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Graphic abstracts & publication illustrations

Greek creeks in Crete

In Crete, Greece, changes in climate over the last nearly 200 thousand years, have left marks on the landscape that we can see today. Ott et al. (2022) linked stages of aggradation and incision in an alluvial fan sequence with glacial and interglacial periods. They found that although denudation rates stay constant throughout, aggradation is linked with cold, dry periods, while incision is linked with warm, wet periods. But why? The problem could be in the plants: less hillslope vegetation during dry periods might have caused more sediment to be released on hillslopes. This graphic abstract shows what periods of aggradation and incision may have looked like in Crete.

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Cosmic bias

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Cosmogenic radionuclide dating is a commonly used method in geomorphology to estimate (for example) denudation rates, exposure ages, or burial ages. Most studies use quartz as a target mineral, which means you have to target landscapes where quartz is abundant in the bedrock, and this narrows down your options. Using other minerals is also possible, but can lead to biased results... that's why Ott et al. have developed a model that can reduce bias when insoluble and soluble minerals (like quartz and calcite) are used together to calculate denudation rates. This graphical abstract shows the process of collecting a stream sediment sample for cosmogenic radionuclide dating, discovering that there is a bias between two measured nuclides, and using WeCode to save the day :),

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Crazy times in Colombia

So what happens your in Colombia, and the subduction slab tears and develops a flat slab region, and then above the flat slab, a low-relief, high-elevation plateau pops up, bringing with it animal, plant and fish species that once lived at low elevations in the jungle!? And then the animals on the plateau begin to diverge genetically and eventually there exists something like a sky island of endemic species who are separated from their long-lost brothers in the tropical lands below?

This graphic abstract illustrates an aspect of the Pérez-Consuegra et al. (2021) article by name of "Neogene variations in slab geometry drive topographic change and drainage reorganization in the Northern Andes of Colombia." Click on the cartoon for the publication.

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What are they doing down there?!

Have you ever asked the tiny microbial organisms in soil if they're doing anything worthwhile down there? 

Neither have I. But Adam Ossowicki has, and he wrote a book about it. It's called "Understanding disease suppressive soils", and it's his Doctoral thesis, combining several publications or chapters that outline how microbes can help agricultural soils to suppress disease in certain crops (in this case, wheat). In the cover painting, I attempt to demonstrate the blazing glory of wheat roots, but I leave to the reader to discover the mysterious world they hide amongst their tendrils. Click on the drawing for more.

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When you're just trying to sunbathe....

A few thousand years ago in Crete, a massive chunk of a seaside mountain fell off, and it triggered a landslide that filled the steep valley below with a 100-meter thick layer of debris. For more of this story, you'll have to read Bruni et al. (2021), Stochastic alluvial fan and terrace formation triggered by a high-magnitude Holocene landslide in the Klados Gorge, Crete. Click on the cartoon for the publication. 

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What's better to live on, granite or limestone?

Apparently, the majority of living species would say... granite.


But why? Well, there's more water and food there. Rain water infiltrates more easily tinto karst or cave systems found commonly in limestones, which is not the case in granitic rocks. And some elements found more abundantly in granite act as nutrients for plants. Still confused? Have a look at Ott (2020) "How Lithology Impacts Global Topography, Vegetation, and Animal Biodiversity: A Global-Scale Analysis of Mountainous Regions" - click on the drawing below. 

The zircons are speaking to me....

If you ever spend a couple hundred hours in various dingy and dimly lit labs sieving through sand, separating heavy minerals in search of zircon grains, and then sifting through miniature piles of sand under a microscope looking for tiny zircons and making miniscule piles of them with a needle, you might eventually start to feel somewhat of an attachment to them, and it may start to feel like they're your friends, or even as if they're speaking to you. And if you ever spend many months trying figure out where these tiny minerals originally crystallized, and how they were transported so far away from their home, you might start really personifying the poor, homeless guys.


The following cartoons are interpretations of a couple of projects I worked on during my MSc involving detrital zircon geochronology, and sediment provenance and transport. These zircon friends told me the stories of the timing of mountain building in the Sierra Nevada and the Ancestral Rocky Mountains. Click on the cartoons for the publications.

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My PhD project in pictures 

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What the heck!? First you subduct under me, then you fault me normal, then you fault me reverse. And now you bend me like a straw?!! It hurts, and I'm done. I've lost my marbles. Here are some ways that bedrock can be fractured... and how fractures can dictate block size and grain size on hillslopes and in streams. Click on the cartoon for a video. 

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Other paintings

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