geography – mammoth // building nothing out of something

Category Archives: geography

Excavations, Shockwaves, and Limits

At the end of September, I spoke at an event organized by The Architectural League and co-sponsored by The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design, “The Five Thousand Pound Life: Land”. The Architectural League has recently posted video from the event, so you can now watch the many presentations and discussions; I particularly recommend Jesse […]

signs and obscure marks

[Lake Guntersville, Alabama’s largest lake, which was created with the construction of the Guntersville Dam by the TVA in the late 1930’s.] At Places, Shannon Mattern reviews various practices which she collectively terms “infrastructural literacy” projects, including “touring, collecting, and documenting infrastructure” (the Los Angeles Urban Rangers, for instance), “sensing infrastructure” (Nick Sowers’ Soundscrapers), and […]

elephant butte reservoir

[Elephant Butte Reservoir, New Mexico’s largest reservoir, which supplies water to “about 90,000 acres of farmland and nearly half the population of El Paso”; the GIF above (by mammoth) combines NASA Earth Observatory satellite imagery from 1994 and 2013 to show the depletion caused by repeated droughts since 2000. Now off to start tumblrs of […]

the commonwealth approach

[The following is the text and (a slightly condensed set of) slides from the presentation that Laurel McSherry and I gave at the Drylands Design Conference in late March. The presentation walks through our highly speculative proposal for the reconfiguration of the political geography of the United States to better conform to the spatial distribution […]

zones and extrastatecraft

[A zone: Ebene Cybercity in Mauritius. As a bonus, Ebene is also an excellent example of the capacity of the Tubes to direct urban futures, as one of its prime selling points is that it sits at a landing point for the “the SAT3/WASC/SAFE sub-marine cable which links Southern Europe, Western and Southern Africa and […]

atlas of suburbanisms

[“Montreal: Percentage of residents who drive to work, live in single-detached housing, and own their homes”, from Moos and Kramer’s Atlas of Suburbanisms.] The University of Waterloo’s Atlas of Suburbanisms — a research project by the School of Planning’s Markus Moos and Anna Kramer — looks like a fantastic effort to understand Canadian suburbs on their […]


[NASA compares Manhattan to a neutron star. The infographic is a dimensional comparison — if scaled for density instead, Manhattan wouldn’t be visible. From wikipedia: “[the] density [of a neutron star] is approximately equivalent to the mass of the entire human population compressed to the size of a sugar cube”; link via Alex Ogle.]

munitions landscape

[The Radford Army Ammunitions Plant on the New River, in southwest Virginia.] FASLANYC takes us on a tour of particularly bizarre militarized landscape typology — the World War II-era munitions plant, beginning with the Radford Army Ammunitions Plant in southwestern Virgina. Digging into the archives at the Historic American Landscapes Survey, Davis excavates the fascinating […]

delaware dredge

[A pressurized pipe carries dredge along Bethany Beach, Delaware; photography by Chris Mizes.] On his blog space within lines, Chris Mizes writes about one of the more common ways that the landscapes of dredge intrude on everyday life: beach nourishment. As Mizes explains, this commonplace instance of landscape prosthesis is — like many of the […]

schafran on race and foreclosure

Speaking of the geography of financialization, Alex Schafran had a fantastic post at Polis last December on race, foreclosure, and rhetoric surrounding the “death of the fringe suburb”. In forthcoming work done with my colleague Jake Wegmann, analyzing real-estate data in the region since 1988, we can show that the zip codes to which African […]

metro international trade services

[Warehouse at 1200 E McNichols Road, Highland Park, Michigan. The small red sign at the bottom right corner of the second image says “Metro”.] The warehouse above — and a network of others like it, scattered around the industrial abandonia of Detroit — is a crucial bottleneck in the global aluminium trade. Before I explain how this […]

everyday structures

Recommended reading: Alan Wiig’s “everyday structures”, a blog “explor[ing] the place of infrastructure in the urban landscape”, with a particular focus on “Hertzian space” and digital communications infrastructure. Wiig is studying geography at Temple University, so his blog most typically deals with landscapes in Philadelphia or its surrounds. Like many of mammoth‘s favorite things at […]

squirrel highways

[“Squirrel Highways”, a drawing by Denis Wood, Carter Crawford and Shaub Dunkley, from Denis Wood’s Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas, which Wood describes as a “cartographic poem” about the North Carolina neighborhood of Boylan Heights, where he lives.  Wood evidences a fantastic ability to animate prosaic terrain through the making of maps which are […]

auckland volcanic field

Above and below, snapshots from “Auckland Volcanoes”, a map by Carl Douglas. Carl’s map marks the location of each of the volcanic craters that dot the surface of Auckland.  The craters exhibit a fascinating variety: some have been heavily altered by mining operations (which particularly seek volcanic scoria, a type of rock suitable for use […]

“the climax of the riverboat era”

Over the course of this summer’s discussion of floods, we’ve talked a great deal about channelization and levees and dredging and the other acts of industrial landscaping that have produced the riverine landscapes of the Mississippi watershed. Those acts, though, are multi-purposed: they are executed to control floods, yes, but they are usually also intended […]

a partial atlas of mississippi floods

[I’ll be updating this atlas as I continue to post on floods; for now, there are two categories — blue, for Missouri floods, and yellow, for historical Mississippi floods.]

six dams and six reservoirs

[Fort Peck Lake (top), Spillway (middle) and Dam (above), in northeast Montana; built between 1933 and 1940, Fort Peck is the world’s largest “hydraulically-filled” dam, which means that it was constructed by dredging suspended sediment from borrow pits and pumping it to discharge pipes at the dam site, where it settles onto the embankment.  (This […]

“a coordinated infrastructural ensemble”

In a great little piece for Domus, Geoff Manaugh looks at what the “critical foreign dependencies” cable says about the nature of the contemporary nation-state: “The sites described by the cable—Israeli ordnance manufacturers, Australian pharmaceutical corporations, Canadian hydroelectric dams, German rabies vaccine suppliers—form a geometry whose operators and employees are perhaps unaware that they define […]

“we’d rather people forgot about us”

[The strange spray-painted glyphs marking “our subterranean infrastructure”; image source.] Nicola Twilley walks with the Center for Land Use Interpretation, for Good Magazine‘s Los Angeles issue: “Armed only with a manila folder stuffed full of clippings, archive photos, and annotated printouts from Wikimapia, our first stop is the median strip on the 9500 block of […]

a short aerial tour of the arrival of canadian oil in the united states

[“Cushing has fewer than 10,000 residents, but you can drive around for hours and still not see all the huge tanks there.”] Tuesday morning, I caught a portion of an NPR piece on the “pipelines and trucking corridors” that bring Canadian oil from the Alberta oil sands into the United States — and then promptly […]