Thursday, February 2, 2012

So Much for the Green Flash...But is the Coast Toast?

So much for the green flash...the consensus seems to be that I didn't see one, although I stubbornly hope that I saw it but just didn't happen to photograph it...anyway, courtesy of wikipedia, here is what one type of a real green flash, a mock-mirage flash, looks like.
I'm thinking that seeking a green flash and failing like I did is a bit like those first few times panning for gold. You'll see pyrite (fool's gold) a dozen times and think it might be gold, but when you see a gold flake for the first time you'll never misdiagnose pyrite again. I shall keep searching for the green...

I enjoyed the sunset that night immensely. There were all kinds of things going on, in the sky and over the water. The optical effects of a setting sun are always interesting of course. The distortion almost looked like a bomb blast. Or a light bulb...
It was interesting to see the amount of damage that has been done by wave action. This used to be part of the parking lot at Leo Carrillo beach. This is a look at the future; rising sea level and declining supplies of sand can only mean that coastal erosion will be increasing in extent and intensity.
 The seas were calm on this late summer afternoon. The effect was hypnotic and peaceful.
There were dozens of pelicans flying west along the coast line.  I love how they glide just inches above the waves; they are such graceful fliers. The Brown Pelicans almost disappeared in the 1960s as they absorbed so much DDT in their diet that their eggshells weakened and broke. With the ending of the use of DDT as an insecticide in the 1970s their population rebounded strongly.
What a shame it would have been if they had disappeared entirely. Does anyone besides me and Steven Spielberg think that they look like resurrected pterodactyls?

The sun sank below the horizon and the clouds briefly turned orange and pink. We headed back to camp up in the canyon.
I glanced at one of the rocks on the beach that was being used as rip-rap (wave barriers). The holes made me wonder about something. Fifteen years ago a movie was released to a certain amount of derision among geologists: Volcano. Tommie Lee Jones played a gruff but lovable emergency services director, and Anne Hecht played the geologist with the heart of gold. The volcano sucked (literally it sucked: Anne's friend in the movie got sucked down a hole into the lava). There were earthquakes, there were exploding buildings, there were lost children, and melting people.
Obviously, the idea of a volcano erupting in downtown Los Angeles is preposterous. There must not be a volcano within hundreds of miles of the city. I mean, there aren't any volcanic mountain ranges in southern California...right? The faults are all strike-slip and thrusts. It just doesn't seem likely. So how to find out? Maybe, a look at the interactive geologic map of California from the California Geological Survey (clue: most of the volcanic rocks on the map are pink or orange...).
Is the coast really toast, or is it already toasted?


Lyle said...

Please make that coastal southern CA, after all there are Amboy and Ludlow craters in the Mohave which by many definitions is southern CA all be it on a different plate than LA.At least the volcano in the movie appeared to erupt a more basaltic lava, since in flowed to the sea in the end so at least its similar.

Gaelyn said...

Seems like a lot of fantasizing going on here.

Randy A. said...

Southern California has lots of Tertiary volcanic rocks, and some of them can look quite young... But I'm not away of any Quaternary volcanics (and couldn't find any on the map you linked) except for the Mojave cinder cones mentioned by Lyle.

For me, one of the most ridiculous things about that movie, "Volcano", was that they stopped and redirected the lava flow using concrete "K-rails". Apparently nobody told the writers and directors that basalt has a greater density than concrete. Using concrete to dam a basalt lava flow would be like using balsa wood to dam a flood of water!