Thursday, January 3, 2019

My Favorite 40+ Year-old Specimens - #2

From internet searches, the Graptolite specimens in this unidentified northern Utah shale appear to be of the Didymograptus genus, of the Ordovician Period.  How I acquired my first Graptolites follows.

During the summer of 1974, my then-roommate (Dave) at Georgia Southern and I embarked upon a multi-week 8,800-mile road trip across the Western U.S. (the subject of an ongoing writing project - before we forget all of the details).  The primary reasons were; 1) To buy Coors Beer, and 2) Visit Yellowstone National Park (as well as some other National Parks visited the year before with my family).  Without delving into further details, at the time, Coors was only sold in 11 Western states.

[Without realizing it, this 1974 road trip was a "watershed event", in that - at age 20 1/2 - it was my first "big journey" without my parents and it gave me the confidence to leave the Southeast and move to El Paso for graduate school in early-1977 and engage in future solo road trips.]

As Dave and I had to keep "an eye on the calendar" (we had to return to Statesboro, Georgia to begin our Junior year), there was a need to cover as much ground as possible on those days we weren't visiting relatives or National Parks.  Thus Geology/Photo stops were kept to an absolute minimum. This was also necessary to "keep the peace" as Dave had no interest in Geology and Photography was only for taking scenic shots at National Parks and such.  [I myself had not yet been "bitten by the photo bug".  That being the case, asking to borrow my Dad's 35mm Minolta camera for the trip slipped my mind, to my eternal regret.  We had to "make do" with a Kodak Instamatic.] 

I have written elsewhere about the "angst of the traveling Geologist" (including here and here), not in reference to traveling for work, but when we travel by car on family vacations or road trips with non-Geologist friends (as was the case in 1974).  As the hundreds of miles clicked away on the odometer in our 1968 Pontiac Catalina wagon, once every few days, I "had to stop" to satisfy my curiosity.  [Another of my regrets is that I don't like keeping a diary or even a road travelog (though I have made some efforts towards keeping travel notes during my 2015 - 2017 western travels).  When I did stop, it didn't occur to me to make note of landmarks or locations.]

After leaving Yellowstone National Park on U.S. Hwy 20, we passed through a small sliver of Montana, then on into Idaho, towards Idaho Falls and then Pocatello.

On the previous year's family vacation, we had visited Salt Lake City and though it was off our planned route from Yellowstone towards southeast Oregon (then south into California), for some reason I wanted to revisit the Salt Lake City area.  Though other details are forgotten, we headed south from Pocatello, Idaho on I-15.  One of the times that Dave gave in to my sporadic requests to stop and look for fossils was somewhere on I-15 in northern Utah.  I was desperate to find any fossils amidst the roadside shale outcrop and when I found the Graptolite slab, it was enough of a "Wow! moment" for me to be satisfied. 


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

My Favorite 40+ Year-old Specimens - #1

The above-pictured fossil sand dollar is the probably the first "good fossil" that I collected on a Georgia Southern Geology field trip in late-1972 or early-1973.  The locality - at the time - was known as the Medusa Cement Co. quarry, a few miles southeast of Perry, Georgia on U.S. Hwy 341. To the best of my current knowledge, it now operates as the CEMEX quarry.  I intended to visit there on another field trip in early 2016 (I think), however heavy rains in the area discouraged visitors that lacked a good 4x4 vehicle (including tthe person with whom I was supposed to carpool with. 

The host formation is the Late Eocene Tivola Limestone, described by some as a "bryozoan hash".

The slightly darker portions of the sand dollar surface were naturally exposed by weathering and erosion and the remaining matix was friable enough that I was able to carefully clean it by way of a toothbrush, a soft paintbrush, and careful fingernail scrapings.  I didn't want to risk damage by attempting a complete matrix removal.  So, it is probably 90% as it was when I found it.

[References will be posted later.]

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Upcoming & Planned Posts

Sort of "New Year's Resolutions", as "normal" routines resume after the holidays.

Carrizozo Basalts (NM)

Verde Fm. (AZ)

Basin and Range Primer

Revisiting Elephants Feet (AZ)

Index for "What a Geologist Sees" posts

Revisiting the Geo-Bucket List

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

False Purple Thistle

Just a few thoughts on how we mature as field scientists (pardon my biases).  Partially due to my being an avid photographer, over the years of wandering about the great outdoors, I have become more observant of things besides rocks and other Geology-related things.  Having some working knowledge about plants, fungi, animals, etc. can help keep students attentive during field trips.  (After all, we ARE Earth Scientists.)

False Purple Thistle (Eryngium leavenworthii), I call it "a flower with an attitude".  I first encountered this plant on Caverns of Sonora Road, south of I-10, west of Sonora, Texas in 2016.  

It looks like a thistle, but it isn't.  It is native to KS, AR, OK, MO, TX, and WI and it seems to prefer limestone-based soils (as seen by this specimen on the Edwards Plateau, west of Sonora, TX).  It is usually found in rocky prairies and open woods.  The nectar is good for pollinators and the seeds serve as food for birds.

False Purple Thistle - Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
False Purple Thistle - Weedin, Waterin, Watchin Blog

A Two-Part Post...

Over at Itinerant Geologist on "Road Food", based upon my travels between Georgia and Arizona in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Part 1 - Today

Part 2 - November 14

Part 3 - TBA

As we have to eat, while we travel, right?

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Another Geology Blog...

...To be added to the Blogroll.

Geotripper.  Done by a California Geology teacher.

Go have a look.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Another Cool Geology Website

From Geologist James St. John of Ohio State University.

He also has a large number of science photos posted on flickr.  A mixture of Geology and Biology, with a good supply of explanations.

Go "have a look".