Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Petrology-the great debate!

So this semester I am teaching petrology lab. As a sedimentologist this is slightly terrifying but as a geochemist, I'm excited! However, there is one thing both sides agree on:

Sanidine vs. Plagioclase.

My students have their first lab practical this week and its on volcanic rocks. I can help them identify almost every mineral they have seen in thin section except sanidine, for which I have apologized profusely and assured them it gets easier from here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

New Beginnings

I have been absolutely slacking in posting (what's new right?)  So, what's new in the almost year its been since I posted last?  Well, let me tell you. I am an official graduate student in geosciences at Colorado State University!!  Woot! I am working with the AIRIE program using Re/Os geochronology to date/characterize marine shales. I don't have my specific project yet, but I should soon.  I am also a GTA for Mineralogy (three lab sections) which is taking up a good amount of time, but I love it.  Just thought I'd check in!

Hopefully another post this weekend with some updates from last summer!

I leave you with a geology pun I sent to my class the other day.
-Why did the hiker turn around and run so abruptly?
-Because of the barite there on the trail.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fancy Lady Geology and Plate Tectonics!

A couple weeks ago I got married in a very small but fun and no-stress wedding in the Colorado National Monument. I say no stress, but we did get married practically on one of the largest faults in the area, the Redlands Fault! Here is a pic with the Wingate Formation backdrop.

Ah, Nature!

For the wedding I decided to go outside my comfort zone and get acrylic nails for the first time in my can see them here, along with the best wedding ring ever... functional white-gold lego ring!

Even a pretty flower on the ring finger.

Well, you can put fake nails on a geologist, but you can't keep her from thinking about geology. As the nails have grown out over the past couple weeks, instead of thinking about removing them, I started thinking about plate tectonics. From early on in geology we are exposed to the saying that plates move about as fast as your fingernails grow. Now, I had a way to see exactly which plate my nails were most like!

Exhibit one:
Good ol' pinky finger.
Yellow lines denote the edge of the fake nail and the edge of the cuticle.  This was the slowest growing nail at 2 mm or so in 18 days.

Exhibit two:
Still a pretty flower under there somewhere.
Again yellow denoting the growth region. This was the fastest nail at about 3 mm in 18 days.

After a little dimensional analysis and using 365.25 days per year the pinky came to a growth rate of 4.1 cm/year and the ring finger came to 6.1 cm/year.  Using a Google image search I pulled up a map from ASU with relative plate velocities I can now say my nails grow faster than the Mid-Atlantic Ridge spreads!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cat Clast Imbrication

A special geokitteh post.  I bring you two instances of cat imbrication!

The fluffy cat clast is hiding in this picture.

Not sure how the fat cat clast managed to get only one blind on the other side of her.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Monday, and myself back to actual productive school work.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Valley of Fire State Park: Part Deux!

After leaving the White Domes trail we headed back down the road to an "unofficial" but well traveled trail to  Valley of Fire State Park's version of the Wave.  I did expect a bit larger of a wave as most pictures online had no scale. That being said, it was a great little hike and the wave was still darn purty!

Red and white waves "breaking" on the sandstone.

Trying to get to the front of the Wave. From base to crest it is roughly 5 meters.  

Looking west from the wave to several more wavy patterned  rocks.

Looking north from the Wave. The deep red outcrop is aptly named the Rock of Gibraltar
The next stop along the way boasted several petroglyphs as well as French folks. An entire tour bus full o' French had disembarked on the trail ahead of us.  I put on my best accent and  "pardonez moi"ed as we slipped by them on the trail.  At one point, I did hear a woman call another a salope, which is bitch, and then laughed to myself as that is one of my remaining vocab words from studying the language years ago. Ahem....back to the trail.  Several examples of petroglyphs lined the canyons walls.

Picture enlarged to show detail.  

Not quite as full as newspaper rock outside Canyonlands, but still impressive for a lesser known park.
 The trail ended at a small steep slot canyon with several pot holes that collect rainwater, the main reason this was a place to stay in the desert. It was however, very difficult to get a picture into the potholes without finding yourself in one.

I swear the watering hole is below the foreground.
Heading back on the trail I was able to use a little more French and converse with someone that is was in fact "trรจs chaud" (very hot).  The last canyon on this segment of the road was Fire Canyon. It was a fairly narrow canyon with no trail, but the overlook was great. You can see the older grey rocks of the thrust fault in the background.

The color difference in from the upper part of the Aztec Sandstone (whiteish) to the lower part (reddish).

The rest of the park was mostly driving around and looking at various outcrops shaped like things. There was a Grand Piano:

It's about twice the size of a normal grand piano.

There was an arch:

Hello! I'm an arch!
 And some beehives:


Though I can say I am spoiled having Arches NP and Canyonlands NP within a couple hours driving distance, not to mention Colorado NM within 10 minutes, Valley of Fire State Park is definitely worth seeing if you have the opportunity.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Valley of Fire State Park-Part One

This May my dad and I took a road trip to California to see my sister graduate from college. We took our time and made some detours on the way there. One of those was to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. It is home to large outcrops of the Aztec Sandstone (time correlative to the Navaho Sandstone seen across the Colorado Plateau) and several settlements of past cultures. We drove in from the east entrance and stopped at the first outcrop with a sign.

As the sign says, it is indeed Elephant Rock.
The problem was the short trail to see it wound around so many other possible elephants, once you actually found this one, it wasn't nearly as impressive.  It was enough however to inspire us to see elephants in just about every other outcrop in the park.

That could have been an elephant in the left half of the picture...right?

On the way to the Visitor Center we saw the Seven Sisters outcrop which had a few little picnic sites situated within their crevasses.

There could be considered more than seven, but we'll go with it.
As we continued on, the mountains/hills to the left looked a little suspicious:

What are those red rocks doing under those suspicious grey upper layers?

I decided there had to be some sort of thrust or detachment fault in there and sure enough in the Visitor Center my suspicions were confirmed.  Those are grey Paleozoic carbonates and shales overlying the reds of the Mesozoic sandstones and mudstones.

Click for a larger image if you want to see the trace of the fault.
From the the Visitor Center we moved on to the White Domes Trail.  It's a short loop hike through some of the more colorful outcrops of the Aztec Sandstone.

The upper meters of the Aztec display beautiful mixtures of oranges, pinks and reds.
 The wind and water carved out some short, but deep slot canyons along the trail.

One of the slot canyons on the loop hike with a dad for scale.
 The area had been effected tectonically as there are a multitude of normal and reverse faults running through the park as well as the thrust fault mentioned earlier in the post. The evidence can be seen throughout the sandstones on this trail.

One small fault in the slot canyons. 

Deformation bands (DB2's for those in the know) displaying ladder structure.
And have I mentioned the colors yet?

Wonderful contrast of the pastels against the brilliant oranges and reds.

This ends the first portion of Valley of Fire State Park.  The second half, which was still the same day but would make for quite the long blog post, will be up in the next week!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Welcome and Accretionary Wedge #57

Welcome to the new blog set up!  If you have come here via Clastic Fill, I hope you find this blog just as exciting as the last one. Well, more so, as the reason for setting up the new blog is in the interest of being more active. In honor of new beginnings, my contribution to this month's Accretionary Wedge is something I found while ripping up carpet in the new house.  Submitted for your viewing pleasure, the wooden floor spreading ridge:

Never know what you can uncover in old houses.

This spreading ridge sits over the central support of the house and as the edges settle, the center is apparently staying put a little better. look at those beautiful slip faults bounding the divergent wood "plates".

Anyway, welcome to the new set up and I hope you enjoy!