GeologicalScienceBlog - subjects include Geology, Climatology, Environmental Science, NASCAR, Beer, Property Rights, Random Thoughts, & Politics from a Christian Conservative/Libertarian/pragmatist viewpoint. As a Dad & Grandad, I am concerned about the overgrowth of government at the expense of freedom. Background - two degrees in Geology (BS '77, MS '90), started studying Geology beginning Senior Year of high school (1971 - 1972) <68>

Friday, February 29, 2008

It is Time to Start Hoarding Pale Ales and India Pale Ales...

as there is a serious hop shortage afoot.

And a good part of it is due to the stupid, ecofad of turning corn into ethanol and using taxpayer money to pay for the production of the corn. The subsidies (other people's money) are causing farmers to not only turn away from producing barley and wheat, but also hops. Add to that weather-related problems with certain strains of hops and because of the weakened dollar, European brewers are buying American hops, too.

I spent lunch time yesterday at a local brewpub, talking with the brewer, whom I have known for more than 10 years. At one time he had his own microbrewery, Dogwood, but it went under (despite having good ales). Now he his running the far northern-suburb (or perhaps exurb) branch of a local brewpub, the other of which is in the northern suburb of Sandy Springs.

When I first sat down at the bar, I heard the Sarah the bartender telling another patron about the shortage of hops and how they would be focusing more on lagers, porters/stouts, and Belgian-styles that use less hops.

After getting caught up on not having seen each other in several years, the brewer and I started discussing the side-effects of farmers chasing the taxpayer subsidies. We already know that it is raising corn prices and wheat prices. The brewer told me that the "beer barley" is generally raised in the higher U.S. latitudes, while the "feed barley" is raised in the southern states, while there is a transition zone in between. Especially in the feed barley and transition zones, farmers are switching to corn, cutting the barley supply and running up market prices 30 - 40% this crop year.

As for the hop problems, the brewer said that over the last few years, there had been an oversupply of hops, resulting in some growers losing money. When the promise of "government money" for raising corn became big news, some of the hop farmers got out of the business. In less than one year, hop prices, especially for some strains, have risen 400%.

As mentioned before this "pipe dream" (or perhaps bong dream) of "greenies", to grow our own fuel is been known to be inefficient at best, for several years. And it is raising food prices here and on a worldwide basis, hurting the poor first. And the inertia gained on this ecofad is going to be hard to stop. I doubt that Hillary or Obama are going to do anything to stop it. Don't know about McCain.

To some, the carbon dioxide phobia (and associated agendas) trumps all else. And it gives them a sense of power and the illusion of "having done something".

[This will later be cross-posted at Beer Can Blog.]

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

What a Geologist Sees - Part 16

Before you conclude that I have completely lost my mind, it is an old toaster, circa 1930s.

I included this photo in this series to show the sheets of muscovite mica behind the center electrodes. This illustrates one of the uses of muscovite, as an electrical insulator. You can also find mica used in the newer, vertical-type toasters.

[While showing this to one of the teachers at my junior college campus, he remarked that there is an organization devoted to collecting old toasters. I asked him whether the toaster collectors got "toasted" during their social events at their shows.]

In general, if you have a rock with small, aligned mica flakes, it is probably a metamorphic rock, such as a schist. If the mica flakes are larger than 3/4 inch across, it is probably an igneous rock.

Because of the "flaky" nature of mica, large pieces are known as "books" and they usually occur in irregular igneous intrusions called "pegmatites". Mica books 5 feet in diameter have been mined in Georgia pegmatites in the past. If memory serves me correctly, mica has been mined in the Ball Ground, Thomaston, and La Grange areas of Georgia, as well as several places in western North Carolina. Pegmatites also include many other interesting minerals.

Synthetic mica has been in production for more than 50 years, making mining mica less of a necessity.

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A Surprisingly Drinkable Beer...

from Schlitz (actually contract-brewed by Miller). Schlitz High Gravity V.S.L. (Very Smooth Lager), 8.5% alcohol content.

While visiting a local liquor store, I was checking out some of the 24 oz. cans and I noticed a new brand. It is an attractive black, gold, and silver colored can, emblazoned with the Schlitz Malt Liquor bull motif.

When I opened the can (from the bottom), I wasn't expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. The beer was surprisingly smooth and drinkable and there was no "alcohol taste" that one might expect with a mass-marketed high-gravity lager.

My friend "mytmalt" said that at the Beer Advocate website, the sole reviewer of this brand gave similar reviews.

[Cross-posted at Beer Can Blog.]

Forgive me Two Dogs. It's one of the things we do for our hobby.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What a Scientist Sees - Part 1

Part of being a scientist is about being observant of one's surroundings, so from time-to-time I may include things out of the realm of geology.

Photography of mushrooms (and things related) has been a hobby of mine for a while. When I walked into our backyard a few days ago, I noticed this "yellow stuff" on some lichen-encrusted tree limbs on the ground.

Checking one of my reference books, I found a photo of "Witches Butter", another name for which is yellow brain fungus. Supposedly it is edible and I believe I saw some reference to Witches Butter Soup. But of course, don't use my identifications as an OK to go ahead and eat anything that looks like this.

The name sounds like something out of a Harry Potter movie, perhaps a potion ingredient.

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We Have More Important Obama Issues to Highlight...

rather than worrying about his middle name and what it might mean.

I kind of agree with Michael Medved on this one. This is a distraction.

Obama is a slick-talking, hard leftist, lacking in wisdom and experience at the national level.

We need to focus on the higher taxes and lost freedom we face at the hands of a Democrat Congress and Barack Obama.

Not his durn middle name.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just Takin' a Few Days Off...

after the blogiversary.

Will be back, soon.
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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Today is My Third Blogiversary!

As I have mentioned before, I think I started before Feb. 21, 2005, but "threw out" a few earlier posts thinking "no one cares about these".

So Feb. 21 remains the blogiversary.

The only surviving posts from February, 2005 were on the Suicide of Hunter S. Thompson and Anthropogenic Global Warming being a political animal, both of which I did on the 21st.

On February 21, 2006, my non-blogiversary posts were related to the Banning of Discussions of Intelligent Design in the "liberal" state of Wisconsin, followed by a further clarification of my view of Intelligent Design and some of the terminology and definitions that so many folks seem to get wrong.

On February 21, 2007, my non-blogiversary post was on the wishes of NYC Councilman Charles Barron wanting to extend the vote to illegal aliens in NYC. In the blogiversary post, I stated that "Two years ago, I didn't like John McCain and I don't like him now." Oh well, if he were to drop the love of all things Kyoto, then it would be easier to warm up to him. Hopefully his stubbornness will be useful in the War on Terror.

So thanks to my blogging buddies and others that drop by with respectful disagreements.

Hopefully by now you have gotten used to my change-in-alias that accompanies my stream-of-delirium rants.

There may be another post later, as Dixie Beer is now back in Atlanta, though it is brewed in Wisconsin.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Whew, I Almost Missed Hunting Season!

Bigfoot hunting season that is. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot barleywine that is.

The elusive wintertime treat hasn't been seen in our county this season, so I had to journey to a neighboring county to bag a couple of six-packs of the beasts. The first store had sold out, I found some at the second store.

It is the 25th season of this fine American ale, perhaps that is why it is selling out more rapidly than last year.

When enjoying a Bigfoot, because the alcohol content is 9.6%, one bottle is all that is needed to get "lightly stomped". Anything more than that is highly discouraged.

Perhaps tomorrow I will include a photo of the new label. As for now I am "lightly stomped".

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

While We Eagerly Await the Word...

that Fidel Castro has slipped the "surly bonds" and entered the Gates of Hell, Media Research Center has this summary of the MSM decades-long love affair with Fidel.

I guess there is just something about a "get it done" sort of guy in a uniform, similar to Josef Stalin.

This summary doesn't even address the American politicians and Hollywood types that have drooled over Fidel, while ignoring the tyranny, a small portion of which is told in the story of 13 de Marzo. Here is another link to the story.

One thing to remember, the Vatican knew about this crime and wrote a letter-of-protest. If the Vatican knew, why didn't CNN tell us, as they should have known? Three and one-half years later, Ted Koppel did interview some of the survivors, according to this link.

It is a wonder that these media people can look the other way in order to serve their dedicated agenda.

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By Way of Shamalama...

comes this fine post from Fighting for Liberty, wherein Liberty thoroughly fisks an un-attributed column, i.e., I couldn't find an author's name, from the Charlotte Observer. The subject of the Charlotte Observer column/story was on why keeping college students at the mercy of insane killers is a "good idea". To use another columnist's conclusion from a few days ago, "better fish-in-a-barrel rather than the OK Corral" mindset of liberals.

So visit Common Folk Using Common Sense, then go read the Fighting for Liberty post for the common sense you won't get from the Charlotte Observer.

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A Paradox of the Success...

(thusfar) in the War on Terror is that our having prevented additional large attacks on our makes it seem that we need not concern ourselves with continued vigilance.

In other words, to some people, the War on Terror is a victim of its own success. These people who dwell in the world of 9/10 want you to forget what you were thinking the afternoon of 9/11, as the shock was wearing off.

Honestly, if someone had come to you - on the afternoon of 9/11 - and said that we would not have suffered another large attack on our soil through at least 2/18/2008 - Would you have believed them? I know I wouldn't have.

It is not a matter of the Bush administration having "played on our fears" as Al Gore, the black Baptist preacher shouted, it is a sober recognition of our having ignored the Islamist War-on-the-West for 30 some-odd years. It is the sober recognition that we are fighting an enemy that observes no rules. They don't give a damn about the Geneva Convention, "international law" (whatever that is), habeus corpus, or any of the other "niceties" of civilization. They will kill their own children in order to kill infidels (including Muslims that don't toe their line).

Many Conservatives are not happy with what John McCain "brings to the table", but aside from the waterboarding issue, it seems that a McCain election would send a message to terrorists that "we are not ready to back down", as long as McCain remains as stubborn about this as he is about other things.

Success in this endeavor (the War on Islamist Terror) will not be recognizable as a traditional surrender. It will depend upon our "rubbing out" enough terrorists that the survivors and those "waiting in the wings" will see that their efforts will not succeed, at least against the United States and those with the courage to stand with us. And because of the decades of apparent United States lack-of-resolve are still looming, it will take a while to counteract that notion that we will give up when we get "tired". To use redneck vernacular, the world needs to understand that "if you attack the United States, we are going to come kick your ass and we will continue to kick your ass for years, if necessary." We are not 100% right, but we ain't wrong.

A weak United States is not good for the civilized world. Only the International Left believes that and we know what happens when they get their way.

There are millions of people worldwide that - while things are not perfect - live under the "protective wing" of the American eagle. Yes there are a few places where we need to "ease out", but it should be because we are no longer needed, not because "we can't handle it".

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

The 6 O'Clock Chili Worked Out Well...

I won second place out of eight entries and a $50 prize. I had no clue that there were cash prizes, I did it for fun. The $50 covered the $25 entry fee + about $12 for the chili fixin's, so that left me with about $13 or so, which I blew on lunch today.

At least I have settled upon a particular recipe for chili. Now I need to get back to eating some more veggies and fruits. I am about "chilied out" for the moment.
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Go Dodges Go!

On the last lap of the 50th annual Daytona 500, those were my words as Tony Stewart dropped to the inside of the track to either block Kyle Busch or to pick up a drafting "push" from Kyle. [I don't normally get verbal while watching sporting events on TV.]

When Tony Stewart dropped to the inside lane, he "opened the door" for Roger Penske teammates Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch to motor by on the outside, yielding Ryan Newman's first victory in 82 races and Roger Penske's first Daytona 500 victory (to go with 14 Indy 500s).
I think Tony lost momentum with that particular move.

It was also Penske Racing's first 1-2 finish in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch, teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing, were driving Toyotas and Kyle Busch (the younger of the two Busch brothers) led 86 laps of the race. I know that Toyotas are going to win some Sprint Cup races this year, I just didn't want the Daytona 500 to be the first one.

And for the second consecutive year, a Georgia driver finished 5th, with Reid Sorenson (#41 Target Dodge) making a good showing. Last year, David Ragan finished 5th in the #6 AAA Ford, this year he clipped teammate Matt Kenseth and crashed.

And Richard Petty's driver, Bobby Labonte finished 11th. It was 50 years ago when Richard's dad, Lee Petty, won the first Daytona 500.

I know this was a big disappointment for Kyle Busch and for Tony Stewart, who has now failed to win in his first 10 Daytona 500s. It took Darrell Waltrip 17 tries to win and it took Dale Earnhardt, Sr. 20 tries before he won in 1998.

Personally, I think it was one of the best Daytona 500s in the last few years.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Few of Our Favorite Things


While finishing up our local beer can collectors club newsletter, I ran across this photo from our regional show in Asheville, NC last November and it presents a good cross-section of the stuff that we collect. This show was set up inside of an "atrium motel" on the west side of Asheville.

On the foreground of the table are items of "breweriana", i.e., advertising pieces with beer logos. While beer cans are included in a broad sense, usually the term breweriana is refers to other items, e.g., signs, coasters, labels, crowns, glassware, and dozens of other places where beer logos have been found.

To the upper left of the Ballantine Ale sign, you can see two quart cone top cans, the Dawson's can on the left is from New Bedford, MA, while the Cooper's Old Bohemian is from Philadelphia. These cans are probably late-1940s vintage. To the right you see some of the aluminum bottles that Two Dogs "loves" so much.

In the background are some 12 oz. cans in cardboard "can totes", designed to hold two cases of 12 oz. cans, with dividers to prevent the cans from rubbing on one another. The cans range in age from the late-1930s to the 1970s.

But aside from buying, selling, and trading our "toys", it is about maintaining friendships that some of us have had for 10, 15, or 20 years. And though it is not required, a few of us will enjoy an adult beverage while taking in the sights at a show.

And for this show, we were "blessed" with "royalty", as the BCCA (Brewery Collectibles Club of America) President, Joe Germino, chose to make the trip from New Jersey to Asheville.

[An expanded version of this post is now over at Beer Can Blog.]

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6 O'Clock Chili

6 AM, that is.

As the last moment, yesterday I decided to enter a Saturday morning chili cookoff at the small private school where my daughter teaches. The recipe is close to the one I used to win our Sunday School class cookoff last month, but something is missing from the process.

Because it is Saturday morning and this is a church-based private school, I had to forego the beer than I usually have while making chili. Well, that will just have to wait until later. It is for a good cause, anyway.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Ptiny Pterodactyl!

One never knows what one will find at Free Republic.

While web/blog surfing today, I found a post on the discovery of a tiny Jurassic pterosaur, in northeastern China in the western part of the Liaoning Province. The wingspan of the young critter, Nemicolopterus crypticus, was about 10 inches.

The original Live Science article suggests that the ptiny pterosaur (which may have been a juvenile), was of the a same "family tree" as Quetzalcoatlus, which boasted a wingspan of more than 30 feet. BTW, Quetzacoatlus was first discovered in Texas, as one might expect.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

What a Geologist Sees - Part 15


Inclusions and xenoliths. [OK, ya'll. Next time you play Scrabble, if you wind up with an "x", if you can cobble together "xenolith", that should score a lot of points.]

When there are individual components of an igneous or sedimentary rock that markedly-contrast with the matrix, the inquiring mind wants to know - where did that (or those) come from? When the contrasting piece is within an igneous rock, it is a xenolith, as highlighted in previous What a Geologist Sees posts 3 and 14. When the contrasting piece occurs within a sedimentary rock, it is an inclusion.

With the upper slide, I neglected to mark the locality, but I think it is the Eagle Mts. in West Texas. The matrix is on the right, while the xenolith (composed of inclusions) is on the left. The lens cap shows the scale of the inclusions within the breccia boulder that was incorporated into pyroclastic flow. The breccia boulder is older than the pyroclastic matrix and the breccia clasts (pieces) are older than the breccia boulder itself. The pyroclastic ash flows produce the welded ash flow tuffs when the ash flow movement ends. [That is for a separate post.]

The lower photo shows conglomeratic sediments. Each pebble came from a rock older than the conglomerate to which it now belongs. In this case, all of the quartzite pebbles in this conglomerate seem to be from a similar source, but sometimes some conglomerates (with different source rocks) can be quite colorful.

[Before going further, a breccia is composed of angular gravel-sized pieces of rock. A conglomerate is composed of rounded gravel-sized pieces of rock.]

Most conglomerates are associated with old river-channel deposits, the conglomerate in the lower photo represents old Chattahoochee River deposits, out of the current river channel.

Because of their angular corners and edges, breccias are generally found near where they are formed. The rock that produced the angular pieces can be broken by a number of different processes including landslides, faulting, meteor impact, and volcanic explosions (the probable source of the breccia in the upper photo, as this photo was taken inside of an old caldera-type volcano, where explosions would be the rule, rather than the exception).

As stated before, both examples illustrate the Concept of Inclusions that originated with James Hutton and Charles Lyell as one method of determining a relative timeline, without knowing the absolute age of any of the events. With the upper photo, there are at least four events recorded; 1) The brecciation (breakage) of the rock fragments within the boulder; 2) The cementation of the angular breccia fragments; 3) The separation of the boulder from its original locality; and 4) Inclusion of the boulder in the pyroclastic ash flow.

As part of another timeline, the stretched, brown pumice fragments existed before the pyroclastic flow, so they are also xenoliths, of a sort.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ultimately, We Will Have to Wait and See...

how this "shakes out", but NewsBusters and a few other outlets published posts on this a few days ago - more scientists are suggesting that we may be in for a period of climatic cooling, soon.

A year or two ago, some Russian scientists, based on observations of solar activity, suggested this cooling period might "arrive" about 2050. Now Canadian scientists suggest that it may be sooner, perhaps 2012, according to info provided within an Investors Business Daily article, referenced by this NewsBusters post. If it happens, this cold cycle will be of more intensity than the mild cooling that took place from about 1940 to 1975.

From the Investors Business Daily article:

..."Kenneth Tapping, a solar researcher and project director for Canada's National Research Council, is among those looking at the sun for evidence of an increase in sunspot activity.

Solar activity fluctuates in an 11-year cycle
(the Schwabe Cycle). [There are other cycles, too, of different durations.] But so far in this cycle, the sun has been disturbingly quiet. The lack of increased activity could signal the beginning of what is known as a Maunder Minimum, an event which occurs every couple of centuries and can last as long as a century."

The article continues:

"Such an event occurred in the 17th century. The observation of sunspots showed extraordinarily low levels of magnetism on the sun, with little or no 11-year cycle.

This solar hibernation corresponded with a period of bitter cold that began around 1650 and lasted, with intermittent spikes of warming, until 1715. Frigid winters and cold summers during that period led to massive crop failures, famine and death in Northern Europe."


Continuing:

"Tapping reports no change in the sun's magnetic field so far this cycle and warns that if the sun remains quiet for another year or two, it may indicate a repeat of that period of drastic cooling of the Earth, bringing massive snowfall and severe weather to the Northern Hemisphere."...

IBD not being a science journal, I decided to do a little "looking" to find out more. A Leftist blog (Lean Left) contacted Dr. Tapping and Dr. Tapping replied that this article was based somewhat out-of-context from a casual conversation.

On this blog, one commentor, "Johnnyb" - Comment #9 - seems to sum up the "let's wait and see" skeptics' viewpoint:

..."Anyone who is intellectually curious about the Global Warming issue, should be excited to see the results of this experiment, and the IBD article is merely informing you all what many of us believe about the true nature and cause of Global Warming. If it does not cool over the next couple of years, you people who have always believed in AGW, will be able to wag your fingers at the skeptics, and tell us that you told us so, and thats fine because our hypothesis was tested and proven incorrect. [Emphasis added.]

But what if it does cool over the next couple years? How many AGW believers do think will accept that nature is mostly responsible for the Global Climate? How many do you think will try to make something up, like somehow mankind is responsible for the recent cooling trend?

What evidence would you like to see to be able to give the skeptic’s case credence? Would a drop down to 1980s temperatures satisfy, or do you need to see 1880s to be convinced? How long of a period of time do you need to see depressed global temperatures? What if the 10 year moving average had a negative slope, would that be enough? 20 years? 30 years?


Right now we do not know who is right about Global Warming, because the natural theorists have been saying that it was going to get warmer, and the CO2 people have been saying the same thing. Now for the first time, we have have 2 camps with divergent opinions. One side is going to have to revise their thesis, and in my opinion this is one of the most exciting scientific oportunities that have had since this debate attracted main stream attention. A real test of competing theories! [Emphasis added.]

Sit back and enjoy the show, because right now no one has a choice. Cheers!"

Some of us are not skeptics because we are Conservatives (I have highlighted Leftist skeptics, Alexander Cockburn, in particular), we are skeptics because we understand that the only constant about Earth history is change. Because of the evidence of past periods of warming and cooling, it is difficult to assess how much of the Modern Warm Era is due to human activity. Some geologists/climatologists suggest that we may be in another interglacial period of the Pleistocene Epoch, i.e., we may just be between major Ice Ages. It has only been 8,000 to 12,000 years since the end of the last one. Only a moment in time.

Influence and control are two different things. Humans may influence the global climate in a small way (through things other than carbon dioxide emissions), but when faced with a history of fluctuations...how do we make concrete conclusions? It is easier to see local and regional climatic changes due to deforestation and other land-use changes, but it is hard to quantify how these local changes may "add up" on a global scale.

We are concerned about handing over too much economic control to a corrupt, socialistic bureacracy (the UN) that is jealous of U.S. economic successes.

Of course there are pollution issues of concern, we just don't think that carbon dioxide (0.038% of the troposphere) is the Number 1 concern. Unburned hydrocarbons, carbon particulates (soot), nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone, etc., are of concern, too. These are some of the components of Urban Heat Island pollution, that may give the illusion of global warming in the skewed readings of weather stations near or within the heat islands.

It's a never-ending Learning Curve. And that is why it can be both exciting and bewildering.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

What a Geologist Sees - Part 14


As a follow-up to Part 13, the upper photo is of a broken "volcanic bomb" from Kilbourne's Hole maar volcano, showing the mantle xenolith within. The average mineral grain-size within the xenolith is approximately 2 mm in diameter. The rock peridotite is generally composed of olivine and a pyroxene, in the case of Kilbourne's Hole, I think the pyroxene is enstatite. The composition of the peridotite xenolith defines it as being "ultramafic". The basalt that encloses the xenolith is defined as "mafic". The ultramafic minerals are the first to solidify in a cooling magma, followed by the mafic minerals, which include olivine and pyroxene, as well as some amphiboles and calcium plagioclase feldspars. The slow rate of cooling is responsible for the visible grain sizes in these xenoliths contrasted with the more rapid rate of cooling of the enclosing basalt lava.

In the few places in the world where these types of xenoliths have been erupted, the xenoliths provide a little insight as to the mineral composition of the upper mantle. In both cases shown here, the matrix or host rock is a basalt.

One other mantle xenolith locality in the western United States is San Carlos, AZ, on the Apache reservation east of Phoenix. The photo below is of a sample of the San Carlos xenoliths.


In "What a Geologist Sees - Part 3", I described the concept of "Inclusions", which originated with James Hutton and Charles Lyell. Inclusions, such as these xenoliths, are older than the rock itself, i.e., the solidification of the xenoliths had already taken place when they were included in the rising magma body.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

I Would Have to Say...

that this week, thusfar, as been far less pleasing than last weekend.

Highlights of the weekend included winning our Sunday School class' Chili Cookoff, 1st place among seven entrants. It doesn't mean I am ready to go up against chef Gordon Ramsey, but I have been trying since 2002 to win this minor honor among friends.

This last Sunday represents the first time I had watched an entire Super Bowl in years and I was pleased with the late suspense and the outcome. The half-time performance by Tom Petty wasn't too bad, either. My 13-year old son had heard some of the songs and he enjoyed the half-time and the game results, too.

So that is the good news.

I don't know if any of John McCain's "handlers" can sit down with him and explain the policies (low taxes, freedom from excessive regulations, etc.) that brought the Republicans to prominence with President Reagan. I will probably vote for him on the assumption that he will show some backbone regarding the War on Terror. I don't expect much else good from him. I wonder how many of his Democrat "friends", to whom he has "reached across the aisle" will reach back and meet him "halfway" on any Republican-proposed legislation or policies, assuming McCain can somehow garner enough Conservative support to beat the MSM and Barack Obama?

Will his "friend" Ted Kennedy offer any sort of support for the McCain administration or will Ted just offer any relict Conservative policies a ride to Chappaquiddick? Will Russ Feingold and Harry Reid suggest to President McCain that talk radio has an "undue influence" on American politics and should be controlled by the Fairness Doctrine?

What will our energy policies be, besides attaching Kyoto carbon taxes to our energy costs and inhibiting/prohibiting ANWR and further continental-shelf exploration? Will the alarmists finally get their wishes for prosecution for skeptics?

Will a President McCain go along with the Dems in their persecution of "the rich", those that are most able to fund new businesses?

I wonder if this might actually be what the Dems want, to "save" Obama for 2012 and elect McCain to "take the fall" with a Democrat-engineered pullout from Iraq (to which McCain gives in because "it's the consensus")? I wonder if it is so McCain "the Republican" can take the fall for any economic downturn?

It is not the failure of Conservative values. It is the failure to be vigilant while letting the MSM make our choices for us, choices that they make so they can tear them down.

For the time being, we will have to just see how things "shake out" in the next few days and weeks. And look forward for the sake of our children who are approaching adulthood (or who are already there). Maybe Mitt Romney will be more polished and ready for 2012. Fred Thompson and Ron Paul will not be distractions. Mike Huckabee, if he is not selected for VP, will either be destroyed by the MSM or he may have time to polish his viewpoints and re-enter the race with a renewed vigor on the basis of the Fair Tax issue and an understanding of how he needed a broader Conservative appeal outside of southern evangelicals.

For the meantime, we have free bread and circuses to entertain us. I wonder if "Lost" will be good tonight. How will the "Car of Tomorrow" perform at Daytona?

Will 12 ounces of a good ale be enough, or should I go pick up a 22 ounce bottle of something good? Drat, it is too cold to enjoy a good cigar outside tonight. So it is "Lost" and a good glass of ale. For the evening, two out of three will have to do.

Yada, yada...

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Here's Hoping That Enough of the Important States...

swing towards Mitt Romney.

Not to denigrate John McCain, but he is not a Conservative and he compromises with his Senate adversaries too easily. People like Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold care more about the vitality of the Democrat Party than they do the country.

McCain is too "in love" with Kyoto. And the McCain "surge" (following the Huckabee surge), IMHO, is largely a MSM creation and if McCain is the Republican nominee, the "long knives" of the MSM and their Democrat cohorts will come out. This pushing of Huckabee and McCain was intended to manipulate the process.

We may have to elect McCain to keep the War on Terror moving forward, but we damn-well better learn our lesson about letting the MSM run our campaigns.

Another issue is that McCain is old enough to be "set in his ways" and seems unwilling to consider changing his opinion on certain (many) Conservative issues. It seems that Romney is capable of sitting down and when presented with enough data, learning and evolving. If Romney's campaign continues beyond today, I hope he focuses on the economic damage that would be done by the carbon taxes and rationing that would follow the blind acceptance of the Kyoto philosophy, all of which is based upon the political fear generated over an atmopheric component that measures 0.038%.

McCain and Huckabee have some "good components", but neither seem to have an understanding of the economic challenges that await us, none of which will be properly addressed from the Leftist viewpoint. And I think that Newt Gingrich is too "tainted" by moral issues to ride to the rescue. Or that is what the MSM will focus upon, totally ignoring the Clinton moral legacy and the damage done already.

And BTW, wasn't George Soros involved in the "campaign reforms", of which McCain-Feingold were a part?

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What a Geologist Sees - Part 13

One of the many interesting geologic features of the greater El Paso area is Kilbourne's Hole, located approximately 30 miles WNW of El Paso, on the La Mesa Surface (a plateau), in southern Doña Ana County, NM. This area lies within the Rio Grande Rift and is included in the Potrillo Volcanic Field, which covers approximately 500 square miles. Some of the northernmost Potrillo cinder cones are visible on the southside of I-10, west of Las Cruces, NM.


Kilbourne's Hole is a low-relief, asymmetrical volcanic crater referred to as a "maar" volcano. It measures approximately 1.7 miles by 1 mile (see the first link for an aerial photo). A short distance south lies a smaller maar, Hunt's Hole. The two maar volcanoes lie within the southern end of a small, triangular-shaped graben basin, bounded on the west by the Robledo Fault and on the east by the Fitzgerald Fault (the two faults converge near the Mexican border). To the north-northeast of Kilbourne's Hole lie the Gardner Cones and the Afton Basalts. The distal ends of some of the Afton flows are visible in the background of the upper photo and covered at least a portion of what is now Kilbourne's Hole, before Kilbourne's Hole was formed. Due north of Kilbourne's Hole lie the Aden Basalts (where I did my Master's Thesis) and Aden Crater, a small shield volcano at the NW "corner" of the Aden Basalts. [Most of the Aden Basalts were erupted from "fissure eruptions" and are termed "flood basalts.]

For years, the origins of Kilbourne's Hole and Hunt's Hole were the subject of much speculation, including their being meteor-impact craters. The formation of a maar in the Philippines in the 1960s provided the needed answers.

Evidence suggests that Kilbourne's Hole formed as the result of repeated, large steam explosions, probably over the course of a few weeks to a few months.

The Aden and Afton Basalts were erupted onto the surface of the Camp Rice Formation, which includes river sediments from the prior meandering of the Rio Grande River during the Pliocene and Pleistocene Epochs of the late Tertiary Period/early Quaternary Period. When buried, river gravels and sand may serve as aquifers and it is believed that as a rising magma body contacted a shallow sand aquifer and the resulting steam explosions produced the crater. [These explosions are termed "phreato-magmatic explosions".]

Normally, basaltic eruptions like those in Hawaii and Iceland, do not produce much ash, unless there are phreatomagmatic explosions. When the explosions take place, the steam explosions pulverize the erupting lava before it can reach the vent, producing ash that is composed of minute particles of volcanic glass, rock fragments, crystals, and dust (each ash eruption will have different percentages of these components).

With some maar eruptions, a pyroclastic "tuff ring" of ash forms around the margins of the maar. The deposition of the tuff ring is probably at least partially controlled by prevailing winds during the explosive events. The ash itself is deposited as a pyroclastic "base surge" from; 1) The direct lateral components of explosive events; and 2) As lateral deposits around the maar after the collapse of the vertical ash column, i.e., after the explosions, some of the ash remains in the troposphere as "pyrocumulus" clouds and the rest collapses and spreads as it reachs the ground.

The undulating "cross-bedding" of the ash, seen in the photos, is produced by the formation and migration of ash dunes and ripples during and shortly after the eruptive events. The tuff ring is deposited on top of the Afton Basalt flows and exposures of the Camp Rice Formation.

Also produced by the explosions are ejecta, aka "volcanic bombs". In the case of Kilbourne's Hole, the volcanic bombs are sometimes cored by "mantle xenoliths", i.e., pieces of the Earth's mantle (carried in the magma/lava) that were already solidified before they reached the surface. When broken open, these mantle xenoliths reveal their composition of olivine and enstatite. When the olivine grains are big enough and of the proper color and clarity, they are termed "peridot" and some of the Kilbourne's Hole xenoliths have produced good-quality peridot.

[I will include a photo of one of these xenoliths in an upcoming "What a Geologist Sees" post. I wish I had collected more of these volcanic bombs when I lived in the El Paso area and I wish I had taken more slides of Kilbourne's Hole while I was working to the north in the Aden Basalts. I did collect some different types of volcanic bombs from within Aden Crater and from another maar to the west, Riley Maar.]

[I am not sure if there has been a Master's Thesis done on an analysis of the tuff rings and the distribution of the volcanic bombs at Kilbourne's Hole.]

All of the features within the Aden-Afton graben are geologically young, less than 2 million years in age, erupted during the Pleistocene Epoch of the Quaternary Period. These volcanic features and the others of the Potrillo Volcanic Field are related to the crustal thinning of the Rio Grande Rift, a crustal feature which is thought to extend from (approximately) the Big Bend area of Texas/Mexico northward into south-central Colorado (some interpretations may vary).

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

I Made an Important Discovery Last Friday...

(not yesterday).

After Friday morning class, I went exploring, looking for a field trip-suitable place somewhere near the college. I was thinking about a feldspar quarry about 25 miles from the campus, but it turned out that it wasn't really suitable for visits by students. I was given the name of the company geologist to contact for further info, but the field trip thing appears a wash-out.

But 3/4 of a mile from the campus, I did find a local winery! I had seen their flyers in gift shops and such, but had forgotten that the Fox Winery was in the area of the college. They have been in business since 1983. My wife is more of a wine enthusiast than I am, so I tried samples of several varieties before settling on the 2005 Merlot, which is one type that she likes. It is a little pricey at $17.63/bottle (with tax), as she likes the $2.50/bottle merlot at Trader Joe's, so it will be a special treat after paydays and such. Or maybe a gift to others that like merlots. We will just think of it as patronizing local producers or patronizing California producers when we are watching our budget.

As yesterday was payday, I went back for another bottle. She enjoyed the first bottle. I decided to get her another one, just to be sure, you know you can't make snap judgments about these things. We scientists believe in doing extended research about certain things.

Or the bottle may wind up as a gift, as our future inlaws may like merlots, too.

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Undergoing a Low-Grade Metamorphism...

just a minor change. I am now "on-the-rocks", aka "the blogger-formerly-known-as-joe-6-pack".

After consideration for a while, I have decided to change my alias, my nom de plume, my pen name, yada, yada.

One reason is that there is a syndicated newspaper columnist that goes by "joesixpack" and I found his blog last night. As he has been doing the newspaper thing much longer than I have been doing this blog, I decided that I wanted to avoid ever getting a "cease-and-desist" email or letter from his attorney. I knew that was a possibility from when I started, almost three years ago. So I am just exercising the "ounce-of-prevention". I am not afraid of anything, I still stand by my beer-enthusiast pedigree, I just don't need any additional hassles at this time, life tends to offer enough as it is.

Nothing has changed about my intake of adult beverages, I am still a connoisseur of quality malted-barley products, a collector of the cylindrical, metallic containers thereof (and other related logo-clad items - "breweriana"), and a brewery historian. So don't think that my new alias suggests I have taken up single malt scotches or any other hard stuff (it burns my stomach anyway). I do have a glass of wine from time-to-time (that is more the subject of the next post).

It also doesn't imply any drastic changes about my personal situation. The financial aspects are a little better than they have been the last couple of years, while other stuff remains more or less the same.

I couldn't find any satisfying way of combining several of my interests into one blogging name. And if a better one comes to me in my stream-of-delirium, I may change it again.

So let's give it a try.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Debate on Biotic vs. Abiotic Oil is Welcomed

From time to time, WND runs columns/articles by Jerome R. Corsi dealing with the debate as to the origins of petroleum compounds. Today is presented another in this series, in which Corsi argues more for abiotic origins.

The long existing paradigm of petroleum genesis is that it is formed from the concentration and preservation of organic compounds in anoxic environments. It has been close to 20 years (if not a little more) since my last petroleum geochemistry course, but I think the prevailing theory is that the bulk of the organics are derived from zooplankton and phytoplankton, not the dinosaurs and plants the Corsi suggests (he may be being a little facetious here).

In petroleum geochemistry class, natural gas (mostly methane) was attributed to two sources; 1) The geothermal "cooking" of anoxically-preserved plant matter (think of the Mississippi Delta); and
2) The thermal cracking of larger petroleum molecules that formed by the geothermal cooking of zooplankton and phytoplankton.

Think of the Gulf of Mexico as a modern area for the accumulation of and preservation of mass quantities of organics. The shallow waters of the Gulf are teeming with life. When those micro-organisms die, they sink into the oxygen-poor depths of the Gulf, where the bacteria that would normally consume that matter is absent. Over time, the slow rain of minute clay particles produces organic rich clays which will someday become the petroleum source rocks, given the proper temperature/pressure regime.

From the Corsi article:

"The abiotic theory argues, in contrast, that hydrocarbons are naturally produced on a continual basis throughout the solar system, including within the mantle of the earth. The advocates believe the oil seeps up through bedrock cracks to deposit in sedimentary rock. Traditional petro-geologists, they say, have confused the rock as the originator rather than the depository of the hydrocarbons. "

In this particular article, the evidence seems based upon the types of carbon isotopes of simple hydrocarbons collected in the Lost City geothermal field, associated with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The prevalence of Carbon-13 suggests a mantle genesis rather than an organic genesis. As nature is an open system, there is the possibility of another source of Carbon-13.

During one of my classes related to petroleum genesis, the professor did mention this abiotic theory as being largely proffered by Soviet scientists. He did not ridicule the abiotic theory, he simply stated that the evidence pointed towards the biotic theory.

In past articles, Corsi seems to mainly be addressing methane, which is the smallest and simplest of the hydrocarbon molecules. I don't have a problem with the abiotic genesis of some methane, my problem with the theory is - how do you get from abiotic methane to the larger, heavier petroleum molecules? Is there some type of molecule fusion process?

In closing, the abiotic theory is certainly worth discussing, I don't see it becoming the prevailing theory anytime soon, but the floor should remain open for discussions. There is the possibility of there being both abiotic and biotic ways of petroleum being generated and the two "types" becoming mixed while in migration to the reservoirs.

We may never reach a point of absolute confirmation of either theory, but in the next few years/decades, it ought to provide for some interesting debate.

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Is the Climate Debate Tide Turning...

at the Smithsonian Institute? John McCaslin reports that on a visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History by Australian professor, Dr. Jeff Bennett, in which Dr. Bennett noticed two displays of interest.

From the McCaslin column, the gist of the display descriptions:

"Initiation of glacial conditions may be triggered by surprisingly rapid climate changes," reads one display. "Therefore, the minor global-cooling trend of recent decades ... is being carefully watched and studied."

And:

Explains the next display: "the period 1890-1945 A.D. was abnormally warm, and there have been signs of cooling in the last few decades."

Has the Smithsonian Institute been infiltrated by climate denialists? Has Al Gore been told of this?

When dealing with a complex issue, such as climate, it can take years before trends reveal themselves. More later...

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Rally to Romney...

is the title of the most recent Hugh Hewitt column at Townhall.com and it is worth a read in case you are still riding the McCain/Romney fence. If McCain is the nominee, I will vote for him, but will not like it.

To restate myself from previous blatherings, core principles are supposed to mean something and when you "reach across the aisle", the other side should be reaching as well. How often do the Dems do that? With the help of the MSM, they wear us down and because we are nice guys, we give in and go along.

As I stated yesterday, if McCain is the nominee, the MSM/Democrat "long knives" will come out. They are pushing McCain and trashing Romney for a reason. Through their support for Huckabee and then McCain, they intended to "roil" the process and they have done a good job (from their perspective). Giuliani and Thompson couldn't seem to find "first gear" early enough in the process and have "pulled off the road". Some have suggested that Romney lean towards Fred Thompson as VP, and that might be a good idea.

We shouldn't be allowing the MSM to make our choices for us.

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