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


Anonymous said...

Favourite place for field work? Interesting question.

Spain. No question.

Excellent outcrop conditions. Sunshine (in the summer). Great chorizo. And San Miguel beer.

(not necessarily in that order)

chall said...

I am sooooo jealous at the moment. West pacific north right?

Since I don't really have field work, unless I were to move over to collecting samples of people with pneumoniae, I can't really say anything.

Favourite place in general? It's going to be something like the place you posted. Mountains, open spaces and some lower trees... and not too many people or cars (northern parts of Sweden, archipelago, Scotland, Vancouver Island.... nova scotia....)

I wonder how South America is? Like Argentina... I want to go there!

Silver Fox said...

Roads, I once knew someone who had done some undergrad work in Spain, mostly in geo-archaeology and caves and such - and his photos were stunning. Some of it reminded me vaguely of Nevada - but I'm sure the beer is much better!

Silver Fox said...

Chall, the area is in central Nevada, usually known as a desert, but which has some great streams and mountains with trees and snow (in winter). I haven't worked that much in the Pacific Northwest - a lot of trees there, sometimes hard to see the rocks, but also some great geology.

And I've never been south of the Mexican border; I'll bet Argentina is fantastic!

chall said...

Nevada? Really? cool.

I guess I need to take my [crappy] car and go for a road trip. When ever i have the time... .muhaaa...


Hope you enjoy your field work days though! I'm getting ready to go into the "field work room" of mine, aka mice house. No windows really....

Silver Fox said...

Chall, you're a ways away, I think, but if you make it out here - let me know!