Friday, February 27, 2009

Snow and Ice Job Postings

A friend passed this list along to me and I thought others might like to know what snow and ice research positions are available. Good luck for anyone applying.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Accretionary Wedge - Where would I go... the desert of course!

For the Accretionary Wedge Carnival, we were challenged to make a list of what we felt were the top 100 places to visit for geologists. Well, I’m going to deviate from that a bit. Instead of recommending exact places to visit, as geologists, I think we should be listing features to visit and possible locations where those features can be observed. The point of seeing an example (or several examples) of a feature is to broaden our perspective and make us better geologists.

My contribution to the Carnival this month is to list the deserts of the world and those I have visited. Any one of which would be a fantastic addition to the 100 places to visit. Now, we could get bogged down in terminology defining what is or is not a desert (I have my opinion <200 mm of rainfall/yr, others have theirs), but I prefer to keep it more general.

Why deserts? Well, it may be a little selfish because I study deserts, but it is also a cool place to see some neat geology (and ecology).

Here are the world deserts alphabetical by continent. Extra details can be found at Principal Deserts of the World. (They have a nice table, but didn't want to infringe on any copyright)

Kalahari - Any chance to visit sub-Saharan Africa should include a visit here.
Namib - My favorite desert. This region has been a desert for almost 70 million years. It also contains some of the tallest dunes and hosts diamond mines along the southern coast. I have heard they used to find the diamonds by their reflection in the moonlight. And did anyone else notice the desert scenes in "The Cell" are the Namib desert? Others may have "Shawshank Redemption," I have "The Cell."
Sahara – actually composed of multiple ergs (sand seas). In searching for Where on GoogleEarth challenges, I have often wandered over to Libya. I think Libya has some of the coolest aerial exposures of geology on the planet. Check it out some time or argue for a better location.

Antarctic - In case you didn't already know, this counts as a polar desert.

Arctic - Polar desert.

Kara-Kum - I haven't studied this desert much and it looks like it's wiki page could use some work. If only there were more hours in a day.
Gobi – Actaully, not very sandy. But I would love to visit especially after seeing the Mongolian culture in "Long Way Round."

Great Sandy
Great Victoria
Simpson and Sturt Stony

North America:
Mojave - The only North American desert I have not visited. Bummer, I know.
Sonoran - The Sonoroan Desert is absolutely beautiful and has some of the greatest ecological diversity I have ever seen in a desert.
Chihuahuan - I've driven through much of the Chihuahuan Desert, but never made it into Mexico.
Great Basin - Been through here too, but have not made it to Great Basin National Park.
Colorado Plateau - Yeah, doing field work in this region isn't too shabby.

South America:
Patagonian - "I'm being followed by a rain shadow, rain shadow-rain shadow..."

Specifically, I think everyone should visit a desert with active dunes. Dune fields are excellent places to think about and witness how fluid moves particles. Unless you are watching flume experiments or underwater cameras, it can be difficult to see how water moves particles around. (Smaller particles, there is plenty of video showing debris flows pushing boulders around.) In the desert landscape you can also see how changing wind directions and speeds influence the topography on many scales. If you are so inclined, running along the dune face may produce avalanche deposits and sometimes they sing!

Currently, Nick Lancaster is working on compiling an atlas of Quaternary dune fields. There are hundreds of dune fields (especially if you start counting coastal dune fields) so I will just list out the dune fields I have visited.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area - My first dune field visit. Often windy and when the wind really gets whipping, the ankle biting gets intense.
Bruneau Dunes State Park – two really massive dunes that have converged leaving a circular sand free void in the center. Climbing down into the sand free zone is really cool and a little eerie. The GoogleEarth image (I have the kmz but have forgotten how to post it) has very nice resolution, but it doesn’t portray the creepiness factor. The circular floor is a different color (pink gravel), completely calm and quiet except for the occasional grain avalanching of the walls, and often contains a few small carcasses and insects. I don’t spook easily, but this is easily one of the weirdest places I have been.
St. Anthony Sand Dunes - Really beautiful in the winter with eolian snow and sand features mixing. Too bad there is a lot of ORV traffic, especially if they post a wilderness study area sign, grrr.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes Very few camping spots. Try hitting up the undeveloped campsite if it’s full. The pink color is not the only cool part about these dunes.
White Sands National Park What can I say, beautiful and pristine white gypsum sand dunes as far as the eye can see. I’ll post some photos below.

And no, I still have not made it to Great Sand Dunes National Park. It's next on my list!

Heavily bioturbated dune at White Sands National Monument


Microbes living in the moist sediment below the interdune surface.

Surfs up!

Landslide Laboratory Video

While working on a post for the Accretionary Wedge and Carnival of the Arid, I came across this video. It is a 5 minute piece on a landslide laboratory in Oregon.
In the video Mark Reid, Dick Iverson, and Rick Lahusen describe their experiements. I thought is was pretty neat so am passing it along. Enjoy.
It looks like the USGS Landslide Hazards Program runs this outdoor laboratory. A summary of their research and publications are located here.

Picture Travelog - Uncompaghre Uplift

The post at Arizona Geology about uranium mine tailings cleanup reminded me of a trip I took down to southern Utah. On my traverse around the region (looking at the top of the Navajo Sandstone) I drove through the Uncompaghre Uplift in Colorado (Moab, UT Rt 191 along the Las Salle Mnts to Rt 46 to Paradox, CO to Rt 141 to Grand Junction, CO).
The small little valley in this steep walled canyon was so beautiful that my first thoughts were "I could retire here." Now, I'm a little young to be thinking about retirement, but it struck a cord in me.

What reminded me about this trip was the mention of the nearby Uranium mine. I witnessed the operations from the roadway for a bit before continuing onwards. Unfortunately, I did not grab any pictures. Along the way, I also stopped at a geologic/historic stop and I am glad I did. There I saw this display and evidence for a hanging flume from placer gold mining.

The display reads:
"In need of water to work its Dolores Canyon gold claims, the Montrose Placer Mining Company built a thirteen-mile canal and flume to deliver water from the San Miguel River. The last five miles of the flume clung to the wall of the canyon itself, running along the cliff face below you."

(See it along the wall?)

"Constructed between 1888 and 1891, the four-foot-deep, five-foot-four-inch-wide "hanging flume" carried 23,640,000 gallons of water in a twenty four hour period. Its construction dazzled mining pros with its sheer ingenuity. The placer claim, unfortunately, dazzled no one; after three years of indifferent yields the company folded, abandoning the flume to the ravages of weather and time. Now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this engineering marvel symbolizes the twists of fate so often encountered in the pursuit of Rocky Mountain gold."

Display Picture Captions:
"What is left of this section of the flume can be seen today from the River Road.-Jerald Reid Collection from Main Street Photo"

"This work will show how easy it is, when backed up by enterprising capital, to bring water from and to points which were always thought to be inaccessible. -Engineering and Mining Journal, Jan 1890"

"Hydraulic mining operation similar to that used by the Montrose Placer Mining Company. This method separated flake and flour gold from the dirt and gravel running across the sluice boxes. -Colorado Historical Society"

Even though I was there to ogle the sandstones, I was pretty impressed with the construction feat. All the rappelling that would have been done to build this for five miles... They don't make 'em like that anymore.

Looking through my pictures for this trip, I've got a lot of pretty good ones. I'll try and post them as blog posts. Perhaps I can trigger some memory recall for others. If it's anything like the fondness I have for this trip, then as Martha Stewart says "It's a good thing."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Super Cool! - Paper water bottles

I just saw this on one of the cooking blogs I frequent. Paper water bottles. Recyclable and made from sustainable materials. Not only is it a water bottle but, it can be conveniently sold as tear apart six packs and cases with minimal outer packaging.
I was a little concerned that their utility might be lost since they are not resealable, but they do have a sanitary top (not sure if it's leakproof) for the bottle and they have thought about how to reduce litter while maintaining necessary sanitation.
At first, I was hoping this would replace all the soda cans manufactured, but I doubt this paper product can withstand carbonated water pressures. But, I would love to get all the milk I drink (2 gallons a week) in paper bottles. Individual juice boxes, bottled water (if you must buy the stuff), and it could even replace yogurt and sour cream containers. Too cool. Companies, you have a waiting consumer.