In the Field at Mineral King

(From left) Dr. Greene, Cory, and Conner after summiting the 11,947 ft. Vandever Mountain at Mineral King, with Mt. Whitney in the distance.

After nineteen days in sunny California, Dr. Greene, Cory, and I have returned to Ohio. Our field session was a great success, giving us scores of samples to begin analyzing in the coming weeks.

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Zircon Fever: How Gold Mining Helps Us Study Zircon

Though we aren’t searching for gold, some of here in the Geo department do “rush” to California, but in search of a different mineral. Zircon is the keystone to much of the petrographic and volcanological research going on this summer. As Liz wrote earlier, there are different ways to get from a chunk of outcrop to the tiny zircon crystals that we can date.

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GEOS 211: Loess Plateau

Wind Erosion

The article that Christian and I decide to read, discussed the impact that wind erosion has had in “the western Qaidam basin along the northeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, where wind and wind-blown sand have sculpted enormous yardang fields in actively folding sedimentary strata” (Kapp, et al, 2010).  We found this article to be very interesting because of the theory they propose, that the Loess Plateau was formed by the transport of sediment due to wind off of the Qaidam basin. 

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GEOS 211: Prokaryote Long-term Survival in Fluid Inclusions in Halite

Recently, GSA Today published an article by Tim Lowenstein, Brian Schubert, and Michael Timofeeff, which discusses the research they have done about microbial communities in fluid inclusions and their survival in halite. They specifically were researching the halophilic (“salt-loving”) prokaryotes and eukaryotes in Death Valley and Saline Valley, California, and their dependence on Dunaliella, which provides the carbon they need to survive in a hypersaline system.

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Rising Waters at Lake Atitlan

P1020691 - Taken with a DMC-TS2

Lake Atitlan from San Pedro

I am presently living with my family in Panajachel, on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Lake Atitlan occupies a volcanic caldera that formed in a huge eruption about 80,000 years ago. The lake is about 20 km long, 10 km wide and 300 m deep, so even very simplistic volume calculations indicate a large volume of erupted material draping the surrounding region.

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Flint Ridge, Ohio

Being in the middle of Ohio as a petrologist you find out that there aren’t a lot of crystalline rocks to gaze upon – at least without drilling a 5-km hole directly below one’s feet. However, there are some cool localities that exhibit mineralization that might not be igneous or metamorphic basement, but at least have some great examples of minerals for an introductory rocks and minerals course.

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Views from an airplane

Some great images of the southwest to start off the week, courtesy of Dr. David Greene.

“Here are a couple of pictures I took from the window of a Southwest Airlines flight coming into Las Vegas, as I was returning to Ohio at the end of my field season. The yellow-orange rocks in the foreground are Jurassic Aztec Sandstone, and the grey-green vegetated slopes above with the prominent grey stripes are Cambrian limestone of the Bonanza King Fm.

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Department Fall Field Trip

The Department of Geosciences fall field trip is coming up. This fall we’re headed to Cairo, IL, New Madrid, MO and the St. Francois Mts. in Missouri – September 14-18. If you want to come (and are a Geosciences majors and minors at Denison), be sure to sign up on the sheet at the student lounge.

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The gravel bars of Raccoon Creek

Today is the first day of class – but that doesn’t mean that we stay inside. I brought my GEOS 211 (Intro. to Rocks and Minerals) to Raccoon Creek for a lab on classification. Now, Raccoon Creek is great for random rock samples because of the large gravel bars made from a mix of local-derived material and distant material brought in through glacial processes.

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The Great East Coast Earthquake of 2011

If you weren’t on the eastern seaboard on August 23, you missed a fairly rare occurrence: an earthquake felt widely up and down the eastern North America. The earthquake itself had an epicenter near Mineral, VA – a location that has seen seismicity in the past. You can find references to earthquakes in the journals of the Jefferson family in Monticello from the 1797 and 1833 – and as recently as 2003, showing that earthquakes are definitely not geologically uncommon.

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