Monday, January 31, 2011


Okay rock buddies here is a cool word...mylonitization. I love words that Microsoft products freak out over, throwing a  red squiggly line under it like you are an idiot. The spell check knows "squiggly" but it doesn't know mylonitization. Well I can say before working on an academic paper for our upcoming Death Valley trip in a few weeks, I did not know this word. It was used to describe the deformation of rocks that were uplifted along a fault plane.

Mylonitization is one word that is not easily explained because it involves recrystallization and mechanical deformation of rock. Faults are perfect places for these events to occur.

Tonight's question is what do you call a rock that has gone through one or more processes involved in mylonitization?

Give up? 

Mylonite (duh).


Photo by Jeremy McCreary from his website at

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thanks Mr. Steno

We are studying those past men who were "rock readers" and contributed to the field of geology and our understanding of rock materials and processes. Niels Stensen (1638-1687) was actually a Danish physician that lived in Italy. Niels decided to Latinize his name to Nicolaus Steno but no matter what you call him, he was a rock hound oh - I mean he was a "silicis hound" (sorry no Latin word  for a hound found). He worked for a healthy Grand Duke which translates to he had a lot of time on his hands - lucky guy! His contribution to geology was the principles of superposition, original lateral continuity, and original horizontality.The principle of original horizontality is shown in this picture I took in Alberta, Canada. The principle tells us that tilted strata was once horizontal but that something (maybe magma chambers below) uplifted the crust. Why is this important? It helps a geologist to determine the chronological order of the rocks and Earth  materials they are studying. For example in this picture we know that something disturbed these layers after they were created. But in this photo below the layers are still horizontal. I love this photo I took in Sedona, Arizona, can you see the layers? If we look at the principle of superposition - what we see are the newer layers are on top of older layers since they are undisturbed other than some obvious weathering and erosion.

Hope you learned something...if you did then you too can thank Mr. Steno! In closing this blog I leave you with this come women didn't like rocks until the twentieth century? I can't find any women geologists in this period of history but that's okay because the women "silicis hounds" today will be making history for the future generations to come. So ladies...rock on!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Yesterday I posted a little photo of me at Glacier Bay in Alaska. Taken back in 2005 BMGL (before my geology life) and honestly I wrote exactly what I thought back then. That glaciers were big, beautiful "hunks of ice" that I wanted to climb. Back then if you were to ask me what I thought about the landscape around a glacier, I probably would have answered something like "it looks a little on the tattered side, but for the most part it is - interesting". Interesting was my word for "I dunno, leave me alone".

Today, my viewpoint is very different. I now read the landscape instead of seeing it.

What do you see in this photograph? Big beautiful hunk of ice right? Well, okay I will give you that but do you see the "flow" of the glacier, or the horns in the mountains, the lateral moraines or the cirques? If you are like me (a rock minion who lives in textbooks) then you probably do see those glacial features. Maybe you think I am speaking a different language...that's all right because technically I am.  

In this second picture look to the highest part of the mountains in the background. It looks kind of like an inverted "V"...that my friend is called a horn. It is created by the snow (firn) and ice of glaciers that over the glaciers lifetime strip away some of the loose, or not-so-stable rock materials. This leaves behind a rugged, sharp looking peak.  Next, if you look above the treeline dead-center of the picture you see a gray bar-like feature, that is the lateral moraine. It is boulders, rocks, gravel, and soil that is being shoveled to the edges by the glacier. Last are the cirques. A cirque is a circular space at the top of the mountain where glacial ice begins.

If you are fortunate to live in California or Nevada, you can see glaciers and all these features in the Sierra Nevada. Go to your local library and check out Mary Hill's book on the Sierra and take a drive up there for a day or two. Oh, don't forget your camera!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Homework vs. Daydreams

I've been sitting at the dining room table all day working on homework for Pre-Calculus - without the textbook. This day seems to be an endless Math purgatory!

I would rather be someplace else. Last night we watched the Alaska State Trooper show, and watched these guys working in negative seriously-wrong-degree weather. Although I don't envy these guys it brought back many wonderful memories of almost a month in Alaska in 2005.

So this is me where I wish I could be. The glaciers up there were so spectacular. I was so stoked being there I wanted off the boat. I saw myself with some ice cleats on climbing over the glacier! Some day...

There were all kinds of cute otters playing the freezing water and the cracking sounds of the glaciers were just scary and cool all in one.

So guess I need to get back to Pre-Calculus. Bummer!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jack Oliver Dies at 87

Kenneth Chang's article of 01.12/2011.

Jack Oliver, whose studies of earthquakes provided convincing proof that Earth's continents are constantly moving, died last Wednesday at his home in Ithaca, N.Y. He was 87.

Feedzilla: Science News

Feedzilla: Science News

What Would You Do?

So if you are given an option to go to war with An Tir (those who are not fortunate enough to live in the West) that is up at Gold Beach, Oregon on July 4th weekend...or go on a two-week trip to Pacific North - including Yellowstone - with a geologist...what would YOU do?

Hell Week is Over

First week of spring semester went fairly well. Was able to get into classes I was wait listed on. Don't understand why our governments and legislative bodies keep cutting back on education when there are so many students who cannot get into classes they need. I technically only needed one class to graduate with my Associate's on April 30th and really sweated it out hoping I would be accepted as 16 of 21 on the wait list. Attended the first ICC (Inter-Club Council) meeting as vice president of the Astronomy Club where we were ratified. Going to be president of Alpha Gamma Sigma and also in the Geology Club. Will be busy semester with Historical Geology (yahoo) and Pre-Calculus (yeah), the clubs, and Geology field study trips to Death Valley, Southern Mother Lode, and Yosemite. Can't wait to go to Death Valley as I have never been there.

Another "big project" for me this semester is accepting an invite to participate in the CalTeach program at the college. It is an incentive program for those planning on teaching Math and Sciences. The kicker is I "planned" on receiving my Geology degree, and never really "planned" on teaching it. Can I do it? With my Honors Program mentor,Ms. Mo and my Geology Professor Garry Hayes on my side I feel that perhaps I have been keeping doors closed that I should at least open and peek inside.

Looking forward to being in charge of the teacher appreciation luncheon that AGS puts on. Just have to come up with some cool ideas for those we end up honoring. Invitations, decorations, certificates, etc. Well have a half-ton of precalculus to do...and practice my Geologic Time Scale.