Author Archives: mladen

Welcome to the Grand Tour of the Terrestrial Planets

From here you can download tiny ‘leader’ KML files linking to our four tours. A paper describing them has been submitted to the Journal of Geoscience Education. It is currently accepted subject to revision. We will upload it here along with supplemental documents including lesson plans and pre-/post tests as soon as we hear whether our revision manuscript has been accepted.


Click here


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The Moon

Click here


Click here

Cross Section Generator for Google Earth

Generate emerging Google Earth cross-section using two cross-section textures (png, jpeg) with optional ground overlay map

Try it out!



  • Step 1: Choosing your location in the Teleport field.
    center on your location type lat, lon or a zip code or an address and click the Teleport button

    • e.g:
    • 36.8857° N, 76.2599° W
    • 36.8857 N, 76.2599 W
    • 36.8857, -76.2599
    • norfolk
    • 23508
  • Step 2: Prepare two images for the sides of your cross-section A and B (not larger than 2 MB each) and ground overlay image to help you position your cross section precisely.
    • Choose these files or enter their URLs and press “Upload”
    • After few seconds (depending on your connection speed) you will see your cross-section
    • If not satisfied, upload new images
  • Step 3: Position your ground overlay to match by:
    • Dragging pins A and B
    • Entering explicit coordinates of latitude longitude box N S E W in input field
    • Enter angle of rotation if necessary.
    • Change transparency of the overlay for visual matching
  • Step 4: Position your cross-section by dragging the controls or entering data
    • Drag thePulpit rockto change the position of the cross-section
    • Drag thePulpit rockto change strike or drag it while Shift key is pressedto change length of your cross-section
    • Horizontal slider will change the plunge of your cross section
    • Slider on the left will change tilt of your cross section
    • Two sliders on the right will change elevation and stretch of the cross-section
  • Step 4:
    • Click the ‘Generate KMZ’ button


Kristen St. John, Caroline Robinson, Ben Suranovic, and Cari Rand, James Madison University; and Denise Bristol, Hillsborough Community College. Questions and suggestions on the exercise should be directed to Kristen St. John:

Overview:  This exercise uses empirical data and Google Earth to explore the surficial distribution of marine sediments in the modern ocean. Over 2500 sites are plotted with access to original data. We recommend first completing the Primer on Google Earth to become familiar with tools in Google Earth that are used in this exercise. The Exploring Marine Sediments in Google Earth exercise has four parts:

  1. Stories from the Sea Floor – A Lesson on How Science Works
  2. A First Look at Marine Sediments
  3. Exploring the Distribution of Marine Sediment Types on the Sea Floor
  4. Refining Your Hypotheses  on Biogenic Marine Sediment Distributions


Audience: Intended for use in undergraduate Oceanography, Marine Geology, Paleoceanography, and Sedimentology Courses.


Download Teaching Materials and Tips:

   Google Earth Primer

  Student Exercise

  KMZ files Used in this Exercise

Video Links Used in this Exercise

Tips for Instructors


References and Acknowledgements:

    Data used in this exercise comes from the following research programs and databases:

  • Development of this exercise is supported by the NSF-funded GEODE project.
  • This exercise supplements and compliments an NSF-funded exercise on Seafloor Sediments ( , which is an open-access chapter from St. John, K., et al., (2012) Reconstructing Earth’s Climate History: Inquiry-based Exercises for Lab and Class. Wiley-Blackwell, 485p.
  • Development of this exercise has greatly benefited from assistance by Cari Rand and Mladen Dordevic, James Madison University.

Mid-Atlantic Geo-Image Collection (M.A.G.I.C.)

The Northern Virginia Community College team has been busy adding new images to their online repository of geological GigaPans. As of August 1, 2014, their Mid-Atlantic Geo-Image Collection (M.A.G.I.C.) includes 754 total GigaPans of geologic imagery (620 billion pixels), with a total of just over half a million views, with an average of 483 views per image. Each GigaPan is a large (sometimes extremely large) image that users can explore on their computer screen, zooming in to see detail, or zooming out to see context. The user-driven exploration of GigaPans makes them a favorite medium for virtual field trips. Users are guaranteed to find something useful among these many images. For increased utility, we have tagged and organized them into several themes and sub-themes: by scale of image, by rock type (sedimentary, igneous, etc.), by place (West Texas, Wind River Canyon, Canadian Rockies, Blue Ridge, etc.), by time (Archean, Cambrian, Triassic, etc.), and by being relevant to one of our many themes (unconformities, stromatolites, primary sedimentary structures, etc.). The links below will take you to some of these themed sub-collections, dubbed “galleries” by GigaPan.

Here are a few examples of new MAGIC geo-imagery from the past two months:

Students Robin Rohrback-Schiavone, Alan Pitts, Sam Adler, Chris Johnson, and Joshua Benton contributed imagery and curatorial input to the collection. Jay Kaufman (University of Maryland), Aaron Barth (Oregon State University) and Dan Doctor (USGS Reston) contributed additional imagery.

If you have suggestions about other themes to emphasize, or sites to include, please contact NOVA PI Callan Bentley with your ideas:

By scale:

By rock type:

Other relevant “stuff”:

Themed collections:

Special rock units:

By place:

By geologic province

By time: