Friday, August 26, 2011

Know The Difference

Bif Naked
Bif, furry. Yes it's subtle, but I'm fond of both of them, so I'm obligated to know the differences. Don't know Bif Naked? Your loss.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What is Sexy? Geology.

AW #37 has been accreted here.

This month's Accretionary Wedge topic is Sexy Geology; the deadline is tomorrow, Friday August 26, but as usual I'll add in anything I get before I post this edition, and tack on late entries for a week or two afterward. Also, Twitter has been giving me its "Sorry! We did something wrong. Try sending your Tweet again in a minute." BS since yesterday morning, which line I've now seen probably 40 or 50 times. I'd really appreciate it if a geotweep or two would tweet a link to this post.

In February of 1981, I started a student job at OSU's college of veterinary medicine, as a "glassware technician." That is, I washed the horrifically dirty dishes that are part and parcel of any medical work. Only a few months later, I was approached by the head technician in Clinical Pathology, Suzy, and was asked if I would like to work in her lab. Absidefinitely, I didn't say, but absidefinitely thought. Enough with the stinky stuff, already.

I quite liked my job upgrade, and was very fond of Suzy and her husband Gene. So I was disappointed when, in the summer of 1983, they were offered jobs at the trauma center in Lone Pine, California. I traveled with them to watch their two boys, John and Brian, while they interviewed, went house-hunting, and did the various sundry tasks associated with moving to a new town in a new state. It was my first visit to that area, and though I didn't have a lot of time for sight-seeing, what with one youngster in hand and in tow, and another mostly conked out and drooling on my shoulder, one thing you should know about Lone Pine is that pretty much any random glance that isn't directly groundward rewards with scenery that is completely bind-moggling.

So shortly afterward, Suzy and Gene moved away; I was less than happy with my new boss, who was a conservative (expletive deleted), a male chauvinist pig (to put it mildly), and while he may have been medically competent to do his job, struck me as mentally inferior to most fenceposts I've met. It was nearly a year before I found another job, but when I did, it was more appropriate to my interests, and most importantly, came with a boss and crew I could respect.

But I digress.

For spring break of 1984, Suzy and Gene invited me down to Lone Pine, sort of as a reward for helping with the munchkins the previous summer. I readily accepted, and hopped a Greyhound south. All sorts of great adventures on that trip, but the pertinent one was the day we went over to Death Valley.

A young geologist never forgets his first time.

Coming down off the Panamints, one can see the rugged geology of those mountains, but the wider view of the valley floor is mostly obscured until rounding a corner a little ways above Stovepipe Wells. Suzy was sitting in the front seat looking back at me the moment we went around that corner. As she recounted later, between gales of laughter, I leaned forward, my eyes went wide, and my jaw slowly dropped. I gasped, "Oh. My God. Look at all the naked rocks."

So all that is just lead-in to make this point: I've been a sucker for sexy geology for a long, long time, and age has done nothing to blunt that lust. On the contrary, I find THOSE urges stronger and more difficult to control than ever. I'm more practiced, less frantic, now, and more inclined toward gently and slowly working my way through a site instead of feeling like I have to bang on everything RIGHT NOW. But there is still nothing like figuring out what an outcrop wants from me, and wants to give me, to make my heart go pitter-pat, and to make me sigh blissfully in the afterglow.

So picking one example of sexy geology is something of a conundrum. Do I go for scantily-clad rocks, or the complex, deep ones? Shall I pick based on the perfection of color and complexion, or the vividness of the the story she wants to tell me? Do I want the vixen of volcanic heat or the chilly snows of deep, dark sedimentation? The tortured tales of difficult childhood and dignified recovery from a metamorphic mistress?

So hard. To choose just one, that is.

With last week's adventuring still fresh in mind, it should be no surprise I'm going to select a location from that trip. Given the ground we covered and numerous stops made, though, it's still a difficult choice. In the end though, the Pinnacles at Crater Lake National Park wins this pageant. I feel like it combines some likenesses to all three rock types, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic, it presented us with beautiful tones even sans make-up, a gorgeous early evening lighting choice, and (at the risk of sounding like a serious perv) is barely legal from a geological perspective, at a nubile 6800 years old.
Look at that glow!
For the evening gown segment, she arrayed herself in a stunning forest green fashion of her own design... the symmetry and self-similarity are breath-taking.
Zooming in to savor the details...
Skin tone is only skin deep, but oh what skin tone it is!
Study in contrasts.
For rocks, this complexion is perfect.
Secrets for those patient and willing to search them out.
Soft, sensuous curves flirtatiously revealed to a wooer willing to get a bit edgy...
...followed by a J.J. Abrams glamour shot.

Early evening glow.
Seductively teasing

Coyly sharing secrets...
...and a fond farewell after an early evening rendezvous.

Whew! Excuse me; I need to go wash up!

As a postlude, another story of Suzy and Gene: they met as students at U of O in Eugene. Gene had a summer job as a firewatcher, and was posted on Mount Scott for a while. That peak is the tallest in this park, and located not far from Kerr Notch, which is where Sand Creek, the stream that carved this gorge, originates. It's lower eastern flank is visible in the uppermost left of the photo captioned "Secrets for those patient and willing to search them out." Though thunderstorms are painfully rare here in the Willamette Valley, they are fairly frequent and brutally violent in the Cascades. The iron-framed bed in the watch tower rested on thick glass casters, and Gene had been advised that in the event of an electrical storm, the bed was the safest place around. Suzy, upon visiting him one weekend, and happening to be there during a serious storm, was, shall we say, less than convinced that Gene's intentions were honorable. And of course, the louder and more forcefully he insisted, the less convinced she became...

Face it: sexy geology is more straight-forward than human relations. With rocks, you can be sure they're not playing mind games, at least not on purpose.

Post Script: Almost forgot, I wanted to mention that one year our Geology Club tee-shirt was a line drawing of the Grand Canyon, showing both the layers of the horizontal Paleozoic section, and the tilted layers of the Precambrian Grand Canyon Series. Drawn by classmate and friend Michelle D., with whom I recently reconnected on Twitter, the caption was "So many beds, so little time."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Volcanic Ramblings Part I: Teaser Tweeting

I'm now back in my sleepy little home town of Corvallis, blissfully sipping coffee at my favorite coffee shop. Bif the kitteh was clearly traumatized by his 5-day abandonment; the person who was to feed and water him and give him a little attention and company didn't, and the back-up apparently didn't really do back up. His water was low and filthy, and it looked, from the amount of food spilled around, that the bowl was filled to the brim once, then forgotten. I don't know what the whole story is yet, so I'm keeping my temper on simmer. The good news is, as frantic and scared as he was when I got in last night, he calmed and quieted down as the evening went on, and seemed pretty relaxed this morning.

While I did have wifi most nights, what I didn't have was energy and time to say anything of substance regarding the day's sights and events. So starting day 2, I made my priority to get my photos downloaded to ye old electronical difference engine, and get a few "teasers-" photos I was pleased with- uploaded to Twitter, with a minimum of commentary and concern with geological utility. I figured those things were better addressed with blog posts, which simply were not going to happen. Between the difficulty of sleeping in unfamiliar beds in unfamiliar settings, and days that invariably ran longer than anticipated, I think it's fair to say all three of us spent the trip in a state of semi-exhaustion, and complete exhaustion by the time we retired to our respective rooms.

So herewith are the photos I posted from the road, more or less in the order we visited the sites, along with the associated Twitter comments I made when posting them. I'm not going to try to resize these to larger, but they should all get much bigger if you click on them or open links in new tabs with a right-click.
Booyah geotweeps! Tired, but great geo! Few pics: 1, Salt Creek Falls, yday
Volcanclastic seds, diatomite, coal, on Rt. 97 N of Klamath Falls, ~30 mi.
Pinnacles, Crater Lake NP
in front of lahar deposit filling cut into volcaniclastic sed layers
Platy jointing 1; hammer middle bottom for scale.
Platy jointing 2, partway up Doherty grade. #1 in left middle of #2
Pisolitic texture in devitrified rhyolite (I was reminded later by that the correct name for these structures is "spherulites," however, I'm not sure "pisolitic texture" would be incorrect in this context. Any geo-terminology nerds care to clarify?)
Filling in the happy little alluvial fans- Doherty Rim
One more pic before bed: Hart Mountain (on right) from near Adel, OR.
Summer Lake: a geologist was here (before us, I mean)
Ball & pillow structure in Table Rock tuff cone deposits.
Yaaaaaay! Correlation is fun! (Table Rock tuff cone deposits)
The rarely observed "splort structure." (Table Rock tuff cone)
Palagonite tuff at Fort Rock, OR
3 episodes of palagonite tuff accumulation, 2 of sloughing into blast crater, & 1 major episode of wave erosion.
Mahogany obsidian (looks like Glass Butte) in facade of hotel where staying tonight (Budget Inn, Bus. Rt. 97, Bend OR)
Parasitic cinder cones on NW flank of Newberry Volcano, from top of Lava Butte
A few final teaser photos from last day of volcanic rambling: 3 Sisters, Paulina Peak Pinnacles & Paulina Lake
Paulina Lake, Central Cinder Cone, East Lake and obsidian flow, ringed by Newberry Caldera
Contorted flow banding in Newberry Obsidian Flow (need to measure lens cap, but recollection is 52 mm)
Flow banded block broken off and re-entrained in more flow banded obsidian, Newberry Caldera, OR.
One more: Dee Wright Observtory, McKenzie Pass, OR: a most propitious place to observe volcanoes

Keep in mind, these are intended just to be quick and dirty updates, and to tantalize various geobloggers with hints of things to come. I will post the majority of these photos again with more detailed discussion and many additional shots from the same stops and areas. I shot 625 pictures on this trip, so the above, while including some of my favorites, are truly only a drop in the bucket. Also be sure to follow (En Tequila Es Verdad), who was my impossibly generous sponsor, delightfully enthusiastic traveling companion, and increasingly, dear friend on this grueling but wondrous excursion. She probably took twice as many photos as I did. The third member of our company, Cujo359, blogs at Slobber and Spittle, and while not as enamored with things geological as Dana and I are, also helped underwrite my participation in this adventure, and showed enduring patience in the face of our lithic fixation. He has already posted a lovely picture of a rail trestle west of Oakridge OR, and will undoubtedly post further documentation of this trip in the days and weeks to come. Followup: Thanks to a commenter on that post, information on a large landslide has come to light, which Cujo359 has gone through and discussed in detail at the link. For example, mud/debris lines 50 feet up the tree trunks...

I make no promises regarding the regularity or frequency of posts in this series, but I'm looking forward to working through some first-hand experiences at long last. Stay tuned!