Another Bigger Unconformity Ahead

About this time last year I was vacating my office at Fort Hays State University and moving my computers to my home in Hays, necessitating a couple of days of downtime for Despite using one of my photos of the Carlin Canyon angular unconformity to illustrate this, that interruption was really more akin to a minor disconformity than an angular unconformity.

In another week or so, however, I’ll be making a much bigger move – from Hays, KS where I’ve lived for the last eight years, to Bakersfield, California. Once again will be offline, but this time for at least a week, maybe more. Given the allochthonous nature of this move, I’m not even sure if an unconformity is even the best metaphor for this interruption. So I’ve lined up three geologic photos that all illustrate dramatic geologic discontinuities, and I’ll let you draw your own interpretations.

Angular Unconformity, Capitol Reef National Park


Disconformity, Henry Mountains


Fault, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument

I hope to breathe some new life into the Geology Home Companion once I’m settled down in California. I’ll be a lot closer to much of the geology I love best and sharing my explorations of it will remain a central theme of this blog. But my long-time readers also know well that I’m always striving to unearth innovative technologies to apply to geology, so who’s to say exactly what the future will hold?

One thing’s for sure, though – I do value the community of my blog’s readers and commenters, as well as all the fellow geologists and friends of geology that I interact with regularly via other geoblogs, Twitter, Google+, and other forms of social media. I invite all of you to take advantage of this hiatus in my blogging to reflect upon what I’ve done here that you value most and what you’d like to see more or less of and to give me some guidance in the comments. I invite especially suggestions for new or modified directions that I could take my blogging that would increase its value to you. I’ve got lots of ideas percolating, but I’d really like to hear yours, too.

Where on (Google) Earth #350?

Things have slowed down in the world of WoGE. Two of the last three have taken over 10 days to solve. Maybe it’s just because everyone is out enjoying fieldwork during the northern hemisphere summer. (When was our last southern hemisphere-based winner, anyhow?) Anyhow, I finally located WoGE newcomer Koen’s nested Mojave plutons in Joshua Tree National Monument after spending far too much time in the eastern Mojave Desert near the Colorado River and then prematurely giving up on the Mojave to scour the rest of the planet. I’m surprised an American WoGE locality went undiscovered for so long – a sure sign that my fellow American geobloggers are losing their competitive edge to the cadre of Europeans who have dominated recently.

I’m going to mix things up a bit with an oblique anaglyph view of the WoGE #350 locality – break out the red-blue glasses. [At Felix’s request: here’s the 2D (non-anaglyph) left eye view for those who don’t have red-blue glasses.] It’s a challengingly small area, but there’s some fairly distinctive topography to balance that disadvantage. I expect this one to be hard to find, so I won’t invoke the Schott Rule (no waiting necessary). Your challenge is to identify the locality (generally specified by latitude and longitude) of the geologic feature seen below and provide as much geological explanation for the significance or origin of the feature as your can dig up. First to do so in the comments below will earn the right to post WoGE #351 on their own geoblog. If there isn’t any substantive progress within a week or so I’ll add hints.

Where on (Google) Earth #350 (anaglyph).

For those who want the 3D effect without the anaglyph glasses, here’s my first stab at making an animated GIF:

Where on (Google) Earth #350 (animated GIF).

[Update 6/30/12: Here’s the promised hint; another oblique view, covering a wider area. Would it be easier to find if Mother Nature drew a bullseye around it?]

Where on (Google) Earth #350 (hint2).

[Update 7/2/12: All weekend and no nibbles. Hmmm… Perhaps a change of perspective will offer a useful clue. Remember that WoGE #350 is the highest prominence on the horizon.]

Where on (Google) Earth #350 (hint2).

[Update 7/6/12: The hill/mountain that is the focus of WoGE #350 has WiFi.]

Move along, pilgrim.

101 American Geo-Sites Geomeme

Callan kicked it off and Silver Fox made it an official Geomeme. The list comes from Albert Dickas’ 101 American Geo-Sites You’ve Gotta See.

[Update – New geomeme entries from: Accidental Remediation, Maitri’s VatulBlog, Hudson Valley Geologist, earthscienceguy, Anne at Highly Allochthonous, Outside the Interzone, En Tequila Es Verdad, Adventures in Geology, Georneys, Life in Plane Light, Adventures in the World of Geology, Ann’s Musings on Geology & Other Things…,

Now you can view the 101 American Geo-Sites in Google Earth, too.]

I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled thru 48/50 US states thus far in my life, though of course I didn’t have this list in mind. I’ve got 39 of these spots for sure (bolded), but with a few geological substitutions I could have a much higher percentage. For good measure I’ve thrown in a few GigaPans I shot at these sites.

1. Wetumpka Crater, Alabama Kilauea Iki Crater
2. Exit Glacier, Alaska
3. Antelope Canyon, Arizona
4. Meteor Crater, Arizona
5. Monument Valley, ArizonaGigaPan
6. Prairie Creek Pipe, Arkansas
7. Wallace Creek, CaliforniaGigaPan
8. Racetrack Playa, CaliforniaGigaPan
9. Devils Postpile, California
10. Rancho La Brea, California
11. El Capitan, CaliforniaQTVR
12. Boulder Flatirons, Colorado
13. Interstate 70 Roadcut, ColoradoGigaPan (North)GigaPan (South)
14. Florissant Fossil Beds, Colorado
15. Dinosaur Trackway, Connecticut
16. Wilmington Blue Rocks, Delaware
17. Devil’s Millhopper, Florida
18. Stone Mountain, Georgia
19. Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii
20. Borah Peak, Idaho
21. Menan Buttes, Idaho
22. Great Rift, Idaho
23. Valmeyer Anticline, Illinois
24. Hanging Rock Klint, Indiana
25. Fort Dodge Gypsum, Iowa
26. Monument Rocks, KansasGigaPan
27. Ohio Black Shale, Kentucky
28. Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
29. Four Corners Roadcut, Kentucky
30. Avery Island, Louisiana
31. Schoodic Point, Maine Dikes, Schoodic Point, Maine
32. Calvert Cliffs, Maryland
33. Purgatory Chasm, Massachusetts
34. Nonesuch Potholes, Michigan
35. Quincy Mine, Michigan
36. Grand River Ledges, Michigan
37. Sioux Quartzite, Minnesota
38. Thomson Dikes, MinnesotaGigaPan
39. Soudan Mine, MinnesotaGigaPan
40. Petrified Forest, Mississippi
41. Elephant Rocks, Missouri
42. Grassy Mountain Nonconformity, Missouri
43. Chief Mountain, Montana
44. Madison Slide, MontanaGigaPan
45. Butte Pluton, Montana
46. Quad Creek Quartzite, Montana
47. Ashfall Fossil Beds, Nebraska
48. Scotts Bluff, Nebraska
49. Crow Creek Marlstone, Nebraska
50. Sand Mountain, Nevada
51. Great Unconformity, Nevada
52. Flume Gorge, New Hampshire
53. Palisades Sill, New JerseyGigaPan
54. White Sands, New MexicoGigaPan
55. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
56. Shiprock Peak, New MexicoGigaPan
57. State Line Outcrop, New Mexico
58. American Falls, New York
59. Taconic Unconformity, New YorkGigaPan
60. Gilboa Forest, New York
61. Pilot Mountain, North Carolina
62. South Killdeer Mountain, North Dakota
63. Hueston Woods, Ohio
64. Big Rock, Ohio
65. Kelleys Island, Ohio
66. Interstate 35 Roadcut, Oklahoma
67. Mount Mazama, OregonGigaPan
68. Lava River Cave, Oregon
69. Drake’s Folly, Pennsylvania
70. Hickory Run, Pennsylvania
71. Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania
72. Beavertail Point, Rhode Island
73. Crowburg Basin, South Carolina
74. Mount Rushmore, South DakotaGigaPan
75. Mammoth Site, South DakotaGigaPan
76. Pinnacles Overlook, South Dakota
77. Reelfoot Scarp, Tennessee
78. Enchanted Rock, Texas
79. Capitan Reef, TexasGigaPan
80. Paluxy River Tracks, Texas
81. Upheaval Dome, Utah
82. Checkerboard Mesa, Utah
83. San Juan Goosenecks, UtahGigaPan
84. Salina Canyon Unconformity, Utah
85. Bingham Stock, Utah
86. Whipstock Hill, Vermont
87. Great Falls, Virginia
88. Natural Bridge, Virginia
89. Millbrig Ashfall, Virginia
90. Catoctin Greenstone, Virginia
91. Mount St. Helens, WashingtonGigaPan
92. Dry Falls, WashingtonGigaPan
93. Seneca Rocks, West Virginia
94. Roche-A-Cri Mound, Wisconsin
95. Van Hise Rock, Wisconsin
96. Amnicon Falls, Wisconsin
97. Green River, WyomingGigaPan
98. Devils Tower, WyomingGigaPan
99. Fossil Butte, Wyoming
100. Steamboat Geyser, Wyoming
101. Specimen Ridge, Wyoming

Geological Pilgrimage: Töshük Tagh (Shipton’s Arch)

I’m a bit late getting this post up for Accretionary Wedge #45: Geological Pilgrimage, but I had to think long and hard to settle on an appropriate destination. I contemplated traveling in time, as Brian Romans chose to, but ultimately I wanted to stick a little more literally to the assigned topic. I have had the privilege to visit a great many deserving geologic destinations in the western USA during my career as a geologist, but I feel the spirit of this Wedge topic called for selecting a destination that one holds out as a goal – something to strive for, not yet achieved – and moreover, a location distant enough that the journey itself would be an Odyssey worthy of the term “pilgrimage”. And with these constraints in mind, I turned for inspiration to National Geographic magazine, and there I found what I believe to be a worthy destination: Shipton’s Lost Arch.

At this point in my life, I’ll admit it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever make it there, but if I do, you can all expect a spectacular GigaPan. ;-)

Where on (Google) Earth #341?

Aaah, those wonderful warm, treeless deserts, where so little gets between the satellite sensor and the beautifully exposed geology! I know the appeal of selecting a satellite image with beautiful structures exposed at the surface, but the danger of choosing such a location is that they’re all too easy to find. I was a little quicker than my competitors in looking up the geologic background, if not necessarily in locating Péter Luffi’s beautiful WoGE #340. Alas, I fear my colleagues will recall why the Schott Rule was so commonly applied. But for me this Schott Rule-free run has been invigorating, and I hope the rest of you will consider continuing it.

One of the keys to a longer lasting Schott Rule-free competition is selecting localities that are obscure or well enough disguised to not be immediately locatable, yet not so obscure that they cause the hunters to gnash their teeth and desire to claw out their eyeballs from fruitless searching for hours and days on end. It is particularly challenging to choose a spot that meets these requirements and yet maintains an element of geologic distinctiveness. I think I was able to do that with WoGE #338 at Cape Royds, Antarctica. Only time will tell if I’ve duplicated the feat with WoGE #341 below.

Locating the image below in Google Earth is your first task. Once you’ve done so, you must next determine the geological significance of the locality. The first person to successfully identify both location (latitude and longitude, please) and geological significance in the comments of this blog post will earn the honor of hosting WoGE #342 on their own geoblog.

Where on (Google) Earth #341.

No Schott Rule. Dig in!

Where on (Google) Earth #338?

Oh man, does it feel good to come in from the cold. It’s been almost five months since I won a “Where on (Google) Earth” competition and my blog has been suffering from neglect as a result. I was fortunate to catch a non-Schott Ruled challenge from Péter Luffi, and it didn’t take me too long to recognize that his remarkable cometary WoGE #337 was an ephemeral lake in a maar volcano crater. Noting the shadows indicated a southern hemisphere location, I soon narrowed my search to Patagonia, where I ultimately discovered his windswept wonder.

I know the WoGE hunters will be eager to get started on their next expedition, so with no further ado (and no Schott Rule) I present the target of your next search in the image below. As always, the person who correctly locates it (latitude and longitude will do nicely) and describes the significance of the geologic features seen therein will then reserve the honor of posting WoGE #339, in turn.

Where on (Google) Earth #338.

What are you waiting for? Mush!

A Week of Social Media Silence

I derive great value from social media, but the cost to me has been spending too much time sitting behind my computer. I think it’s time I changed that. I’m not sure this is practical, and recent experience suggests it won’t last two days, but I’m going to try to refrain from posting new material to my social media channels for a week starting from the publication of this blog post. I may reply to comments on earlier posts if I see them, but this effort probably won’t work if I don’t at least attempt to go cold turkey. I’ve got a couple of other things happening in “meatspace” this week that make this as opportune a time as any to attempt this crazy stunt, and I think I’ve dispensed all of my lingering social media obligations over the last day or so.

So here goes nothing…

Geologic Coffee Table

This coffee table was constructed by Joe Lori and presented to me as a gift from the Geology Club when I departed Lake Superior State University. It is also my entry (a little late) for the January 2012 Accretionary Wedge #42 geoblog carnival “Countertop Geology.”

I don’t think anyone has claimed Accretionary Wedge #44 for March 2012 yet, so if you’ve been waiting to host one this may be your opportunity.


Ways and Means

Accretionary Wedge #43 has the theme of “my favorite geological illustration.” Hollis chose this theme at my urging based on her post about one of the spectacular old “birds-eye” oblique views of Black Hills geology. There are plenty of truly artistic geological figures and illustrations from the era before computer aided drafting, and I’d be hard pressed to choose among them. Indeed, I’m also a great fan of the Hudson River School of painters, and though many drew inspiration from geology, whether they can accurately be called geological illustrations is somewhat questionable – as I’m reminded daily by the Bierstadt print in my dining room (others, of course, are more true to nature).

During my summer internship at the USGS in Menlo Park, CA in 1996 I became familiar with more recent works of cartographic art, such as the oblique illustrations of geological phenomena in the Sierra Nevada by Tau Rho Alpha (yes, that’s his name). See some of the figures in The Geologic Story of Yosemite National Park (1987) by N. King Huber, for examples of his work.

Ways and MeansLazarus, Duke of YorkNonetheless, from the moment I suggested this theme for an Accretionary Wedge there was really only one figure I gave serious consideration to selecting as my favorite geological illustration. And that is Figure 5 (at left) from the 1877 printing of Grove Karl Gilbert‘s Report on the Geology of the Henry Mountains. Captioned “Ways and Means,” the hand drawn illustration of a mule’s head is a reminder of the remote nature of the Henry Mountains – the last significant region of the conterminous United States to be explored and scientifically documented – and the realities of fieldwork in the mid-1870s in the West. The figure is actually a partial reproduction of a sketch of the mule “Lazarus, Duke of York” (reproduced at right) that Gilbert himself sketched in one of his own field notebooks. What draws me to this image even more, however, is that it was removed from the second (and much more widely circulated) printing of this famous report (though I was fortunate that UW-Madison had a first edition in its library collection when I was a grad student there). I learned the history of this figure through the scholarly work of Charles B. Hunt (of ‘cactolith’ fame), in his “Geology of the Henry Mountains, Utah: as recorded in the notebooks of G.K. Gilbert 1875-76″ (Geological Society of America Memoir 167). Hunt raises the possibility that the figure was cut to save printing costs, but suggests that resetting the rest of the type would have likely had the opposite effect. I prefer to think that some humorless editor gave old Lazarus the ax, in an effort to make the report more professional looking (it was, after all one of the first USGS Professional Papers). I’d like to think G.K. Gilbert would have enjoyed publishing about his work and travels in a less formal medium, such as the geoblogosphere. I certainly feel that modern geologic communication could use some of the more personal, humorous touches of which “Ways and Means” is symbolic.