Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Happy Winter Solstice

(Stonehenge)

The word solstice comes from the Latin solstitium, which means “sun stands still.” “At the winter solstice, the apparent position of the Sun reaches its most southerly point against the background stars” (Royal Museum Greenwich). This year, the winter solstice occurs on Tuesday, December 21, 2021. That means today will be the shortest day of the year, with the longest and darkest night. Tomorrow, the days will gradually become longer, leading up to Spring and the Spring Equinox.

The Julian calendar designated December 25th as the winter solstice. When the Gregorian calendar was adopted, December 21st became the winter solstice and December 25th remained as the traditional date for Christmas.

The winter solstice is also known as the Feast of Juul (Yule). In Scandinavia, fires were lit, including the Yule log, in honor of the Norse God, Thor. In Germany, the Yule boar (sonargoltr) was sacrificed after a ceremony called heitstrenging was performed, in which celebrants made solemn vows on the boar’s bristles. Celebrating Yule included feasting, drinking, and singing. The Yule log tradition was adopted by the Celts in Europe and the British Isles. Burning the Yule log at the winter solstice brought good luck for the new year. Modern day Yule celebrations are still popular.

The Romans celebrated Saturnalia from December 17th to December 24th in honor of the “father of the gods,” Saturn. Celebrants made sacrifices in the Temple of Saturn, held banquets, exchanged gifts, and offered forgiveness to each other for past wrongs.

In Asia, the Dongzhi Festival celebrates longer days, increased positive energy, and the yin-yang of balance and harmony in the community.

Iranians honor the longest, darkest night of the year with feasting and reciting poetry. Eating pomegranates and watermelons is considered particularly auspicious. The festival is called Yalda (Shab-e Yalda or Shab-e Chelleh).

At Stonehenge, people visit to watch the sun’s rays shine through the stones, which are aligned with the path of the sun. The winter solstice was especially important to ancient people because it was an opportunity to pray for fertility and good harvests in the new year.

Happy Solstice! Happy Yule!

Dawn Pisturino

December 21, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

19 Comments »

Jurassic Park: The Movie

Photo: Universal Pictures

(Attention! Spoiler Alert!)

Steven Spielberg’s 1993 science fiction thriller, Jurassic Park, tells a linear story using continuity editing. The movie explores the ethics of scientific manipulation of nature and introduces the concept of chaos theory. The editing, done by Michael Kahn, is seamless and flawless. There are no superfluous scenes. Each scene is designed to support the story and the theme of the movie. The pacing of the movie keeps the tension building to the climax. The editor relays the story “clearly, efficiently, and coherently” (Barsam and Monahan), leaving no doubt or confusion in the mind of the viewer. Based on the book by Michael Crichton, the camera moves smoothly back and forth between situations and scenes (parallel editing), just like a book. The opening music, written by John Williams, is ominous and primitive, implying that the viewer is entering untamed territory.

The opening scene (the master scene) shows the expert hunter standing grimly by with his gun as workers unload a metal crate. This is on the Isla Nubar, 120 miles off the coast of Costa Rica. An accident occurs, and a worker is killed when the creature inside the crate is released and grabs the worker’s leg. The viewer never sees the creature. Its presence is inferred by the creature’s movements and vocalizations, the intense and horrified expressions on the people’s faces, and the scene where the injured worker is pulled from the grip of the expert hunter. The viewer understands that something predatory and dangerous was in that crate.

A “blood-sucking” lawyer (reflecting blood-sucking mosquitoes), arrives at the amber mine at Manos de Dios (hands of God) in the Dominican Republic. There is a lawsuit now against the project. A scientist (a “digger”) views a piece of amber that was just found, containing a mosquito. From his facial expression, the viewer understands that this is a rare and valuable find.

In the Badlands near Snakewater, Montana, Drs. Allen Grant and Ellie Sadler are working hard and painstakingly on a dinosaur dig. Dr. Grant is skeptical of new technology. He dislikes kids. Dr. Sadler is more flexible and is trying hard to convince him to have children with her. The scene with the fat kid is hilarious. The camera perfectly captures the changed expressions on his face. Dr. Grant shows that he has a sense of humor.

After John Hammond, the wealthy entrepreneur, arrives and convinces the pair to go to Costa Rica with him to view his “biological preserve,” the scene cuts to San Jose, Costa Rica. We see a sweating fat man (Wayne Knight of Seinfeld fame) at a café, meeting with a suspicious-acting man. It is clear that something criminal is going on. The man offers the fat man a lot of money in exchange for some “viable embryos.” The viewer does not yet know how this scene is related to the other scenes, but his imagination is captured, and he wants to know what’s going to happen next. The director is slowly laying the groundwork for the plot of the story.

In the helicopter, Dr. Grant (a paleontologist) and Dr. Sadler (a paleontological botanist) meet Dr. Ian Malcom, a theoretical mathematician who calls himself a “chaotician.” John Hammond is not impressed with his “rock star” personality. The other doctors have not heard of chaos theory. Malcolm flirts relentlessly with Dr. Sadler.

When the helicopter reaches the island, the camera reveals a lush, tropical paradise. The music becomes uplifting and upbeat, inspiring feelings of expectation and hope. There is a promise of adventure.

As the travelers are transported in a Jeep to the main center of the island, they witness huge electrical fences equipped with 10,000 volts, moats, and large concrete walls, which are meant for the “stability of the island.” If it’s just a “biological preserve,” why do they need all of this heavy-duty protection?

The Jeep stops at a truly beautiful and peaceful pastoral scene. The camera dollies in for a close-up of Dr. Grant’s facial expression. He reaches over and grabs Dr. Sadler’s head and turns it. Both of their faces show overwhelming awe, surprise, and excitement. They are looking at a live brachiosaurus! Dr. Malcolm looks awed but concerned. The lawyer gleefully says, “We’re going to make a fortune with this place!”

The camera shows a long shot of a lake with herds of brachiosaurs and other creatures. Dr. Grant is confirmed in his theory that these creatures roamed around in herds. The viewer is also overwhelmed with awe and admiration. There is no doubt that this is a splendid park that everyone will want to visit!

At the visitor center, the doctors watch a video presentation about the “miracle of cloning.” The viewer needs this information to understand the plot and the theme of the movie. Scientists in the film extracted “Dino DNA” from mosquitoes trapped in amber, but the DNA is incomplete and filled in with DNA from frogs. (The DNA, therefore, is corrupted, or mutated.)

Throughout this segment, the doctors are so excited, they break all the rules, and John Hammond cannot control them (a foreshadowing of things to come.) Overhead, we hear the announcement that the boat for the mainland will leave soon. At the same time, the doctors are witnessing a dinosaur hatching from its shell (the miracle of life.) These dinosaurs are impure, altered, corrupted, and laboratory bred. While the lab scientist (B.D. Wong) seems completely unconcerned, Dr. Malcolm is calculating in his head all the predictability/unpredictability ratios. The lab scientist reveals that all the animals are female and cannot breed because the chromosomes have been muted (implying perfection and control.) Dr. Malcolm refutes that with an impassioned speech about the history of evolution, the power of life, and the inability to contain it: “Life finds a way.” When Dr. Grant discovers that they bred velociraptors, a close-up of his face shows his mood change from elation to deep concern. Dr. Malcolm’s speech and Dr. Grant’s mood change portend danger and chaos.

The expert hunter confirms their concerns when he says, “They should all be destroyed.” The viewer recognizes him as the man with the gun in the master scene. He explains that these creatures are calculating problem-solvers who are always watching and waiting and testing the fences to get out (a foreshadowing of the future.) The hunter is a realist who has seen these creatures in action.

At lunch, John Hammond goes on and on about the significance and legacy of his theme park, and the lawyer goes on and on about the lucrative investment. Dr. Malcolm is appalled and points out their “lack of humility before nature.” He calls them careless exploiters who did not earn the right to use this technology. As a result, they have no understanding of what they have created and take no responsibility for the results. The theme of the movie is summed up nicely here when he says that the handsomely-paid Jurassic Park scientists were so caught up in “whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think whether or not they should.” And Dr. Grant and Dr. Sadler back him up about the unpredictability of the result (foreshadowing what’s about to happen.)

The chaos elements begin to reveal themselves: the grandchildren arrive, who are knowledgeable city kids but vulnerable in this environment; a tropical storm is imminent; and Dennis, the disloyal fat man, hacks into the computer system in order to implement his nefarious plan.

When the basic tour begins, Dr. Malcolm remarks that the huge gates to the park remind him of King Kong. Richard Kylie narrates information about dilophosaurus, describing it as a deadly creature that spits poison into the eyes of its victim (foreshadowing later events.)

The scene cuts to a conversation between Dennis and John Hammond. Dennis has financial problems, which is why he is willing to sell dinosaur embryos for money, and John Hammond responds that people should pay for their mistakes (foreshadowing future events.) When his plan is in place, Dennis makes a fumbled explanation of going to the vending machines, steals the embryos, and exits the building.

On the tour, the scientists have not seen any dinosaurs except the tame and sick ones. There is an illusion of order and peace. When the storm hits, however, the chaos begins. The park systems begin to shut down, including the cars containing the scientists, the lawyer, and the children.

The best segments in the movie, in my opinion, are the scenes involving the T. Rex and the car. The editing is seamless and flawless. There is no indication anywhere that the T. Rex is not real. The acting is superb, revealing the absolute terror and horror felt by the children. The children come face-to-face with the creature, as indicated by this photo (T. Rex point of view):

As the T. Rex terrorizes the group, every character is suddenly confronted with his own mortality and feelings of powerlessness. There are several shots where the T. Rex and a character come face-to-face and even meet each other at eye level (the eyeline match cut.)

The cowardly lawyer leaves the children alone and gets his comeuppance in a dramatic scene that reveals how powerless humans are compared to these creatures.

The viewer cannot help feeling glad that the lawyer got his just reward because he just wanted to exploit these creatures for profit. The editing here is a marvel of technology because it looks absolutely real, with no obvious separation between the physical scenery and the artificial creature.

When Dennis leaves the park and gets stuck in the mud, he loses his glasses and the shaving cream canister containing the embryos. When he meets the dilophosaurus, he treats it like a dog, calling it stupid, asking it to fetch, and remarking, “No wonder you’re extinct.” He has no respect for the power and danger that have been unleashed. The creature meets him face-to-face in the car, after outwitting him, and kills him. Dennis gets his just reward, and the embryos are lost forever in the mud.

As the characters deal with varying life-threatening situations, Dr. Grant protects and rescues the children, thereby learning that kids are not so bad after all. The characters learn that everybody is necessary in a survival situation, no matter their age or gender. John Hammond realizes that human life is more important than leaving behind a fantastical legacy for the world. Dr. Malcolm is proven right. And the hunter learns that weapons are not enough against a calculating predatory creature that was able to outwit him.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

January 22, 2018

Copyright 2018-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Barsam, Richard, and Dave Monahan. Looking at Movies, 5th ed. New York: Norton, 2016.

Spielberg, Steven, Dir. Jurassic Park. Perf. Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard

       Attenborough. Universal, 1993.

8 Comments »

Godzilla Rules

After the bombing of Hiroshima, filmmakers became obsessed with sci fi movies that exposed and speculated about the harmful effects of radiation poisoning on humans and the environment. Giant, monstrous creatures produced from radiation exposure became a popular theme, particularly in Japan, where the original Godzilla was born in 1954. A whole series of movies featuring Godzilla and sundry other monsters followed. Even today, remakes of the Japanese originals remain popular. And merchandise sales of T-shirts, toys, and other items remain strong. Godzilla even earned his own pop song:

Blue Oyster Cult – Godzilla
Godzilla original movie theme, 1954.

Godzilla Rules!

Dawn Pisturino

October 2, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

16 Comments »

Andalusia Spain: The Flower of Islamic Civilization

When Tariq ibn Ziyad and his Berber troops crossed the Straits of Gibraltar into southern Spain in 711 to displace the Visigoths, little did he know that Spain would one day exemplify the Golden Age of Islamic civilization.  The Moorish invasion into Seville, Toledo, Cordoba, Granada, and other Spanish sites brought lasting influences onto Spanish culture, architecture, and knowledge that ultimately benefited Europe as a whole.

In 750, the Umayyad caliphate in Damascus was overthrown by the Abbasids. Abd al-Rahman, an Umayyad prince, escaped to Andalusian Spain.  “In 756, with barely a whimper of opposition from the man who believed himself the emir, the governor, Abd al-Rahman moved into the old city of Cordoba and declared it the new House of the Umayyads, the legitimate continuation of the ruling family that the Abbasids thought they had exterminated and replaced” (Menocal 4).

Al-Rahman set about replicating in Andalusia the splendid culture of the Umayyad caliphate that had existed in Damascus.  The Great Mosque in Cordoba, with its beautiful red arches and intricate ceilings, still stands intact —a lasting testimony to his work.  In 929, Abd al-Rahman III ascended to the throne, ushering in the great Golden Age of Islamic civilization in Spain.  In 1031 the Ummayad caliphate was abandoned in favor of small city-states.  “Seville, Cordoba, Toledo, Badajoz, Saragossa, Valencia, Granada, and others” (Esposito 34) competed with each other economically and militarily, which weakened Islamic Spain and helped the Christians in Northern Spain to reconquer Islamic territories in the south (Esposito 35).

According to Maria Rosa Menocal, Andalusia evolved into a great Islamic civilization because it incorporated three basic elements: “ethnic pluralism, religious tolerance, and a variety of important forms of what we could call cultural secularism—secular poetry and philosophy—that were not understood, by those who pursued them, to be un- or anti-Islamic”.  This tolerance and hunger for knowledge led to the Transmission Movement which would become so important to the preservation of ancient texts and the expansion of Christian Europe.

While Europe was enduring devastating invasions by barbaric hordes, “the widespread and rapid translation of Greek philosophical and scientific works into Arabic following the Muslim conquests of the seventh and eighth centuries” (Turner 209) led to the widespread dissemination of this knowledge across the Muslim world.  In Andalusia, under the 10th century caliph Hakam II, “one royal library is said to have amassed four hundred thousand books” (Esposito 175) on a variety of sciences.  Later on, 12th century Andalusian theorists Ibn Rushd (known as Averroes), Ibn Bajja, Jabir ibn Aflah, Ibn Tufayl, and Abu Ishaq al-Bitruji debated the virtues and defects of Ptolemaic astronomy.   “Of these, al-Bitruji was the only one to formulate an alternative . . . proposed model” (Esposito 175).

Ethnically, the Andalusian population included Jews, Celts, Arabs, Visigoths, and Romans.  Religious groups included Muslims and the dhimmi or People of the Book: Jews and Christians.  Christians living under Arab rule were called Mozarabs (Melacon 5; Turner 209; Esposito 318).  Christians were often reluctant to assimilate into Islamic culture (Esposito 34).  Nonetheless, Jews and Christians were protected and welcomed into Andalusia by virtue of their belief in Abraham and the One God.

Jews thrived in Andalusia when they re-discovered Hebrew and used it in the same multipurpose ways “as the Arabic that was the native language of the Andalusian community” (Melacon 7).  Jews began to write poetry in Hebrew, inspired by Arab poets.  Maimonides, the well-remembered Jewish philosopher, wrote works in both Arabic and Hebrew (Esposito 33).

The Islamization of southern Spain was not without difficulties, however.  Under Abd al-Rahman III, Andalusia reached the height of its greatness.  Muslims, Jews, and Christians all contributed to increased knowledge in “the arts, literature, astronomy, medicine, and other cultural and scientific disciplines” (Esposito 318).  Although many Christians did convert or assimilate into Islamic culture, Muslim jurists sometimes felt threatened by this and warned against Christian influence as “contamination and a threat to the faith of  Muslim societies” (Esposito 318).  Jews and Christians were forced to learn Arabic, whether they wanted to or not.  And the loose morals of upper class Muslims often offended Jews, Christians, and Muslim clerics.  Jews and Christians were always regarded as infidels by Muslims, no matter how much they assimilated into Arabic culture.  When Abu Amir al Mansur (Almanzor) became ruler in the late 10th century, he began “a series of ruthless campaigns against Christians, including the plundering of churches and other Christian sites” (Esposito 320).  The gulf between Jews, Christians, and Muslims grew wider.  Muslim rulers, fearing the missionary zeal and influence of Christians, segregated them into isolated communities.  Christian military forces reconquered Cordoba, Valencia, and Seville in the early 13th century.  By the end of 1492 Granada fell, and that was the end of Moorish rule in Spain.

Some of the Moorish contributions which have had a lasting influence on Spanish culture include the importation and cultivation of citrus fruits; the production of paper and olive oil; the invention of the guitar; and “Arabic coffee culture” (Robert Thomas, 2011).  The tourist trade is boosted by the rich architectural heritage left by the Moors. 

The Alhambra in Granada, completed in the 14th century, was erected by the Nasrids.  “It comprises the most extensive remains of a medieval Islamic palace anywhere and is one of the most famous monuments in all Islamic art” (Blair and Bloom, 124).  The Great Mosque of Cordoba, remembered for its beautiful red arches, and completed in 965, boasts carved marble panels decorated with fragile arabesques, whose “popularity lasted until the fourteenth century . . .” (Esposito 239).  After the reconquista, “many mosques were changed into churches.  In Seville, for example, the top of the fifty-meter-high minaret of the Almohed mosque, built from 1184 to 1198, was remodeled and transformed into a cathedral bell tower” (Esposito 305).  The Great Mosque of Cordoba was converted into a Catholic church but still retains Qur’anic quotations and decorations on its interior designs.  Many mosques were demolished or stripped of all Islamic associations.  The distinctive Moorish architectural style remains on both secular and religious buildings, however, throughout southern Spain.    

Andalusian Spain perfected the art of making ceramics (called lusterware), glass mosaics, colorful tiles, and silk textiles (Esposito 254-256). Couscous, a traditional North African food staple, adds a flavorful diversity to Spanish cuisine.  Some experts even believe that flamenco, the exotic Spanish dance, was influenced by the Moors (Robert Thomas, 2011).

Andalusia Spain became a bridge between the Muslim world and Europe.  After the reconquista of southern Spain, Arabic texts were translated into Latin and exported to Europe.  The Muslim contributions to medicine, science, and philosophy were included in those texts and exerted a profound influence on European thought and development.

Modern Muslims are re-discovering their historic contributions to the arts and sciences and gaining a newfound pride in their accomplishments.  The Western world is now more open to giving them credit for those accomplishments.  The historic accomplishments and events of the Moors are celebrated throughout southern Spain with festivals, parades, and other special celebrations.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

February 4, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Blair, Sheila S., and Bloom, Jonathan. The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250-1800. New

       Haven: 1996.

Esposito, John L. The Oxford History of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Menocal, Maria Rosa. “Culture in the Time of Tolerance: Al-Andalus as a Model for Our Time.”

       Occasional Papers. 2000. Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository. 2000.

       <http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylsop_papers/1&gt;.

Thomas, Robert, Dir. Andalusia: The Legacy of the Moors. Perf. Robert Elms. Alpha Television

       Production, 2011.

Turner, Howard R. Science in Medieval Islam: An Illustrated Introduction. Austin: 1997.

4 Comments »

A Case Study in Drought: Bullhead City, Arizona

New York Post – Lake Mead at Hoover Dam

Bullhead City, Arizona Primary Hazard: Drought

According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, drought is considered a creeping natural hazard because it has no “clear beginning and end like tornadoes or hurricanes or floods” (National Drought Mitigation Center, 2019, para. 19).  It can develop over many months or years as the climate in a region changes.  This is called “natural climate variability . . . we consider drought to be a normal part of climate just like floods, hurricanes, blizzards, and tornadoes” (National Drought Mitigation Center, 201, para. 7).

Why Bullhead City has the Highest Probability of Drought

Bullhead City, Arizona is a desert community on the Colorado River which sits at an elevation of 566 feet above sea level.  Roughly 40,000 people call it home (City Data, 2017).  Due to an abundance of rain and snow during the 2018-2019 winter season, the U.S. Drought Monitor determined in June, 2019 that Bullhead City had graduated from drought to an abnormally dry area (Associated Press, 2019).  As of this writing, however, the monsoon season—which normally dumps a lot of rain in the area—has been sparse, and Bullhead City is in danger of falling back into drought if the 2019-2020 winter season does not produce adequate precipitation.

Lack of precipitation affects water levels in lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.  Lake Mead, which is held in place by the Hoover Dam, supplies the bulk of water used by residents in Bullhead City and other populated areas along the Colorado River (Associated Press, 2019).

In April, 2019, Congress passed an updated Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan which affects Arizona, California, Nevada, and other states dependent on the Colorado River for water and hydroelectric power.  If Arizona loses its Colorado River allotment, communities will have to pump groundwater, which can be contaminated with natural nitrate and arsenic, or find other alternatives, such as the unpopular use of recycled water (Whitman, 2019).                                                                                                                                         

Removing contaminants raises the cost of water to consumers.  The ideal situation is “to pump only as much groundwater as flows back underground, a balance known as safe yield, by 2025” (Whitman, 2019, para. 13).  But that is a tough goal to implement.  Water conservation measures can stifle growth, an unpopular idea in high-growth areas.

Currently, the Colorado River supplies water to more than 30 million people in seven states, with 70% of that water used for agriculture (Zielinski, 2010).  When government officials designated water allotments to these states in 1922, there were far fewer people living in the region.  And the strain is showing: “the Colorado River no longer regularly reaches the sea” (Zielinski, 2010, para.10).  In fact, it turns into a pathetic mud puddle 50 miles north of the Pacific Ocean.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) plans to build a solar-powered pump station south of Hoover Dam on the Colorado River that would continually refill Lake Mead and produce a continuous supply of hydroelectric power to millions of people in California.  The fear is that this project would shrink water supplies to communities farther down the Colorado River—such as Bullhead City (Grossman, 2018).

Shrinking water supplies, smaller water allotments, and increased demand have fueled tensions between the states dependent on the Colorado River—especially, between Arizona and California.  And those tensions are not going away anytime soon (Runyon & Jaspers, 2019).

Preparedness, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery

Bullhead City has its own Drought/Water Shortage Contingency Plan.  The Arizona State Legislature passed House bill 2277 in 2005 which requires communities to develop and maintain a system water plan that includes three parts: a water supply plan, a water conservation plan, and a drought preparedness plan.  This requirement has become part of the State’s water resource management plan to develop preparedness and mitigation strategies at both the local and state level (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

The United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) also requires local communities to develop drought/water shortage contingency plans to conserve water.  These plans outline community response to reductions in the water supply due to drought, infrastructure failure, or other causes (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

Bullhead City depends solely on the Colorado River for its water supply.  Arizona’s water allotment was designated in the 1922 Colorado River Compact.  “The city of Bullhead City diverts its Colorado River surface water allocation through groundwater wells” (City of Bullhead City, 2016, p. 5).  This is possible because of the Colorado River aquifer that exists.

The Secretary of the Interior can declare a shortage of Colorado River water.  All states dependent on the Colorado River would be forced to share in the water shortage as determined  by the 2007 Record of Decision – Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead.  Bullhead City’s right to Colorado River water is fourth priority, which means that communities with higher priority will get their Colorado River water first.  The Mohave County Water Authority (MCWA) has set aside 107, 239 acre-feet of long-term water credits for Bullhead City.  Bullhead City, along with other Colorado River communities, has been given until 2026 to put preparedness plans in place to respond to drought and water shortages (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

If the water credits are eventually used, Bullhead City has a contract with the Central Arizona Project water canal to use groundwater pumping to recover their allotted water.  The use of such credits would incur extra costs that would be passed on to consumers (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

Bullhead City has developed plans to respond to a 20% and a 40% reduction in water supplies.  Both plans call for the unpopular use of reclaimed (recycled) water.  The extensive use of reclaimed water would require the building of extra infrastructure (City of Bullhead City, 2016). 

The response plan for Bullhead City has been developed as a staged response with the following components: water use reduction; priority users and water reduction; water rates/financial incentives; the role of private water companies; preparedness and mitigation plans for private water companies sub-contracted by Bullhead City; voluntary versus mandatory water reduction; agricultural irrigation versus drinking water; water conservation; public education; stored water recovery and delivery; scenarios of probable water shortage conditions; the use of reclaimed water; demand versus supply evaluation.  These plans would be implemented according to the water level in Lake Mead.  The strictest water management plans would be enforced when the level in Lake Mead is at or below 1,025 feet (City of Bullhead City, 2016).

In the meantime, Bullhead City has waged a public education campaign about the use of xeriscaping using low-water plants and trees; drip irrigation; and harvesting rainwater for landscape use (Water Resources Research Center, 2019).  Tips on conserving water are freely available on the city’s website.  Water rebates are available to consumers.  Water usage reports are available for public perusal.  And water development fees have been imposed to improve water services in the city (City of Bullhead City, 2019).

Bullhead City receives an average of 3 to12 inches of rain a year (Arizona Water Facts, 2019).  Epcor, a private water company, has raised consumer water rates 25% to 35% during the drought.  This situation has prompted Bullhead City to introduce Proposition 415, which would approve a bond up to $130 million to buy out the company (City of Bullhead City, 2019).  If approved, the city will own another source of water and provide water services at a lower cost to consumers.

Identify Gaps and Suggest Expansion of Preparedness, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery Plans

Bullhead City has not done enough to control population growth.  The city advertises itself as the lowest cost of living city in the state based on a 2015 study done by the Council for Community and Economic Research (Merrill, 2015).  This draws more people on fixed incomes from within and outside of the state.  These people can ill afford to pay higher water rates and development fees.  And if water supplies are, indeed, shrinking, Bullhead City can ill afford to add more people to its population.

Furthermore, if Bullhead City plans to use reclaimed water in the future, it needs to build the infrastructure now, and not wait for an emergency situation to arise.

Initial Evaluation and Emergency Management Procedures

Drought is the main hazard facing Bullhead City, Arizona.  It is dependent on water supplied by the Colorado River and the allotment it receives based on the Colorado River Compact of 1922.  Although it has plans in place for a 20% and 40% reduction in water supplies, it has not planned for anything more severe.  At the very worst, the governor of the State of Arizona would declare a disaster and water would have to be trucked in for residential and business use.  A lack of water would lead to social chaos and fighting among citizens.  There would be a mass exodus of people out of town.  Law enforcement would be heavily involved to control the situation. EMS personnel and local hospitals would have to deal with people who were severely dehydrated.  Animals would be abandoned and left to die from thirst.  City officials would be overwhelmed by demands for water.

Interrelationships among the Core Components of the Emergency Management Phases

Drought and water shortages can vary from season to season.  Preparedness plans to deal with these problems and to mitigate the costs and impacts are essential to protect the vital resource of water.  Well-conceived plans must be in place to respond to serious shortages of water for the sake of the community.  If the problem becomes serious enough, there might not be a recovery phase.

Conclusion

The desert was never meant to support millions of people.  Water is a precious resource that has not been taken seriously enough by government officials, city planners, and members of the real estate and development professions.  Bullhead City is dependent on a river it cannot control, weather and climate it cannot control, and State politicians it cannot control.  The city must do whatever it takes to protect its water supply.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

September 24, 2019

References

Arizona Water Facts. (2019). Bullhead City, Arizona. Retrieved from

       http://www.arizonawaterfacts.com/mtw/bullhead-city.

Associated Press. (2019. June). Arizona out of short-term drought. Mohave Daily News.

       Retrieved from http://www.mohavedailynews.com/news/arizona-out-of-short-term-

       drought/article_8c36c50a-9259-11e9-ab41-9b4eacdd7bd1.html

City Data. (2017). Bullhead City, Arizona. Retrieved from

       http://www.city-data.com/city/Bullhead-City-Arizona.html

City of Bullhead City. (2019). City of Bullhead City. Retrieved from

       http://www.bullheadcity.com

City of Bullhead City. (2016). City of bullhead city drought/water shortage contingency

       plan. Retrieved fromhttp://www.bullheadcity.com/home/showdocument?id=7546

Grossman, D. (2018, July). The hoover dam changed america – And it might do it again.

       Popular Mechanics. Retrieved from

https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/infrastructure/922539919/the-hoover-dam-

       changed-americaand-it-might-do-it-again.

Merrill, Laurie. (2015, June). Which arizona cities will cost you the least. AZ Central.

       Retrieved from https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/2015/06/17/bullhead-

       city-cheapest-arizona-city/28899239.

National Drought Mitigation Center. (2019). What is drought. Retrieved from

       http://www.drought.unl.edu/Education/Drought forKids/What is Drought.aspx.

Runyon, L. & Jaspers, B. (2019, February). What is happening with the colorado river drought

       plans. KPBS. Retrieved from

https://www.kpbs.org/news/2019/feb/07/what-is-happening-colorado-river-drought-plans.

Water Resources Research Center. (2019). Low-Water tree and plant guide. Retrieved from

       http://www.wrrc.arizona.edu

Whitman, E. (2019, April). After colorado river drought plan, what’s next for water in arizona.

       Retrieved from https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/content/print/view/11268880.

Zielinski, S. (2010, October). The colorado river runs dry. Smithsonian Magazine.

       Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-colorado-river-runs-

       dry-61427169.

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The Basics of Gas Exploration, Production, and Distribution

Offshore natural gas drilling

The Basics of Gas Exploration, Production, and Distribution

Gas and oil traps are formed by geological events such as tectonic plate shifting, glacier movement, and extreme temperature changes. As long as the gas cannot escape from the area, it will be trapped in place (Blewett, 2010).

When reservoir rock is subjected to high pressure and other conditions, it can become fractured or deformed, creating a space that can fill up with oil or natural gas. Anticlines are structural traps which occur when layers of rock are pushed upward, causing an arch. Synclines occur when the rock is pushed downward. Domes are similar to anticlines but have a more rounded appearance (Busby, 1999).

Faults occur when rocks crack due to outside forces and sections, or plates, slide out of alignment. Sections of rock can slide upward (dip-slip) or sideways (strike-slip). Thrust faults appear on the earth’s surface as mountain ranges. Fractures can divide traps into smaller compartments and increase the permeability of sedimentary rocks. Shales and chalks are normally porous and impermeable. When fracturing occurs, it can make these rocks more permeable, making it possible for gas to get trapped inside the rocks (Busby, 1999).

Stratigraphic traps are harder to access than structural traps because the gas and oil have been trapped within the layers of rock. These traps form as the result of changes in the porosity and permeability of the rock due to the way in which sediment has been deposited. Gas cannot escape the rock. Large fields of gas and oil can be trapped in this way (Busby, 1999).

Combination traps have the characteristics of both structural and stratigraphic traps. A salt dome occurs when a large quantity of salt gets trapped in sedimentary layers and breaks through the earth’s surface, forming “a plug-like structure” (Busby, 1999).

Carbonate rock reservoirs formed when ancient caves collapsed, causing fractures in the rocks. A new cave system was created, forming a reservoir for gas and oil to be trapped inside (Busby, 1999).

In order for any oil or gas field to be productive, there must exist the right combination of “reservoir rock, trap, and cap rock or other seal” (Busby, 1999). There must be “source rock that has generated gas or oil, reservoir rock to hold the gas, a trap to seal it off, and the right timing” (Busby, 1999). Without a trap in place, the gas will disperse out of the area (Busby, 1999).

The largest producing gas fields in the United States are as follows:

Marcellus Shale is an unconventional shale formation which stretches beneath two-thirds of Pennsylvania and parts of New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Virginia. This area is estimated to hold 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  The most productive wells lie 5,000 to 8,500 feet below the earth’s surface (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 2020).

This natural gas can only be accessed through vertical and horizontal drilling and the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection inspects and monitors these wells “from construction to reclamation to ensure that the site has proper erosion controls in place, and that any waste generated in drilling and completing the well was properly handled and disposed. Also, unconventional well operators are required to submit a variety of reports regarding well drilling, completion, production, waste disposal, and well plugging” (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 2020).

The Newark East gas field in Texas is composed of Barnett Shale. Currently, 5,600 wells and 150 rigs are in operation. The field is estimated to hold 1,951 billion cubic feet of natural gas (Geo ExPro, 2007; Oil Price, 2015).

The B-43 Area in Arkansas is estimated to hold 1,025 billion cubic feet of natural gas, but not much other information was available (Oil Price, 2015).

The San Juan Basin is found in Colorado and New Mexico. It is estimated that the field holds 1,024 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Not much other information was available (Oil Price, 2015).

The Haynesville/Bossier Shale formation is located in eastern Texas and western Louisiana. The natural gas is found at depths greater than 10,000 feet below the earth’s surface. The area is producing 2,680 million cubic feet per day of natural gas and 420 barrels per day of condensate (Railroad Commission, 2020).

The Pinedale gas field in Wyoming is the sixth largest gas field in the United States. It covers 70 square miles. Its layers of sandstone are 6,000 feet thick and form a 30-mile anticline. Operators use horizontal drilling to access the natural gas. In 2015, it produced 4 million barrels of gas condensate and 436 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Its gas reserves hold 40 trillion cubic feet of natural gas—enough to provide energy to the entire country for 22 months (American GeoSciences, 2018).

The Carthage natural gas field near Carthage, Texas produced 13,912,377 million cubic feet of natural gas in June 2020. Not much other information was available (Texas Drilling, 2020).

The Jonah field is located south of Pinedale, Wyoming. It covers 21,000 acres and is estimated to hold 10.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Chevron is one of the energy companies involved in both Jonah and Pinedale (Wyoming History, 2014).

The Wattenberg field covers 180,000 acres in Colorado. Horizontal wells are drilled to access the natural gas. It has a complicated geological structure due to “crustal basement rock weakness [ caused by super-heated] organic Niobrara source rocks” (PDC Energy, 2020).

Prudhoe Bay in Alaska has been producing oil and gas for 40 years. It covers 213,543 acres and holds 46 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (NS Energy, 2020). Pump station 1, at the beginning of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, is situated within the Prudhoe Bay field. The natural gas is held in place by “an overlying gas cap and in solution with the oil” (Department of Environmental Conservation, 2020). The Alaska LNG project will be using natural gas from the Prudhoe Bay field to produce liquefied natural gas (NS Energy, 2020).

The most common technique for drilling wells is rotary drilling because “it can drill several hundreds or thousands of feet in a day” (Busby, 1999). A long piece of steel pipe with a drill bit on the end is suspended from a rig and driven into the ground by a diesel engine. The rotating bit drilling into the earth “creates the wellbore or borehole” (Busby, 1999). The bit must be changed after 40 to 60 hours of drilling.

Directional drilling is being used more commonly now to access oil and natural gas in unconventional traps (tight formations). Rotary rigs can now drill in many different directions to reach gas in multiple areas, drill offshore, or drill under populated areas (Busby, 1999).

Horizontal drilling can increase the recovery of natural gas “from a thin formation . . . a low-permeability reservoir . . . isolated productive zones . . . by connecting vertical fractures . . . prevent production of excessive gas or water from above or below the reservoir . . . to inject fracturing fluids” (Busby, 1999).

Offshore drilling is more expensive because the average rig drills down to around 10,400 feet. “An offshore exploratory rig must be able to move across the water to different drilling sites” (Busby, 1999).

Drilling barges are used in shallow waters. Jack-up rigs can be raised or lowered and drill down to a depth of 350 feet. A semisubmersible platform floats on pontoons and anchors at the drilling site. These platforms can drill down to 2,000 feet. Drill ships float over the drill site and can drill down to almost any depth (Busby, 1999).

Once a productive field has been discovered, a fixed or a tension-leg platform is permanently anchored at the site. The legs on fixed platforms can be anchored with piles driven into the ocean floor; whereas, tension-leg platforms float above the field and are anchored by “steel tubes connected to heavy weights on the sea floor” (Busby, 1999).

Drilling a dry hole can be one of the biggest expenses associated with drilling wells. More common issues include something breaking inside the well or objects falling into the hole. Drilling must then be stopped and the problem corrected (Busby, 1999).

Pressures become higher as the rig drills deeper. When this occurs, gas and water “can flow into the well, dilute the drilling mud, and reduce its pressure” (Busby, 1999). When the flow of fluids is uncontrolled, this is called a blowout.

“Natural gas is produced from most reservoirs by expansion, where the pressure of the expanding gas underground forces it into the well” (Busby, 1999). When the pressure drops in the well, gas production decreases. It can be stimulated with the use of a compressor (Busby, 1999).

Once the gas has been purified and processed, it is transported through pipelines from the gas field to distribution companies and industrial customers. Compressor stations along the line maintain the pressure needed to keep the gas flowing smoothly through the pipe. The gas flow is measured at the beginning and end of each pipe section, at each compressor station, and each intersection where the pipe branches off into two pipelines. Large industrial customers receive natural gas directly to their facilities, which “requires high-volume meters” (Busby, 1999).

Economically, it is essential to measure natural gas flow accurately at all points of the supply chain because “an error of 1% in measuring 300 million ft3 of gas per day can lead to a difference of about $2 million per year” (Emerson, 2016). After all, customers pay for the amount of energy delivered.

Differential pressure (DP) meters “measure volumetric flow through a calibrated orifice (generally a plate), are inexpensive, and simple in concept” (Emerson, 2016). Measurements must be corrected for density (mass), temperature, pressure, and gas composition. DP meters are not as acceptable as more advanced technologies (Emerson, 2016).

Ultrasonic meters measure volumetric flow rates by measuring “speed and sound in the gas” (Emerson, 2016). They have an accuracy of 0.35% to 0.5%. Some are available with an accuracy of 0.25% (Emerson, 2016).

Coriolis meters “measure mass flow and density” (Emerson, 2016) but temperature, pressure, and gas composition still need to be measured. These meters tend to be rather expensive (Emerson, 2016).

Flow computers “measure, monitor, and may provide control of gas flow for all types of meters” (Emerson, 2016). They record data from volumetric flow measurement, temperature, gas composition, and density in order to calculate flow rate. Every calculation is dated and timed (Emerson, 2016).

Shale gas is usually composed of less than 50% methane and roughly 50% of ethane, propane, butane, pentane and other gases. CO2, H2S, and sand can also be present. DP meters are excellent meters to use at the gas field site and when impurities are removed from the gas (Emerson, 2016).

Once the natural gas has been purified of water and CO2, the natural gas is processed through liquid separators and H2S separators. At this point, a Coriolis meter or ultrasonic meter is used (Emerson, 2016).

Ultrasonic meters are generally used on transmission pipelines, while Coriolis meters are used on distribution lines. To accurately calculate the Btus (British thermal units) per pound, a gas chromatography device is used (Emerson, 2016). One Btu equals “the energy released by burning a match” (U.S. Energy Administration, 2020).

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 30, 2020

References

American GeoSciences. (2018). The pinedale gas field, wyoming. Retrieved from

https://www.americangeosciences.org/geoscience-currents/pinedale-gas-field-wyoming.

Blewett, R.L. (Ed.) (1999). Shaping a Nation: A Geology of Australia. Canberra: Australia

       National University.

Busby, R.L. (Ed.). (1999). Natural Gas in Nontechnical Language. Tulsa, OK: PennWell.

Department of Environmental Conservation. (2020). Prudhoe bay fact sheet. Retrieved from

https://www.dec.alaska.gov/

Emerson. (2016). Selecting flow meters for natural gas fiscal measurement. Retrieved from

https://www.emerson.com/documents/automation/article-selecting-flow-meters-for-natural-

       gas-fiscal-measurement-daniel-en-us-177810.pdf.

Geo ExPro. (2007). Producing gas from shales. Retrieved from

https://www.geoexpro.com/articles/2007/03/producing-gas-from-shales.

NS Energy. (2020). Prudhoe bay oil field. Retrieved from

Oil Price. (2015). The top 10 largest oil and gas fields in the united states. Retrieved from

https://www.oilprice.com/Energy/

PDC Energy. (2020). Wattenberg field. Retrieved from

https://www.pdce.com/operations-overview/wattenberg-field/

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. (2020). Marcellus shale. Retrieved from

https://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Energy/Pages/default.aspx.

Railroad Commission. (2020). Haynesville bossier shale information. Retrieved from

https://www.rrc.state.tx.us/oil-gas/major-oil-and-gas-formations/haynesvillebossier-shale-

       information/

Texas Drilling. (2020). Carthage. Retrieved from

       http://www.texas-drilling.com/panola-county/carthage.

Wyoming History. (2014). Jonah field and pinedale anticline natural gas success story.

       Retrieved from https://www.wyohistory.org/encyclopedia/jonah-field-and-pinedale-

       anticline-natural-gas-success-story.

U.S. Energy Administration. (2020). British thermal units. Retrieved from

https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/units-and-calculators/british-thermal-units.php.

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Why does Australia have so much Natural Gas?

Gorgon Project, Chevron.com

Chevron is a multinational corporation with offices, plants, pipelines, partnerships, and subsidiaries located all over the world. One of the company’s largest and most important overseas projects is the Gorgon Project – and associated smaller projects – situated off the coast of Western Australia.

Australia does not produce a lot of oil, but it produces an abundance of natural gas. This phenomenon is due to the geology of the Australian continent (Blewett, 2012, p. 221).

The Northern Carnarvon Basin, created during the Paleozoic period, is located off the northwestern coast of Australia, on the northwest shelf. “The basin is Australia’s premier hydrocarbon province where the majority of deep water wells have been drilled (greater than 500 meters water depth) . . . Almost all the hydrocarbon resources are reservoired within the Upper Triassic, Jurassic, and Lower Cretaceous sandstones beneath the regional early Cretaceous seal” (Geoscience Australia, 2020). The faults on this area run north or northeast, among “structural highs and sub-basins” (Geoscience Australia, 2020) which occurred over four geological phases involving glacial and tectonic activity (Geoscience Australia, 2020).

The basin covers 535,000 square kilometers, with water depths up to 4,500 meters. Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic sediment covers the area, up to 15,000 meters thick. The area comprises two Mesozoic petroleum supersystems (Geoscience Australia, 2020).

Total petroleum systems of the northwest shelf include the Dingo-Mungaroo/Barrow system and the Locker/Mungaroo/Barrow system. In the Dingo-Mungaroo/Barrow system, the hydrocarbon source rock is composed of Jurassic Dingo Claystone. The reservoir rocks comprise the Triassic Mungaroo Formation, Jurassic rocks, and the Cretaceous Barrow Group. In the Locker/Mungaroo/Barrow system, the source rock is composed of Triassic Locker Shale. The reservoir rocks comprise the Triassic Mungaroo Formation and the Cretaceous Barrow Group. Muderong Shale makes up the vast seal over much of the area (Bishop, 1999, p.6-7).

A total petroleum system is composed of several elements: the depocenter, which is the basin; the source, which is made of rocks containing organic materials; the reservoir, which is made of porous, permeable rock, such as sandstone; the seal, which is made of impermeable rock, such as shale; the trap, which holds the accumulation of source rocks; the overburden, which is composed of sediments subjected to heat; and the migration pathways, which allow the source rocks to form a link with the trap (Blewett, 2012, p. 176).

Additionally, there must be geochemical processes which cause “trap formation, hydrocarbon generation, expulsion, migration, accumulation, and preservation” in a precise order with exact timing (Blewett, 2012, p. 176). Millions of years of geological events, such as the shifting of tectonic plates and glacier movement, as well as extreme changes in weather, such as the change from the Ice Age to a more temperate climate, formed the particular geology which makes up the Australian continent and its surrounding oceans (Blewett, 2012, p. 217).

“The main trap styles in the [Carnarvon] basin are anticlines, horsts, fault roll-over structures, and stratigraphic pinch-outs beneath the regional seal” (Blewett, 2012, p. 220). Australia has an abundance of natural gas due to the type of vegetation which decayed and became trapped in “non-marine coaly source rocks” (Blewett, 2012, p. 221) and the fact that some basins did not evolve long enough to create the conditions to produce oil.

Chevron entered the Western Australia oil and gas market when it purchased Caltex in 1952. In 1980, the Gorgon natural gas field was discovered west of Barrow Island; and in 2003, Chevron received permission from the Western Australia government to build a natural gas plant on Barrow Island (Chevron Australia, 2020).

Barrow Island is located 60 kilometers off the northwest coast of Western Australia. Chevron’s Gorgon Project includes three liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing plants capable of producing 15.6 million tonnes per annum (MTPA), and a domestic natural gas plant capable of producing 300 terajoules of natural gas per day (Chevron Australia, 2020). According to the operators of the Dampier-Bunbury Pipeline, which transmits this natural gas to distributors, one terajoule of natural gas can provide energy to the average household in Western Australia for 50 years, so Chevron’s Gorgon Project is a significant contribution to Western Australia’s regional economy (Dampier Bunbury Pipeline, 2020). The project is expected to be productive for 40 or more years (Chevron Australia, 2020).

The onshore Gorgon Project also includes three acid gas removal units, two LNG tanks, four condensate tanks, three CO2 compression plants, two monoethylene glycol (MEG) processing plants, 2 inlet processing units, and ground flare capabilities. Marine facilities, an airport, employee housing, a fire station, laboratory, warehouse, workshop, and a permanent operations facility complete the physical structure of the Barrows Island onshore project (Chevron Australia, 2020).

“A subsea gas gathering system is located on the ocean floor at the Gorgon and Jansz-Io fields, located about 65 and 130 kilometers respectively off the west coast of Barrow Island” (Chevron Australia, 2020). From there, natural gas from both fields is transmitted to the Barrow Island facility by undersea pipelines. After processing, gas for domestic use is transmitted through a 90 kilometer domestic gas pipeline that ties in to the Dampier-Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline. Once the LNG is processed, it is stored and shipped by large LNG tankers to Japan and other Asian countries (Chevron Australia, 2020).

The Dampier-Bunbury Pipeline (DBP), at 1600 kilometers long, is the longest pipeline in Australia. Built in 1984, it is expected to last for another 50 years. Every year, it receives 112,000 hours of planned maintenance to ensure its safety and optimal condition. Twenty-seven turbine compressor units, located at ten sites along the pipeline, exert enough pressure to push the natural gas along the pipeline. It has functioned at 99% efficiency for the last ten years. Owned by the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group, more than 2 million homes and businesses benefit from the pipeline. The company also supplies natural gas to power generators, mines, and manufacturers — and other companies can tie in to the pipeline (Dampier Bunbury Pipeline, 2020).

DBP owns 34,000 kilometers of distribution networks, 5,500 kilometers of transmission pipelines, 52 petrajoules of storage capacity, employs 315 workers, and contracts with 1,600 contractors. The company’s goal is to provide natural gas at the lowest possible cost. The company provides 21% natural gas for power generation; 39% for mineral processing; 9% for other industrial purposes; 9% for retail outlets; 22% for mining.  Alcoa and BHP Billiton are two of its large industrial customers. The company provides natural gas to Synergy and Alinta for power generation (Dampier Bunbury Pipeline, 2020).

DBP operates the Dampier-Bunbury Pipeline for the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG). It also plans and constructs metering stations, executes the tie-ins for other companies, and provides an odorization service. In 2013, “DBP completed the metering station for the connection of the Chevron-operated Gorgon Project” (Dampier Bunbury Pipeline, 2020).

Transmission pipelines are usually 6-48 inches in diameter and can handle pressures of 200-1500 psi. The high pressures move the natural gas through the line. Distribution pipelines are separated into main lines and service lines and carry natural gas to homes and businesses. They operate at lower pressures for safety reasons (Pipeline Safety Trust, 2019).

Compressors fueled by electric or natural gas use high pressure to push the gas through the pipeline. Compressor stations are located about every 50 to 100 miles along the line, and pressures can be adjusted as needed (Pipeline Safety Trust, 2019).

Gas pipeline operators, such as DBP in Western Australia, monitor the pipeline for problems using “a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system (SCADA). A SCADA is a pipeline computer system designed to gather information such as flow rate through the pipeline, operational status, pressure, and temperature readings” (Pipeline Safety Trust, 2019). These readings help operators to address problems quickly and easily. Operators, for example, can isolate a section of pipe that is malfunctioning or adjust flow rates via the compressors and valves (Pipeline Safety Trust, 2019).

When a transmission line reaches the utility company’s “city gate,” it begins to transmit gas into the lower pressure distribution system that ultimately delivers the gas to homes and businesses. This is where the odorant is added to the gas. Gas mains, which are usually 2-24 inches in diameter, utilize pressures up to 200 psi. The service lines, on the other hand, only use pressures up to 10 psi (Pipeline Safety Trust, 2019).

The gas utility company is responsible for monitoring flow rates and pressures along the distribution line. When regulators sense a change in pressure, they will open or close in order to adjust the amount of pressure in the line. Relief valves release excess gas if the pressures build too high (Pipeline Safety Trust, 2019).

Pipeline operators, such as DBP in Western Australia, must monitor pipes for corrosion, leaks, breakages, and construction workers digging too close to the lines. They must follow pressure specifications determined by government regulatory bodies, otherwise, pipelines can become a safety and environmental hazard to the local community (Pipeline Safety Trust, 2019).

Barrow Island is a Class-A nature reserve, and Chevron has worked hard with the Western Australia government to maintain the local habitat for the native flora and fauna. Their goal to reduce CO2 emissions has led them to construct a CO2 injection system which allows them to inject excess CO2 from natural gas into a deep underwater trap called the Dupuy Formation, located two kilometers underneath Barrow Island. This system is projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% and is fully supported by the Australian government (Chevron Australia, 2020).

Chevron is a well-respected energy corporation in Western Australia. The Gorgon Project alone is projected to contribute $400 billion to Australia’s Gross Domestic Product and $69 billion in taxes to the federal government between 2009 and 2040. With its booming natural gas industry in place, Australia is now a leading producer of natural gas in the world market (Chevron Australia, 2020).

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 27, 2020

Copyright 2020-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

 References

Bishop, M.G. (1999). Total Petroleum Systems of the Northwest Shelf, Australia: The Dingo-

       Mungaroo/Barrow and the Locker/Mungaroo/Barrow. Reston: U.S. Geological Survey.

Blewett, R. (Ed.). (2012). Shaping a Nation: A Geology of Australia. Canberra: Australia

       National University.

Chevron Australia. (2020). Gorgon project overview. Retrieved from

https://www.australia.chevron.com.

Dampier Bunbury Pipeline. (2020). About dbp. Retrieved from https://www.dbp.net.au.

Geoscience Australia. (2020). Energy. Retrieved from

https://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/energy.

Pipeline Safety Trust. (2019). Pipeline basics & specifics about natural gas pipelines. Retrieved

       From http://www.pstrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/2019-PST-Briefing-Paper-02-Nat

       GasBasics.pdf.

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Legend of the Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Ireland

Giant’s Causeway, Antrim, Ireland

Although the Giant’s Causeway was formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago, the boundless imagination and creativity of the Irish people saw something more magical in its origins.

Legend has it that Fionn Mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) was an Irish hunter-warrior of great height and strength who could not get along with a Scottish giant named Benandonner (Red Man). The two went back and forth at each other until, finally, Finn challenged the giant to a fight.

Finn hauled tons of rock from the coastline of Antrim into the sea in order to build a causeway between Ireland and Scotland. When it was completed, Finn bravely and proudly crossed the sea and met his Scottish enemy on Scottish territory.

To his great surprise, Finn discovered that his enemy was, indeed, a giant and much bigger and stronger than himself. He high tailed it back across the causeway. But Red Man spotted him fleeing and gave chase.

On his way back to Ireland, Finn lost a boot — which can still be seen today. The giant’s roars were deafening, and Finn stuffed moss into his ears to deaden the noise.

At home, Finn confided in his wife, Oonagh. She hid him away then greeted the giant which had followed him home.

Oonagh craftily showed Red Man huge boulders and other large weapons to give the giant a false impression that Finn was much larger and stronger than himself. She baked griddle cakes for the hungry giant, inserting the iron griddle itself inside one of the cakes. When Red Man bit into the cake, he broke his front teeth.

Feeling outsized and out-smarted by Finn and his wife, the giant left the house and headed back to Scotland. Finn came out of hiding. He dug up a huge chunk of Irish soil and threw it at the giant. The chunk of soil missed Red Man and fell into the sea, forming the Isle of Man. The hole which Finn had made filled with water and became Lough Derg — the largest lake in Ireland.

There are other variations to the story, of course, but whichever tale is told, the Giant’s Causeway will always be a marvel of natural science, a source of Irish national pride, and the creation of legendary hero, Finn McCool.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Dawn Pisturino

March 10, 2021

Copyright 2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Jobs at ExxonMobil and Chevron

Richmond, California facility

Gas companies like ExxonMobil (https://jobs.exxonmobil.com) and Chevron (https://careers.chevron.com) rely on experienced professionals to maximize company operations and to develop new forms of existing and alternative energy for the future.

ExxonMobil currently lists 165 jobs for their operations around the world. Experienced engineers, from all backgrounds and specialties, are in great demand: electrical, piping, technical, operations, instrumentation, safety, quality, etc. In addition, ExxonMobil is actively seeking lab technicians and chemists; IT professionals and software developers; people from the financial sector; health professionals; firefighting and emergency response personnel; salespeople; and transportation, maintenance, and supply chain workers. Some of these jobs require German and French as a primary or secondary language. U.S. citizenship is not required.

ExxonMobil also offers internships to qualified students working on their master’s or doctorate, particularly in the fields of geology, geophysics, and all the earth sciences.

Chevron is seeking the same kind of expert professionals and offers internships to students. Chevron also offers jobs at facilities around the world.

Both companies emphasize diversity, experienced professionals, and innovation. People working for these companies need strong STEM skills: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They need strong computer skills; the ability to gather, analyze, and interpret data; and a working knowledge of how business operates.

While the ExxonMobil website was straight-forward and business-like, the Chevron website was exciting, future-oriented, and enticing. If I were seeking a job with one of these companies, I would start with Chevron.

Dawn Pisturino

October 8, 2020

Thomas Edison State University

Copyright 2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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A Butterfly Birthday

monarch-danaus-plexippus

 

Amy leaned over and smelled the sweet, honey-like fragrance of the tiny white flowers on a leafy green bush. It was spring — her most favorite time of year — and the big backyard was alive with blooming flowers, buzzing bees, and orange-and-black butterflies playing among the wild dandelions growing in the grass.

The butterflies were called monarchs, and Amy looked forward to their arrival every spring.

As she peered deeper into the bush, Amy spied a small green object hanging from a slender brown twig. She reached into the bush and broke off the little twig. She held the object gently in her hand, admiring the delicate green color. Near the top was a hard ridge tinted with yellow that seemed to sparkle like gold in the warm spring sunlight.

Amy had found a butterfly chrysalis. Some people call them cocoons. They are also called pupas.

Amy had learned a lot about butterflies from her teacher at school. She knew that female butterflies lay their eggs on the underside of plant leaves. After a few days small caterpillars, called larvae, eat their way out of the eggs. They finish eating the eggshells — their very first meal! After that, they attach themselves to a leaf and eat and eat and eat until they become too big for their skin. They shed their old skin, a process called molting, and then gobble it up to get important nutrients. Mmm — delicious!

Caterpillars continue to eat and grow and shed their skin until they have done this four times. Now, they are about 2 inches long. But they still have a long way to go before they turn into beautiful butterflies.

The caterpillars take long walks in search of the perfect place to rest. When they find it, they weave a sticky, silky attachment called a silk button. This allows the caterpillars to hang upside down and begin a process called metamorphosis.

For the last time, the caterpillars shed their skin and emerge as a small, oval object called a pupa, chrysalis, or cocoon. This is the third stage in the butterfly life cycle.

Amy realized what a precious treasure she held in her hand. She gathered a handful of grass and leaves and covered the bottom of a large glass jar. She carefully laid the little green cocoon to rest in the soft little nest. Then she punched air holes in the lid with a nail and screwed it on top of the jar.

She placed the jar on a table next to her bed, where the warm spring sunshine would shine through the bedroom window and warm the little green cocoon.

Every day, she looked at the little cocoon in the jar, and waited. Amy knew that the caterpillar’s body inside the chrysalis would dissolve into a liquid and the cells of the adult butterfly begin to grow. The little cocoon became more and more transparent as the immature cells developed into a full-fledged butterfly. Pretty soon, she could see the orange-and-black wings of an adult monarch inside the chrysalis.

One morning, Amy woke up and glanced at the big glass jar next to her bed. But something was different. The little cocoon was broken and empty. Sitting next to it was a brand new orange-and-black butterfly with white markings on its wings. It was the most beautiful monarch butterfly she had ever seen.

The butterfly sat on a dry leaf, slowly moving its wings up and down. Amy watched in fascination, amazed by the miracle of nature she had witnessed in the big glass jar.

But the glass jar was no place to keep such a delicate and fragile creature. She took the jar outside, unscrewed the lid, and watched the beautiful butterfly flutter away.

Dawn Pisturino

Spring 2008

Copyright 2008-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Contact author for sources

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