Archive for June, 2010

Beartrack Mountain

June 6th, 2010

guest blogger: Stephanie

On Friday Justin, Capt. of the Capelin, dropped Greg and I off at Beartrack Cove. We hiked up (straight up!) to the Repeater Station (used for the park radio station), where we set up camp and then made our way a little further up to our study site. We cored a few trees that night, then melted some snow to make some delicious navy bean soup (courtesy of Fred Meyers in Juneau) and hot chocolate, and turned in. An early morning start to finish up the bulk of our sampling there, then it was back down (which didn’t take nearly as long as the up had, but resulted in much more soreness…) to meet the Capelin again. On the way back to Bartlett Cove, where the visitor station and park headquarters is, we saw sea lions, sea otters (one riding our waves on its back), whales, puffins, and porpoises (I didn’t get any good pictures of these, but I will try next time!).

The Capelin

A view from the way up. The line is where cloudy glacial runoff is meeting the incoming tide.

Beartrack repeater station

Fresh bear tracks on the way up to the site.

Sun coming through some clouds over the water.

Sun coming through the clouds over the water.

Where Greg would like to go... There is a tiny white speck up there--it's a goat!

The Beardslee Islands. You can see the repeater station below Greg.

Hanging a bear bag.


and cold feet...


A little later and we would have some yummy strawberries.

A barnacle encrusted snail.

Beartrack from the boat. I think we were just the the left of that first small snow chute on the right.

We met up with Dan when we got back, and Deb Prinkey, ’01, a high school teacher in Mt. Vernon. Greg and Dan are finishing up a report for NSF right now, then it’s a short hike today and back out tomorrow.

Geological and Archaeological Park at Timna

June 5th, 2010

Cambrian sandstone exposures at Timna Park, southern Israel.

MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL — Our last stop on our shabbat trip today was at Timna Park north of Eilat, Israel.  Here we saw a combination of geology and archaeology.  The porous sandstones exposed in the cliffs have been mineralized along fault and joint planes by a green copper ore.  The world’s oldest underground copper mines, dating back 6000 years, are here, along with hundreds of more “modern” mines hand-dug by Egyptians between the 14th and 12th centuries BCE.  The sandstone itself is rich with geological information, including cross-bedding, channels, and a very prominent honeycomb weathering.

Micah Risacher and Andrew Retzler at Timna Park.

Micah and Andrew are well protected in this complicated part of the world! No worries.

Blogger’s note: We have only limited internet access on this trip, so we may not be answering our personal email very often.  I send these posts in pre-written bursts when we get some internet time.


June 5th, 2010

MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL — Wooster geologists this summer have been working hard with boundaries of the geological kind: horizontal surfaces in rock sequences that mark dramatic events in Earth history.  Our favorite has been the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, but we are also concerned with the boundaries between rock units such as formations and members.  In fact, we only know where we are in the geological record when we find a boundary and position ourselves above or below it.

Today we met a different kind of boundary, one as dramatic as we’ve seen in rock in its own way.  Pictured below is the Israel-Egypt border north of the Israeli city of Eilat.  It certainly gives us direct information on our position in the political world.

The border between Egypt (on the left) and Israel (on the right) looking north from just north of Eilat, Israel.

Our field group at the Egypt-Israel border, with an Egyptian border post in the background.

A very lonely (and friendly) Egyptian border guard.

Visiting the modern version of our ancient world

June 5th, 2010

MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL — Every shabbat in Israel (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown) we cease geological work and take a break.  Our first shabbat on this trip started with a wonderful dinner at the home of our hosts Yoav and Noa Avni, and then on Saturday morning we drove to the city of Eilat on the Red Sea coast which touches the southern tip of Israel.  Our goal was to visit the Underwater Observatory Marine Park to see the modern equivalents of our fossil animals and sediments.

Shoreline of Eilat, Israel, from the Underwater Observatory tower. A fringing reef can be seen just offshore.

We saw plenty of sharks in a large glass-walled tank, and then countless examples of marine life in aquaria and through the windows of a glass-and-steel structure planted about thirty feet down into a living coral reef.  It all helps give us context for our reconstructions of Cretaceous marine ecology, and we also had much fun studying the fascinating and beautiful living animals before us.

Top section of the Underwater Observatory in Eilat.

Wooster Geologists in the Negev

June 4th, 2010

Andrew Retzler (Wooster, Ohio) and Micah Risacher (Westerville, Ohio). Wooster seniors deep in the desert of southern Israel and loving it.

MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL — Andrew Retzler, Micah Risacher and I arrived in southern Israel yesterday evening after a 24-hour journey from Wooster.  (My boots still have Mississippi mud on them, by the way.)  Our primary mission on this trip is to collect data for Andrew and Micah’s Senior Independent Study projects.  Like Megan Innis on the southern USA trip last month, they are studying Late Cretaceous sediments and fossils.  The K/T boundary here is not as dramatic as it is in Alabama (it is far more erosional in the Middle East), but it is still impressive to easily step between the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Eras.

Field area for the Negev team just north of Makhtesh Ramon, Israel.

We are staying in the little desert town of Mitzpe Ramon, which looks a lot like my treasured hometown of Barstow, California.  Mitzpe Ramon is perched on the northern rim of Makhtesh Ramon, a beautiful breached anticlinal erosion structure sometimes called “the Grand Canyon of Israel”.  We are working with my longtime colleague and friend Yoav Avni of the Geological Survey of Israel, who lives in Mitzpe Ramon and is an outstanding expert on Negev geology and geomorphology.  We will also be joined by Stuart Chubb, a PhD student in the geology program at Birkbeck College, London.  He is working on Cretaceous sharks along ancient depth gradients.

Mitzpe Ramon, Israel.

Hot here, of course, but not so bad with the light breezes and quick-cooling evenings.  We are very much looking forward to the adventures ahead of us.

Makhtesh Ramon as seen from the town of Mitzpe Ramon.

Up to Alaska

June 4th, 2010

guest blogger: Stephanie

We arrived in Juno last night a little past 10 PM local time (that’s 2 AM for us…) after a long day of traveling, to be greeted by stuffed bears in the airport (awesome!). After spending a night in the lovely Breakwater Inn, we had an amazing breakfast at Donna’s, swung by the Mendenhall glacier in the Tongass National Forest, and then waited in the airport for Dan Lawson, of CRREL (Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory).

The Breakwater Inn

Mount Juneau

The Mendenhall glacier

The "stream" at the hatchery. When spawning time comes, the salmon hatched here return.

Shopping followed, as did lunch and a quick trip to the salmon hatchery. Then it was back to the airport to catch our flight to Gustavus, which provided us with some awesome views of the inlets and mountains in the area.

Our plane!!

A cirque, a basin formed by a glacier, seen from our plane.

Once in Gustavus, we went on into Glacier Bay National Park to the headquarters to plan for the next few days and learn some bear safety tips. Tomorrow, it’s to the field!

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