Seastacks, Sonoma Coast, California

Well, I had hoped to be posting WoGE #159 in this space today, but once again the Schott Rule bit me and Péter Luffi beat me to the punch. ;-)

Instead I’m going to embark upon a geoblogging field excursion centered around a series of GigaPans I recently shot. In doing this I want to recognize that I draw some inspiration from Garry Hayes’ wonderful series of posts about the Cretaceous Parks of the Colorado Plateau. While my trip lacks in the thematic geological cohesion of that series, I hope that it will make up for it in the breadth of geological features I was able to see. I’ll continue to dribble this out in posts over the next few weeks.

In fact, Brian’s Friday Field Foto #76 prompted me to begin this blogging trip a bit prematurely. As such, I won’t stick to a strictly chronological retelling of my journey, though I’ll endeavor to keep the general sequence of regional stops in order.

The journey begins in the aftermath of the AGU Meeting in San Francisco last December. I had planned to spend a week or two at my old Ph.D. thesis area around Gualala, California shooting GigaPans and renewing my acquaintance with old friends (well, outcrops, anyhow). As luck would have it, though, a series of Pacific storms were lined up and headed for the coast at the same time I was. To avoid the nasty weather my journey took an unexpected detour through the Gadsden Purchase (so Lee Allison‘s got some Arizona GigaPans to look forward to in another week or two). But first, California…

I did manage to get in about two days of GigaPanning north of the Golden Gate before the storms arrived, and the one GigaPan image that I may be most proud of out of the entire trip was the anaglyph I shot of seastacks along the Pacific Coast Highway between Bodega Bay and Jenner. (For the best 3D effect you’ll want to view this with red/blue glasses.)

Seastacks, Sonoma Coast, California – 3D Anaglyph (View with red/blue glasses)
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To capture this image I used a pair of GigaPan beta units with Canon S5 IS cameras shooting simultaneously less than a foot apart.

After stitching was complete, it took almost two working days to merge these images into an anaglyph image, but if you’ve got a pair of red/blue glasses handy to view it, I think you’ll agree that it was worth the effort. To my knowledge it’s the world’s first full gigapixel anaglyph image (1.05 gigapixels, to be exact).

The rocks here are metamorphosed sediments and mafic igneous rocks (possibly including some blueschists) of the Franciscan Formation. The San Andreas fault runs parallel to the coast and is not that far out to sea in this spot – maybe only a kilometer or so offshore. In addition to the seastacks weathering out of the shoreline one can also recognize an elevated coastal terrace. Mainly though, it’s just a beautiful view of the edge of a continent.

GeoMeme Backlog #2: Geologist's Life List

Just as I was getting settled in at the AGU meeting in San Francisco last December, Garry Hayes (a.k.a. the Geotripper) adapted a “100 things you’ve done” meme for the geologist in all of us. I knew right away that this was one meme I HAD to participate in, but lots of other things (my AGU presentation, Winter Break travels, and the beginning of the Spring 2009 semester, to name a few) have conspired to push it to the back burner. But no more waiting, it’s time to see where I rank on the list…

Hammer in Lava

1. See an erupting volcanoDone. Pu’u O’o, January 7, 2004 – Spatter at the West Gap Cone, Flows from the Amalgamated Shield Complex, and a Bad Moon Rising, more photos from this set here. Someday I’d like to see a pyroclastic eruption in person, too… from a safe distance.
2. See a glacierDone. I was up close to Alpine glaciers in both Switzerland and Italy during a UW-Madison Weeks field trip to the Alps in the summer of 1993.
3. See an active geyser such as those in Yellowstone, New Zealand or the type locality of Iceland – Done. Saw Old Faithful and its Yellowstone friends up close in both 1974 and 2001 – both before I had a digital camera. In 2003 when I passed through Yellowstone I didn’t visit Old Faithful and have only a few digital photos of the hydrothermal areas at the Norris Geyser Basin.
4. Visit the Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) Boundary. Possible locations include Gubbio, Italy, Stevns Klint, Denmark, the Red Deer River Valley near Drumheller, Alberta. – Not yet. Colorado Springs area is probably my closest option.
5. Observe (from a safe distance) a river whose discharge is above bankful stage.Done. I grew up right next to Van Saun Mill Brook in Oradell, NJ and have vivid childhood memories of it at flood stage. Fortunately I haven’t lived too near any other big floods and I can’t recall doing any flood tourism.
6. Explore a limestone cave. Try Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park, or the caves of Kentucky or TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia) – Done. Howe Caverns and Luray Caverns as a kid, and Carlsbad Caverns, Mammoth Cave, and Wind Cave since I’ve been a geologist.
7. Tour an open pit mine, such as those in Butte, Montana, Bingham Canyon, Utah, Summitville, Colorado, Globe or Morenci, Arizona, or Chuquicamata, Chile – Done. Been down in the United Verde open pit mine at Jerome, Arizona with a Colgate University January term field. Also been to the edge of the Homestake open pit in Lead, SD and the Lavender Pit in Bisbee, AZ and I’ve poked through the overburden pile of the Ajo, AZ open pit, as well.
8. Explore a subsurface mineDone. Copper Queen Mine, Bisbee, AZ, Balmat Zinc Mine, Balmat, NY, National King Coal Mine, near Durango, CO (during active retreat mining!), and the Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson, KS.
9. See an ophiolite, such as the ophiolite complex in Oman or the Troodos complex on the Island Cyprus (if on a budget, try the Coast Ranges or Klamath Mountains of California) – Done. Not the most complete ophiolite suites, but I’ve seen the Coast Ranges and Trinity Ophiolites in California, as well as beautiful pillow basalts at Nicasio Reservoir (Franciscan Complex), Sir James Open Pit (Wawa Greenstone belt) and eclogitized pillows above Zermatt (Zermatt-Saas ophiolite) in the Swiss Alps.
10. An anorthosite complex, such as those in Labrador, the Adirondacks, and Niger (there’s some anorthosite in southern California too) – Done. Marcy Massif, Adirondack Highlands (summited Marcy twice).
11. A slot canyon. Many of these amazing canyons are less than 3 feet wide and over 100 feet deep. They reside on the Colorado Plateau. Among the best are Antelope Canyon, Brimstone Canyon, Spooky Gulch and the Round Valley Draw. Not yet. I’ve been through narrow bits of Mosaic Canyon in Death Valley, but I don’t think this really matches Antelope Canyon, et al.
12. Varves, whether you see the type section in Sweden or examples elsewhere – Done. Some of the best varves I’ve seen were along the shore of Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior, near Brimley, Michigan.
13. An exfoliation dome, such as those in the Sierra Nevada – Done. Pick your favorite Sierran dome – Polly Dome beside Lake Tenaya would be an excellent choice.
14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana or the Skaergaard Complex in Eastern Greenland – Done. Stillwater Intrusion.
15. Coastlines along the leading and trailing edge of a tectonic plate (check out The Dynamic Earth – The Story of Plate Tectonics – an excellent website) – Done. Oh yeah… I grew up taking vacations on the New Jersey shore and my Ph.D. thesis area was on the Pacific Coast near Gualala, CA. If the Califronia coast at Gualala is too “Transform” and not enough “leading edge” I’ve also been up to the California/Oregon coast north of Cape Mendocino.
16. A gingko tree, which is the lone survivor of an ancient group of softwoods that covered much of the Northern Hemisphere in the Mesozoic – Done. The largest Ginko tree in New Jersey was in Oradell, where I grew up. There was another in the courtyard of Weeks Hall at UW-Madison.
17. Living and fossilized stromatolites (Glacier National Park is a great place to see fossil stromatolites, while Shark Bay in Australia is the place to see living ones) – Not yet. I’ve got the fossilized half, but haven’t been to Shark Bay (except via Google Earth).
18. A field of glacial erraticsDone. Hickory Run State Park, Carbon County, Pennsylvania.
19. A calderaDone. Both Yellowstone and Long Valley, for starters.
20. A sand dune more than 200 feet highDone. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.
21. A fjordDone. Somes Sound, Acadia National Park, Maine
22. A recently formed fault scarpDone. Scarps along the Camp Rock-Emerson fault zones less than 24 hours after the M7.3 Landers earthquake.
23. A megabreccia – Not Sure, but definitely not of an impact origin. How big do the breccia pieces have to be? Greater than 1 meter or larger still? If 1m is the threshhold, how about the Rader Slide?
24. An actively accreting river delta – Not yet. I’ll take this to mean a larger delta than any of the small ones I’ve seen up close.
25. A natural bridgeDone. Natural Bridges National Park, Utah
26. A large sinkholeDone. An easy one since I taught for a year at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY. Lots of karst sinkholes there.
27. A glacial outwash plainDone. Another easy one based on previous employment. I taught a year of sabbatical fill at UW-Whitewater which is right next to the outwash areas in Wisconsin. (Passing through Janesville, WI certainly qualifies.)
28. A sea stackDone. Lots, along both the California/Oregon and Maine coasts. Here, see some seastacks in a 3D GigaPan!
29. A house-sized glacial erraticDone. Madison Erratic, Madison, NH.
30. An underground lake or riverDone. In Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.
31. The continental divideDone. Rocky Mountain National Park.
32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent mineralsDone. Visited Franklin, NJ.
33. Petrified treesDone. Petrified Forest National Park. Also the petrified Sequoia stump at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
34. Lava tubesDone. Thurston Lava Tube, near Volcano, Hawaii. Also others near Kona, Hawaii.
35. The Grand Canyon. All the way down. And back.Done. Hiked down on January 21, 1989, camped beside Bright Angel Creek, hiked back out January 22, 1989 (Superbowl Sunday) with a Colgate University field trip.
36. Meteor Crater, Arizona, also known as the Barringer Crater, to see an impact crater on a scale that is comprehensible – Done. Been to the rim, January 1989.
37. The Great Barrier Reef, northeastern Australia, to see the largest coral reef in the world. Not yet.
38. The Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, to see the highest tides in the world (up to 16m). Not yet. Been nearby and maybe saw the Bay, but never observed the full tidal range there so I won’t count it.
39. The Waterpocket Fold, Utah, to see well exposed folds on a massive scale – Done. Numerous times. If you’re in the neighborhood I highly recommend the Luna Mesa Cantina in Caineville, UT.
40. The Banded Iron Formation, Michigan, to better appreciate the air you breathe – Done. Been to Iron Mines all over the UP including the Champion Mine which has a spectacular dump of specular hematite. My best accessible BIF photo, though, comes from the just south of Wawa, Ontario.
41. The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Not yet.
42. Lake Baikal, Siberia, to see the deepest lake in the world (1,620 m) with 20 percent of the Earth’s fresh water. Not yet.
43. Ayers Rock (known now by the Aboriginal name of Uluru), Australia. This inselberg of nearly vertical Precambrian strata is about 2.5 kilometers long and more than 350 meters high. Not yet. Okay, I get the idea. I need to travel more internationally.
44. Devil’s Tower, northeastern Wyoming, to see a classic example of columnar jointing – Done. Circumambulated and GigaPanned.
45. The Alps.Done. Swiss and Italian Alps and Trinity Alps, anyhow. Haven’t been to the Austrian, Dinaric, or New Zealand Alps yet.
46. Telescope Peak, in Death Valley National Park. From this spectacular summit you can look down onto the floor of Death Valley – 11,330 feet below. Not yet. I’ve been to Badwater and Dante’s View, though.
47. The Li River, China, to see the fantastic tower karst that appears in much Chinese art. Not yet.
48. The Dalmation Coast of Croatia, to see the original Karst. Not yet.
49. The Gorge of Bhagirathi, one of the sacred headwaters of the Ganges, in the Indian Himalayas, where the river flows from an ice tunnel beneath the Gangatori Glacier into a deep gorge. Not yet.
50. The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah, an impressive series of entrenched meanders – Done. See them in a cubic QTVR I shot.
51. Shiprock, New Mexico, to see a large volcanic neck. Remarkably, not yet. Shiprock has been way high on my list, but I haven’t made it there yet.
52. Land’s End, Cornwall, Great Britain, for fractured granites that have feldspar crystals bigger than your fist. Not yet.
53. Tierra del Fuego, Chile and Argentina, to see the Straights of Magellan and the southernmost tip of South America. Not yet.
54. Mount St. Helens, Washington, to see the results of recent explosive volcanism – Done. Here’s what I saw.
55. The Giant’s Causeway and the Antrim Plateau, Northern Ireland, to see polygonally fractured basaltic flows. Not yet.
56. The Great Rift Valley in Africa. Not yet.
57. The Matterhorn, along the Swiss/Italian border, to see the classic “horn” – Done.. Seen it from Zermatt; haven’t climbed it.
58. The Carolina Bays, along the Carolinian and Georgian coastal plain – Done. Seen at sunset.
59. The Mima Mounds near Olympia, Washington. Not yet.
60. Siccar Point, Berwickshire, Scotland, where James Hutton (the “father” of modern geology) observed the classic unconformity. Not yet.
61. The moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death ValleyDone. Spring Break trip, somewhere back in grad school.
62. Yosemite ValleyDone. Though one is never really done with the Incomparable Valley.
63. Landscape Arch (or Delicate Arch) in Utah – Done. Haven’t seen Landscape, but I will count Delicate Arch, though somehow my photos of it aren’t yet up on the web.
64. The Burgess Shale in British Columbia. Not yet.
65. The Channeled Scablands of central Washington. Not yet.
66. Bryce CanyonDone. Queens Garden Trail QTVR.
67. Grand Prismatic Spring at YellowstoneDone. But no photographs – guess I need to get back to Yellowstone!
68. Monument ValleyDone. QTVR Panorama
69. The San Andreas faultDone. Did my Ph.D. on its early offset history. Somehow I don’t have a digital photo of it, though.
70. The dinosaur footprints in La Rioja, Spain. Not yet. Picky, picky. What’s wrong with these dinosaur footprints?
71. The volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands. Not yet.
72. The Pyrennees Mountains. Not yet.
73. The Lime Caves at Karamea on the West Coast of New Zealand. Not yet.
74. Denali (an orogeny in progress). Not yet.
75. A catastrophic mass wasting eventDone. (I don’t need to be there during the event, do I?) Recent: Goulais River Landslide (within 24 hours). Ancient: Rader Slide.
76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National ParkDone. Like these?
77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches)Done.. Black & Green. White, too.
78. Barton Springs in Texas. Not yet.
79. Hells Canyon in Idaho. Not yet.
80. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in ColoradoDone. Pre-digital photography.
81. The Tunguska Impact site in Siberia. Not yet.
82. Feel an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0. Not yet. Curiously I slept through the Landers, CA M7.3 quake (my field assistant felt it) but have only felt two much smaller quakes (in New Jersey and Hawaii) myself.
83. Find dinosaur footprints in situ. Not yet. I assume you mean discover them as opposed to visiting ones that have already been found.
84. Find a trilobite (or a dinosaur bone or any other fossil) – Done. Phacops Rana, Devonian Hamilton Group, central New York state.
85. Find gold, however small the flakeDone. Panned successfully for gold (small visible flakes) in Point Reyes National Park. Had to leave it on the beach.
86. Find a meteorite fragment. Not yet.
87. Experience a volcanic ashfall. Not yet.
88. Experience a sandstorm. Not yet – though we get quite a bit of dust blowin’ in the wind here in western Kansas.
89. See a tsunami. Not yet.
90. Witness a total solar eclipse. Not yet.
91. Witness a tornado firsthand. (Important rules of this game). Not yet, though I’ve seen the devastation that they can leave behind firsthand.
92. Witness a meteor storm, a term used to describe a particularly intense (1000+ per minute) meteor shower. Not yet. <1000/minute I’ve seen.
93. View Saturn and its moons through a respectable telescope. Not yet, though I’ve seen Jupiter and its moons through my binoculars.
94. See the Aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights.Done. First time at Colgate University, Hamilton, NY. Subsequently a number of times in Wisconsin.
95. View a great naked-eye comet, an opportunity which occurs only a few times per centuryDone. Comet Hyakutake, 1996.
96. See a lunar eclipseDone. Best one I saw was while I was an undergrad at Colgate.
97. View a distant galaxy through a large telescope. Not yet.
98. Experience a hurricane. Not yet. Tropical Storm (David), but not a full-blown hurricane.
99. See noctilucent clouds. Not yet. (At least I don’t think so.)
100. See the green flash. Not yet.

By my count that’s 55/100 fully completed, with a couple of other partials.

I’m going to continue to add photos as I get old slides scanned and older digital photos geotagged. It’s been a wonderful trip down memory lane!

P.S. How did Mono Lake get left off this list?!?

GeoMeme: High Peaks Edition!

How long have I been blogging? Long enough that I’ve already got a high peak post, predating the emergence of the greater Geoblogosphere.

I won’t list all 51 peaks because my list of summited peaks is rather short: Mt. Washington, New Hampshire 6,288′, Mt. Marcy, New York 5,344′, Mt. Sunflower, Kansas 4,039′, and High Point, New Jersey 1,803′. Of those only Mt. Marcy and High Point did I ascend on foot (twice each) – though I did descend Mt. Washington on foot. Mount Sunflower, however, offers the greatest challenge to any of you mountaineers – pan around the QTVR and see if you can detect any topographic relief at all!

Summit of Mt. Sunflower, Kansas, April 1, 2006

Flatter than a pancake… indeed!

Where on (Google) Earth #156?

I was aware that Google Ocean (aka Google Earth 5) was going to be released on Monday so I wanted to wait until after folks had a chance to download and explore it a bit before posting the current Where on (Google) Earth? (WoGE) challenge. Since it’s been quite a while for many of you (WoGE #155 went on for months before I solved it last week), let me remind you that the object of the WoGE challenge series is to be the first to find and correctly identify the latitude and longitude of the feature in question, identify what it is and to describe what you can about its geology. The first person to successfully do both wins the honor of hosting the next Where on (Google) Earth? challenge. A list of past winners is (sporadically) maintained at (I’m working on getting it updated It’s up to date… for the moment).

Winning and hosting a WoGE is a great way to get your geoblog noticed, so newcomers are strongly encouraged to participate. To further this goal, I will invoke the Schott Rule (Post time: 4:15pm CST) – previous winners must wait at least one hour for each successfully solved WoGE before submitting a solution.

It would be remiss of me if I did not take advantage of the new capabilities in Google Earth 5 since I’ve waited this long to post this one. So download GE5 if you haven’t already done so and then you can dive into solving WoGE #156 (oblique submarine view):

Where on (Google) Earth #156.

Good luck and watch out for sharks.