Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy 125th Birthday, GSA

It is my understanding that last Friday (12/27) was the 125th Anniversary of the founding of the Geological Society of America. Sorry I missed a timely acknowledgement. Best wishes for another 125 years!

Rockhound TV

I just found Prospectors on the Weather Channel a few weeks ago as the result of an ad on one of the other cable channels I watch, e.g., Discovery Channel, History Channel, yada yada. Here is but one clip: The geologic "Walter Mitty" in me wishes I had considered this line of work when I was in grad school years ago. I did a little bit of prospecting just for personal rockhounding sake. I have worked a couple of mineral shows at what used to be called the Weinman Mineral Museum (now Tellus) in Cartersville, Ga. Made a small profit each time. One summer I largely paid for a solo vacation by buying wholesale mineral specimens in El Paso and then selling them to rock shops in the east. My best luck was with arborescent silver specimens from Chihuahua that I sold to Ledford's Rock Shop in Spruce Pine, NC. Should have done more of that. At a large show here in Atlanta recently, I sold to a dealer a "flat" of andradite garnet specimens for $150, specimens that I had purchased for a much smaller amount perhaps 25 years ago. The specimens, from Stanley Butte, AZ were the most choice specimens that I had. My other favorite show is "Gold Rush" on Discovery Channel. For some reason, I can't seem to get into "Bearing Sea Gold" as much, perhaps it is the scuba aspect of it.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Accretionary Wedge #63

Yeah, I have been away for a while, including the Geoblogging Events called Accretionary Wedge. The last one was #54, on Geology and Beer (and other adult beverages). The current one relates to the relationships between plants and rocks. I will have to give this one some thought. My life (including my incarnation as a field scientist) is divided between two primary locations, Georgia and the El Paso, TX area. Quite different in both categories.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Recovery...for the Backyard

Last year, I ranted about my backyard wildflower garden being buried under rocks and soil during renovations.  Now renamed the "Remembrance Garden", it has been rebuilt as shown in this photo from a few weeks ago.  As are all of my approximately 200 feet of rock walls, they are all "dry stack". 

This photo (from a different angle than above) shows the mess from last year, after it was partially cleaned up.  At the time, I had no idea what would survive and what wouldn't, if I ever got it cleaned up.  I was a bit demoralized, to say the least. 

As is mis-understood by those who are not artists, it is hard to classify something such as this as ever being completely "finished".  My supply of flat stones has been largely used up and with the sour economy, there has not been as much construction going on (plus "No Trespassing" signs (which I do not violate) are more prevalent than ever at construction sites), so work has slowed.

Just a few in-progress photos of work from last year.

More photos will be posted in later articles, as Spring reveals what has survived the burial and the Winter.  Included also will be photos of the other backyard walls, constructed of flat stones that were used in the front yard, prior to renovations.

Eagle Mts., Texas 1978...Intro

So many stories to tell about that summer. 

Late, late on a Saturday night.  Can't sleep.  Posted this photo of East Mill, Eagle Mts., Texas on Facebook and began to reminisce.  Even in normal daylight hours, my kids (daughter 26, married with two little boys and is too busy and my 18 year-old son, trying to get out of high school and into some sort of job) are not yet interested in my Field Geology "war stories".  Other Geologists and Southwestern outdoor-enthusiasts identify with the "desert solitude" and experiences of Trans-Pecos mountain ranges and the surrounding flats (or bolsons).  The swapping of such stories is best done over one or more beers, but time, distance, and money prevent such reunions (in their proper context, they would have to be in El Paso).  So while I wind down this temporary Saturday night insomnia, I will write a little.  For my little bit of cyber-posterity and in the hopes that someone will find these tales interesting.  [I did write a bit about the Eagle Mts. and this photo in a prior blogpost a couple of years ago.]

I spent 10 weeks during the Summer of 1978 in the Eagle Mts., of Hudspeth County, Texas.  The purpose was to work on a Master's Thesis project, along with 3 other UTEP grad students, Dan, Mike, and Bob.  We were each supposed to do a quandrant of the mountains.  Dan and I worked on the southern "half" of the mountains in my 1976 Jeep 4x4 pickup (with a camper shell), while Bob and Mike worked on the northern "half" - I think they may have used university vehicles. 

Mike (NE quad) and I (SE quad) each got burned out later (personal stuff) and didn't finish our projects, but each of us helped our field partners get theirs finished.  A doctoral student later did his dissertation on the eastern "half" of the mountains, that we didn't finish.  Mike and I each finished our Master's Theses on separate subjects - in other areas - a few years later.

Basically, the Eagle Mountains are largely composed of caldera-deposits superimposed over "Chihuahua Tectonic Belt" thrust sheets, similar in some ways to the Quitman Mountains to the northwest and other calderas related to the "ignimbrite flareup" of the Tertiary period in Trans-Pecos Texas, New Mexico, and elsewhere in the southwestern United States.  Without searching through files for maps, essentially this view is ENE, towards the vicinity of Van Horn, Texas.  The hills in the near-background are Cretaceous carbonates and clastics (Wyche Ridge) that formed part of the rim of the caldera.  In the far-background are various mountain ranges including rocks from Proterozoic metamorphics to Oligocene volcanics.

Just a few of the headings/subjects/memories to be covered in this series include (as the spirit moves me):

Welcome to the Eagle Mountains
Adventures at East Mill
Adventures at South Mill (or whatever it was called)
4x4 Adventures in Driving
Weather Events
Critters Great and Small
A Few Beer Cans
Back to Town for Supplies

A return visit to the Eagle Mountains is on my Personal Geo-Bucket List under "wanted, but unlikely", as I would first need a good 4x4 and permission from land-owners.  And time and money. 

So, please come back and check on the progress.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Accretionary Wedge #54 - Geology and Adult Beverages

Looking for Detachment's post is about Great Basin Brewing Co.'s Ichthyosaur "Icky" IPA.  You can learn more about it at the brewpub's website. I haven't had any beer yet, from Nevada.  Hope this will be my first one.  The only two other untried states are North Dakota and South Dakota.

I purloined this photo from Looking for Detachment's post.  Hope Silver Fox will forgive me.  I wish I had photographed the Deschutes Obsidian Stout bottle, while I still had it.

Meagan Hogg tweets about The Big One IPA, brewed in Vancouver, BC.

Will add some more a little later.

Just had an idea for a couple of brands from a Hawaiian brewery - Pahoehoe Pilsener and AA Ale.  Don't know if anyone is using these names, yet. 

A retired brand from Dogfish Head Brewing Co. (Milton, DE) is Pangaea, a strong Belgian Ale in 750 ml bottles.  Did not get to try this one.

Accretionary Wedge #54 - Geology and Beer...

Two of my favorite things.  Unfortunately, I don't have photos of all of the cans mentioned, you will just have to take my word on their connections to Geology as intended in the Glacial Till post.

Rolling Rock was one of the beers already mentioned in other posts.  Actually, a 7 oz. Rolling Rock can was the first can in my collection in 1974.  The 12 oz. conetop pictured above is from the early 1950s.  My collection peaked in the mid-1990s at 5,000+ cans, then along came the realities of kids and bills.  (Actually, my two grandsons now are my favorites.)

Anyway, a few of the Geology-themed cans that have passed through my collection (or have been seen at collectors' shows) include Oxbow Beer, a tab-top can from Walter Brewing Co. of Pueblo, CO., cans with glacial themes including Matterhorn Beer (Hamm's), Köl Beer (numerous diff. breweries) and Hynne Beer (Walter).  (I am not 100% sure of the definition of these German terms, but I think they are glacial features.)

An attractive silver cone-top is Rocky Mountain Beer, from Anaconda Brewing Co., Anaconda, MT.  Also from Montana were Butte Beer cone tops and flat tops.

A Wisconsin cone top was Mineral Spring Beer, from Mineral Point, WI.  Spring-water is referenced on the labels of numerous beers, past and present.  Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. (a Miller subsidiary in Chippewa Falls, WI) currently has a line of high-gravity seasonal ales named after the Big Eddy Springs, fed by the same aquifer tapped by their wells.

A high-value cone top ($1000+, when in excellent condition) is Gold Age Beer, from El Rey Brewing Co. of San Francisco depicts a gold miner and his pan. 

Some more common cone tops and flat tops depicting various mountain peaks are shown on Sierra Beer (Reno, NV), Cascade Beer (Portland, OR) and Mount Rainier is shown on numerous cans from Rainier Brewing Co. (Seattle).

As for some other Geologic/Geographic features, they include Atlantic Beer, Pacific Beer, Great Lakes Beer, and Piedmont Beer (bottles only).

Fast forward to today's craft breweries, a few in California include Caldera Brewing Co., of Ashland, OR, Gold Hill Brewing Co. and Placerville Brewing Co. of Placerville, CA, Lassen Ale Works, of Susanville, CA, and - most noteworthy - Mammoth Brewing Co., of Mammoth Lakes, CA (located within the Long Valley Caldera).   Mammoth Brewing Co. does produce cans of several of their varieties. 

In Oregon, there is the Deschutes Brewing Co., brewers of Obsidian Stout and Black Butte Porter. 

Balcones Fault Red Granite Ale from early microbrewery in the Austin, TX area has been reborn by the Great Grains Brewing Co. of Dallas, TX.

A few more include Glacier Brewing Co. of Polson, MT, Quarry Brewing Co. of Butte, MT, Yellowstone Valley Brewing Co., of Billings, MT, Grand Canyon Brewing Co., of Williams, AZ, Granite Mountain Brewing Co., of Prescott, AZ,...the list goes on and on. 

With as many microbreweries and brewpubs as there are these days, there are probably other Geology-themed breweries and individual beers, including those named after rivers and river valleys, coastal features, bays, harbors, islands,...