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>

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Favorite Geophotos for the Accretionary Wedge

Within my geophoto database, the photos that are among my favorites include those from the Eagle Mts. (Hudspeth County, Texas). [The second photo was labeled for classroom Power Point presentations.]



The Eagle Mts. (an Oligocene caldera) were the site of my original-intended Master's Thesis work, during the summer of 1978. The 1st photo here was taken from the East Mill area, where we camped while we mapped the southeastern portion of the mountains. In the near foreground is a portion of Wyche Ridge, composed of Cretaceous sedimentary rocks, forming part of the margin of the caldera.

Eagle Flat is in the middleground and the Carrizo Mountains are in the background (and maybe the Beech Mountains and/or the Sierra Diablo in the far background, too). Alamo Springs may be visible from this location, also.


This was one of the few close-up photos of the pyroclastic textures that I took that summer. I guess I planned to get more in future trips, but I got "distracted" by events in my personal life and never finished this project. (I did start another thesis project in 1985 in the Aden Volcanic Field). I would, love the opportunity to take my son 4-wheeling back in the Eagle Mts., - maybe someday. To enjoy the quiet and get a few more photos and maybe find that rock hammer that I lost.

Here is a longer version of this post, with many more photos, the result of my wandering down memory lane.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

What a Geologist Sees - Part 32: Geophotos, Memories, and Hopes

Within my geophoto database, the photos that are among my favorites include those from the Eagle Mts. (West Texas), the Bisti Badlands (San Juan Co., NM), and Monument Valley (UT/AZ). [The labeled photos have been used in some of my classroom Power Point presentations.]

Yeah, I got a bit carried away going down memory lane.


The Eagle Mts. (an Oligocene caldera) were the site of my original-intended Master's Thesis work, during the summer of 1978. The 1st photo here was taken from the East Mill area, where we camped while we mapped the southeastern portion of the mountains. In the near foreground is a portion of Wyche Ridge, composed of Cretaceous sedimentary rocks, forming part of the margin of the caldera.

Eagle Flat is in the middleground and the Carrizo Mountains are in the background (and maybe the Beech Mountains and/or the Sierra Diablo in the far background, too). Alamo Springs may be visible from this location, also.


This was one of the few close-up photos of the pyroclastic textures that I took that summer. I guess I planned to get more in future trips, but I got "distracted" by events in my personal life and never finished this project. (I did start another thesis project in 1985 in the Aden Volcanic Field). I would, love the opportunity to take my son 4-wheeling back in the Eagle Mts., - maybe someday. To enjoy the quiet and get a few more photos and maybe find that rock hammer that I lost.


The Bisti Badlands in San Juan County, NM were the site of a 1979 summer job. I was hired to assist in a "fossil recovery project", locating Cretaceous vertebrate, invertebrate, and permineralized wood samples, prior to the opening of a coal mine. During the early part of my six weeks there, I took hundreds of slides, then unbeknownst to me, the shutter on my Miranda camera jammed.


It rained almost every day the first two weeks we were there and the clays in the Fruitland Fm. are like grease when they get wet. After that first two weeks, I don't recall anymore rain for the remaining four weeks of the project.


The primary goal of our project was to mark the location of every dinosaur bone in two and a half square miles, recover all loose bone fragments, then leave the removal of large pieces to the University of New Mexico. (Sometimes when I talk about being a Geologist to a bunch of kids, I tell them about the summer I got paid to look for dinosaur bones, that usually catches their attention.)


We were supposed to continue this same project in the summer of 1980, but the permits between the state and federal land didn't get resolved in time. I would have enjoyed another go-round in this area.



It has been years since I read any reports generated by this project, but I seem to remember my lead professor telling us that most of the bones we found were of hadrosaurs (duck-billed dinos). We also found turtle shells fragments, crocodile scutes, and a few fresh-water bivalves (the ecosystem had been an Everglades sort of setting).

It was always fun to find one of these areas just littered with permineralized logs, though they were not generally as colorful as the wood from the Petrified Forest.

I hope this stump was retrieved for a museum or at least given a place of honor outside of a college classroom building.



The site where I collected this "clinker zone" shale (actually outside of our study area), with the plant fossils is one of those places that I regret not having collected more samples from. I only picked up two pieces and gave one away during the intervening years. I wish I had filled a bucket.



Monument Valley is a place I have not yet visited, but someday hope to. My geophotos from Monument Valley are scanned slides taken in the summer of 1980 - by my Dad - when he and my Mom were on their last vacation together. He passed away in November, 1980.



I use these photos, along with my photos of Canyonlands NP and the Grand Canyon when discussing Colorado Plateau stratigraphy...


...and when discussing arid-climate weathering and erosion characteristics...

...and when discussing things like eroded volcanic necks.

Other stops on that trip included the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest,...

...and Dinosaur National Monument,...

...Yellowstone,...

...and the SD Badlands.



My Dad was not a geologist, but he did enjoy learning about new things. I will forever be thankful that he got me interested in photography.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

What a Geologist Sees - Part 31: A Geological Buffet

OK, maybe it was because I was raised with both cats and dogs. Or there may be other reasons for my eccentricities. That can be discussed at another time and place.

As for Geology, I am one of those strange creatures that dwells within both "Soft-Rock Geology" and "Hard-Rock Geology". And for that reason, I am regarded with some suspicion by the zealots in either of these two camps.

For the normal folks out there, "Soft-Rock Geology" this is not an analysis of the type of music that we like, but rather an informal division of Geology that includes the study of sedimentary rocks, fossils, stratigraphy, geomorphology, weathering and erosion, Earth history as revealed in the sedimentary rocks, petroleum-related issues, and so on.

"Hard-Rock Geology" is the study of igneous and metamorphic rocks, minerals, mineral economics, structural geology, plate tectonics, mass wasting, and so on.

I enjoy all aspects of Geology, thus I have always seen Geology as a buffet, of sorts. This is reflected in my coursework and various jobs. As I enjoy a wide range of Geology, I have had no desire to become an expert at anything, rather a learned student about different geo-disciplines. As an opportunity presents itself, I pick from the Geological Buffet. It might be fossils this time, metamorphic rocks next time, tracing old river terraces another.

It has been my experience that, the more interests one has, the less likely one is to become bored with a situation. This also extends beyond Geology to the hobbies (and other science interests) that we have, in my case, Photography, especially Scientific Photography. Having a wide range of interests, I generally am able to find something to do, if the weather is good while visiting an area. I am not as likely to go "stir crazy" as an igneous or metamorphic petrologist would, if confined to Mississippi or Florida or Kansas.

In other words, I have less difficulty in finding a way to entertain myself, geologically speaking. I used to find river gravels boring, until I started noticing them on hilltops and began to think about "how this came to be". If I happen to see old gravels a half-mile (or more) from a present-day river, that immediately piques my interest.

I used to consider sands to be a tedious subject, until I started looking at them under a microscope, to look beyond the dominant quartz in most samples, to the accessory and trace minerals and what they mean.

If I happen to be in a place where I have already "scoped out" the local geology, I can go back for a more detailed look, just to find something "new". It always helps to have done a little study beforehand, online or by way of various geological publications, whether they be from governmental entities or private organizations.

I just wish I could convey the notion to my teenaged son that - you are only bored if you allow yourself to be. I wish I could engender that fascination with learning that I have come to value. That is one of the most valuable tools I have picked up along the way in my geo-journey. There is almost always something new to see, even when I revisit the same patch of woods for the 10th time.

So, herein this rambling prattle has been my attempt to explain my wide-ranging interests in Geology. An attempt to explain the "Method to my madness".

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

On the Issue of Arizona's New Law on Ethnic Studies

Now that Arizona has decided to wade further into the pond of political incorrectness, they might as well be bold about it.

As one might expect, it is a monumental waste of time to assume that the MSM is going to get this subject right. They don't want an honest discussion.

At first, I thought that this article was relating to ethnic studies departments in colleges and universities, but apparently this is to address high schools and middle schools including such courses in their curricula.

From the Yahoo article:

..."The measure signed Tuesday prohibits classes that advocate ethnic solidarity, that are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group.

The Tucson Unified School District program offers specialized courses in African-American, Mexican-American and Native-American studies that focus on history and literature and include information about the influence of a particular ethnic group."...

A shallow, emotional assessment of this statement is going to get it wrong.

It is important that contributions to the United States history - by particular minority groups - be woven into existing history classes.

White kids, Black kids, Asian kids,...need to know about the WWII Navajo Windtalkers. They need to know that there were Black soldiers in the Continental Army (and militia groups) during the Revolutionary War. They need to know that there were Cherokees, Jews, and Blacks in the Confederate Army and they were not in segregated units. They need to see the movie "Glory". They need to see "Sgt. Rutledge".

They need to know that there were Black Cowboys and gunfighters, such as Isom Dart (and others whom I have forgotten, momentarily). White kids need to know about the Tuskegee Airmen and the Buffalo Soldiers. Not to sugar-coat anything, but to objectively illustrate the good, the bad, and the ugly of American history. Too many of these courses and programs devolve into victimology and a desire for revenge - as they put it "Social Justice" - wherein they only promote the bad and the ugly.

From the article:

..."[Tom] Horne, a Republican running for attorney general, said the program promotes "ethnic chauvinism" and racial resentment toward whites while segregating students by race. He's been trying to restrict it ever since he learned that Hispanic civil rights activist Dolores Huerta told students in 2006 that "Republicans hate Latinos.""...[Emphasis added. Do you see the point?]

..."The measure doesn't prohibit classes that teach about the history of a particular ethnic group, as long as the course is open to all students and doesn't promote ethnic solidarity or resentment."...[Emphasis added.]

True history zealots want the entire truth told, in context, without blanket condemnation of any particular group. If one group did behave badly, it needs to be explained in the context of the time period and attitudes of the day.

From the article:

..."Six UN human rights experts released a statement earlier Tuesday saying all people have the right to learn about their own cultural and linguistic heritage, they said."...[Emphasis added.]

Do you see the issue? "Their own" cultural and linguistic heritage? If they are (or are to be) United States citizens, they need to know the context of their ethnic ancestors contributions to the big picture, along with all of the other students. And this needs to be done in a common language. No Balkanization. No tribalism.

E Pluribus Unum.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Why I am Highly Concerned About NYC

About 2 weeks ago, my grandson (now almost 14 months old), my daughter, and some of my son in-law's relatives were in Times Square.


How much longer will we continue to be lucky?
Will the administration have the courage to return to using the words "War on Terror"? Or rather, the Islamist War on the West?

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