Tuesday, October 31, 2017
We got on the bus and headed home, and despite the hubbub of running around with students all day, it was one of the most serene experiences I've had in a while. And best of all, I would be up there again the next day!
Monday, October 30, 2017
|El Capitan and the September rockfall from Taft Point on Oct. 29, 2017|
|September rockfall from Taft Point on Oct. 29, 2017|
According to Greg Stock, geologist for Yosemite National Park, the biggest slab (out of seven total), was 394 feet long, 148 feet wide, and between 8 and 28 feet thick. That's bigger than a football field. It had a volume of 10,250 cubic meters, and weighed about 27,675 metric tons. If these numbers and dimensions seem incredibly exact, there's a reason. As Greg Stock explains, in an informative research paper, the walls have been mapped in three dimensions by a form of radar (lidar), and in the aftermath of the rockfall, the walls at the site of the fall were mapped again. The difference in volume could then be calculated.
|El Capitan from Taft Point in 2005|
I was at Taft Point in 2005, taking pictures of course, and one can compare the appearance of the cliff prior to the event in September.
|Horsetail Falls area and future site of rockfall in 2005|
|The Horsetail Falls cliff on Oct. 29, 2017|
|The cliff near Horsetail Falls in 2016|
|El Capitan and the Horsetail Falls cliff on October 30, 2017|
As I was going through my old pictures, I came to realize that slides have come off this particular cliff in the past. I actually witnessed one of them in 2010 when I was lounging on the granite near the top of Sentinel Dome across the valley. When I say "witnessed" I mean I heard the commotion first, took a moment to realize what I was hearing, jumped up, scanned up and down the valley, and finally thought to turn on the camera and take a few pictures of the rising dust plume.
|Dust plume from the 2010 rockfall east of El Capitan|
Saturday, October 28, 2017
The view is fundamentally the same, but the changes are occurring, and the appearance of Yosemite changes with it. See below for a zoom of the cliff near Horsetail Falls, first in 2013, and then how it was this afternoon.
Although partly hidden in shadow, the rock face at the bottom, just right of center (below the snow) is composed of darker weathered rock instead of the white scar seen in the photos above. Geologic change is constant only in that fact that it happens. Sometimes it is imperceptible, and sometimes is rapid and tragic.
Friday, October 27, 2017
Trump Demonstrates the Need for the Antiquities Act: Fighting for the Bear's Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante
It's not complicated. It's called the Antiquities Act, and the law has but four sections, and no subsections. You can read it in its entirety below. It lays out the process by which the president of the United States can establish a national monument to protect endangered historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States. The law was passed in 1906 because of the wholesale destruction of archaeological sites taking place across the western United States at that time.
American Antiquities Act of 1906
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any person who shall appropriate, excavate, injure, or destroy any historic or prehistoric ruin or monument, or any object of antiquity, situated on lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States, without the permission of the Secretary of the Department of the Government having jurisdiction over the lands on which said antiquities are situated, shall, upon conviction, be fined in a sum of not more than five hundred dollars or be imprisoned for a period of not more than ninety days, or shall suffer both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.
Sec. 2. That the President of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments, and may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected: Provided, That when such objects are situated upon a tract covered by a bona fide unperfected claim or held in private ownership, the tract, or so much thereof as may be necessary for the proper care and management of the object, may be relinquished to the Government, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to accept the relinquishment of such tracts in behalf of the Government of the United States.
Sec. 3. That permits for the examination of ruins, the excavation of archaeological sites, and the gathering of objects of antiquity upon the lands under their respective jurisdictions may be granted by the Secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, and War to institutions which the may deem properly qualified to conduct such examination, excavation, or gathering, subject to such rules and regulation as they may prescribe: Provided, That the examinations, excavations, and gatherings are undertaken for the benefit of reputable museums, universities, colleges, or other recognized scientific or educational institutions, with a view to increasing the knowledge of such objects, and that the gatherings shall be made for permanent preservation in public museums.
Sec. 4. That the Secretaries of the Departments aforesaid shall make and publish from time to time uniform rules and regulations for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act. Approved, June 8, 1906
to open these lands to even more exploitation and damage with their efforts this week. Most residents of Utah are in support of the monument, but they are being ignored by their own government.
Monday, October 23, 2017
|The Matterhorn Crest of the Sierra Nevada from Bridgeport. Bodie is another twenty miles to the east.|
|The damage at the top of the brick building was from a 5.7 magnitude earthquake last year. It closed the park for several months.|
The mines were successful for a few decades, producing perhaps 2 million ounces of gold, but by 1913 the Standard Mine shut down, and people drifted away. 2,000 buildings were scattered across the valley, occupied by perhaps a few hundred people. A fire in 1932 destroyed most of the buildings, but 167 of them survived. Concerns about vandalism led to the establishment of Bodie Historical State Park in 1962, and efforts were made to stabilize what buildings remained. What's left is one of the most picturesque ghost towns to be found in the American West. The only residents today are a few rangers, and the ghosts. I'm not usually superstitious, but I would be just a little creeped out living there. I see the signs that say that all visitors must be gone by nightfall, and I wonder...why?
|The Standard Mine mill and the once-proposed open pit mine on the hill beyond.|
The Bodie Hills are the remains of four stratovolcanoes that were active 8-14 million years ago. Hydrothermal activity around hot springs associated with the volcanism was responsible for the emplacement of the ores. Gold resources certainly remains, and because the gold claims were still valid, efforts were made in the 1990s to mine the hill above the town by way of open pit mining. Millions were expended in exploration and public relations, but eventually the lands were withdrawn from mineral speculation, and the ghosts of Bodie will be able to rest in relative peace.
If you want to visit, information about the park can be found here: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=509.
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Young Truman: I'd like to be an explorer, like the great Magellan.
Teacher: [rolling down a map of the world] Oh, you're too late. There's really nothing left to explore.
|Entrance room of Black Chasm cave. The dirt on the decorations is from soil seeping in from above, but many of them are broken from early explorers and visitors.|
And there are things that can be destroyed only once. The extinction of a species, a beautiful canyon marred by a poorly-planned development, the destruction of a culture or a people.
|Helictites in Black Chasm Cave|
|Helictites in Black Chasm Cave|
|Helictites and stalactites in Black Chasm Cave|
|The "Dragon", mascot of Black Chasm. That's not the normal color...the guide was using a laser pointer on it.|
https://caverntours.com/black-chasm-cavern-national-natural-landmark/. They also have an excellent nature trail on the property (that will be in the next post), plus a curio shop with some surprisingly sophisticated speleology texts for sale, along with the usual geodes and t-shirts.
Don't ever stop exploring!