Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mother Lode

A classic movie to look for is "Search for the Mother Lode: The Last Great Treasure," in which Charleton Heston gets to play two brothers, one of which is a crazed and crazy gold prospector.

At first, the movie is above ground with great scenery from British Columbia - although I think they are supposed to be in Alaska, if I remember right. They talk of placer gold and placer claims, pronouncing it "play - sir" - maybe that's a Canadian pronunciation, but it’s one I’ve never heard in any gold fields! Later, the movie and action ends up underground, where every thing is dark and dangerous, and where Charleton Heston gets to pronounce the most famous lines of the movie in a rasping Irish accent, “Mr. Dupree.... Stay the hell out of me mine, laddie.”

The movie seemed hilarious when watched with a semi-drunken bunch of thermally altered exploration geologists, partly because the geology or words just didn’t seem quite right. I haven’t watched this movie since about 1982, which is the year it was released, and wouldn't mind seeing it again. Unfortunately, the movie is only available on VHS, though I've heard reports that you can buy a Swedish DVD version. If you buy a new VHS version, it's considered a collector's item, and the price is from $45 to $150 plus. The movie has developed what seems to be a kind of cult following, although it was panned by critics (and geologists!) when it first came out.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Fault Photos #11

A while back, I posted some fault photos from a large exposure of Eureka Quartzite. Today's fault photos are from that same large outcrop, this time, from a part of the outcrop that exposes two sets of overlapping slickensides.Here, above, is the overall dual-slick exposure, with AA batteries for scale. You can easily see the slightly oblique dip-slip slickenlines (nearly vertical) in the dark brown surface against which the batteries are leaning, along with strike-slip slickenlines (horizontal) in the golden yellow area above the batteries.A close-up of the lower part of the exposure shows both sets of slickenlines more closely. Now, my finger is running parallel to the slightly oblique, mostly dip-slip slickenlines, and the horizontal strike-slip slicks can be seen right above in the golden yellow area.

The next two photos are close-ups of the upper part of the exposure.
My finger points to and runs somewhat parallel to the mostly horizontal strike-slip slickenlines. Now my finger is running parallel to the mostly dip-slip, darker brown slickenlines, from the same area as the previous photo.

This fault plane has had at least two directions of movement, dip-slip and strike-slip, with the slickensides somewhat overlapping each other on the rock surface. I wasn't really able to tell which set of slickensides was older than the other, and I'm not sure I would be able to tell from this one exposure, though maybe carefully made thin-sections would help.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wedge #15: Ore Deposits of the Future

Exploration geologists occasionally speculate on where to find ore deposits in a future world, from 1 to 25 or more million years from now. I'm not sure why we do this; I think it's partly a natural outcome of some of the research we do, our generally or overall speculative natures, and the fact that we sometimes watch ore-deposit-forming processes in progress. It's a natural extrapolation to take processes that are occurring today, and think about what they will generate in the future.

There are many kinds of ore deposits that one could extrapolate into future times, in case anyone reading happens to plan on sticking around for a while. For example, certain erosional and tectonic processes could combine to create gold placers of the future, and here's how: take some gold veins not yet exposed at the surface, uplift them in a mountain range similar to the Sierra Nevada, and erode them into gold placers similar to the gold discovered at Sutter's Mill, California, in 1848, which led to the California Gold Rush and the influx into the west of The Forty Niners. All you need to do is identify some not-already uplifted and eroded, world-class mesothermal gold vein systems at just the right depth in just the right tectonic setting. [Mesothermal=moderate depth and temperature of formation.]

Because of all the currently active hot springs systems around the world, many of which are related to hot, molten magma at depth and cool or cooling volcanic rocks at the surface, it should be easy to put together a list of places to find gold sometime during the next 1 to 10+ million years, whenever the gold is done being deposited at depth, and whenever these future and hypothesized deposits have been uplifted or eroded to the future surface of the earth. Of course, not all our current geothermal and hot springs systems are necessarily now depositing gold - nor will they necessarily be doing so in the future - but some are and some will.

A few of the larger and better known hot springs, geothermal, and hydrothermal systems of the world come easily to mind: 1) Steamboat Springs, NV, 2) Yellowstone, WY, 3) Wairakei, New Zealand, 4) Lassen Peak, CA, 5) Iceland, and 6) Puchuldiza, Chile. Okay, well maybe Lassen isn't that huge, but it's relatively nearby if you happen to live on the west coast. Hot spring and hydrothermal waters at Steamboat Springs, NV, and Wairakei are known for active deposition of gold and related indicator elements like arsenic, mercury, and antimony.

So, what does that have to do with the future? Just this: I recommend drilling for gold in 1 to 5 million years in the Mendocino, CA, area, with 2 to 3 million years being my best estimate of the proper timing. For proper and exact placement of drill rigs, I would wait for the future, when faults and fractures controlling future ore deposits will be identifiable, and when rocks will be available for sampling. They aren't quite available for sampling just yet - they haven't formed!

The Clear Lake Volcanic Field, located north of Napa Valley, contains one of the world's largest (or the largest) producing geothermal fields, The Geysers. The volcanic field itself is very young, with volcanic rocks ranging in age from 2.2 million years old to 10,000 years old. A large felsic magma chamber sits beneath the volcanic field, and provides heat to the geothermal system. The area, I think, should be considered as potentially active as the Yellowstone area or the Long Valley caldera.

The Clear Lake Volcanic Field sits astride the famed and tectonically active San Andreas transform fault system at the northwestern end of a long chain of volcanic fields that may begin as far south as Pinnacles National Monument and the related or offset Neenach volcanic formations farther to the southeast. This series of volcanic fields become progressively younger to the northwest, except for offset portions of fields. The volcanic eruptive centers within the Clear Lake Volcanic Field have also migrated northward to northwestward, at least during the last 2.1 million years (Wood and Kienle, 1990, p.226-229).

The volcanic field in the Clear Lake area formed about 1 million years after the tectonic regime in the area switched from subduction to transform faulting, about 1 million years after what is now the Mendocino Triple Junction passed through the area. Hot spring systems around Clear Lake and The Geysers, active and inactive or "fossil" systems, have consistently deposited mercury as well as gold. In fact, the McLaughlin gold mine, located toward the eastern side of the Clear Lake Volcanic Field, is a known epithermal gold deposit formed by one of the hydrothermal systems of the area. [Epithermal=shallow depth and low temperature of formation; ignore the part of the link that says "occurring mainly as veins."]

Anyway, the short story is that the gold deposit at McLaughlin formed in a hydrothermal system that deposited gold in veins containing adularia and alunite from 0.5 to 1.0 million years ago (Enderlin, 2002). The gold deposit, therefore, formed about 2.5 to 2.0 million years after the Mendocino triple junction passed through the area, and about 2.0 to 1.5 million years after the onset of volcanic activity in the region. It was discovered and mined about 1.0 to 0.5 million years after it formed!

It stands to reason - if all variables continue to hold (and they did in some other volcanic fields along the San Andreas fault to the southeast) - that one should expect a volcanic field to begin forming in the Mendocino area in about 500,000 years, a field that might continue erupting and forming hydrothermal and geothermal systems for at least 2.5 million years after that. So I'd say - keep your eyes open! You should be ready to drill for a McLaughlin-type gold deposit in the Mendocino area in about 2 to 3 million years, give or take a couple million!

On another note, I don't know if the vineyards of Napa Valley will migrate to the Mendocino area, or not, so be sure to sample the wines now - that is, unless you want to predict the future coastal climate of the region and find gold.

A Few References:
Bailey, E.H., and Myers, W.B., 1942, Quicksilver and Antimony Deposits of the Stayton District: Geol. Survey Bull. 931-Q, 1942, p. 405-434.

Enderlin, D., 2002, Geology of the McLaughlin deposit: Homestake Mining Company published online, pages 1 - 5. Age dates cited on page 2.

Fox, Jr., K.F., Fleck, R.J., Curtis, G.H., and Meyer, C.E., 1985, Implications of the northwestwardly younger age of the volcanic rocks of west-central California: Geol. Soc. America Bulletin, vol. 96, no. 5, p. 647-654.

Leith, C.J., 1949, Geology of the Quien Sabe Quadrangle, California: Calif. Div. Mines, Bull. 147, 60 pages; including Bailey, E.H., and Myers, W.B., 1949, Quicksilver and Antimony Deposits of the Stayton District, p. 37-56.

Wagner, D.L., Fleck R.J., McLaughlin, R., Sarna-Wojcicki, A., Clahan, K.B., and Bezore, S., New constraints on the age and distribution of Cenozoic volcanics north of San Pable Bay, California: Implications for displacement along faults inboard of the San Andreas fault: [abs.]: Geol. Soc. America Abstracts with Programs, v. 37, no. 4, p. 83-84.

Wood, C.A., and Kienle, J., 1990, Volcanoes of North America: The United States and Canada: Cambridge University Press, Washington, DC, USA, 354 pages.

This post is a submission for The Accretionary Wedge, being hosted this month by BrianR at Clastic Detritus: "speculate about the future of the Earth within the context of geological processes/events." This is Accretionary Wedge #15, despite the post title.

Accretionary Wedge #15: Pondering the geological future of Earth

Desert Trails

May your trails be dim, lonesome, stony, narrow, winding and only slightly uphill. May the wind bring rain for the slickrock potholes fourteen miles on the other side of yonder blue ridge.
slickrockMay God’s dog serenade your campfire, may the rattlesnake and the screech owl amuse your reverie, may the Great Sun dazzle your eyes by day and the Great Bear watch over you by night.
-Edward Abbey, Beyond the Wall, 1984
January 29, 1927 - March 14, 1989

This post was submitted to the first Carnival of the Arid at Coyote Crossing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

America's Top 25 Most Visted Places Meme

ReBecca tagged me for this meme. Bold the places you have been to. The numbers are probably the average amount of people per year.

1. Times Square, New York City, NY - 35 million

2. The Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, NV - 31 million

3. National Mall and Memorial Parks, Washington DC - 24 million

4. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA

5. Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, FL - 17.1 million

6. Disneyland Park, Anaheim, CA - 14.9 million

7. Fisherman's Wharf/Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, CA - 14 million

8. Niagara Falls, NY - 12 million

9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN/NC - 9.4 million - I've been on I-81 to I-40 (they are the same road) within not very many miles (25?) probably twice, but have never stopped here.

10 Navy Pier, Chicago, IL - 8.6 million

11. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, AZ/NV - 7.6 million

12. Universal Studios/ Islands of Adventure, Orlando, FL - 6.2 million

13. SeaWorld Florida, Orlando, FL - 6 million

14. San Antonio River Walk, TX - 5.1 million

15. Temple Square, Salt Lake City, UT - 5 million

16. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, PA/NJ - 4.8 million

17. Universal Studios Hollywood, CA - 4.7 million

18. Metropolitan Museum, New York City, NY - 4.5 million

18. Waikiki Beach, Oahu, HI - 4.5 million - I've just seen what you can from the air and airport.

20. Grand Canyon, AZ - 4.41 million

21. Busch Gardens Africa, Tampa Bay, FL - 4.4 million

22. Cape Cod National Seashore, MA - 4.35 million

23. Sea World San Diego, CA - 4.26 million

24. American Museum of Natural History, New York City, NY - 4 million - I've never stopped anywhere off the freeways in NY.

25. Atlantic City Boardwalk, NJ - 4 million - possibly, but I don't think so.

Only nine of twenty five and a few near misses. Not so hot, but they list a lot of places in Big Cities.

I didn't see any tagging requirements. ReBecca tagged two people; I will tag anyone who has been to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, anyone who thinks Time Square is a fun place to hang out, or anyone who wants to do this meme! Good luck - Jazinator at Dino Jim's Vent got a 12/25; ReBecca got an 8/25; I have a 9/25.

What I Do: Previous Post Links Version (PPLV)

This post is another attempt to show what I do, again, partly in response to Phizzle Dizzle's question, WTF do you do? What I've done here, is to link to already created posts that address this question at least in some way. This also organizes some of my posts in a format useful for me and maybe for others.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Morning Snow photos.

with sky
with more skyThe way it looked while I was out shoveling snow early yesterday morning. I got up at 3:00 am, partly because I couldn't sleep, and went out and shoveled snow for almost an hour before having coffee. That way, I made sure the Prius could get out of the driveway, while MOH slept in just a tad.

It wasn't all that cold, probably right around freezing, and the snow was wet and heavy. Everything I wore got wet from sweating. I went in, changed into dry clothes, and after having coffee and breakfast went back out at about 6:5o am, just around sunrise, and took the snow photos. My hands froze.

Change in the Weather

From this...
To this...snowOvernight.

Photos from January 20th and January 25th. And it continued to snow all day; I shoveled the two-vehicle uphill driveway and half way into the street twice - not the side street or alley shown above, the other semi-paved street above the rock wall.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Long ago back during the summer, I had accidentally published the draft of "What Kind of Geologist" for long enough for my original feed to get updated, and long enough for the post to get picked up by AllGeo. That means that when I went to republish it with the same name, Blogger thought it was the same post and wouldn't recognize it except with it's original date.

So, after trying several things like just changing the name, I finally created an entirely new post with a slightly different name, copying the content over into the html editor of Create Posts. And because I already had 3 comments on the post, I copied them onto the new "What Kind of Geologist? Revisited" post.

And then I deleted the original post because it was entirely messy having so many posts around with the same name (almost), one of which was showing a date of July something in Google Reader. Anyway - Remember not to use the Same Title!!

Will my FeedBurner now transfer to Google? Who knows?

What Kind of Geologist? Revisited

So, what is the difference, do you think, between a mining geologist and an exploration geologist?

This is a post partly in response to Phizzle Dizzle's question: WTF do you do?

When I was getting my first degree in geology, I figured I'd go into something I called "Economic Geology" because that's what the courses at VPI&SU were called, and because I liked looking at polished shiny metals under an ore microscope, and also because ore deposits or mines or mining areas are often great places to collect mineral samples, which I was really into at the time. Because my knowledge of economic geology was limited, I ended up in the mining hub of Reno, Nevada, without knowing that it was a mining hub.

Reno is a mining hub - it is and has been one for a long time for three basic reasons: 1) gold and silver were discovered on the Comstock Lode - at Virginia City, Gold Hill, Silver City, and Dayton - in the Virginia Range not too far southeast of Reno (gold as early as 1850; silver in 1857 or 1859), 2) because John William Mackay (rhymes with wacky) was involved in the Comstock lode, made a name for himself and perhaps a little bit of money, and had a mining school named after him in the town of Reno: the Mackay School of Mines, now known as the MSESE not the MSM (John Mackay's statue here), and 3) because a whole bunch of mining and exploration companies have or have had offices there. When I moved to Reno, I knew only that there was a thing called the Mackay School of Mines at UNR, and I didn't know a whole lot more than that.

Mining and exploration companies are entities that either mine or conduct exploration for commodities to mine. Those commodities can be things like sand, gravel, and limestone, or they can be things like gold, copper, or silver. Sometimes mining and exploration companies both mine and explore, but not always. Hence the name, for example, Noranda Exploration Inc. (USA), which conducted exploration and some mining in the U.S. in the 1970's and 1980's (and possibly before that), and the name Noranda Mines Ltd., which mined in Canada ever since its formation in 1922 and conducted some exploration. [The described history of Noranda Mines Ltd., later known as Noranda Inc., is good only through 2004, after which time it merged with Falconbridge, after which Falconbridge succumbed to a hostile takeover by Xstrata; Falconbridge's website, archived by Xstrata, is less than 100% functional, and you may have to click java error messages several times to read it.]

One reason I bring these things up is that nowadays if you work at a mine, it doesn't matter what you do, you are a miner. A secretary working at a mine is a miner. A miner working at a mine is a miner. A carpenter working at a mine is a miner. A truck driver working at a mine is a miner. An accountant working at a mine is a miner. Part of that determination or terminology has to do with MSHA and the rights of miners. Under MSHA regulations, anyone working at a mine is defined as a miner and has miners' rights (see page 10). Another reason I bring this up is because I personally know few geologists who consider themselves to be mining geologists: most of my colleagues consider themselves to be exploration geologists.

What is an exploration geologist? The first time I heard of an exploration geologist was my second year in grad school, when I was sharing a grad school office with a guy who was Optical Mineralogy and Petrography with me, with me essentially in the lead because it was my second year at it and his first. He kept saying things like, "I want to be an explorationist" or "I want to be an exploration geologist." He also wanted to get married and have kids. At that time, during my second year in grad school, I was taking a course called Exploration Geology. Happened that it was taught by an erstwhile professor: a consulting geologist who consulted for the mining industry, usually by conducting mineral exploration. Happened also that at least one of "the boys from downtown," as he sometimes called them, was taking the course. They were exploration geologists, although I knew them only as "the boys."

An exploration geologist is someone who explores for a commodity to mine. You explore for, try to find, sniff out, look for, poke around, and try to "find a mine" - as one of my colleagues used to say. He would especially say that when our company finally got around to having yearly performance appraisals partly based on goals we would set every year, with each goal having its own action plan, and each action plan having its own timeline. He would persistently insist that our only real goal was to "find a mine," and that's all he'd put down on his list. He wasn't into paperwork or bureaucracy very much.

So, is this a coherent post? Maybe not. It may be more of a ramble, and it has partly been precipitated - like a bunch of little calcium carbonate crystals falling out of seawater - by miscellaneous stuff, including stuff at work, not recent stuff, but stuff nonetheless [i.e., I ain't sayin'].

So, where to now from here? How about this: what are core loggers? Core loggers are geologists who log core - at mines and at exploration sites, near large or small mining towns or way, way, way out in the sticks. [Elko, NV, qualifies as a large mining town, with a population of about 16,000 to 20,000 depending on what website you read.] Drill core consists of long, tubular rocks that come out of the ground during core drilling, as compared to drill cuttings, little chips of rocks that come out of the ground during rotary drilling. Core comes in core boxes, either wooden and heavy as hell or cardboard and only almost heavy as hell (well, especially if you've been drilling massive sulfides or magnetite skarns). Chips come in plastic trays, these days, and it's easy to carry about 800 to 1200 feet of drilling at once, depending on the awkwardness of the trays all trying to fall out of your arms.

Are people who log core or chips at mines or exploration sites, like some of my colleagues and like me, mining geologists or exploration geologists? [We'll just call them all core loggers, to make it simple, although most everyone who logs core or chips does way more than just log.] I guess that's a tough question, and it probably depends on each geologist's background.

Most of the geos I know, who are working in the mining and exploration business, think of themselves as geologists first or second and exploration geologists second or first (depending). Some of these geos have almost exclusively conducted exploration in the past, spending all their waking or working hours looking for something economic to mine. A few of these geos have worked at mines as mine geologists, in surface and in underground mines. Even while working at a mine, many core-logging geos are conducting exploration - sometimes even the mine geologist conducts exploration, sometimes he/she doesn't. [An aside: I don't know any women working as mine geologists, or any who ever have.] That is to say, our main job while working at the mine or on a mining property is to explore for and find more ore. Find! More!! Ore!!!

What I mean is, we are finding, exploring for, looking for, beating the bushes if there are any, looking high and low, rummaging around, digging here and there, drilling holes all over the place if they've given us enough money to do so - we are exploration geologists.

Now, that's not to say that I haven't met any core loggers at or near mines that I wouldn't consider something besides exploration geologists. I think, though, that this geo-type classification depends on background and on outlook of the individual geologist. Some geos at mines just don't have an exploration outlook. They are not thinking about where the next bit of ore might be found. They are not trying to find more ore; instead, they are primarily concerned with dealing with the ore that has already been found. [A few that I've met - very few - appear to be thinking about almost nothing.]

One definition of a mining geologist:
...the role of the mining geologist is to always keep the resource inventory to an optimum level for the mining business and to maximise the transformation of the resources into reserves in a multi-disciplinary work environment. In short, a 'good mining geologist has to always provide the best ore to the mill'. [italics not mine.]
A page at Impala Platinum Holdings Limited explains the difference between mining geologists and exploration geologists as follows:
Geologists operate in wide areas. Two of these, mining geology and exploration geology, are vital to the mining industry.
  • Mining geologists ensure that the minerals are efficiently extracted from the deposit for maximum profit.

  • Exploration geologists locate deposits of important minerals and determine whether the quantities are large enough to make mining economically viable.
Most of the geologists employed by Impala are mining geologists although there are a number of exploration geologists. Mining and exploration geologists have different responsibilities and are involved in different job activities.
They go on to further define mining geology, without further defining exploration geology:
A mining geologist's activities include mapping, recording and compiling geological data in and around the mine. This provides the mining engineer with details of the location, structure and distribution of ore in a deposit. Furthermore, the mining geologist delineates the ore reserves on which the mine's life depends, using geoscientific techniques to predict the grade and structure of ore bodies in unknown areas. The mine geologist plays a crucial role in the optimisation of the ore body and is intimately involved in the mine planning process.
Ah, but in that last part, they ran mining geologist and the mine geologist together in the same description!

I could possibly rephrase that last definition for an exploration geologist, at least for an exploration geologist working at or near a mine:
A exploration geologist's activities include mapping, recording and compiling geological data in and around the mine, often conducting exploration for more ore outside the mine area. This provides the exploration manager and the mine geologist with details of the location, structure and distribution of ore in and around the ore deposit. Furthermore, the exploration geologist sometimes is called upon to delineate and characterize the ore reserves on which the mine's life depends, using geoscientific [yikes! what a word!] techniques to predict the grade and structure of ore bodies in known and unknown areas. The exploration geologist often plays a crucial role in the optimization of the ore body and can be intimately involved in the mine planning process.
Okay, that's deep enough!

More Mackay info:
New York Times 1912 on the Mackay family's gifts to Univ. NV and the original article

John W. Mackay biography at

WM Keck Earth Science and Mineral Engineering Museum with original dedication documents of the MSM building

History of the Mackay Mansion

Recent Feed Problems

Just a note: I am having some kind of feed problems, with my last post from Saturday not being visible in all feeds from this site, and not visible on my FeedBurner account. I tried moving the FeedBurner account to Google, which has to be done soon anyway, and that didn't work so the FeedBurner Team is working on fixing the transfer problem, although I think my feed has a problem that may need to be fixed first.

Anyway, I noticed that my Saturday post did not come up on the AllGeo feed or on Ron Schott's feed, but it did come up at! My visitor count for yesterday was normal, with people coming in from lots of "unknown" places instead of from known places, according to Sitemeter. I don't know if you should subscribe to a different feed or not, because it may change when (when?) I know what to do or when (when?) Google gets the feed.

Right now I'm just going to hang in here for a while unless anyone knows how to fix a possibly broken original Blogger feed that is not being completely picked up at FeedBurner. The problem may be an incorrect self reference or a redirect problem. And I'm just winging what these things really are. I have four feeds; all validate but only two show the Saturday post. Only the original default feed shows all my posts back through 29Feb of last year. Don't even know where to start, and am kind of burned out by trying to figure it out! Worked on it half of the day yesterday!

Update 1:15 pm same day: Three feeds are now updated with this post and yesterday's post, including the FeedBurner feed and my account at FeedBurner. The original feed, at least as seen through Google Reader, has still not updated, and it usually updates first.

YAY! (1:18 pm): Now all four feeds have updated with this post. Don't tell me I just needed to publish a new post. Aaarggh for yesterday; yay for today. Strange Though: The fourth feed, which apparently goes to AllGeo, does not contain yesterday's post. So not completely fixed, yet!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Fault Photos #10

airphoto If you'll go back to one of my earlier aerial views of the Fisher Towers and Professor Valley areas on the Colorado River, you'll see that I've enlarged one corner - and added in a couple lines indicating two faults that cut through the area. The faults, also seen on the geologic maps of the area, here and here, appear to be closely related to the northwest-trending Arches National Park uplift or anticline.
faulted areaThe photo above shows the dropped down and possibly folded or slumped graben, as seen from the dirt road just below Fisher Towers. The camera was looking just a little bit south of west (WSW).
sketch And here's a little field sketch of the same faulted area, as drawn in 1997 from a slightly different angle, showing how all units in the center of the two faults have been dropped down. The cliff-forming, Jurassic Wingate Sandstone is a good marker bed to follow in the photos and in the cartoon-like field sketch.

If you drive Utah Route 128 from I-70 to Moab, you will pass right by these structures. And actually, because they cross the river and the road, you will drive right over them.

This post, and others, were submitted to the first Carnival of the Arid at Coyote Crossing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Two Years Ago Today: View from a Coreshed

View from a coreshed in Finland north of the Arctic Circle. A strange building, as seen through the window of a large warehouse-like building.
Shadows of trees cast against concrete by the rising sun.
The trees. The time was 11:58 am local (Finnish) time, just before lunch, just after sunrise. It was often very cold - doesn't it look cold? - and I considered it warm at 0 degrees F (-17 degrees C).

The coreshed in question was poorly heated, for the most part; that is, it was heated to about 55 degrees F (12 degrees C). I wore long johns, regular pants, insulated ski pants over them, and as many jackets as needed, which varied through the day. Because of the cool indoor temps, it was a bit easier to adapt to going outside than had the place been overheated. One had to go outside - into the dark, into the snow, into the cold - in order to get to the Sea-can that held the brrr-ey cold bathroom, the slightly warmer lunch room, and the exceptionally strong, hot coffee. Coffee breaks were common and, IMO, necessary.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Space Nerd Wannabe

The NerdTests' Space Test says I'm a Space Nerd (Wannabe).  What kind of space nerd are you?  Click here!
Not too good! I will need some mentoring, maybe by Bryan or Lockwood.

Caution: normal non-quizzy blogging may resume shortly.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Merely Supreme

Another nerd test, first seen at Outside the Interzone, and also over at Dinochick Blogs. My number seems very high, but is lower than either of theirs.

I am nerdier than 92% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to take the Nerd Test, get nerdy images and jokes, and write on the nerd forum!

Why would it be so high? I'm sure I failed at the browser and computer operating system questions. And I don't spend *that* much time on the computer (yeah, sure). And I actually have a few friends!

Back in the day, only really geeky guys were nerds. They were thin, had exceptionally thick, heavy glasses, and wore pin-striped shirts and suspenders when those clothes were so not in that you couldn't hardly find them. And only guys were nerds, back then. That was back before there were any geeks, or at least nobody knew about geeks because the word wasn't in then-current usage, though supposedly it's history dates back to Shakespeare. It wasn't cool, back then, to be a nerd. And it has never been cool, as far as I know, to be a dork. Dork, apparently, is a word derived from dick, as in the derogatory sense of that term. Maybe dork is in now?

Why post this? Because it's part of being nerdy? Because I am waiting for my Friday to come along and haven't uploaded any good photos recently?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Geologists and Engineers

A few stories came my way via email:

The First …
Eleven people were dangling below a helicopter on a rope. There were ten Engineers and one Geologist. Since the rope was not strong enough to hold all the eleven, they decided that one of them had to let go to save all the others.

They could not decide who should be the volunteer. Finally the Geologist said he would let go of the rope since Geologists are used to do everything for the company. They forsake their family, don’t claim all of their expenses and do a lot of overtime without getting anything in return.

When he finished his moving speech all the Engineers began to clap…

Moral: Never underestimate the powers of a Geologist.

The Second …
A group of Engineers and a group of Geologists take a train to a conference. Each Engineer holds a ticket. But the entire group of Geologists has bought only one ticket. The Engineers are just shaking their heads and are secretly pleased that the arrogant Geologists will finally get what they deserve.

Suddenly one of the Geologists calls out: “The conductor is coming!” At once, all the Geologists jump up and squeeze into one of the toilets. The conductor checks the tickets of the Engineers. When he notices that the toilet is occupied he knocks on the door and says: “Ticket, please!” One of the Geologists slides the single ticket under the door and the conductor continues merrily on his round.

For the return trip the Engineers decide to use the same trick. They buy only one ticket for the entire group but they are baffled as they realize that the Geologists didn’t buy any tickets at all. After a while one of the Geologists announces again: “The conductor is coming!” Immediately all the Engineers race to a toilet and lock themselves in.

All the Geologists leisurely walk to the other toilet. Before the last Geologist enters the toilet, he knocks on the toilet occupied by the Engineers and says: “Ticket, please!”

And the moral of the story? Engineers like to use the methods of the Geologist, but they don’t really understand them.

The third …
Once upon a time three Engineers were walking through the woods and suddenly they were standing in front of a huge, wild river. They desperately had to get to the other side. But how, with such a raging torrent? The first Engineer knelt down and prayed to the Lord: “Lord, please give me the strength to cross this river! “

The Lord gave him long arms and strong legs. Now he could swim across the river. It took him about two hours and he almost drowned several times. BUT: he was successful!

The second Engineer, who observed this, prayed to the Lord and said: “Lord, please give me the strength AND the necessary tools to cross this river!”

The Lord gave him a tub and he managed to cross the river despite the fact that the tub almost capsized a couple of times.

The third Engineer who observed all this kneeled down and prayed: “Lord, please give me the strength, the means and the intelligence to cross this river!”

The Lord converted the Engineer into a Geologist. He took a quick glance on the map, walked a few meters upstream and crossed the bridge.

Note: these are old jokes, possibly originating in the military. One version, in which the engineers are the good guys, can be seen here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway: An Outcrop

In case you haven't already, make your way over to Outside the Interzone, where Lockwood has posted his first Friday Fragment: photos of graphic granite from a Nevada outcrop between Denio Junction and Winnemucca on the Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway, Highway 140 . If you are in Oregon, go east from Lakeview to Denio Junction, and then south; if you are in Nevada, go north from Winnemucca.

This main stoplight in Winnemucca (you can't miss it; there really aren't that many) is the beginning of the famed Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway, which - as you might guess - goes from Winnemucca, Nevada, to the sea: the Pacific Ocean in northwest California.
These two signs can be seen better here and here, from the Jed Donnelly webpage. The Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway encompasses several Nevada, Oregon, and California highways (map here). Are you wondering why there is a Winnemucca-to-the-Sea Highway? Read a little about that here (under the US Highway 199 section) and here (near the bottom of the page). I always imagined that if one was living in the inland desert in Winnemucca, one might suddenly or desperately want to escape to the ocean - hence, the highway. It's a great escape route, covering some interesting and not well-traveled territory. I've missed out on the section from Denio Junction to the Oregon state line (the maps show Denio, not Denio Junction, but you don't have to go into Denio unless you are going north, or unless you possibly need gas - although I won't swear that there is gas in either small locality), the section from Lakeview to Klamath Falls, and maybe the section from Lakeview to Medford.

More roads to travel...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

LFD on 100 GeoBlog List

As noted by several other bloggers in the past few weeks, there is a new geoblog list - the 100 Best Blogs for Earth Science Scholars at this site - and Looking for Detachment is on it, along with - you guessed it! - 99 other earth science and geography blogs. [UPDATE 20Feb2013: I have been notified by email that the links in this 1st paragraph will be changing soon; the links, however, are still going through as of this date, so I am not removing them. Also, anyone could email me with that particular type of notification!]

One reason I bring this up is that I've not only noticed a few visitors coming here from the 100 Geoblog List, but I've also noticed a huge increase in traffic (visitors) from China. Apparently, this same list has been repeated on at least two Chinese-language sites, this one and this one. I know absolutely nothing about the first site, but the second one is part of the Chinese National Geographic Magazine site. I couldn't find this list on the primary National Geographic site, however. If anyone knows anything about the first Chinese site, please let me know. And if you are a visitor - geologist or not - from China, it would be great to hear from you!

UPDATE: I missed the main Chinese site, GeoIdea, which translated the 100 GeoBlog list into Chinese in the first place. GeoIdea was created by Hawkman and friends; Hawkman blogs here. Also, there are more listings for the Chinese Geoblogosphere at The Lost Geologist.

UPDATE AGAIN: And here is another Chinese site with the same 100 Geoblog list. It links to the Chinese National Geographic Magazine site, but as far as I can tell, doesn't list to GeoIdea.

Friday, January 16, 2009

CPA: An Oxymoron or Not?

You decide!

Okay, a fairly normal-looking beer with a nice sounding name: Firestone Walker. Makes you think of sitting around the fire and flexing your toes for fire-walking (or tires?). It's a good-tasting beer (I won't get into flavors and All That Jazz): better than Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, at least as good as Alaskan Pale Ale. Their motto appears to be "Passion for the Pale" - hey, that's Sf's kind of beer, I tell ya! It's a Pale Ale, but...
Look closer, it says it's a California Pale Ale (hence, the CPA). One would suppose that epithet is in contrast to an India Pale Ale (IPA)?? Except that they make an India Pale Ale - check out their our Pale Ale's section.

Is it an oxymoron? Where's Alaska Al, my IPA/beer expert, when you need him? I don't suppose he's run off to some warmer clime like Hawaii or Florida for the winter?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Update from the Lake: Tracks...

...Of a mountain lion, a deer?


Tracks in the snow: if you enlarge the photo and look closely, you can see 4 sets of these tracks going off into the trees in the distance. The animal was probably moving towards the camera in this photo.

The last time MOH and I were at the lake, the snow was 12 to 18 inches deep, with a heavy corn-snow crust such that we were both able to easily walk on top without breaking through.

While walking around in the backyard, MOH discovered some large, widely spaced animal tracks that had been moderately degraded by snow compaction, melting, and time. The tracks were about 10 to 15 feet apart, and MOH said they were similar to tracks he'd seen in snow on Wheeler Peak. At first we thought the tracks might have been made by a mountain lion (cougar or puma). Mountain lions live around the lake and feed on the local mule deer population, among other things.
larger1 An enlargement of the second set of tracks, with winter boot for scale, above. The animal probably moved - bounding or galloping - from right to left.
tracks into trees We followed the tracks farther into the backyard, where they eventually went through and around some small trees and manzanita bushes and then toward what appeared to be a deer bed under an evergreen tree.
larger2 Here's another close-up of one set of tracks. I think that the animal was moving from left to right in the picture.
tracks againThis is what the tracks looked like as they went away from the deer bed, towards the original photos and towards the front yard. Behind the deer bed, in another yard, I saw some human footprints. I'm thinking that a person unwittingly walked close to the hidden deer, causing it to leap and bound out of its bed, and then it continued to bound or gallop into our front yard, making wide-spaced tracks in the snow.

I couldn't find many good, online examples of large animals running, bounding, or galloping through snow (or any other substrate, for that matter), but did find examples in a tracking book. Our tracks looked more like the deer tracks shown in the book than the cat tracks, but our tracks were relatively old and degraded. If you have any other opinions about these tracks, let me know. Following them from near our front door, all the way through our backyard, and then all the way back into our front yard, was fun. I like tracking!

Monday, January 12, 2009

October Sky Tonight

The movie October Sky, isn't strictly a geology movie, but it does feature a young man, Homer Hickam, who desperately wants not to follow his father into the local coal mines, but who instead wants to go into space: from deep inside the earth to way up into the sky and beyond. Based on a true story.

It's a good movie, IMO, and it's on tonight and tomorrow night on DIRECTV:

October Sky on AMC at 8:00 PM EST, 01/12/2009
October Sky on AMC at 5:30 PM EST, 01/13/2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

Visited Countries and States

Here it is, seen first at The Ethical Palaeonologist and now at Clastic Detritus, Highly Allochthonous, and ReBecca's Blog, the countries and states I've visited:

visited 5 states (2.22%)
Create your own visited map of The World

visited 42 states (84%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

Not too hot on countries; not too bad on states, although many of those I have just passed through on an interstate or a pre-interstate highway. Not sure about Vermont.

States I'm sure I spent more than one day in a row in:

visited 25 states (50%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

States I know I visited by the time I was five (corrected 10-Jan-09 with the addition of Wyoming):

visited 16 states (32%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

Go here for music without much video.
Allman Brothers, Ramblin' Man, 1973 - based on a 1951 song of the same name written by Hank Williams - from their Brothers and Sisters album.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Where in the West: Fisher Towers


View of Fisher Towers from the trail-head parking lot.

After driving down Utah Route 128 from I-70 about 20 miles, you will come to a red dirt road and a sign pointing left toward Fisher Towers. As you probably recall, Fisher Towers is in the Richardson Ampitheater, in Professor Valley, within view of the red Colorado River. Fisher Towers and all the Permian and Triassic rocks making up the Richardson Ampitheater are very good examples of why the Colorado River sometimes runs red.

Follow the dirt road - this time of year I strongly recommend 4WD and caution - to the parking lot below the towers. A nice campground sits in the shadow of the towers, in case you want to spend the night. I thought it was a little chilly for that, however, and didn't stay.
tower Above, an excellent view of one of the towers looming overhead, with its dark red Moenkopi cap (Triassic), and red to dark purplish red Cutler Formation walls and base (Permian). If you follow the trail from the parking lot, you can walk beneath the towers, cross gullies and drainages, and generally have a good time.
towers closeup Another close-up view of the towers behind a cliff in the Cutler Formation.
cutler towers Above, a detail of mini-towers in the Cutler Formation.
cutler and cliffs In this photo, above, you can see what the Permian Cutler Formation looks like: the irregularly-bedded, orange-red to pinkish to purplish-red red beds below the red cliff of the Triassic Moenkopi, below the slope-forming Triassic Chinle Formation, which is below the Triassic Wingate Sandstone cliff at the very top of the slope.
cliffs The Moenkopi Formation does not appear to be very thick at Fisher Towers. In this last photo, it consists of just the dark red cliff in the center of the view, along with the medium red cliff just below that. The Cutler Formation starts at the first sign of the slope-forming, mostly talus-covered lighter purplish or pinkish red rocks below the cliff of Moenkopi. I think that the little ledge above the dark red Moenkopi cliff is part of the Chinle Formation, but am not entirely sure of where the upper Moenkopi contact lies. Individual ledges in the Chinle can be used as local marker beds, because they can be followed for some distance. Here, the Chinle is mostly reddish, but it can be various colors, as in the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest of Arizona.

This post, and the two preceding it in this series, were submitted to the first Carnival of the Arid, at Coyote Crossing.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Blogiversary to LFD

I just noticed that exactly one year ago yesterday, on January 6, 2008, I started really blogging in earnest, at first on a site that is no longer in existence. Then, on February 28th, as far as I can tell because my atom feed only goes back to March 1st, I started adding to Blogger all the previous posts I'd made while undercover and under the radar. And, from my sidebar, you can see that two very early posts had been made on that earlier site prior to January 6th of last year. It's a wonder I didn't start transferring the earlier posts to Blogger on Leap Day last year, because then my secondary blogger-versary would be February 29th instead of February 28th!

As far as posts go, my style has perhaps changed a bit, or maybe it's just become more variable; I'm not really sure. I do occassionally have much longer, photo-filled posts than I did at the beginning, but photos have always been a major part of this blog, and I expect that aspect to continue.

Gradually, my readership and "hits" have built up quite a bit, such that nowadays I often have 35 to over 60 individual though not unique hits per day (those include mine because sitemeter won't ignore my IP address, I think because my server doesn't assign me the same one all the time). Those numbers are way up from when I first started. Also, I now have 93 feed readers, according to FeedBurner, 44 of which are on Google Reader, according to Google Reader. Those numbers have increased a lot in the last three to four months, partly, I think, because I've expanded my blog reading and commenting to other parts of the science blogosphere. Or, alternatively, maybe it's because I'm just such a swell person! ;)

I've realized a few of my blogging goals for this year, the first of which was to "go public" with my blog by the end of 2008. That goal I achieved way early, because the Geoblogosphere was expanding rapidly in the early days of 2008, and I couldn't wait nearly a year to get in. A second goal I had was to meet some GeoBloggers, at meetings or wherever. I haven't been to many geological meetings this year that weren't mining related, however, but I did succeed recently in meeting two bloggers on a holiday trip: ReBecca Foster and Wayfarer Scientista. ReBecca is a palaeo-geoblogger; it's a bit hard to tell about Wayfarer, since all she will admit to is being an "ologist."

Now, if someone would just pay me to blog full time - I'd do it 8 to 10 hours a day most days of the week - then I'd have all my blogging goals realized. :D

As far as searches that lead to this blog, sitemeter doesn't keep a permanent record, but I have noticed a few strange ones over the year, and early on I was diligent about writing them down because I was so intrigued. Maybe those little pieces of paper are lying around somewhere, maybe not. One persistent search that leads to my LFD blog is "looking for detachment" or "detachment" in any Zen sense of the term. I don't know if I have a few (or any) Zen-ish readers out there because of these searches, but if so, now would be the time to de-lurk. (Apparently, a number of people are looking for detachment!)

Other persistent searches leading to this blog include people who are inordinately interested in mud: they are either trying to get their 4WD vehicle stuck in the mud, or are trying to figure out how to get unstuck; I'm never quite sure which. I can for sure tell you many good ways to get stuck in the mud. There are, however, fewer good ways to get unstuck.

I also get people at this blog who are looking to find out about incest and incest communities! People also consistently want to know what it's like to live in Elko, Nevada, even though the post I made about that was based on a pretty generic north-state email or meme. Someone recently searched for "down to earth style for geologists" and found this blog, but didn't find much about style. People also come to this blog after searching to find out about Middlegate, Nevada, which is apparently more popular than Austin, Nevada! You can also find this blog by searching for information about tanning and spf 30 sunscreen. I also get found by searches for lost gold mines, no matter what state the lost mines might be in, and even if they should be found by "satellite GPS." You can also find this blog by searching for unusual rocks, popular rocks, or faults, take your pick!

Some repeatedly popular posts include a few of the Where in the West series, especially the ones about Fairview Peak, the Black Rock Desert, and Wheeler Peak. Other consistently popular posts are the one about the 1981 OCS moratorium, the one or ones about the Wheeler Peak rock glacier and bristlecones, the ones about the Ruby Mountains and Rye Patch. My Star Trek post is also popular, often found by searches for Spock quotes, silicon lifeforms, or other generic Star Trek searches.

My favorites include some others: my long series about Alaska, starting here and working back, and also including these turbidites; my song North to Alaska; almost anything about highway 8A; and some posts about roadside geology (some of these categories overlap).

So this time, here's to me and LFD!

A Little Bit Nerd says I'm a Nerd Queen.  Click here to take the Nerd Test, get nerdy images and jokes, and write on the nerd forum!
Hmm... that dorky? Saw this quiz over at Outside the Interzone. Had to take it!

And just for that, here's a real nerdy video.

It's all about sand, and a beach - or a sandy beach. A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You: a song by Neil Diamond, released by The Monkees in 1967.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Where in the West: Professor Valley

David B. Williams of Stories in Stone correctly identified the mystery area in the January-09 WITW as the Professor and Castle valleys, which are located along the Colorado River about 20 miles northeast of Moab, Utah, on backroad Route 128, which heads south from I-70 at exit 204, the westernmost of the Cisco exits. See the topographic map area here.

I've shown the original photo again, below, with major geologic units and contacts added to the duplicate photo below that. It turns out that the central portion of the area, which is the somewhat bowl-shaped Richardson Ampitheater, is underlain by the dark red Permian Cutler Formation, and that red and red-orange Triassic to Jurassic formations make up most of the rest of the picture back to about where I've drawn the Dakota Sandstone, which is Cretaceous.

no geo
geologyPlease note that the contacts between formations, especially between the Permian Cutler Formation and the Triassic Moenkopi Formation, are inexact. Additionally, the contacts between the Wingate Sandstone, Kayenta Formation, Navajo Sandstone, and Entrada Sandstone are inexact, possibly mislocated in some places on the photo, and more complex than shown. Generally speaking, I've left out the Kayenta Formation between the Wingate and Navajo formations, and have only shown a few formations above the Entrada Sandstone for some semblance of simplicity. Do not rely on my lines for any kind of mapping in the area other than crude, for-fun stuff; instead, go to the original sources!

For precise geologic details, please see the three geologic quadrangle maps of the area, the Fisher Towers quadrangle, the Big Bend quadrangle, and the Dewey quadrangle, also referenced below. Other nearby geologic maps can be found here. I noticed geologic explanations and descriptions of map units (map legends) only on the second and third of the above quadrangles. Another, smaller-scale map, covers the entire area, the geologic map of the Moab and eastern part of the San Rafael Desert 30' x 60' quadrangles. To follow along with the general stratigraphy of the area, see the strat column below for nearby Arches National Park.

Arches National Park Stratigraphy from the USGS.

If you go to the original strat column page linked to above, you can click on any formation to find out more - possibly more info than you ever wanted to know - with lots of references and some nice photos! Also check out the ongoing series on the Colorado Plateau at Geotripper.

towers And hey, now for some photos! Above you can see the famous Fisher Towers, with the semi-frozen Colorado River in the foreground and the La Sal Mountains in the background. The photo was taken from Route 128 looking almost directly south, before getting into Professor Valley and the Richardson Ampitheater. For another excellent and similar view of the towers - without snow - see this post at Geotripper, which also describes the Moenkopi Formation.
towersFisher Towers is an awesome place, in my opinion, located on the east side of the Richardson Ampitheater. The towers are capped by the lower part of the Triassic Moenkopi Formation above the Permian Cutler Formation, which forms almost everything you see in the above photo, from the Moenkopi cap down. This view of the towers was taken from the red-dirt access road to Fisher Towers, looking more-or-less to the east.

From the towers, you can look all around the area, with the cliffs and towers behind you, and a grand 180-degree plus view in every other direction.

mesasTo the southeast, looking in the direction of Moab, which you can't actually see, you will have a great view of some mesas and spires. The mesas and spires are formed in the Wingate Sandstone, above the slope-forming Chinle and Moenkopi Formations. This mesa, with its several spires or pillars, is part of a series of mesas that separate Professor Valley from Castle Valley (see topo map).
spiresA closeup of part of the mesa shows the unusual rock formations in more detail. The pillars to the right of the central Wingate Sandstone cliff are called the Priest and Nuns, with the large man-like figure presumably being the priest. The larger pillar to the left of the Wingate cliff is called Castle Rock, and sometimes called Castleton or Castleton Tower. Perry, of Robert Perry Hooker, provided a link to a fabulous panorama taken from the top of Castle Rock.

Also, as mentioned in earlier comments, Jon Bon Jovi shot a video from the central Wingate mesa seen in the previous photo (and from Castle Rock?). The video is for his song Blaze of Glory. Castle Rock, the Priest and Nuns, and Fisher Towers can occasionally be seen in the video, along with other panoramas of the area.

Some References:
Doelling, H. H., 1996, Geologic map of the Dewey quadrangle, Grand County: Utah Geological Survey, M-169, scale 1:24,000.

Doelling, H. H., and Ross, M. L., 1998, Geologic map of the Big Bend quadrangle, Grand County, Utah: Utah Geological Survey, M-171, scale 1:24,000.

Doelling, H. H., 2001, Geologic map of the Moab and eastern part of the San Rafael Desert 30' x 60' quadrangles, Grand and Emery Counties, Utah, and Mesa County, Colorado: Utah Geological Survey M-180, scale 1:100,000.

Doelling, H. H., 2002, Geologic map of the Fisher Towers quadrangle, Grand County, Utah: Utah Geological Survey, M-183, scale 1:24,000.

This post, and others, were submitted to the first Carnival of the Arid at Coyote Crossing.