Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Trinket from Majuba Hill

Rhyolite from Majuba Hill, in the shape of Nevada (a pin).
As per this little blurb (above) by the NBMG, tourmaline (the black mineral) has replaced the sanidine and plagioclase feldspar phenocrysts, leaving small blobs and fairly large eyes of translucent and very light gray to faintly yellowish or tan quartz amongst the often large masses of tourmaline. The one tourmaline mass or crystal near the center of Nevada — right about where Kingston Canyon, south of Austin on old Highway 8A, would be — retains the shape of a feldspar, probably a K-feldspar (sanidine).

Surprisingly, not all rhyolite porphyry from Majuba Hill comes in the shape of Nevada.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Update from the Lake: Pictures from a Canoe Trip

A quick report on a canoe trip we took recently:
Bright yellow wildflowers in a marshy meadow above the lake.
A narrow waterway through the yellow and reddish meadow.
Dead, partly decomposed (or eaten?) snake amongst yellow flowers.
A small waterfall on the shore.
Pelican in the lake. Other pelicans near the shore (distant white blobs).
Pelican above the lake.
Pelicans in and out of the lake.
Wildflowers in the water.
A final closeup.
I can't look up what kind of flower these are, not knowing enough about aquatic plants to have a place to begin, so if anyone knows...leave a comment, please!

Friday, June 27, 2014

More Dust, More Devils

After lunch, I resumed my dusty, devilish trip and drove south-southwest on what used to be old U.S. 40, going under the overpass that I-80 now uses to bypass Lovelock.
As I leave town, a large dust storm looms in the distance beyond the overpass.
Old highway 40 continues on past Lovelock, as I gradually — at the speed limit of 55 mph! — approach the storm.
I always enjoy driving by this lone cottonwood (Google Maps location).
In the picture, you can now clearly see how closely this remanent section of 40 is paralleled by I-80, over there on the right→ (signs are on I-80, as is the semi).
I've now turned more to the southwest, and I have a better view of the dust storm. The dust is blowing along and rising from the Humboldt Sink, end point to the 310-mile long Humboldt River.
Old highway 40 and I-80, side by side, heading southwest toward Toulon.
Granite Point, a smallish ridge of granite on the west flank of the Trinity Range, is just beyond the dark exposure to the right (north) of I-80, which might be basalt. Straight down the road, we're looking more or less toward the center (or south of center?) of the Ragged Top caldera, which was featured somewhat here and here (earlier posts) and in these comments.
Another view of the dust storm on the Humboldt Sink, with sand dunes of Lake Lahontan (Fallon or Turupah Formation? — Geolex does not include all the references about these two formations) and the railroad in the foreground. 
The old tungsten mill at Toulon, with the dust storm raging in the background. 
According to the most recent GSN field trip guide, the mill at Toulon was used over the years (since before World War I) to process tungsten from nearby mining districts including those at Nightingale, Ragged Top, Mill City, and Oreana (Nightingale is off to the west, and Oreana and Mill City are quite a ways to the northeast). It was also used to process arsenic during World War I, and was later used for antimony and gold ores (not sure from where).
A dust devil at the leading edge of the storm, with the West Humboldt Range finally visible across the playa. 
I leave old highway 40 to return to I-80 at the Toulon exit. The old highway can be followed farther on toward the Humboldt Dike gravel bar (location), where at least one trace of the old road gets wiped out or overprinted by 80.
Another view of the Humboldt Sink and West Humboldt Range from I-80.
Looking back. 
I've now passed the gravel bar and Highway 95 exit for the Carson Sink and Fallon. The storm can be seen behind me; the Forty Mile Desert is just south of me beyond I-80.
A dust devil, leaning in the still roaring wind, on the Forty Mile Desert. 
Tumbleweeds roll out to try to block my path. 
Dust blowing wildly just east of Nightingale Hot Springs (interesting write-up about Nightingale, Toulon, and Oreana here at Backyard Traveler by Rich Moreno — a blog well worth reading if you want to learn more about Nevada). 
A distant devil off across the salt flats near Fernley. 
My journey continued onward past Fernley and Wadsworth, into the canyon of the Truckee River, where I was too busy fighting the gusty winds to grab any shots of dust or devils.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blogging from the Road

So, I thought I'd once again try blogging from the road, in this case the road to work (I-80, and what better way than with this phone shot of Majuba Hill).

This is a fairly difficult proposition on the phone while traveling in the back seat of a mostly comfortable truck, partly because of the awkwardness of punching out letters on the virtual keypad, partly because I can't really get an accurate preview of the post.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It Was a Devilish Sort of Day

Last week when I drove southwest on I-80 through western Nevada, the wind was blowing strongly from the southwest, gusting to 39-44 mph. The drive was challenging (or horrendous, depending on your POV) in a jeep with a metal rack.
Dust devil blowing northeast across the north end of Rye Patch Reservoir, probably across the Upper or Lower Pitt-Taylor Reservoir.
Even the devils were having a hard time: they were blowing rapidly across the terrain and were often going to pieces before they could really form.
As I rounded the corner at Humboldt House and the Florida Canyon Mine, I realized that the usually visible West Humboldt Range was nowhere in sight to the south.
Visibility was reported as 10 miles, but in places it was much less!
Poorly formed dust devils in a mass of dust near the junction of the Limerick Canyon and Rochester Canyon roads in the Humboldt Range near the Oreana exit (Oreana millsite).
Because of the strong and gusty winds, I decided to get off at the Oreana exit and head south on a still usable alignment of old U.S. 40, which is no longer signed anywhere in Nevada but is still drivable in places.
Here, we're looking southwest along one alignment of old Highway 40; a second, non-drivable sub-parallel alignment of 40 is running in the bushes just to the right of this paved alignment.
You can see a semi or two on I-80 in the right part of the photo. The paved road ends by being cut off by I-80 just at the horizon.
A locally known cutoff will take you from old 40 through a tunnel beneath I-80.
On the west side of the single-vehicle tunnel, I turned left to follow the frontage road south towards Lovelock.
I'm now driving southwest on the frontage road on the west side of I-80, which is right there on my left. Part of an immense dust storm can be seen beyond the local horizon.
The frontage road is now about to cross one alignment of old Highway 40 and join with a second. Dust is strongly diminishing the visibility (10 miles?!?).
In the above photo, I-80 is still to the left. At the corner ahead, the frontage road will join with a drivable segment of old 40, one that was still in use when I moved to Nevada in the 1970s. An older alignment of old 40, still partly paved, can be seen as a faint, sage-colored line between the corner ahead and the bridge crossing the railroad just right of center (above).
Now I'm on that bridge, on one alignment of old 40, looking south toward EP Minerals' Colado Plant, which processes diatomaceous earth (DE) and perlite. 
The non-drivable alignment of old 40 runs indistinctly toward the plant through the bushes ahead of us (above) or on the west side of the tracks, although it seems to get lost somewhere in this area. Judging from Google Maps, there may be two old and barely passable (to impassable) alignments of old 40 in this area, besides the paved one I'm driving on, with the one we saw in the last photo running straight for the EP plant. Or, perhaps there was just one older alignment. I'm not sure where the older alignment(s) crossed the railroad.
Some of the dust is coming off piles of DE at the Colado plant.
This is a part of old 40 that I remember from my first years in Nevada, the stretch approaching Lovelock, lined with tall cottonwoods.
I think of the old days every time I drive this section of old Highway 40.
I'm now approaching the overpass that used to put us onto the built part of I-80 in the 70s-80s, when the bypass around Lovelock hadn't yet been constructed.
Dust storm in downtown Lovelock.
A dust devil off to the northeast, as seen from a truck stop parking lot near downtown Lovelock.
I ate a quick lunch, and continued on into the near gale-force winds and dust afterward.