Saturday, June 16, 2018

African Rue, an Invasive Species

As I go through photo files of 2015 & 2016 travels, some plants resist identification.

African Rue (Peganum harmala) is one of these. It is an Invasive Species, apparently brought to the Deming, New Mexico area about 1930, for possible use as "Iranian red" dye.

The plant decided it liked the area so much, it started to spread, primarily through southern New Mexico, West Texas, Arizona, and parts of California and Oregon.

It is toxic to humans and livestock, but livestock usually avoid it because of its bad taste, unless they are sick or starving. Apparently, studies of the toxic seeds by pharmaceutical companies suggest a possible use as an antidepressant.

Because of its characteristic deep taproots, it is difficult to uproot. And it is a prodigious producer of seeds.

Now that I have learned about this plant, the soft "frilly" leaves seem to be a good identifier, though Tumbleweed (aka Russian Thistle) - also invasive - sort of have "frilly" narrow leaves, too.

(This particular photo was taken in 2015 at the I-10 Allamore - Hot Wells exit, east of Sierra Blanca.  This exit is the one for the Eagle Mts.)


Monday, June 11, 2018

As the Spirit Moves Me...

Not to make excuses for my absences,...

Years ago, I used to have the idea that, as I got older, "life would be simpler", as I would "have everything figured out".  Not a chance.

Anyway, when I began teaching at a junior college in 2001, I started leading short on-campus "field trips", in lieu of the class routines in my Geology and Environmental Science classes.  The particular campus on the Georgia Piedmont was adequate for Physical Geology (metamorphic rocks, erosion, soils, creek dynamics, geomorphology) and even better for Environmental Science.

I found that in order to more effectively retain student attention in the Environmental Science field trips, I needed to teach myself more about the local flora and fauna, as well as the "local" Exotic Species.  In other words, I needed to become more well-rounded in my science knowledge.  (This would be beneficial a few years later when my son entered Cub Scouts and then Boy Scouts.)

As college-level teaching and being an Assistant Scoutmaster are now - apparently - in my past, I still retain a strong drive to continually learn more about aspects of nature beyond "just Geology", i.e., when time permits, I spend as much time photographing wildflowers (and other living things) as I do photographing Geology.

Thus "as the spirit moves me", I plan to post random wildflower, bird, bug, mushroom,, as these living things are important components of their respective ecosystems.  As plants form the "base" of every consequential ecosystem and local food web, the soil often influences the local plant community.  Common and scientific names will be included to facilitate further internet searches.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


It goes on daily.  

Or at least I try to learn something daily, whether it be Geology, Biology, Ecology, Environmental Science, Photography, Botany, History,...

(Whisper, whisper,...this is to partially-offset what has been forgotten over the years.)

Yesterday, it was the Vulcanology-related use of "boca" (Spanish for "mouth").  My first exposure to the term was at Capulin Volcano in northeastern New Mexico in the summer of 2015.

There is a good resource available, "High Plains of Northeastern New Mexico: A Guide to Geology and Culture", New Mexico Bureau Geology & Mineral Resources; Scenic Trip Series, Number 19.  (2005) Muelhberger, Muehlberger, and Price.

(Screenshot below from this source.)

High plains of northeastern New Mexico : a guide to geology and culture

Originally, I purchased this book while planning a 2009 summer vacation for my first wife, son, and me.  After visiting relatives in NW Oklahoma, the plan was to go a bit "beyond there", as finances and time permitted.

But "as we make our plans, life happens".  As the summer of 2009 approached, my son in-law had a job interview in NYC and my daughter didn't want to be left alone at home with a 3 month-old son.  So she planned to drive her SUV with my wife and I rented a Plymouth PT Cruiser for my son and I to caravan to Oklahoma and back.  [The "NYC gig" lasted for about two years, deemed to be good for a short bit, but too expensive.  So they came back to Georgia.]

On the 2009 journey, as 3 month-old Ben was not used to be in a car seat for long distances, he screamed incessantly, frazzling my daughter, the new Mom.  Frequent stops were necessary, as she didn't know if he was hungry, wet, dirty, or just dissatisfied with the car seat with his vocal protestations.  We got to Oklahoma to see the inlaws and so they could meet their first great-grandchild.

Not wanting to be on the road for longer than needed, the NM trip was nixed.  And my absorption of the book was no longer needed.

As we planned to go by Dallas on the way back to see more relatives and frequent "Ben stops" were necessary, once we got to I-35 south of Oklahoma City, my son and I were able to take the short back road (US Hwy 77) through the Arbuckle Mts. and I did get some "geo-photos" and a few rock samples (pictures in a later post), before we hooked back up via cellphone.

After returning to Georgia, the book went back on the shelf until the tumultuous summer of 2015.  In the interim, my only thought about the discarded plans were "I want to visit Capulin Volcano, someday".

(Story to be continued on "Itinerent Geologist", soon.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Memory Lane Visit

Lurching down Memory Lane, when one memory triggers another...(don't know why sometimes.)
Twenty years ago, while still working for the Georgia Geologic Survey, we were redirected to complete a USGS-funded stream sediment study across the southernmost tier of Georgia counties, from the Alabama line to the Atlantic Coast, perhaps comprising 20% of Georgia's 159 counties.
If memory serves me correctly, it was to study the trace minerals, i.e., minerals which contained rare elements, within the stream sediments we collected. There were EPD employees from various branches. (Though it was during January and February, it was a welcome break from the routine for a few weeks.)
The particular memory was of one of my GGS coworkers being paired up with a Biologist from another EPD branch. Now as I have been a beer can collector, as well as a general packrat for decades, I sometimes pick up old stuff while in the field. Nothing unusual there, though I think this particular coworker didn't have any "side hobbies" as I do and I gathered that he "looked down his nose" at my "low brow" collecting interests.
Perhaps as some sort of karmic payback, my coworker was paired up with a female Biologist that had an interesting "side hobby". She like to gather fresh (or relatively fresh) roadkill, take her treasures home, boil them down to retrieve the bones and reassemble the skeletons.
I was using an EPD pickup truck with a hinged bed-cover, while my coworker was using some sort of EPD passenger car. This is important, as while my sediment samples (and any old beer cans and such) went into the bed of the pickup, the Biologist's dead animals went into the trunk of the car (into a Styrofoam cooler, which isn't air-tight). Over the course of each week, she picked up several dead critters that added their "aromas" to the ambiance of the car, resulting in the need to keep the windows open.
Each morning, we gathered at the motel as I gave them their maps and suggested collecting locales for the day (on a grid pattern). When this coworker complained about his field partner's collecting habits, I couldn't help but ask him which he preferred, my old rusty beer cans or her dead animals, which triggered an epiphany for him, as he gave me a look which said: "Do you even have to ask?". (I was no longer the craziest person he knew. I think he did manage to get her assigned to another vehicle for the last week or so.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


Aside from being a nifty word for Scrabble, "Xenolith" is an important component of the concepts of "Inclusions" and "Relative Age Dating".

For a quick review, a Xenolith is a piece of pre-existing rock that "falls" into a body of magma in which the temperatures are not hugh enough to assimilate the "foreign rock".  As the xenolith is an already-solidified piece of rock, it is older that the "host magma" (or lava) into which it falls.  Thus, within the xenolith/host rock relationship, the inclusion (xenolith) is always older than the host rock.

My best luck at collecting Xenoliths has been in Kilbournes Hole, New Mexico and the Eagle Mts., Texas (decades ago) and the back lot of a granite monument cutting business, west of Elberton, GA (below and next post).

In this particular Franklin Mts. outcrop (below), there are at least two sets of Xenoliths, the black basalt/disbase blocks and the greenish-gray contact-metamorphosed limestone, both of which "fell" into the Proterozoic Red Bluff Granite magma. 
This second photo, immediately west and uphill of the above, shows remnants of a larger Castner Marble (limestone) xenolith.

This photo is of a xenolith in the East Quarry area of Stone Mt., Dekalb County, Georgia.
 This particular xenolith is from the Elberton Granite.  [This image was "squared-off" - using Photoshop - for education purposes.]
In the case of the Mantle Xenoliths erupted in "volcanic bombs" at Kilbournes Hole, New Mexico, the ultramafic fragments were carried upward by the basaltic magma and erupted in a "Maar Volcano" setting.

Previous bloggings about the subject:

Kilbournes Hole, NM 

What a Geologist Sees - Part 3

What a Geologist Sees - Part 13

What a Geologist Sees - Part 14

Boulder xenolith, Eagle Mts., TX  

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Life Changes

As life continues to evolve,...

Got married a few days ago.  Moving about 25 miles to my bride's existing home, including books, rocks, and such.  Job changes.

2018 New Year's Resolutions will give a new impetus to resume blogging.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Will be back soon.

I am not doing a mental "walkabout", just busy with daily tasks, including cleaning up remaining debris from Irma's visit last week.  Nothing major, though we were without electricity for almost three days.