ArchiWEB Explorer: Gulf of Mexico

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Ribbon Maps: Pocket-Sized Mississippi Riverboat Scrolls Unroll to 11 Feet

[ By WebUrbanist in Design & Graphics & Branding. ]

Designed for 19th-century travelers trekking up and down the mighty Mississippi on riverboats, these scrolled parchments unspooled to reveal major cities and points of interest worthy of note along the way. The Ribbon Map of the Father of Waters in particular had an impressive reach, spanning from Minnesota down to the Gulf of Mexico, just three inches wide but eleven feet long.

Unlike “network maps,” designed to allow users to seek out different points of interest and map out their own route, these “itinerary maps” documented a single path, like a long guide to a single trail versus an atlas.

Florida Fishermen Stumble Across a Horror from the Deep – the Rare Goblin Shark

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A fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico got more than he bargained for when hauling in a shrimp net last month: a shark so rare that only a few have ever been spotted and a face so hideous only a mother could love it. The goblin shark, sometimes called a living fossil because it is the last surviving species of the Mitsukurinidae family, lives deep under water and has a long, ultra-sensitive snout hiding a mouth full of knife-like teeth. No one has seen one for at least 10 years, so it’s no wonder that when the fishermen discovered the prehistoric-looking beast in their net, they scratched their heads, snapped a picture and then threw the thing back into the deep.

Toxic Algae Bloom Kills 241 Manatees in Florida

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Life for a manatee is tough. Sure, it may look like a lot of grazing and lazy swimming at first glance, but these docile creatures have to contend with boats, tourist harassment, and habitat destruction. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute recently reported that a toxic algae bloom has killed 241 manatees in St. Petersburg, Florida. The number greatly surpasses the previous record of 151 red tide deaths set in 1996. The most recent bloom began last fall in the Gulf of Mexico in a 70-mile area of the coast stretching from Sarasota to Lee County, and it affected a population of about 5,000 manatees.

‘Missing’ oil from BP disaster located at the bottom of the ocean

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When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig burst in 2010, about 200 million gallons of crude oil flooded into the fragile ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico. While much of that oil washed up on shore or was cleaned up, sometimes using controversial dispersants, there is still a lot of oil unaccounted for. A new study in Environmental Science and Technology reveals that a good portion of that missing oil—about 10 million gallons—is sitting on the floor of the Gulf, where it is wreaking havoc with the sea environment.

Ghosts of Planets Past: An Interview with Ron Blakey

[Image: The west coast of North America as it appeared roughly 215 million years ago; map by Ron Blakey]. The paleo-tectonic maps of retired geologist Ronald Blakey are mesmerizing and impossible to forget once you've seen them. Catalogued on his website Colorado Plateau Geosystems, these maps show the world adrift, its landscapes breaking apart and reconnecting again in entirely new forms, where continents are as temporary as the island chains that regularly smash together to create them, on a timescale where even oceans that exist for tens of millions of years can disappear leaving only the subtlest of geological traces. With a particular emphasis on North America and the U.S. Southwest—where Blakey still lives, in Flagstaff, Arizona—these visually engaging reconstructions of the Earth's distant past show how dynamic a planet we live on, and imply yet more, unrecognizable changes ahead. The following images come from Ron Blakey's maps of the paleotectonic evolution of North America. The first map shows the land 510 million years ago, progressing from there—reading left to right, top to bottom—through the accretion and dissolution of Pangaea into the most recent Ice Age and, in the final image, North America in its present-day configuration. As part of BLDGBLOG's collaborative side-project, Venue, Nicola Twilley and I met with Blakey in his Flagstaff home to talk about the tectonic processes that make and remake the surface of the Earth, the difficulty in representing these changes with both scientific accuracy and visual panache, and the specific satellite images and software tools he uses to create his unique brand of deep-time cartography. Like film stills from a 600-million year-old blockbuster, Blakey's maps take us back to the Precambrian—but there are much older eras still, stretching unmapped into far earlier continents and seas, and there are many more billions of years of continental evolution to come.