Monday, April 19, 2010

Here's to You, Geological Heroes

The Accretionary Wedge is coming up soon, so my thoughts are naturally turning to Geological Heroes, the topic of this month's Wedge, hosted at Mountain Beltway by Callan Bentley. Callan says,
I invite all participants (geobloggers and geoblog readers alike) to contribute stories of their heroes. It’s time to pay tribute to the extraordinary individuals who helped make your life, your science, and your planet better than they would otherwise have been.

As far as geologic heroes go, I was first thinking that maybe I don't really have any (or maybe I just don't have many personal ones that I feel I can write about on the blog). I thought, therefore, that I'd list two geologists who are heroes to me, although they aren't personal heroes:
  • Tanya Atwater - a leading plate tectonicist, geophysicist, geologist, and oceanographer. She is a hero to me by way of being a leading and famous woman in my field (or a related field), one who "is especially well known for her works on the plate tectonic history of western North America, in general, and of the San Andreas fault system, in particular... ."

    I've not yet had the good fortune to meet her, but long ago (and not very far away) I named a dog belonging to my previous partner and me after her. Upon hearing of this dubious honor from an acquaintance of ours, Tanya A. reportedly said, "Ruff ruff," while making a motion like scratching her ear with a paw.
  • Tom Dibblee - a legendary field-mapping man, who mapped "565 quadrangle maps covering over 40,000 square miles, some fourth of the State of California." I first learned of his mapping while working in the Mojave, where his maps cover nearly every square inch of ground and provide the basics and details for every geological map that has come after him. He is known in that region for not having to use a Brunton to take strikes and dips (except when beds were dipping at shallow angles), because his sense of orientation and angle estimation were excellent, such that he was always within a couple degrees. He started mapping when in high school, and never stopped, completing a mapping career of almost 80 years only when he passed away in 2004.
    Beyond these two, I was sitting out on the rig one day, and while thinking that I'd just leave this post at a two-person list I realized that the topic "Heroes" was making me think of Waylon and Willie, and I started singing "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys."

    Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks...

    [technically a road song because it mentions trucks] and then that somehow led me into "All My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" followed by "Waylon, Willie, and Me."

    Now, not all the lyrics of these three songs are applicable to whatever particular feeling they engendered in me on that recent field day, nor are all of the lyrics particularly applicable to the topic of geological heroes — except that:

    When I start thinking about the real geologist heroes I've known over the years — whether male or female — they are rather much like cowboys, or like outlaws: out in the field all day, bouncing around in pickup trucks old and new, doing their own thing, making it on mottos such as "it's easier to get forgiveness than permission" or "it's all changed now," running their own programs, districts, and companies, shooting cans, rolling boulders, and participating in other shenanigans that shall go unmentioned here, some of which have involved various forms of (legal in Nevada) explosives.

    These more personal heroes of mine include my thesis advisor(s), my major professor, the professor I T.A.'d for, several former professors and T.A.'s, many geologists from both Northern Exploration Company and Former Mining Company and elsewhere, the two Larry's, the two Nancy's (you *know* who you are), most of my former field assistants — one has or is now running her own company, one patented her Hg-gas sniffing method and has run her own lab, one is now running her own exploration group at a major mine, and some have gone on to other things but are nevertheless heroes to me for making it in the "man's field" of exploration and mining geology.

    My heroes, over the years and decades, have also included several FOP/Quat people: JODavis, Bud Burke, Marith Reheis, and anyone who was present for the flying Vee in the middle of the Black Rock Desert in 1987 or who made it to the 1991 FOP down in Fish Lake Valley, Nevada.

    And then there are some true outlaws or aspiring, wanna-be outlaws — hmm... should these names go unmentioned? (You know who you are: R, BS, JS, PG, S+D, et al.)

    Really, when it comes right down to it, there are too many geological heroes to list, refer to, or name, including all the consultants and independents attending the hospitality suites and receptions at Northwest every year, going back to the wild S+D bashes in Spokane some thirty-plus years ago.

    And so, here's to you (all of you)...

    ...from a copy of a print from an original slide taken here at a now burned-down hot spring cabin, by JODavis in the fall of 1981, photo credits to JODavis and LLLackey, photo ©2010 Looking for Detachment, all rights reserved, poem written by SH and CR.

    The Spencer's Hot Springs cabin, with roomy concrete bathtub and piped in hot water, was burned down later that year or the next, reportedly by the same individuals who, in their over-zealous righteousness crossed out in red marker the name "Asshole" (and other cuss words written on the interior of the cabin) — these individuals were apparently disturbed by the existence of such a den of iniquity as a hot spring where people *gasp* sometimes bathed naked. I don't know who these red-marker people were, nor do I really know that they were the arsonists — but that's the way the story goes.



    The original from the 1978 album "Waylon and Willie."



    A live version probably recorded in 1990.

    April 2010 Accretionary Wedge: Heroes

    2 comments:

    SouthernGeologist said...

    I think there needs to be a comment of some sort or another on this post:

    In short, thank you. I'm currently stuck between a rock and a hard place (no pun intended) out of college, out of work, and in a rather boring part of Texas (geologically speaking and in a general sense) waiting to hit Arizona (which may take a couple of years) so I can get back into college and see about grad school.

    It's rare that I think about geology these days (too depressing) but posts like this put a smile on my face since they remind me that some day I will make it out west to explore the deserts - possibly as a sedimentary geologist.

    Great song selection, by the way. I love Coe, Waylon, and My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys is a great tune.

    Silver Fox said...

    SouthernGeo, glad this made your day. Good luck! :)