Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Strangers in a Strange Land: Stories From the Road in Death Valley

Strangers in a Strange Van....
Death Valley National Park is one of the country's greatest treasures from a geological point of view. Grand Canyon has the scenery and some great Proterozoic and Paleozoic sediments, but Death Valley has those things too, only multiplied: the Paleozoic layers at the Canyon are about 4,000 feet thick, with the Ordovician and Silurian missing. Death Valley's Paleozoic layers are more like 4 miles thick, and include some Ordovician and Silurian rocks. It is a geologic treasure. There are early and late Proterozoic rocks, granitic intrusions, volcanic rocks (both very old and very new), giant salt flats, dunes, and alluvial fans of all kinds. There are unsolved mysteries out here too.

I'm back from leading a five day trip through Death Valley with 36 students and volunteers, our second largest crew ever. It was exhausting, for the sole reason that a lot of experiences have to occur within a short time. I'll be posting about our adventures in coming days; I hope you will enjoy joining us on this journey!

10 comments:

Kimberlie Theis said...

love the title/pic!

Ron Schott said...

What Death Valley lacks, to the best of my knowledge, is a detailed geologic map that covers the entire park. Am I mistaken? I'd be curious to know what detailed (as opposed to regional) geologic maps you use in the different areas of the park? I'm particularly interested in the Ubehebe/Racetrack Valley area, but just about as curious for the rest of the park.

Gaelyn said...

I'm looking forward to your view of DEVA. I really need to go back. Was it warm enough to camp out in tents?

Garry Hayes said...

This is the best time of the year for camping in DV, as long as a windstorm isn't passing through. When those happen, you just collapse the tent, and wait it out in the car! Lows were in the 40's, quite comfortable.

Garry Hayes said...

Ron, Death Valley is obviously such a huge place that it is near impossible to have a detailed map that covers the park. The closest is the Death Valley 1x2 degree quad at http://www.quake.ca.gov/gmaps/GAM/deathvalley/deathvalley.html from 1974. There is a state map of the Furnace Creek borate area as well, but not available online MS013, `970 (order list for many of the maps can be found here: http://redirect.conservation.ca.gov/cgs/information/publications/database/Publications_county.asp

Ron Schott said...

Thanks Garry. I've got both of those, but was hoping for something more detailed (at least in the Racetrack/Ubehebe area). I guess it just doesn't exist... yet.

Garry Hayes said...

There is the old USGS quadrangle map of the Ubehebe Peak: Geologic Map of the Ubehebe Peak Quadrangle, California. U.S. Geological Survey, Geologic Quadrangle Map, GQ-95. McAllister, J.F. and Agnew, A.F. 1948. It might be way out of print, but I have several copies, so could send you one. It shows the Racetrack area.

Ron Schott said...

Hi Garry - I've retrieved a digital version of GQ-95, so no reason to send it (unless you are ever simply looking to get rid of it).

I find it remarkable that the area just northwest of Teakettle Junction, which shows up in such spectacular detail in Google Earth, hasn't been mapped in more detail. I feel like I could practically map it from here in Kansas.

I appreciate all of your help on this. I'm guilty of depending on your kindness instead of tracking down these resources myself, but I was hoping your familiarity with the area would save a little time, and it has. I owe you one (or maybe six cold ones).

andrew said...

Ron, there's a page-size geologic map of the whole park in Miller and Wright's "Geology of Death Valley Natl Park" (Kendall-Hunt, 2004), derived from a larger one by Marli Miller in California Geology v. 54 no. 2.

Ron Schott said...

Thanks Andrew, but I'm looking for quadrangle-scale detailed geologic mapping.

I'm actually trying to identify mappable stratigraphic units that I can identify in both Google Earth and in GigaPans that I shot in the area. It seems GigaPans and Google Earth are giving me a level of detail that is not currently available in a published geologic map. All of a sudden my "virtual field trip" idea is looking more like a cutting edge mapping idea.

Oops.