Sunday, December 14, 2008

100 Things You've Done Meme: A Geologist's Version (mine)


Since I started this meme thing, I thought it would be fun to throw some of my stories in the mix. I appreciate and enjoy reading all the stories that have been added to the geoblogosphere in the last day (see the comments and the links below). I definitely agree with Andrew at About.com that the list is somewhat slanted towards North American sites (I think at the time, the original article was recognizing that most readers were in NA) and should be updated. I think the geoblogosphere is a great place to collect some of the sites and experiences that Americans like myself should seek out if we are lucky enough to travel the world, and I bet it would be a great Accretionary Wedge topic. BrianR, if you are reading, I would be willing host one.

Anyway, here are some of the things I have been privileged to experience over the years...

1. See an erupting volcano - I've seen two; Kilauea in Hawaii, and the 2004 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. I will watch a bigger one some day from a safe distance (although definitions of "safe" will surely vary as I discuss it with my loved ones). The picture above was taken on my first trip to Hawaii, on a day the lava was approaching the coast for the first time in a couple of months or years.

2. See a glacier - I've seen a couple of the "glaciers" in the Sierra Nevada, and the slightly bigger ones on Mt. Shasta. I didn't really experience glaciers until I got to Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada. They were spectacular! As were those I saw from the air in Greenland

3. See an active geyser such as those in Yellowstone, New Zealand or the type locality of Iceland - I'm two for three off that list, but I understand there are some in Russia too. There on my list....

4. Visit the Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) Boundary. Possible locations include Gubbio, Italy, Stevns Klint, Denmark, the Red Deer River Valley near Drumheller, Alberta. I got to see Gubbio. Our bus driver thought we were nuts to skip a cathedral tour to see a bunch of rocks; it turned out to be one of the best days of the trip!

5. Observe (from a safe distance) a river whose discharge is above bankful stage. Not so much from a safe distance. In California's 1997 floods, the Walker River exceeded the previous discharge record by 100% - 12,000 cfs vs. 6,000 cfs. Unfortunately, my in-law's house was on the bank of the river, and I helped as much as I could to dig it out and repair the damage. The river found a new channel, but the Army Corps of Engineers came and put it back. That was fun to watch; they have really BIG bulldozers, and I have never seen a river start over from scratch before.

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 been through most of the tourist caves in California and explored a few wild caves in the Sierra foothills. I saw Carlsbad a few years back and was in awe...one of my first wild caves was one in the depths of the Grand Canyon during my first geology field trip.

7. Tour an open pit mine, such as those in Butte, Montana, Bingham Canyon, Utah, Summitville, Colorado, Globe or Morenci, Arizona, or Chuquicamata, Chile. I flew over Bingham, and was allowed to tour the Lone Tree Mine outside of Winnemucca in Nevada as part of an NAGT conference

8. Explore a subsurface mine. I have been in scheelite tungsten mines, gold mines, silver mines, and my favorite, a tourmaline gemstone mine in California's Peninsular Ranges. Never worked in one though, and not sure I would want to.

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). Del Puerto Canyon in the Coast Ranges is an easily accessible example, one that we tour as a lab exercise near the end of the semester.

10. An anorthosite complex, such as those in Labrador, the Adirondacks, and Niger (there's some anorthosite in southern California too). I've been to the one in California, would love to see the others

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 (here and here), Brimstone Canyon, Spooky Gulch and the Round Valley Draw.

13. An exfoliation dome, such as those in the Sierra Nevada. I have seen many wonderful domes in the Sierra. Not many people are aware of it, but there is a Domelands Wilderness Area south of Sequoia National Park, well beyond the margins of the Pleistocene glaciers. I went to Boy Scout camp there as a youth, one of the seminal experiences that probably made me a geologist.

14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana or the Skaergaard Complex in Eastern Greenland. I haven't had the privilege of visiting Greenland, but the Stillwater is a stop on our Pacific Northwest trip

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). I have spent lots of time on the west coast of the United States, and literally just once at Williamsburg/ Yorktown/ Jamestown/ Norfolk. I suppose that barely counts!

16. A gingko tree, which is the lone survivor of an ancient group of softwoods that covered much of the Northern Hemisphere in the Mesozoic. I have one growing outside my office at Modesto Junior College; I think of dinosaurs everytime I look at it.

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) - I've seen the fossil ones in Glacier, but not the living ones in Australia...some day

18. A field of glacial erratics

19. A caldera - Long Valley Caldera in eastern California is 20 miles long and 10 miles wide, and erupted catastrophically about 750,000 years ago. I have been through it dozens of times over the years, on field trips and with family. Mammoth Mountain ski resort lies on the western edge of the caldera

20. A sand dune more than 200 feet high - Kelso Dunes in Mojave National Scenic Area in California are 500 feet high; Sand Mountain in western Nevada is nearly as high. Climbing it early one morning was a chore and a half, but a great experience! I had great pictures of the gypsum dunes at White Sands but I found out for the first time how easy it is to delete digital pictures by mistake. Always back them up ASAP!

22. A recently formed fault scarp - Looking for Detachment and I seem to have shared some similar experiences during our times at University of Nevada Reno. The most vivid scarps include the 1954 scarps at Fairview Peak, and those from the 1992 Landers quake.

23. A megabreccia

25. A natural bridge - Natural Bridges National Monument on the Colorado Plateau has three marvelous bridges. Our Sierra foothills include a natural bridge formed when a cavern system was breached.

27. A glacial outwash plain - during my visit to Banff and Jasper National Parks in Canada

28. A sea stack - I live two hours from the California coast, with incredible sights, especially along Big Sur

29. A house-sized glacial erratic - giant basalt boulders spread in the wheat fields of eastern Washington

30. An Underground River or Lake - more like a creek, though, in Crystal Cave at Sequoia National Park

31. The continental divide - On my pacific northwest trip, we cross the CV three or four times in the vicinity of Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks; I call our trip "Across the Great Divide"

32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals - It's great to take a UV light on field trips. We explored a scheelite tungsten mine that way

33. Petrified trees - the premier site in the United States is Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, but petrified wood can be seen in many other areas as well. In northern California, a volcanic eruption in the Coast Ranges buried a forest of Redwood Trees. Some of the trunks are more than a hundred feet long.

34. Lava tubes - Lava Beds National Monument is a marvelous little-known park in northeastern California that contains miles of diverse and mysterious lava tubes. It was the site of the last stand of the Modoc People in the California Indian Wars.

35. The Grand Canyon. All the way down. And back.- Many happy trips, and many adventures. Witnessed a couple of rescues, including one of my own students...

36. Meteor Crater, Arizona - a stop on our Colorado Plateau field studies trip

37. The Great Barrier Reef, northeastern Australia, to see the largest coral reef in the world. A marvelous trip, the story told here

39. The Waterpocket Fold, Utah - that would be in Capitol Reef National Park, one of our stops on the Colorado Plateau field studies trip

45. The Alps - I have had one great adventure (so far) in the Alps, with the story here and here

46. Telescope Peak, in Death Valley National Park - I have been within a few miles of the summit (chose the shorter trip to the top of Mt. Rogers)

50. The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah - One of my favorite places in the world

51. Shiprock, New Mexico, to see a large volcanic neck

54. Mount St. Helens, Washington - also the subject of one of my earliest blog entries

59. The Mima Mounds near Olympia, Washington- from the air anyway. We have mima mounds in our local Sierra Nevada foothills too.

60. Siccar Point, Berwickshire, Scotland, where James Hutton (the "father" of modern geology) observed the classic unconformity - I haven't blogged the story of my adventure near Siccar Point, but I've told it here, on my department web page. I left out the hoof and mouth disease part of the story....

61. The moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley - I haven't made it to Racetrack Playa yet, but I have seen the same phenomenon on the Carson Sink and Highway 50.

62. Yosemite Valley - I'm lucky enough to live a few hours away and visit as often as I can

63. Landscape Arch (or Delicate Arch) in Utah - many wonderous times, one of my favorite hikes in the world

64. The Burgess Shale in British Columbia - one of my great life adventures and the subject of one of my first blog posts

65. The Channeled Scablands of central Washington- on our northwest US field trip

66. Bryce Canyon - many times on our field trips; it will be subject to a blog entry in the not-too-distant future

67. Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone - several times on our occasional northwest US field trip.

68. Monument Valley - many times on our Colorado Plateau field trips (on the horizon of the picture in this link)

69. The San Andreas fault - I practically lived on it growing up in southern California, and crossed it hundreds of times without knowing it was there.

75. A catastrophic mass wasting event - the Blackhawk slide in southern California, the Gros Ventre slide in Wyoming, Madison Canyon in Montana, the Fox slide in Canada, and Mount St. Helens, of course

76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National Park- many happy times!

77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches)- black sands yes, but green sands will wait til this summer (thanks Callan for the great posts on your Hawaii trip!)

80. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado - numerous happy times on MJC field trips, and once as a child with my family

82. Feel an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0 - I was in junior high school in Ontario California when the 1971 Sylmar quake hit, killing several dozen people. I wasn't in the thick of it though, but I got shaken out of bed. I was finishing up a geology lab in 1989 in Modesto when the Loma Prieta quake struck; again no damage in my area, but scary nonetheless. One of the best moments was the Alum Rock quake near San Jose that struck immediately after the earthquake test in my night class last fall. Most of my students felt it, and ran inside to look at the seismograph in the lab!

83. Find dinosaur footprints in situ - there are thousands near Arches National Park (probably where the BLM is trying to allow gas drilling)

84. Find a trilobite (or a dinosaur bone or any other fossil) - Quite a few lucky times, and the subject of an ongoing blog story, assuming I get back to it (I will)

85. Find gold, however small the flake - found a 0.5 gram-sized nugget the very first time I panned a river (the Sierra Nevada's Stanislaus before New Melones Reservoir in a drought year) and never found anything to match it in 30 plus years of trying.

88. Experience a sandstorm - couple of times in Death Valley (with short pants on, ouch), and a few pitted windshields near Cajon Pass in my native Southern California

90. Witness a total solar eclipse - of the great trips of my life was a journey to the southern tip of Baja California to see the 1991 eclipse...it was truly incredible, and a great international moment as we invited perhaps 70-80 people to see the eclipse through our telescope during the six minutes of totality. The temperature dropped maybe 20 degrees in moments.

93. View Saturn and its moons through a respectable telescope. We often take a telescope on our field trips and many students see the ringed planet for the first time.

94. See the Aurora borealis - twice, neither spectacular, but one was very dramatic, given that I was on my first geology trip deep in the Grand Canyon, in Arizona

95. View a great naked-eye comet - Three times, with Hale-Bopp, Hayakutaki, but best of all of Haley's early one morning before sunrise holding my (crying) new-born son in my arms on the beach at Santa Barbara

96. See a lunar eclipse - several times, but the best was last year on the first night of an earth science class when I challenged my students to prove the earth is spherical; we then walked out and saw the spherical edge of the earth on the face of the moon!

97. View a distant galaxy through a large telescope - several times, but most spectacularly from an astronomer who had a rig that filled a truck and set up at Tecopa Hot Springs a year or two ago, projected the image on a screen for all who wandered by. I had not realized the advances in telescope technology over the last few years!

99. See noctilucent clouds - only once, at Goblin Valley in central Utah, couldn't figure out why the clouds were still glowing long after sunset. Read about it in the Salt Lake City paper the next day.

4 comments:

Silver Fox said...

I wasn't sure what classified as a mass wasting event (in progress or not); I guess I'll have to add Blackhawk, and I was there when the Toutle River was still flooding - that was a lot of mass wasted! ;)

Nice list!

PredsOnTheGlass said...

What about a cold water geyser (although somewhat man made) like Crystal Geyser outside of Green River, UT?

BrianR said...

Ask and you shall receive ... you have the Feb 2009 Accretionary Wedge.

Crazy list! You are the man!

Michele said...

Hey!
I came across your blog while surfing around for info on the 1954 Fairview Peak fault scarps, which I visited with my husband over the weekend. I was motivated to comment on this post with my own lunar eclipse story. Last year, when my husband and I were dating, we watched the lunar eclipse that took place right before Christmas. He totally surprised me by dropping down to one knee and proposing! Does that count for extra points on the 100 Things meme? :)