Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Woot! Photo Shout-Out From NASA!

A photo I took on our recent Volcanic Ramble has received a complimentary treatment from Robert Simmon, along with a structural interpretation by Callan Bentley (@callanbentley ) And to make sure all involved parties get appropriate credit, that's Dana Hunter's hammer (currently on sabbatical with Bif and me), held by none other than the lovely @Dhunterauthor herself. Boo-Yah! Teamwork!

BTW, I've been repeatedly distracted from my efforts on Salt Creek Falls this afternoon, but I'm hoping to have that up before I go home.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Volcanic Ramblings Part 2: A Dedication

I'd like to start off the more methodical portion of this "Volcanic Ramblings" series with a heart-felt dedication to Harold "Sharkey" Enlows, who first showed me many of the stops we made on this trip on the 1984 Petrology series spring excursion. Enlows could be curt and abrasive, but in his way, he was a very caring Teacher. He wasn't affectionate, but he simply wouldn't accept less than what he believed a student was capable of. His nickname arose not from fear, but from the respect and fondness his students felt toward him.

One example: I was not the most responsible student in the history of studenting (I've always said, "I'm an excellent learner, but I'm a terrible student."), and frequently missed early morning classes. The petrology/petrography series lectures fell into that category. So when the test for metapet rolled around, and I was confronted, on the first page, with the question, "Describe the mono-mineralogical problem with respect to metamorphic rocks," I mentally shrugged and skipped it. Sharkey typically sat in his office and did other paperwork while classes took tests, and when we finished, we took our tests to him and dropped them off. He glanced up when I dropped mine off. I turned to go, but he brought me to a sharp stop with "Hold it, DeWitt!" I knew that tone. I turned, and he had his finger on the hole where an answer should have been. I muttered, "I think I must have missed that day," to which he responded, "You did. But you can figure this out. Take this (he shoved the paper back at me) and go sit down until you do."

I had it sussed even before I got back to my seat. If you have only one mineral phase in a nice clean metamorphic rock- like a quartzite or marble- it's nearly impossible to say anything quantitative about the T & P history it's been through. Metapet depends on finding how differing elemental components have been partitioned into differing mineral phases; only one phase, no partitioning. So within a couple minutes I was back in his office, waiting, embarrassed, while he made a great show of reading my answer, then flipping through the rest of the pages to make sure there were no other blanks. He rolled his eyes at me and said, "Good. You're sharp. Don't let lazy get in the way."


When I graduated, some years later, I made a point to visit most of my profs to explicitly thank them for the effort they'd put into my education. I do believe most of them were close to teary-eyed (I know I was); too few students make that small effort of their own. But I didn't make that happy trip to Sharkey's office. Why? Because unbeknownst to us undergrads, he had been diagnosed with and in treatment for cancer for the entire year we'd had him as a teacher. In summer of 1984, just a month or so after we finished his class, and less than two after he took us on what remains to this day one of the best field trips of my life, the disease took him. One of my biggest regrets is that I never had a chance to express my respect, thanks, and admiration to his face. He wasn't my "favorite" prof, but he's the one who made me work the hardest, and from whom I learned the most.

And that's no small compliment.

So for each of the stops we made on our Volcanic Ramblings that I saw first under Sharkey's tutelage, I'll just skip over the long-winded intro, but preface the post with a dignified "In Memoriam: Harold "Sharkey" Enlows." It feels like the least I owe him.

I was going to write up our first official stop, Salt Creek Falls, but it occurs to me I've forgotten to eat today, and I need to blow my nose and dry my eyes. Dana will have Salt Creek Falls covered for you in the near future. Here's a spur-of-the-moment photo I took when we stopped for gas out near I-5, on our way out of town, looking back over Corvallis to the iconic profile of Marys Peak.
Marys Peak, Oregon: a fore-arc uplift of seafloor basalt overprinted with oceanic plateau basalt, topped with a frosting of deep-water turbidites, then intruded and capped with a gabbroic sill.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Accretionary Wedge #37: Sexy Geology

Accretionary Wedge #37: Sexy Geology

This month's topic engaged the geoblogosphere's lascivious side, and boy, oh boy did you folks turn out for this late-summer shindig and swinger's party! As always when I host, it's a real pleasure to read through the posts when I first see them, then frustrating as I try to decide how to organize and present them in a way readers will enjoy as much as I did. Of course, when I asked myself what aspects of the earth geologists found sexy, the answer was obvious. What geologists think is sexy is exactly the same sorts of things everyone does: Lines and Forms, Bones and Structures, Tones and Colors, Vivaciousness, and Chemistry.

Lines and Forms
The first thing that often catches our attention when recognizing a natural beauty is a certain perfection of line and form.

Tannis, who likes rocks, finds herself particularly flustered in the face of ripples. "There's just something about being up on a ridge, far away from any water and even farther away from a beach, and seeing ripples."
Silver Fox swoons over the luscious curves of cross bedding in the Navajo Sandstone. She's not the only one: I've seen quite a few posts on this sexy sand over the last few weeks.
Fellow traveler Dana Hunter's post wasn't easy to pigeon-hole: she ran the gamut in Earth Erotica. "My non-geo friends don't get dry mouths and pounding hearts when passing road cuts. Sometimes, I think they're blind to beauty. Unclothed rocks are some of the most beautiful sights on earth."
Dave Bressan breaks into a sweat thinking about beaches past and present, and reminds us of the great truth that geologists are the coolest and sexiest men (and women) alive.
And for our final entrant in this category, Anne Jefferson at Highly Allochthonous shows off some seductive pahoehoe curves during a visit to the Galapagos Island earlier this summer. She also shares some sexy sand, and ends with a provocative shot of an utterly nude sunbather.
Bones and Structures
Underlying line and form, though, is structural perfection. Largely hidden from the untrained eye, practice allows us to see clues and hints to understanding the underlying bones.

Matt at Research at a Snail's Pace first shows us the beauty of Glacier National Park, then uses a pair of sketches to get a sense of the subsurface structures responsible for it.
Ian Stimpson of Hypo-theses was the first to respond to the call for posts, but apparently misunderstood the topic. He thought I was demanding, like a drunken reveler, "Show us your cleavage!"
Count on Jessica Ball of Magma Cum Laude to get us all hot and bothered with shots of a recent fissure eruption in Hawaii. No comment on what resemblance I first saw in the picture below.
Anne of Anne's Musings on Geology and Other Things gets bent out of shape by Big Bend National Park: "To me this place seems to have it all, and that is why I muse upon Big Bend being such a geologically sexy place to visit" .

And our concluding post in this category, from first-time AW participant Un Geologo En Apuros, reminds me I need to carry a spatula with me sometimes, to scrape my eyeballs off the inside of my glasses. I'm not going to copy either photo here; you really need to go see them yourselves, and you most definitely want to click them for glorious full-size. To the author: don't worry about your poor English; my Spanish is much worse, and this is sexy geology that transcends any language barriers.

Tones and Colors
For many, including myself, line, form and structure are all very nice, but what really rivets our attention is the perfect tone, a lovely exotic glow, and a mesmerizing play of color.

Darius Whiteplume is a friendly innertubz denizen I've been following for a while on various blogs and tumblrs, and more recently on Twitter. He sent this to me via the latter yesterday, and I thought it appropriate to "mistake" it for an AW submission.
Selim sends word of the lovely White Desert in his home country of Egypt. It has to be tough in that country right now, but knowing there are sites (and sights) like this gives me hope they can work through their troubles.
Ron Schott posts a magnificent mineralogical mystery: it ain't lithium, it's manganese! (Oh yes, and a groaner of a pun, which, as he says, works better if you read it aloud. Just not too loud.)
My own entry is the beautiful warm glow of the Pinnacles at Crater Lake National Park. As an aside, I had intended as I started that post to get at some of the science of that spot. However, as I surveyed the debris from the landslide of innuendo and double-entendre in that post, I decided to let the science stand at a dignified distance. I'll get back to it later.
When humans convey a sense of brimming with life, we call them vivacious. When rocks convey a sense of being full of life, we call them fossiliferous. In either case, though, it's very, very sexy.

Geosciblog focuses on Echinodermata erotica, and fossil fetishists (one of which he claims he isn't) around the world are paralyzed.
Matt at Geosphere gets needled by Cnidaria... the corals, in particular.
And Callan at Mountain Beltway suggested I just link the post I used as an outstanding exemplar of Sexy Geology in the original call for posts: fossils and structures in the vicinity of Swift Dam.

In the end though, each person's answer to the question "What is Sexy?" is going to involve countless imponderables, a lot of je ne c'est pas, and shoulder-shrugging responses, "I dunno. I just do." In other words, the stuff we call chemistry.

Geotripper has some seriously weird rocks that likely are not unique, but I've never heard of or seen their like before.Another first-time participant, Narnian Rockhound at Earth-Like Planet, posts on a world-class mineral area, the Bancroft district in Ontario, Canada. Having visited a number of sites in the area myself, I whole-heartedly concur with this sexy nomination.
So there you have it: The geoblogosphere's nominations for sexy geology. It occurs to me that this should have been Wedge number 34. If you're not familiar with the pop-culture rule 34, it is this: "If it exists, there is porn of it." While none of the above constitutes "porn," really, there's no doubt plenty of fodder for some very sweet dreams. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and thanks to all who particpated. If I've somehow managed to miss your submission, leave a comment and link. I'm also happy to add in late submissions, so if you've been meaning to get to this but haven't, you still have a little time.

Next month's AW will be hosted by Anne Jefferson, on the theme "Back to School." See you then!