Archive for July 27th, 2009

Saying Goodbye to 6 Weeks in Ephraim, Utah

July 27th, 2009

Ephraim, Utah.  July 27.

Today, I’m spending most of the day packing rocks, field equipment, and personal belongings in order to get ready to fly out of Salt Lake City tomorrow. Leaving Ephriam most summers is often bittersweet. I’m excited to get back to Wooster to begin analyzing all of the data that was collected this summer. However, I am also amazed that the 6 weeks out here has come to an end so soon. Hiking all day long while mapping and collecting data for stratigraphic and structural projects is good for my soul and always works to rejuvenate me as a geologist. So, naturally, a part of me wants to remain out here and continue to explore the geology of central Utah, a region of geologic complexity and intrigue. Responsibilities in Wooster await, and I’m sure that Phil and Bill are as eager as I am to begin sifting through their Senior I.S. data. Wooster, here I come!!

Operation Fossil Find (Top Secret and Classified)

July 27th, 2009

Gunnison Plateau, Utah. July 26. Phil and Bill both left Utah a few days ago, with Phil flying to visit family in Colorado and Bill continuing his WooCorps job. So, I have a few days to myself to do some reconnaissance work for future I.S. projects for students and research projects for myself. I headed off to Rock and Dry Canyons with the OSU field camp. Although that was the area for their final mapping project, Terry Wilson (OSU’s structural geologist and field camp director) put me to work using my Brunton for the day. Both she and I had previously spent quite a bit of time measuring joints, veins, and stylolites at Rock and Dry for a structural analysis of the area, but a few days earlier, she came across some additional structural features. I spent a day out in the field measuring in order to determine if this would be a worthwhile addition to the structural research we already completed in the area.

Here is a view of the north-facing slope in Dry Canyon.  If you look closely, you can see the Flagstaff Limestone outlining the presence of a monocline in the area.

Here is a view of the north-facing slope in Dry Canyon. If you look closely, you can see the Flagstaff Limestone outlining the presence of a monocline in the area.

The above photo illustrates one of the conjugate vein sets that I spent the day measuring in the Jurassic Twist Gulch Formation. Measuring these conjugate vein sets perhaps next summer would add to our structural interpretation of the area.

While out at Rock and Dry Canyons, Terry stumbled upon a gorgeous vertebrate jaw embedded in a rather large block of the Colton Formation. So, the next day, we set out on “Operation Fossil Find”, the mission coined by one of the OSU TAs, Jason Kabbes. A group of us drove back to Rock and Dry Canyons, and the excavation began.

The photo above is the jaw that was found in the Colton Formation.  None of us out here are paleontologists, so naturally, we are still trying to identify the find.  By far, Terry's discovery is the best fossil that I've seen in the Colton Formation.

The photo above is the jaw that was found in the Colton Formation. None of us out here are paleontologists, so naturally, we are still trying to identify the find. By far, Terry's discovery is the best fossil that I've seen in the Colton Formation.

Operation Fossil Find team members are trying to strategize how best to remove the jaw and vertebrate bones.  All we had as tools were our trusty rock hammers and a 1/4" chisel.  But, the guys successfully removed the jaw from a piece of float, and it is now sitting in our Ephraim apartment, awaiting identification.

Operation Fossil Find team members are trying to strategize how best to remove the jaw and vertebrate bones. All we had as tools were our trusty rock hammers and a 1/4 inch chisel. But, the guys successfully removed the jaw from a piece of float, and it is now sitting in our Ephraim apartment, awaiting identification.

All in a Day’s Fun: The Thistle Landslide, Alta Stock, Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, and the Wasatch Fault

July 27th, 2009

Near Salt Lake City, Utah. Research Day 13 (July 22).

The Ohio State field camp was going on a day trip to see some great geology near Salt Lake City, so the Wooster gang decide to join them once again. Last field trip, we had a singular focus: to study the thrust sheets associated with the Sevier Orogeny. However, this field trip was different, because the goal was to see as much geology in the Salt Lake City region as was humanly possible in one day. And, 14 hours later, we succeeded in seeing a spectacular landslide, an impressive intrusion, one of the largest open pit mines in the world, and the famous Wasatch Fault.

View of the 1983 Thistle landslide, which has a depth of 60 m and initially blocked the canyon and associated Spanish Fork River.  The costs to "correct" damage caused by the landslide approached ~$200 million.

View of the 1983 Thistle landslide, which has a depth of 60 m and initially blocked the canyon and associated Spanish Fork River. The costs to "correct" damage caused by the landslide approached ~$200 million.

After the Thistle landslide, we headed toward Spanish Fork, Utah, where triangular facets are exposed along this segment of the Wasatch Fault at the mouth of the canyon.

After the Thistle landslide, we headed toward Spanish Fork, Utah, where triangular facets are exposed along this segment of the Wasatch Fault at the mouth of the canyon.

Phil and Bill seemed to enjoy Albion Basin, which was our next stop of the day.  Albion Basin, at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon, is the location of exposures of the Alta stock.  The stock, a granodiorite, was intruded into sedimentary rocks in the area.  As a result, there is evidence for contact metamorphism that can be mapped from unique mineral assemblages.

Phil and Bill seemed to enjoy Albion Basin, which was our next stop of the day. Albion Basin, at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon, is the location of exposures of the Alta stock. The stock, a granodiorite, was intruded into sedimentary rocks in the area. As a result, there is evidence for contact metamorphism that can be mapped from unique mineral assemblages.

After driving down from the Albion Basin, we stopped at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon to view the glaciated U-shaped valley.

After driving down from the Albion Basin, we stopped at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon to view the glaciated U-shaped valley.

Believe it or not, the view at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon is accessible from a "geologic view park".  Land at the mouth of the canyon was donated, and a series of educational signposts describe the bedrock geology, regional glaciation, the Wasatch Fault, and the terraces of Lake Bonneville.  Bill and Phil are shown at the geologic view park relaxing and waiting for us to go to our next stop.

Believe it or not, the view at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon is accessible from a "geologic view park". Land at the mouth of the canyon was donated, and a series of educational signposts describe the bedrock geology, regional glaciation, the Wasatch Fault, and the terraces of Lake Bonneville. Bill and Phil are shown at the geologic view park relaxing and waiting for us to go to our next stop.

Our next stop was the famous Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, where copper, molybdenum, gold, and silver (just to mention a few) are mined daily.  We were able to tour the visitor's center, watch a short video on Kennecott Copper's mining operations, and spend some time peering down into Earth's largest man-made excavation.

Our next stop was the famous Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, where copper, molybdenum, gold, and silver (just to mention a few) are mined daily. We were able to tour the visitor's center, watch a short video on Kennecott Copper's mining operations, and spend some time peering down into Earth's largest man-made excavation.

For our last stop of the day, the group invaded someone's backyard to look at one of the best exposures of the Wasatch Fault in the Provo area.  In this photo, we are all huddled at the fault surface, examining slickenlines, slickenfibers, and fault breccia.  Luckily, I was able to collect several samples to use as test specimens for this year's structure exams!

For our last stop of the day, the group invaded someone's backyard to look at one of the best exposures of the Wasatch Fault in the Provo area. In this photo, we are all huddled at the fault surface, examining slickenlines, slickenfibers, and fault breccia. Luckily, I was able to collect several samples to use as test specimens for this year's structure exams!

A Day on Pleasant Island

July 27th, 2009

Tree
The Woo crew in front of one of the larger cedars we found.

Today we took a skiff over to Pleasant Island to core some older cedars. Our guide and captain for the day was Wayne, an archeologist in the area. We found many huge and old cedar trees after a relatively easy hike to the site. Colin managed to get many cores to bolster his chronology for his IS.

Skiff
Dr. Wiles and Wayne help secure the skiff after landing on Pleasant Island.

Coring
Wayne looks on as Dr. Wiles and Kelly core a large, old and dead cedar. The cedar remain standing long after death.

Also interesting was a dendroarchaeological point of interest: we found several cedar that had their bark stripped by (we think) the Tlingit. Colin’s careful analysis will help us to know the year it was stripped for sure.

Adze
A dead yellow cedar that has had its bark stripped. Wayne thinks the markings were likely made by an adze.