Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fauna of Field Camp (Or, Nerdy Moments in Field Camp)

A few great moments in field camp so far:

Standing atop an oyster bed at 7500 feet with a 500+ foot drop behind me!

Lunching in the Midas Mine.

The Dump Chief. Oh the SMELL.


Acme. Fencing.

Wishing we could swim in the reservoir!

Roadkill at the end of a long mapping day.

(Reposted photo) These are not the drinking shoes.

Field Camp Flora

Some shots I've been collecting for the last couple of weeks from some of our mapping areas. More posts to follow in different categories.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Nevada, ho! (heheheheh)

Off to Nevada for more mapping and some mine tours. Back in four days, I think?

(We don't know many of the finer details of this mission - like what we're doing in terms of food, etc.)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Too tired to make a real post tonight . . .

Zebra leg
My next real post is going to be amazing. I've been gathering material for it for several days.
Our "day off" will be spent driving to Nevada.
I like mapping . . . a lot. Who knew.
Laundry. Mmmmm.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back from the field on time today! Today was part 1 of a two day field mapping project. The only comment I will make about it is that agates are present in the Quaternary wash. No surprise, since we were finding them in southern Utah washes back in March, but still cool to come across.

Still haven't mailed myself the shots from my cell phone, but here are a few other fun pictures from the last three days!

This is the Chateau Apres. Hoity-toity-sounding name, no? This has been the site of the Wasatch-Uinta field camp for about 40 years now, and according to the directors, hasn't changed much in that time. It's in very good condition and considerably more modest than most of the places around here. Food's pretty decent as well. We carry sandwiches into the field, and one must be downstairs by 6:20 am to get the sandwiches you prefer!

This was taken at about 10000 feet. I'm estimating, so for all I know I'm 1000 ft off one way or the other. This is looking back toward SLC and Park City. This is from Empire Pass.

Huge oysters in Jurassic age sandstones. Frontier Fm. This one is about 9 inches long and apparently these get up to one foot long! That's some serious aphrodisiac.

This was making everyone nervous yesterday. We had the cold air mass that produced the snow this morning forming those clouds and a decent amount of rain for the climate here, and there were heading directly for us. The system was producing strong, chilly headwinds that were pretty much cancelling out any warmth we were getting from the sun at that point (a considerable amount!).

Just a neat shot during a break from today's mapping.

Stinky boot garden after our triumphant return!


This is one of the first things I saw today. It's 6:30 am here and it's 34 degrees out.

. . . Welcome to Utah.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Short Post Today

Sorry, no pics yet. Some are downloaded from the camera and still need to e-mail the ones I took on my cell phone to myself. Maybe I'll do that between sites tomorrow.

-Overdressed this morning. Better than underdressing! Being a Midwesterner, it's easy to forget how much one warms up in the sun out here despite the cool morning temperatures.

- ~1/3 mile hike up the Wasatch Fault at our first stop. I'm acclimated to 600-850 foot elevations, having grown up in a basin. : ) We're at roughly 7000 feet, and the atmosphere thins on a more or less logarithmic scale. What does that mean? 1/3 of a mile up a mountain face and I'm panting like I just sprinted a mile. For that matter, so was everyone else. We'll be acclimated in a couple of days, thankfully, and then we can start the "real" geology instead of just hanging out at road cuts.

-Speaking of which, we were looking at a Permian age outcrop at one of our sites, and someone drove by, shouting, "FIND A DINOSAUR!!" Hee hee. I wish, except for the small problem that, um, dinosaurs came a few million years later.

-Large black beetles around these parts really seem to like hanging out on the back of your neck.

-One day in the field and I'm sunburned. Some will fade overnight as usual, but I am definitely breaking out the long sleeves tomorrow.

-Do not, I repeat, do NOT, sit in an ant pile. I don't care if you aren't aware it's there. Thankfully no fire ants. Regardless, these buggers are VERY temperamental.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Eagle Has Landed!

And the Chateau has wireless, which only started working after I reset my Airport card twice.

I'm at nearly 7000 ft. elevation, and it's mostly clear. Currently about 60F with light winds, so overall VERY pleasant!

Took us three days to get here. We left Friday morning and camped that night just west of Omaha, in a little state recreation area in Louisville. Louisville appeared to be largely industrial and likely a major stop on the transcontinental rail lines. The park bore evidence of the recent nasty weather, as most of the empty campsites had several inches of standing water. We picked out a dry campsite, only to find out it was literally 30 feet from the train tracks and every time a train came through, it sounded like it was going to derail, especially to those of us with very active imaginations!

We left around 8 am the next morning and struck out again along I-80, then took I-76 when it branched off at the Nebraska-Colorado borderline and headed for Denver, where we met up with a recent MSU geology grad who attended field camp last year. We grabbed dinner at a local brewery and hit up a few bars later.

Nursing a hangover this morning, I deferred the first driving shift and napped for a while, then took the second shift, fighting one hell of a wind the entire time. The drive home will be nice -- we'll have a prevailing tailwind and gas mileage will be otherworldly (the good kind, not the otherworldly we saw on the way over here).

So that meant back on 25 north to get back on 80, then we took 80 through Wyoming (LONG, barren, cold drive) and into Park City. I probably knew at some point that Park City was one of the Olympic affiliates of the Salt Lake Games, but hadn't thought anything of it till we got into the city and started seeing world-class ski jumps and Olympics 2002 stuff everywhere. Very clean, organized, nice-looking city. Affluent -- many of the houses probably go for half a million at lowest around here.

Dinner's at 6, and it's 5:42. Time to go see if I can move the car to a proper spot, then prep for dinner! Pictures to come later!

Friday, June 6, 2008


Wednesday, June 4, 2008


One more post for the night! I can't resist.

As all (approximately two) of my readers may know, I'm a fan of sunsets. Sunrises are cool too, if not more, however that involves hauling my arse out of bed in the mornings to see them!

Anyway, here's a pretty cool picture from NASA's Image of the Day series of a sunset on Mars, taken by the Spirit rover.

Thanks to BoingBoing for posting this!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Noonday (at Midnight!)

T-minus 2 days till Utah!

Or maybe 3 . . .

In the meantime, enjoy a close-up of the famed Neoproterozoic-era Noonday Dolomite (Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley, CA). Sorry for the lack of scale; the bands are roughly centimeter-scale. Another of the Great Geological Mysteries of the planet, its formation is contested. When we discussed possible origins while visiting the site in March 2007, the popular hypothesis was that the banding is of biogenic origin (GSA abstract for the curious). If so, it would be similar to examples of Late Archean banded iron formations (BIFs), which originated as stromatolites. Later, sediments entrained between algae layers lithified and under went diagenesis or other processes to become these BIFs. Similar processes may have produced the Noonday Dolomite.

Mosaic Canyon is one of the many slot canyons found in Death Valley. The color and banding of the dolomite is well-preserved because of the extreme dry conditions. However, water is one of the primary forces sculpting the rock into such incredibly smooth (and really slippery!) surfaces. At left is a (kinda bad) photo looking down one of the narrow channels incised in the dolomite by fast-moving waters and sediment. Again, apologies for a lack of scale in the photo - the width of the "channel" (obviously not the main channel) is approximately a foot and a half wide. Most dolomites found in the field tend to be greyish as a result of regular weathering and are unremarkable in appearance.

Death Valley is a cool place. For a taste of some more of the myriad geologic interests of the area, check out the Wikipedia overview: Geology of Death Valley.

Webmomster had the rest of my Death Valley pictures online, but I can't seem to find them. Oh well -- ask and you shall receive!

Guess I should start packing for field camp . . .