Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Elsevier Manuscript Submission System

So, I recently had to use the Elsevier Manuscript Submission System to change the corresponding author on an article that one of my former graduate students and I had submitted. What a nightmare! The system seems like it was designed by Nazi psychologists who got frustrated when the waterboarding took too long to work.

Even though I had previously filled out all their forms, and then consolidated my various journal profiles--a complex and confusing set of tasks--the system would not let me get to the dashboard or do anything until I had filled out several more screens full of additional information.

I was tempted to write to the editor and withdraw the submission, and I might have if doing so would not have caused problems for my colleague.

Am I the only one who hates it when people use their power to force you to do things you don't want to do? Might there be something just a tad unethical about doing that?

The information they were requiring had something to do with my research foci--I wasn't paying close attention because I was so annoyed. I don't remember what I filled out, but I do recall that I didn't do it carefully.

If they start asking me to peer-review articles on the sex lives of dung beetles, I guess that will be an indication of what I put down.

Do you find their system frustrating, or am I being oversensitive?

Rubén Darío ceramics

Posted for a friend...Click on photographs for larger images. More to come...

Exterior, body sherd, striation and roughening zoned with broad grooves.

Exterior, shoulder of jar, roughened with zoned excised geometric designs.

Exterior, shoulder of jar, detail of excised geometric design on previous sherd

Exterior, shoulder of jar, detail of excised geometric design on previous sherd

Exterior, body sherd, zoned striation

Example of paste

Example of paste

Example of paste

Exterior, body sherd, zoned striation in quatrefoil (?) cartouche

Exterior, body sherd, daub of red paint on polished surface

Example of paste

Polished black body sherds, exterior

Polished red body sherds, exterior

Exterior, body sherd, zoned roughened below; polished, white slipped and incised above. Zigzag resembles rocker stamping

Body sherd, exterior, pinched and impressed ridge in brushed or roughened band; no applique?

Exterior, modeled body sherds, eye? (left), nose and mouth (?), right

Red painted tecomate rim, exterior

Red painted tecomate rim, interior
Profile of tecomate rim
Body sherd exterior, polished above, roughened (scraped) below

Body sherd, exterior, polished above pinched-impressed band, roughened below, with excised geometric design

Body sherd, exterior, detail of roughened zone showing excised geometric design

Low, sharply everted, jar rim, neither burnished nor polished
Profile view of previous rim
Example of brown paste

Body sherd, exterior, polished above, excised below

More on the lahar

The "lahar" has been mapped as a lava flow, but it's so unconsolidated that I wonder whether it might not be pyroclastic, or at least of low viscosity. See Figure 1 in

Hazlett, Richard W. (1987). Geology of the San Cristobal Volcanic Complex, Nicaragua. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 33: 223-230.

I have heard rumors of an archaeological site on the south side of San Cristobal that has mounds partly buried under a lava flow. The edge of this flow would presumably be the best place to look for it. So, we went back to drive up the east side of the flow last Sunday. We saw some interesting stratigraphy in stream cuts, but no sites.

Oh, well. Maybe next time. I'm convinced that if you look around enough, and know what you're looking for, you'll eventually discover something interesting.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Crew and the Cosmapa Lahar

Here’s the problem.

The Cosmapa site is buried. In Shovel Test 8, the northeasternmost shovel test, the buried surface is particularly clear (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Sharp Contact between the sterile superposed volcanic sand and the underlying buried soil rich in artifacts in Shovel Test 8, Cosmapa
The buried soil appears at about 100 cm. The first sherd appeared at 102 cm. The contact between the overlying ash or sand and the clayier buried soil is particularly sharp. Last year, while writing the informe, I noticed on Google Earth that there was what looked like a large lava flow that came down the southern flank of San Cristóbal straight toward Cosmapa and stopped just south of the Highway, about 1000 m north of the site (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Lava Flow or lahar? In Yellow. Site is in blue.

A couple of days ago, I was looking at it again in Google Earth, and I came down to ground level and "flew" toward San Cristóbal, and I saw that the “lava flow” looked like a gigantic lahar that came straight from a fissure in the cone of San Cristóbal, where the collapse looked quite sharp and fresh (Figures 3-6).

Figure 3. At the summit, it looks like a lahar. Notice the sharp fissure where part of the cone has given way and a giant avalanche has cascaded downward.

Figure 4. The collapse feature is clearer from an angle in this Google Earth image. See how fresh it looks.

Figure 5. Here you can see the relation between the flow and the lahar above. They are almost, but not quite, aligned.
Figure 6. Same as the previous map, but zoomed in a little.

So, was it a lahar or a lava flow? We drove out to look. It’s only 7.2 km from the rotunda at the entrance to Chinandega. We parked at the north entrance to the Cosmapa road. From there, you can see that the road is humped up where it crosses over the flow, whatever it is. We walked along the highway and looked at the section visible in the drainage ditch. We got to a bridge and went down into the dry streambed. There we could see what looked like a lahar deposit in the lowest stratum with ash deposits sitting unconformably atop it. The lahar deposit had lots of sharp stones (not rounded river stones) all mixed in it and lightly cemented, but I could pry bits off with my trowel. We went back to the car and drove east to a dirt road that runs north just shy of the stream. Then we drove north along the road, which follows the eastern edge of the flow. The flow is pitted with big quarries, which makes sense: the volcanoes must be the only places to get stone in the coastal plain. And this recent flow, whatever it is, is clearly recent—there’s only stunted vegetation growing on it, as you can see on Google Earth—so the stone must be easily accessible. In the quarries and road cuts along this track, we could see that the flow is composed of a jumbled mix of totally unsorted, rough, angular, volcanic stone. The particle size varies from silt to house-sized rock, all tumbled together in piles and ridges (Figure 7).  Although there is some scoria mixed in, it looks to me like a lahar. I drove up the Posoltega lahar in 2000, only two years after it happened, and I have seen ancient, consolidated lahar deposits at Cusirisna in Boaco. They pretty much look like this one on San Cristobal (Figure 8), allowing for differences in parent material and age.

Figure 7. Lahar deposits in a quarry face
Figure 8. Ancient lahar deposit from the Las Lajas Crater near Cusirisna, Boaco, Nicaragua.

So, I think it is a lahar. It doesn’t look a lava flow. It’s largely unconsolidated.

If it's a lahar, it's huge. Look at it at the same scale as the Posoltega lahar, which killed a couple of thousand people in few minutes during Hurricane Mitch in 1998 (Figures 9 and 10). The two images are at the same scale.

Figure 9. Posoltega Lahar, from 1998
Figure 10. San Cristobal Lahar at the Same Scale as the Posoltega Lahar

Here's the crew. They're great (Figure 11).
Figure 11. Kelsey, Grazia, and Ashley, with Agateyte smoking pacifically in the background