Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Blogger comment window

Does anyone have a problem with Blogger only opening a dinky comment window with no means of expanding it, so that you can't post comments because you can't see all the word verification or most of your comment? Scrolling doesn't work. I seem to have that problem with my home mac and haven't been able to find a work around. Have any of you? Thanks, in advance.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bad Geology Movie

I ended up wasting my evening alone (both the 5-yr old and the SO are away for the week, on different sides of the continent) watching the continent get ripped in half during the ludicrously bad "Apocalypse 10.5" or whatever in the heck it was called.

I really had a hard time willingly suspending my disbelief for this one. From Sun Valley erupting to Las Vegas sinking at least 200 feet into the vegas (did they really try to say it was sulphuric acid-eroded limestone in the alluvial valley?), it was a really horrid portrayal of natural events gone badder in much less than geologic time. If I had Emeril's smell-o-vision, rotten eggs would have been wafting from the set.

I really loved (not) the rift fault propagating through the midsection of Canada and the U.S. in less than two days without any failed rift arms (would they have propagated and died in less than a day?).

When my ex worked as a prof at an unnamed SoCal bastion of higher learning, he regularly got calls from "the industry" looking for quick answers to geologic questions (it helped that his last name is closer to the beginning in the alphabet - the industry geeks tend to go down the list). Some were interesting, but some were rather infantile. I remember him talking about some whining sod trying to find a good movie location and practically begging for a warm, but Iceland-like locale to shoot in a few weeks (it was the middle of winter-southern Idaho was right out). It has occurred to me, more than once, that I could probably have found some work as a geology "consultant" to the industry. I couldn't bring myself to even check into it, though, as I presume the writers and directors for movies like the one I saw tonight repeatedly shine on their consultants' pleadings for a dramatic geological activity that could actually happen in real time.

At the end of the movie, everyone, from the president to the former head of the USGS and his now head of the USGS daughter, was crying crocodile tears. Myself, I can't imagine any geologist worth her/his salt not at least thinking: "Whoa, dude. That was so incredibly awesome!" as they watched a rift split the continent in half and fill up with ocean. In two whole days.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Accretionary Wedge #17 Time Warp in Water

I thought long and hard about where and what I would like to see. I thought about adventures in evolution (I would love to see the Burgess Shale critters in action - talk about living sci-fi), and some of the more renowned geologic features in geologic time (I would love to be a fly on [or in] the wall to see the onset of the San Andreas strike-slip movement or to watch the very young San Jacinto fault (~700,000 years) from start to present in fast-forward).

What I would really love to see are two water-related events from Quaternary time. The first of these are the Missoula floods originating in western Montana from the repeated failures of ice dams on the Clark Fork River. The second are the Quaternary lakes of the Mojave desert.

The repeated Missoula floods (potentially 40+, from the varve-like slackwater deposits in southeastern Washington called the Touchet beds) carved out the Channeled Scablands of eastern Washington. The lakes, coulees, and river channels of the scablands were carved by the massive floodwaters (up to 500 cubic miles) that occurred repeatedly through the Pleistocene. They were identified in the 1920's by Harlan Bretz, who was derided as the flood theory of scablands creation just didn't mesh with the theory of uniformitarianism. Bretz's theories were finally accepted after years of research by himself and others, and I believe he was awarded the Penrose Medal for it. The flood events are also called the Bretz floods in his honor. The remaining lakes provide refuge for migratory birds, riparian and wetland habitat, and recreation opportunities for locals and visitors. I spent my childhood driving through eastern Washington passing by little pothole lakes, large, wide valleys with little ribbon creeks and riparian in the middle, scraped basalt ridges, and the windblown loess hills of the Palouse, wondering how on earth they got there. Luckily, between my geotech/engineer dad and local natural history class in junior high, I got to understand why way before college.

While living in SoCal, I spent lots of time in the Mojave, especially going up to Owens Valley or over to Panamint and Death Valleys. I occasionally went to Saline Valley and twice, maybe, to Deep Springs Valley. All of these valleys contained pluvial lakes, the largest being Lake Manly. The Mojave River flowed (just like in 2005) from the San Bernardino Mtns into a string of lakes ending in Lake Mojave. [I vaguely recollect that Lake Mojave may have had a discharge into Lake Manly via the Amargosa River]. I spent a very long day in 2005 driving a circle around Death Valley with my mom and 11-month-old as I couldn't get a hotel room. That year was probably the only time in my lifetime I would see Lake Mojave with water, the Amargosa River (in the distance) flowing, and Death Valley Lake a lake. It wonderfully blew my mind, and I would love to have seen all the rest of them full, as well. A few pictures from 2005 are below.
Silver Lake (filled from Lake Mojave/Mojave River)
Death Valley Lake

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Caja del Rio trip

Yesterday's sightseeing tour was to Caja del Rio, slightly southwest of Santa Fe. We haven't had much time to do fun sightseeing since moving, so this was a nice opportunity to see the lay of the land in the Santa Fe area. I've generally only been there for meetings, so I got to be a bit of a geo-tourist and passenge, instead of drive. Yahoo.

The road to Caja del Rio (the Rio Grande River canyon south of Otowi Bridge) goes past Santa Fe's landfill and across the Cerros del Rio volcanic field (as best I can tell from my limited home references). Once we got fairly close to the Rio Grande, we did a loop along the canyon edge on a Forest Service two-track. This was the five-year old's first two track drive on a bumpy road in a very long time (we did need to put it in low in several locations), and at one point she said "this road is making my underwear creep!"

The view across the canyon towards White Rock and Los Alamos. I think the tall, triangular-faced mountain in the background is Polvadera Peak. You can see the Rio Grande at the bottom of the canyon.
The five-year old and the SO looking north at a tributary canyon wall.

Part of what they were looking at - interfingered sediments and basalts. I have the Geology of the Jemez Region II (put out by NM Geological Society, 2007) at the office and plan to try and figure out the possible formations in this shot.

The windshield view from looking across the canyon. The five-year old said "We're gonna die!" (she says that about a lot of things, tongue-in-cheek).

Another underwear-creeping part of the drive. Silver Fox at Looking for Detachment wrote recently about two-track driving, so I'd thought I'd include these to continue the meme.

A set of beautiful lupines at the last part of the loop, near a stock pond.