of the time, which can be seen in the basement of the provincial museum.

The crowds of people milling about are other museum customers. Some of the shops were open, but they sold only modern-day snacks.

It occurred to me that it would have been more realistic to have a few people in period costume. Or maybe have some Japanese soldiers show up and start bayoneting people.

Other things in the museum are harder to explain. It's the old problem when you encounter a different culture--maybe you have walked in on a joke you don't understand.

A pyramid illustrating the evolution of money. I feel really good about the modern stuff ;)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

More Arctic landforms

More shots from a commercial flight (Toronto-Shanghai), which passed over the western Canadian Arctic, and eastern Siberia.

 Snow-filled drainage pattern on Melville Island, in the western Canadian Arctic.

Well-developed trellis drainage pattern on Melville Island.

The trellis drainage pattern results because the rocks are more easily eroded in some directions than in others. This can be due to bedding in the rock, or faults or other structural weaknesses. The pattern here is quite angular, which suggests faulting to me. Rocks undergoing compression tend to develop two (almost) perpendicular series of faults. 

There's also a rather deep-looking canyon in the above two pictures. Normally to get a canyon, you are looking at fluvial erosion over land that is experiencing uplift.Something more has happened here, as it is difficult to follow the canyon through the folded rocks of the Melvillian Disturbance just above the centre of the second photograph above. These rocks were folded and faulted prior to deposition of Late Permian sediments (~250 Ma).

Melville Island again, but I'm not quite sure what I'm looking at. It looks like some of the folded and faulted rock units of the Melvillian Disturbance.

This is over eastern Siberia. I'm really not sure what this is. My first guess would be a pingo, but given our altitude of 10,000 m and the focal length of this shot, it has to be well over 1 km long, which seems awfully big. Maybe it is an inselberg.

Some rugged terrain in eastern Siberia.

Looks like gossan. Who'd have thought there would be minerals in Siberia?

Don't be too quick to go out staking here. I don't see a lot of infrastructure.

Braided rivers in Siberia.