Saturday, December 27, 2008

RoadTrip Update: Holidays below the Flatirons

Posting and commenting has nearly fallen by the wayside while I sit and bask in the sun and clouds and wind of the Rocky Mountain Front Range. So far, I still haven't climbed up to the base of the giant Flatiron outcrops, not only because the visiting schedule here has been intense, or at least full, but also because I have caught one of those nasty holiday viruses. This one may have come all the way from Alaska, or maybe it came from Nevada, Utah, or Colorado! Hopefully it will be in retreat by the time I need to head back home.
I've had some nice relaxing times sitting by the tree and gazing out the window...
...and have also gotten out and about a bit. The tree above was in the two-story lobby of the Hotel Boulderado, a fancy old European-style hotel and a great place to eat.

Hope you all are having good holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

RoadTrip Update: The Front Range

flatirons As you can see by comparing the photo taken a couple days ago, above, to the one taken in early summer a couple years ago from a slightly different angle, here, The Flatirons look about the same. There is the addition of a bit of snow, which can be seen mostly in the foreground, and the subtraction of a few clouds. I suspect some snow is hiding under trees, in gullies, and behind rocks in the background. Quite frankly, I expected a lot more snow.

So far I haven't had the chance to walk up to the rocky outcrops, but have instead been resting, visiting, and getting ready for last-minute shopping.
new snow Here in the suburbs, we had less than a skiff of new snow last night, which fell on patchy old snow and ice.

Monday, December 22, 2008

RoadTrip Update: Book Cliffs

Compared to the last time I drove by the Book Cliffs near Grand Junction, Colorado, a couple years ago (photo here), there was indeed a bit more snow when I drove by a couple days ago, although the snow was not deep.
The Book Cliffs are formed from a resistant sandstone in the Cretaceous Mesaverde Group - the two buff-colored cliffs at the top of the slopes above - which cap badlands formed on the Cretaceous Mancos Shale - the brownish to gray slope-forming unit below the capping cliffs. The Mancos Shale is fairly easy to recognize as you drive over it on I-70 in eastern Utah, because it is made of coaly beds and swelling clays, the latter of which cause the roadbed to become quite bumpy in places.
Above, a bit of detail in the Mancos Shale. Driving through the area from the San Rafael Swell into eastern Colorado always reminds me of the paintings of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe, who painted desert scenes and badlands, especially in New Mexico.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday From the Road: Xmas Sightings

Just a few Christmas decorations seen from the road or while in the field, from Fallon and Austin, Nevada, to Girdwood and Anchorage, Alaska.

Enjoy! I'll be on the road for a bit.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday Trip

sign I will be traveling into this part of the world soon...
cliffsPassing through here, right by the Book Cliffs on I-70...
flatirons On my way to here, in the Denver area, although I don't expect The Flatirons on the Front Range to look like this: they should be all snow-covered! I'll be stopping to meet a couple geo/bloggers on the way.

I don't know how my posting will go; I don't even know what the internet access will be like. I'll have comment moderation on by Friday, at least for awhile (if it isn't on sooner due to recent comment-spam attacks).

I will head back west after visiting family near the end of the month, probably just before the New Year, but am not sure of the timing quite yet! If any other geo/bloggers in the region are interested in meeting for coffee or lunch or something, please contact me by email.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Weather Blowing Through

At least, I hope so!
truck The weather this month, so far, has been a bit variable (as weather often is), but it has been overall steadily deteriorating into wintry conditions. First, about a week ago, a little bit of ice appeared one morning - on my windshield and on the roof shingles of our little house - which I saw when I was about to head for work (photo above). No scraping was required.
cloudsA couple days later, there was still no snow on the ground except at the highest elevations. In the photo above, you can see what the early morning clouds looked like just after I arrived at work. Field work would have still be possible, but most everyone I know was indoors working on reports, maps, cross-sections, and last-minute year-end things, including the logging of any drill holes that were still in progress. I understand, however, from my forays into the current state of the industry at this year's Northwest Mining convention, that many drill rigs have been sent home early this year, and that it won't be difficult to come by drill rigs next year, in case you have some money saved up for ongoing or upcoming projects.
cloudy mountain Just a few days ago, on Saturday, clouds and cold temperatures moved in, permanently it seems, bringing snow. It was cold when I arrived at work, and snow was falling on higher slopes in the distance (above), but lower slopes were still clear.
snowy mountainThat all changed mid-day Saturday. By late afternoon, it looked like the snow was here to stay. In the photo above, the yellow and pink of the late afternoon sunset lights up clouds and snowy mountains, the same mountains seen in the previous photo. I drove home on snow-covered and icy to wet roads under partly cloudy skies.
morning windshieldTwo days later, the snow was everywhere. It has been everywhere ever since. I went to work in the snow, arrived in the snow, and left in the snow. The photos above and below show morning SNOW! The snow was cold, light, and blew sideways, forming drifts behind my truck and lots of other places.
morning snow
new graupel Today, it's been a bit of a different story, still cold, but sunny to partly cloudy most of the day. As you can see above, however, we did get a little new graupel on older snow.
window viewI've spent the day mostly on the inside looking out, with MOH off to try out some winter camping and hiking. I hope it's not too cold! (I think snow and cold are part of the point, however.)

Reptilian Badges

A couple other geobloggers have noted recently that their blogs are on the Regator blog directory. Apparently, my LFD blog has been listed there since March 16th of this year! Like JJ said, the badge shows a Diapsid - a group of particular kinds of reptiles - in this case an alligator:

The Diapsid group includes a lot of famous reptilian types, extant and extinct: including crocodiles, lizards, and snakes; dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and plesiosaurs. (Oh My!)

The Regator list of geoblogs is currently at 20, up from the 18 that Andrew noted a week ago.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Spammer on December 15, 2008


210.159.140.# (Dream Train Internet Inc.)
ISP Dream Train Internet Inc.
Location Continent : Asia
Country : Japan (Facts)
State/Region : Osaka
City : Suita
Lat/Long : 34.75, 135.5333 (Map)
Distance : 5,544 miles
Language Japanese says:
OrgName: Asia Pacific Network Information Centre
Address: PO Box 2131
City: Milton
StateProv: QLD
PostalCode: 4064
Country: AU

ReferralServer: whois://
NetRange: -
NetHandle: NET-210-0-0-0-1
NetType: Allocated to APNIC
NameServer: NS1.APNIC.NET
NameServer: NS3.APNIC.NET
NameServer: NS4.APNIC.NET

Comment: This IP address range is not registered in the ARIN database. For details, refer to the APNIC Whois Database via WHOIS.APNIC.NET or

** IMPORTANT NOTE: APNIC is the Regional Internet Registry for the Asia Pacific region. APNIC does not operate networks using this IP address range and is not able to investigate spam or abuse reports relating to these addresses. For more help, refer to

Entry page:

December 12, 2008; 5:28:31 PM;

Sunday, December 14, 2008

100 Things Meme - Geology Style

Geotripper started this geological 100 things meme - anyone, including non-geologists can play - and check out Highly Allochthonous for the current score. Bold the ones you've done and add any notes, and put drop your link here.

1. See an erupting volcano [Pu'u O'o in Hawaii, 1987]
2. See a glacier [several, several times, in Alaska]
3. See an active geyser such as those in Yellowstone, New Zealand or the type locality of Iceland [Yellowstone]
4. Visit the Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) Boundary. Possible locations include Gubbio, Italy, Stevns Klint, Denmark, the Red Deer River Valley near Drumheller, Alberta.
5. Observe (from a safe distance) a river whose discharge is above bankful stage [a small wash or creek near Reno, Nevada, in flash flood]
6. Explore a limestone cave. Try Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park, or the caves of Kentucky or TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia) [I've mostly seen caves on tours - Lehman, Nevada, Carlsbad, N.M., and Luray in Virginia - I've also been in a cave now under water in the New Melones Dam area, California]
7. Tour an open pit mine, such as those in Butte, Montana, Bingham Canyon, Utah, Summitville, Colorado, Globe or Morenci, Arizona, or Chuquicamata, Chile. [Several, including many of the big Carlin Trend mines in Nevada, Pinson, Nevada, a copper mine in Arizona, and the Mesquite and Picacho mines in California]
8. Explore a subsurface mine. [A couple active U.G. mines, including the Gooseberry mine in Nevada, and I've mapped several old, inactive mines]
9. See an ophiolite, such as the ophiolite complex in Oman or the Troodos complex on the Island Cyprus (if on a budget, try the Coast Ranges or Klamath Mountains of California). [California]
10. An anorthosite complex, such as those in Labrador, the Adirondacks, and Niger (there's some anorthosite in southern California too).
11. A slot canyon. Many of these amazing canyons are less than 3 feet wide and over 100 feet deep. They reside on the Colorado Plateau. Among the best are Antelope Canyon, Brimstone Canyon, Spooky Gulch and the Round Valley Draw.
12. Varves, whether you see the type section in Sweden or examples elsewhere. [Pyramid Lake, Nevada and Summer Lake, Oregon - I think some of the Pleistocene lake deposits qualify as varves.]
13. An exfoliation dome, such as those in the Sierra Nevada. [Half Dome, others]
14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana or the Skaergaard Complex in Eastern Greenland. [only in labs]
15. Coastlines along the leading and trailing edge of a tectonic plate (check out The Dynamic Earth - The Story of Plate Tectonics - an excellent website). [the west coast of North America, especially Oregon and northern California, also Alaska; the east coast of the U.S., especially Virginia and Maine]
16. A ginkgo tree, which is the lone survivor of an ancient group of softwoods that covered much of the Northern Hemisphere in the Mesozoic.
17. Living and fossilized stromatolites (Glacier National Park is a great place to see fossil stromatolites, while Shark Bay in Australia is the place to see living ones). [fossilized ones, only]
18. A field of glacial erratics. [British Columbia]
19. A caldera [Crater Lake, Long Valley, Yellowstone, many old ones]
20. A sand dune more than 200 feet high [Sand Mountain, Nevada, Imperial Sand Dunes, southern California]
21. A fjord. [Turnagain Arm and Knick Arm, Alaska]
22. A recently formed fault scarp. [The 1954 Fairview Peak fault scarp in Nevada]
23. A megabreccia. [Alaska, Nevada]
24. An actively accreting river delta.
25. A natural bridge. [Natural Bridge, Virginia]
26. A large sinkhole. [Somewhere near Austin, Texas]
27. A glacial outwash plain. [Alaska]
28. A sea stack. [Oregon coast]
29. A house-sized glacial erratic.
30. An underground lake or river.
31. The continental divide. [Loveland Pass]
32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals. [Smithsonian Museum of Natural History - and fluorescent ones under black light in core, in skarn, in labs]
33. Petrified trees. [Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona]
34. Lava tubes. [Subway Cave north of Lassen Peak, California, Hawaii including one in action, and northern California]
35. The Grand Canyon. All the way down. And back. [Rafted out]
36. Meteor Crater, Arizona, also known as the Barringer Crater, to see an impact crater on a scale that is comprehensible. [I don't remember this very well, back in 1973]
37. The Great Barrier Reef, northeastern Australia, to see the largest coral reef in the world.
38. The Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, to see the highest tides in the world (up to 16m).
39. The Waterpocket Fold, Utah, to see well exposed folds on a massive scale. [A couple times, most recently in 1993]
40. The Banded Iron Formation, Michigan, to better appreciate the air you breathe. [Marquette Iron Range, 1975]
41. The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.
42. Lake Baikal, Siberia, to see the deepest lake in the world (1,620 m) with 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water.
43. Ayers Rock (known now by the Aboriginal name of Uluru), Australia. This inselberg of nearly vertical Precambrian strata is about 2.5 kilometers long and more than 350 meters high
44. Devil's Tower, northeastern Wyoming, to see a classic example of columnar jointing.
45. The Alps.
46. Telescope Peak, in Death Valley National Park. From this spectacular summit you can look down onto the floor of Death Valley - 11,330 feet below. [I've seen the peak from Badwater and from Panamint Valley, but not from the top looking down]
47. The Li River, China, to see the fantastic tower karst that appears in much Chinese art
48. The Dalmation Coast of Croatia, to see the original Karst.
49. The Gorge of Bhagirathi, one of the sacred headwaters of the Ganges, in the Indian Himalayas, where the river flows from an ice tunnel beneath the Gangatori Glacier into a deep gorge.
50. The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah, an impressive series of entrenched meanders.
51. Shiprock, New Mexico, to see a large volcanic neck.
52. Land's End, Cornwall, Great Britain, for fractured granites that have feldspar crystals bigger than your fist.
53. Tierra del Fuego, Chile and Argentina, to see the Straights of Magellan and the southernmost tip of South America.
54. Mount St. Helens, Washington, to see the results of recent explosive volcanism.
55. The Giant's Causeway and the Antrim Plateau, Northern Ireland, to see polygonally fractured basaltic flows.
56. The Great Rift Valley in Africa.
57. The Matterhorn, along the Swiss/Italian border, to see the classic "horn".
58. The Carolina Bays, along the Carolinian and Georgian coastal plain
59. The Mima Mounds near Olympia, Washington. [I've seen these in several places, including northern Oregon]
60. Siccar Point, Berwickshire, Scotland, where James Hutton (the "father" of modern geology) observed the classic unconformity.
61. The moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley.
62. Yosemite Valley. [Practically grew up there]
63. Landscape Arch (or Delicate Arch) in Utah.
64. The Burgess Shale in British Columbia.
65. The Channeled Scablands of central Washington.
66. Bryce Canyon.
67. Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone.
68. Monument Valley.
69. The San Andreas fault.
70. The dinosaur footprints in La Rioja, Spain.
71. The volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands.
72. The Pyrenees Mountains.
73. The Lime Caves at Karamea on the West Coast of New Zealand.
74. Denali (an orogeny in progress).
75. A catastrophic mass wasting event. [Blackhawk slide in southern, California - huge; and the Toutle River flooding and mudflow event following the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption]
76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National Park.
77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches). [Maybe just the black sand beaches]
78. Barton Springs in Texas
79. Hells Canyon in Idaho.
80. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado.
81. The Tunguska Impact site in Siberia.
82. Feel an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0. [Not sure]
83. Find dinosaur footprints in situ.
84. Find a trilobite (or a dinosaur bone or any other fossil).
85. Find gold, however small the flake. [Lots]
86. Find a meteorite fragment.
87. Experience a volcanic ashfall.
88. Experience a sandstorm. [Mojave Desert, California]
89. See a tsunami.
90. Witness a total solar eclipse. [1970]
91. Witness a tornado firsthand. [Only a very small one]
92. Witness a meteor storm, a term used to describe a particularly intense (1000+ per minute) meteor shower.
93. View Saturn and its moons through a respectable telescope.
94. See the Aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights. [As far north as Anchorage, as far south as Reno, Nevada]
95. View a great naked-eye comet, an opportunity which occurs only a few times per century. [First in the late 1950's or early 1960's - not sure which one]
96. See a lunar eclipse.
97. View a distant galaxy through a large telescope.
98. Experience a hurricane. [Only the spent portions of these]
99. See noctilucent clouds
100. See the green flash.

That's 55, counting Telescope Peak from the bottom up, black sands for sure but maybe not green, and not hiking out of the Grand Canyon just all the way down. That's just about one per year. I probably won't make all of them, and there are a few I'd rather not experience except from a safe distance.

UPDATE: I just added #75, after reading Geotripper's One Hundred; I've seen (and mapped part of) the Blackhawk slide in southern California, and was at the Toutle River while it was still in flood after the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption. That would make one per year.

What Have I Done??!

No, it's not as bad as it seems: it's just a 100-thing meme I saw over at Callan's, and one that many others have been doing [the non-geo version]. It's that memish time of year, I think - long posts are hard to come by while everyone gets final things done before the holidays - at least for me! [With the title, was that a good lede?]

The idea is to bold the ones you've done (and I'll add notes in parens).

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (I've only played "air guitar")
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world (only once, because we were there)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo (only while playing air guitar)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea (looking to the east, I think)
14. Taught myself an art from scratch (kind of)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (minor)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (walked to the top of the Washington Monument)
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked (only once, in Boston)
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb (milked a cow!)
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (1970)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run (I doubt it, unless the backyard type counts!)
32. Been on a cruise (Alaska Marine Highway System Prince Rupert to Haines)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors (in the U.S.)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language (does a vague smattering of html count?)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (that's a sort of variable thing, but yes)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo's David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt (many times!)
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (a hitchhiker in New Mexico)
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (tried once, didn't like it)
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (not that I'm aware of)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (does consulting count?)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching (have seen beluga whales in Alaska several times, but that's a chance thing)
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter (lots and lots of times!)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (well, for awhile)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt (I've made one, not sure it was *pieced*)
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (from south, north, and down inside)
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (exactly two, including the very old truck I now own: it was new once upon a time)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House (only the lawn area)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (do fish count?)
88. Had chickenpox (back when everyone got it)
89. Saved someones life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen The Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (waded?)
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone (only 2)
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant

Done 51 in fifty-something years. Some that I haven't done (like #97), I wouldn't really care to put on my to-do list. Others that I haven't done (like #44) , I wouldn't mind doing.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Field Photo #4

Gateway to Northumberland Canyon; photo looking east.

The entrance to Northumberland Canyon, coming in from Big Smoky Valley in central Nevada, is marked by a sentinel of Northumberland Tuff overlooking a dry wash that was in high flash-flood conditions on August 7, 1979, while I was doing field work in the area.

Well, that's a great lead in, but what I really wanted to do was post a field photo before Friday was completely over, and it looks like I've just barely made it. I took the photo a couple weeks ago while out driving around.

The cliff of strongly welded Tertiary ash-flow tuff looks like it may be capped by some black chert, and that would be Ordovician Vinini Formation chert on top of Tertiary ash-flow tuff. If that's what it is, it's pieces of chert and slide blocks the size of trucks, and larger, that slid into the caldera, forming an intracaldera breccia and slide-block formation that we called Unit 1, way back when.

A bit more on that later.

One Year Ago Today: Jack Frost

One year ago today, it was very cold outside, 1° F to be precise (-17° C). These are the patterns of the ice crystals on our side window. The window is in a little, unheated arctic-type entryway, which we use mostly for storage and for taking off our muddy, wet, or icy boots so we can heat them on propane boot-heaters.

So far, the coldest temp I've seen in the morning has been about 15° F (-9° C), and most mornings have been between 25 and 30 F (-4 to -1 C).

Remember, ice is a mineral, and here it's showing off its crystalline nature.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where in the North: Sognefjord

This month's Where in the North (the first ever that wasn't in the west) was won a couple days ago by Perry, who blogs at Robert Perry Hooker. The fjord in question - one of the longest in the world, and the longest in Norway - is the Sognefjord, see above in the Google Earth image from approximately the same angle and azimuth as the photo in my original post.
And here's another Google Earth image of the same part of Sognefjord, plus a little bit of the countryside around it. As you can see, Highway or Route 55 passes through the center of the image, making its way up the fjord to the small village of Skjolden (shown improperly as being out in the water by the yellow pin I stuck on there), which is at the head of the fjord. The area, sometimes called the Roof of Norway, has mountains rising more than 2000 m or 6560 ft above sea level (which is right there where the water begins), lots of glaciers, and lakes galore. And you can drive through it, which I find totally amazing!
I took the photos after leaving this airport in Helsinki. The airport has wonderful wood floors...
And lots of interesting signs... Swedish, Finnish, and English.

Unusual Rocks at Mauna Kea

A recent post by Callan Bentley at NOVA Geoblog got me thinking back to a couple long-ago field trips on the Big Island of Hawaii, back during the 1987 GSA Cordilleran section meeting. One of the trips we took was to the top of Mauna Kea, where, after a visit to the W. M. Keck Observatory, we walked down from the peak elevation of 4205 m (13,796 feet) to some elevation quite a bit lower than that, through miles and piles of unusual volcanic rocks of basaltic to andesitic composition. Well, the truth is, I don't really remember exactly how far we walked, but we dropped at least 3000 feet in elevation, and that was pretty difficult for some. A couple people had to bail just below Lake Waiau, because of the altitude. And because I have zero photos of that long-ago field trip (unless a few are left up in Alaska somewhere), go see Callan's photos of his trip to Mauna Kea!

What I found by doing a little online research, was that the unusual (or "weird" - I think I said) volcanic rocks on Mauna Kea are 1) the Hamakua Volcanics, composed of basaltic rocks called picrites, ankaramites, and alkalic and tholeiitic basalts, and 2) the Laupahoehoe Volcanics, composed of hawaiites, mugearites, and benmoreites (Kennedy et al, 1991 and Wolfe et al, 1997 - see below). Not all the rock types above, like picrites, are unusual to Mauna Kea; some can be found on the younger volcanoes of Hawaii.

Mauna Kea is essentially a late-stage basaltic shield volcano, which is what Mauna Loa and Kilauea (along with Pu'u O'o) will eventually grow up to be when they get older. Mauna Kea's end stage Hamakua and Laupahoehoe Volcanics essentially indicate that Mauna Kea is just about done, and is in the post-shield stage of its evolution, although it is still considered dormant rather than extinct, and more eruptions of the end-stage basaltic to andesitic flows would not be unheard of nor totally unexpected (Hawaii CVO site).

As for what these strange or unusual mostly basaltic rocks are, here is the best description I could find, and it approximates what I remember, though may not be 100% precise:
Basalt with extra Na+K = Hawaiite
Basaltic andesite with extra Na+K = Mugearite
Andesite with extra Na+K = Benmoreite
Dacite with extra Na+K = Trachyte
Mugearite or Benmoreite with LOTS of extra Na+K = Phonolite

A Few References and Links:

Kennedy, A. K., Kwon, S.-T., Frey, F. A., West, H. B., 1991, The isotopic composition of postshield lavas from Mauna Kea volcano, Hawaii: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Volume 103, Issue 1-4, p. 339-353. [Abstract here.]

Wolfe, E. W., Wise, W. S., Dalrymple, G. B., 1997, The geology and petrology of Mauna Kea Volcano, Hawaii; a study of postshield volcanism: U.S. Geol. Survey Prof. Paper 1557, 129 p. [Abstract here.]

On Climbing Mauna Kea
On the Geochemistry of Hawaii Volcanic Rocks
On the Laupahoehoe Volcanics
Wikipedia on Mauna Kea

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Twelve Months of Looking for Detachment

I am doing the Twelve Months meme, as per DrugMonkey: the first sentence from the first blog entry for each month of the year. A few things to note: most of these first-posts-of-the-month posts include photos; many, but not all, are part of the Where in the West series. I changed one to a second-post-of-the-month.
  • January:
  • If I were to try to convey the nature of our life here in the hinterland, I might have to use these words: mountains, desert, and lakes; Basin and Range, roadcuts, wide open spaces, and small but cozy living spaces.

  • February:
    I wanted to post a link about Joshua trees, because the Mojave Desert is one of my interests.

  • March:
    This mountain - seen here from both sides, the east and the west - can be viewed easily from a major road, and is well known for a particular geologic feature.

  • April:
    Is it Gold? Or what?

  • May:
    The second day started out mostly clear with some high clouds.

  • June:
    The weather has seemingly warmed up a little again, but there for awhile it was cold and off-and-on snowy.

  • July:
    I'll be away when this post comes out, hiking and camping on Wheeler Peak.

  • August:
    Perhaps by now, you've gotten tired of Middlegate Station and want to move on.

  • September:
    Yes, I'm back - a lot of catching up to do - and then, back to work.

  • October:
    There we were, finally on the boat.

  • November:
    It's been a while since I've done this - not since August as a matter of fact.

  • December:
    Back in early November, BrianR of Clastic Detritus won the Where in the West contest that you can sometimes find here on this blog.
So, that's mostly places in the western US, a bit of geology here and there, a trace of rocks or minerals, some miscellaneous discourse, and some hiking around. Kind of a good review, at least for me! ;)

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Clue - Where in the North, December

Well, having had exactly zero takers on the Where in the North photo I posted a few days back, I'll add a little clue: the fjord in the photo is one of the longest ones in the world!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

In the Field

What is my favorite place to do field work? That's the subject of the November Accretionary Wedge (#14), which is being hosted by Dave Schumaker at Geology News.

I'm a little like Chris Rowan, I suppose, in that I'm not sure I really have a favorite field area - unless the entire Mojave Desert might count as a field area, or the entire state of Nevada, or... Well, you get the idea. So, my favorite field area is probably whichever one I happen to be working on when I'm out in the field.

The photo above shows some tree-covered to not-so-tree-covered hills in the center or north-center of the Northumberland caldera. The photo, which looks west towards the east front of the Toiyabe Range, was taken from the western approach to the Northumberland Mine, a closed-down gold mine at the top of Northumberland Pass, and the view is just a little to the south of West Northumberland Canyon. The highest peak in the caldera part of the photo, hides the area I got stuck out in one night back in the late 70's. Yeah, maybe that shouldn't make this a favorite area!

I spent a lot of time here, first doing some stream-sediment and rock sampling, walking around here and there, mostly from the tops of drainages to the bottoms, looking for high scintillometer readings to indicate the presence of uranium. Later, I spent quite a bit of time mapping parts of the caldera: the northern, central, and southern parts - bits and pieces, here and there, a lot of interesting rocks, formations, faults, ring-fractures, flow-domes, slide blocks, and rocks younger and older than the caldera itself. After that, I was given a fairly large budget for the time, and we started drilling like crazy, at one time having 3 core rigs and 1 or 2 rotary rigs drilling at once (way too many at once, but fortunately 2 were about to leave). That was the first year.

The place sticks in my mind partly because I spent so much time there, from 1978 through 1981, but also because of the people I worked with, the size and fascinating geology of the area, and all the stories that go with the area. I will be writing more!

Above, you can see another view of the northern part of the caldera. This photo takes off just to the right (or north) of the first photo, and continues north, where the tuff of Hoodoo Canyon takes over, covering the Northumberland Tuff. The view looks west, like the first one, across Big Smoky Valley to the east front of the Toiyabe Range, and our first-year camp at Bowman Creek can be picked out beneath the roundish, partly snow-covered mountain just a little bit right of center (and way southeast of Nome - oh, that's an unrelated song!).

Accretionary Wedge #14: Favorite Places for Field Work

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fall Decorations with Duct Tape

A still life:

Decorations at our little house, with duct tape close at hand (barely visible, on the right!).

You never know when you're going to need it! ;)

Well, I'm back, and am way behind on blog reading, etcetera, and find I have a meme to do (thanks ReBecca!) and an Accretionary Web or two. Hopefully I can get to these things sometime shortly!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Field Photos #3

The road in: the Northumberland Mine Road

Just a few quick photos from my first drilling project. Above, the photo shows the long, somewhat winding road in to Northumberland Canyon, which heads east off of old Highway 8A (now Nevada S.R. 376) a couple miles south of the turn off to Bowman Creek, and which goes through the north part of the Northumberland caldera.
Drill site number one is on top of the orange-colored hill. The old Bowman Creek camp is way in the distance across Big Smoky Valley, on the east flank of the Toiyabe Range, just behind the left part of the orange hill.
Drill site number two is at near the base of the white, tuffaceous cliff on an inconspicuous flat area above the bushes. The white cliff is just below the vitrophyre (not basal but close to it) of the Tertiary tuff of Hoodoo Canyon, the orange-brown welded ash-flow tuff forming the top of the hill. The same volcanic formation makes up the orange hill in the second photo.

These drill sites, and many others, were drilled a long time ago by a company that doesn't exist in the same form that it existed in back then. Back then, well that was the late 1970's, and we were drilling for uranium in the second uranium boom. (There have been, so far, exactly three uranium booms - not sure how the current one is doing.) We drilled with conventional, non-RC rotary rigs (and core rigs) in the days before reverse-circulation rotary rigs were standard on exploration drilling programs. Sampling was not considered a problem because we probed the holes with a down-the-hole logging tool that measured gamma and total counts, and also gave us a bunch of electric readings (S.P., resistivity, and conductivity, I think). The down-the-hole logs were almost enough to do the intracaldera stratigraphy without even looking at the rocks, once I had looked at the rocks and logs long enough to figure out what the Hay they meant.

Ah, those were the days? First drilling program, not knowing a darn thing about anything! But we did dance next to the drill rig; I'm not sure I could really put a picture of that up here, though! Nowadays, dancing would be considered unsafe, and we would be considered almost too young. Maybe I can dig up a photo of a late night by the fire: drilling went into a very cold, icy, but mostly snow-free December.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Have Truck... Continued

The Ballad of Paladin

I kept thinking about my truck and the title of that last truck post, and this song kept bouncing around in my head from early days of watching black & white TV. Have Gun Will Travel, an early favorite of mine, about the west.

The Ballad of Palladin: Recorded by Johnny Western, Written by Johnny Western, Richard Boone and S. Rolfe, 1957.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Travel to Northwest

I will be/am en route and at the Northwest convention in Reno for the next couple days. I may already be behind on any comments, but will try to stay in touch, and do have mobile reading capability, but do not always have mobile commenting capability (it seems erratic or I just don't get it). Any posts in the next couple days will have been pre-posted.

If any other Geo/Bloggers will be at the meeting, I would probably be able to meet Thursday after the LLLL session or at the evening bash. I'll be there, passing my business cards around to any and all interested parties.

And now, just too tired to do anything but get to sleep!

Where in the North: December

Click photo to Enlarge.

Note: that's In the North, not In the West; I'm diverting from the usual WITW series for a northern area (WITN), just in time for winter, if it ever comes.

This photo, taken from an airliner in mid-winter, shows a portion of a long fjord. A road runs through this area, and there is a small town or village in the picture, probably not very discernible. I don't know much about the geology, except that the area has obviously been glaciated.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Where in the West: Mt. St. Helens

A view of Mt. St. Helens, looking to the northeast, with Spirit Lake to the left.

Back in early November, BrianR of Clastic Detritus won the Where in the West contest that you can sometimes find here on this blog. I didn't get around to posting a second look at the mountains in question, which were Mt. Rainier in the distance, and Mt. St. Helens in the foreground. So here are a couple more pictures of Mt. St. Helens, which as many people know or remember, erupted with a bang on May 18, 1980.
Above, a somewhat mysterious view of Mt. St. Helens, looking almost due east, with the Toutle River in the foreground and on the left side of the photo.

A close-up photo of a portion of the Toutle River.

Better photos of Mt. St. Helens can be found by rummaging through the Mt. St. Helens links above, and from derivative links therein which will include this YouTube "video", and also see this Geotripper post by MJC Rocks (along with a couple photos of Mt. Rainier).

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Geology is "Hot" because...

  1. I get to climb around on rocks and balance myself in precarious positions.

  2. I get to wear field boots,

  3. and field sandals (see above).

  4. I get to fly around in helicopters and stay out in the field all night when idiot pilots forget to pick me up.

  5. I get to have a breccia collection.

  6. I get to find v.g. (visible gold) out in the middle of nowhere (well, near Beatty, NV in this case).

  7. I get to stop at roadcuts and look at rocks, which I've been doing at least since I was 5 (my first memory of a roadcut was from age 5, a particular slaty cut in eastern Nevada).

  8. I get to have strange geology dreams.

  9. I get to write geology poems and geology songs.

  10. I get to find faults everywhere, and it's a good thing, not a bad thing.

  11. I get to travel, even on days off.

  12. I get to go mapping.

  13. I get to find geology everywhere I go, even on vacation.

  14. I get to work in the desert, with snakes and things.

  15. I get paid to drive and paid to eat.
I get to know that subduction really happens, and that it has been happening for a long, long time. And I get to know that one really neat woman, the geologist and geophysicist, Tanya Atwater, contributed greatly to ideas of plate tectonics when those ideas were still being formulated. Her work, along with geological work done in, on, around, and over active and erupting volcanoes, constitutes part of my current definition of "hot" geological science.

Menard, H. W., and Tanya Atwater, 1968, Changes in direction of sea floor spreading. Nature, v. 219, p. 463-467. Reprinted in Plate Tectonics and Geomagnetic Reversals, p. 412-419, W. H. Freeman Co. San Francisco, 1973.

Atwater, Tanya, 1970, Implications of plate tectonics for the Cenozoic tectonic evolution of western North America. Bull. Geol. Soc. Amer., v. 81, p. 3513-3536. Reprinted in Plate Tectonics and Geomagnetic Reversals, p. 583-609, W. H. Freeman Co., San Francisco, 1973. Reprinted in U.C.S.D., Scripps Inst. Oceanography., Contributions, Vol. 40, Part 2, p. 1249-1271, 1970.

This post is being submitted for the December Scientiae Carnival, which is being hosted by Isis the Scientist, who loves Naughty Monkeys and Star Trek.


Bowman Creek: A Tribute

bench by creek

Old bench at Bowman Creek.

And now, I'll finally get around to why I drove up that old road to Bowman Creek, why I hung around there for a couple hours.

I looked for our old camp at Bowman Creek a while before I actually found it. When I had been back there with geo-colleague BS in the late 1980's (maybe 1988), I had been able to find the site by driving right to it. This time, everything seemed overgrown: the bushes higher, denser, and harder to walk through, the creek overgrown with trees and wild rose.

The actual campsite, out on the fan away from the creek, is fairly easy to find. I was looking, however, for a particular spot on the creek, the spot where Bob Shannon - our intrepid expediter, camp builder, and drilling arranger - had built a bench under the shade of some creekside trees. In fact, he had built every single one of our many camp structures through the summer - here and there across Nevada - inlcuding various forms of camp shade.


The bench that Bob built.

I had remembered a bench made of nice wood built into the side of a tree with a large trunk, sturdy, fully in the shade, right next to the creek. What I found instead, was an old, gray, and sun-weathered bench made mostly of 2x4's and other dimensional lumber, a bit rickety looking but still sturdy, with some of the boards missing. It looked like it had not been built into or right against a large tree, but instead had been built on the ground, and was now near a swarming mess of water birch tree trunks, all smaller than the trees I remembered. The original tree, however, may have been cut down, leaving the bench resting on the ground, possibly upside down; the only clue being one leg of the bench, on the right in the above photos, which is made of non-dimensional wood, perhaps part of a tree. I found old aspen or cottonwood trunks lying around here and there, trunks about twice the size of most current creekside trees.

So, I don't know. I have a clear memory, and I have the above pictures that don't quite match.


View from the bench.

I walked over and sat on the bench, sure that I was not the first person who had used it since our 1970's camp, sure that it was the same bench I re-visited in the late 1980's. I sat there listening to the rushing creek waters, and thought of Bob. The first time I came back, BS collected grasshoppers for fishing bait in the tall grass on the far side of the creek (there are trout in the creek), while I sat and reminisced.

It was close to midday. In the afternoon - a time corresponding to our back-then arrival in camp after a day of geologizing across the valley - the bench would still be in the shade. Shade was important when we first arrived in camp in early September; later, shade was unecessary.


Fall leaves overhead.

I sat on the bench, remembering. The leaves overhead had not yet fallen, though they looked ready.

Bob died sometime in the 1980's from a brain tumor, sometime back before my last visit to the creek with BS. Bob was old when I first met him—his sun-browned and craggy face matched the mountains and deserts in which he lived and worked. He was rugged, even austere, yet warmhearted and good-natured. At the Bowman Creek camp we showered with hot water in wooden, closed-in shower stalls that Bob built; we sat in the deep, brown-and-emerald-green shade next to the rushing, ice-cold creek on the bench that Bob built. We kept our beer in a wide spot in the creek, just below that bench.


A place to put the beer.

From the bench, I looked over toward the creek, toward the pool in which we chilled our beer.

Bob Shannon is gone now. He was the first and oldest of our collective group to die. He and his wife, who he always called “She,” had purchased a modest dream cabin along the western bluffs overlooking Walker Lake, just a few miles north of Hawthorne, NV. Now he lives on in me, and in another female geologist he encouraged in his warm and slowly sagacious way, and he lives on at Bowman Creek, where one piece of his multitude of handcrafted camp contraptions remains. We tore down the rest of his constructions each time we moved camp, dismantling outhouses, showers, shade awnings for trailers and tents, and all else into their component parts of 2x4’s, 4x4's, and plywood: pieces to be hauled by 4WD to our next campsite.


Looking up the fan toward the base of the Toiyabe Range.

There being no beer to be had, I walked back up to my truck and moseyed on.