mpollock July 17th, 2010
Guest Blogger: Becky Alcorn
Yesterday we spent the day in Undirhlithar mapping the quarry wall that will be the focus of my IS. We climbed the majority of the wall with the exception of a few unstable places and collected a hearty 25 samples (some from places that I’m still not quite sure how we managed to reach). We finished up in Undirhlithar today and traveled farther south to another quarry, Vatnskarth. Here we could see were the lava met the glacial deposit, which was awesome! We collected samples for Meagen and then came back home so I could get to the nitty gritty of labeling my pictures. I spent many hours today sorting through my pictures and labeling where I collected each sample, which is much more tedious and time consuming than it sounds. Tomorrow we’re heading east for two days to camp and see Eyjafjallajokull! We’ll be sure to post when we return, so if you don’t hear from us in a few days we were probably swallowed up by the volcano.
sjudge July 15th, 2010
After many successful field days in sedimentary strata, yesterday we had a day of exploration. We traveled with the Ohio State field camp to Fillmore, Utah, to investigate the Black Rock Desert. Specifically, we spent our time in the Ice Springs Volcanic Field, which provides the youngest volcanic activity in the Black Rock Desert (~600 years old).
We thought that the Icelandic Team would be especially interested in some of our photos, since basalt seems to be near and dear to their hearts.
mpollock July 15th, 2010
Guest blogger: Becky Alcorn
Today was our first day of field work in Undirlithar quarry. Although a lot of the quarry has been filled in in the last year, we had a very successful day and found three dikes that can be used in my IS. We began mapping the south wall that will be the focus of my IS and collected several samples for future analysis when we return to Wooster. We’re even returning to the quarry later tonight to continue our work since the sun never sets and we never sleep.
mpollock July 14th, 2010
Guest Blogger: Becky Alcorn
Today we took the Golden Circle tour in Iceland. I think I saw more amazing geologic sites on this one tour than I’ve ever seen before. Our tour began at Thingvellir in the rift valley where we hiked along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and spent a good deal of time trying to calculate the spreading rate. We then drove to Geysir where I saw my first geyser! (and enjoyed the wonderful smell of sulfur). I also got to enjoy my first taste of hamburger sauce at the visitor center there. Our tour ended with a stop at Gullfoss, an incredible waterfall with only a small rope in some places to prevent you from falling in (take your kids at your own risk, I guess).
mpollock July 13th, 2010
Guest Blogger: Becky Alcorn
Meagen og ég kynntist í Boston í gær og hafði tiltölulega viðburðasnauður flug til Íslands. Við komum á hostelið okkar í kringum miðnætti og komst hversu frábær hún var sannarlega. Ekki aðeins var flugvellinum skutla strætó þeirra brotinn niður, en svo var internetið, lykill á herbergi, og hitari í herbergið okkar. Til allrar hamingju þeir gáfu okkur í næsta herbergi sem var ekki heitt. Því miður en ekki var fortjaldið í herbergið okkar og það er aldrei raunverulega gets myrkur. Óþarfur að segja, að leita okkur að öðrum húsnæði í dag. Eftir að við að finna nýjan stað til að vera, tók við ferð upp til Reykjavíkur til að kanna borgina, sem var falleg … og fengum dýrindis Taílenska matur!
(As you can see, in the short time that I’ve been here, I’ve become fluent in Icelandic. See below for the English version.)
Meagen and I met in Boston yesterday afternoon and had a relatively uneventful flight to Iceland. We arrived at our hostel around midnight and discovered how fantastic it truly was. Not only was their airport shuttle bus broken down, but so was the internet, key to our room, and the heater in our room. Luckily they gave us the next room that wasn’t sweltering hot. Unfortunately though there was no curtain in our room and it never really gets dark. Needless to say, we searched for other accommodations today. After we found a new place to stay, we took a trip up to Reykjavik to explore the city, which was beautiful…and we got delicious Thai food!
Mark Wilson March 11th, 2010
ZZYZX, CALIFORNIA–This was our last full day in the Mojave Desert, at least for this trip. Technically it was our coldest start yet (40°F), but the bright sun and lack of wind made it seem like our warmest. The day was mostly unstructured because we were going to try to find a geological site none of us had seen here: the lava tubes in the cinder cones area of the Mojave National Preserve. It was a good thing we left our schedule open because we missed not one turn, not two turns, but three crucial turns before we finally entered the tubes. I’ll take full responsibility, although in my defense I must point out that the Preserve is very coy with their signage and directions!
After another delicious lunch packed for us by the Desert Studies Center staff (a shout-out to the world-class cook, our friend Eric), we drove north to Resting Springs Pass to study a famous exposure of a welded tuff. Our last stop was a descent through the 500,000 year-old beds of ancient Lake Tecopa to China Date Ranch where we looked around the oasis and had the famous (and expensive .. and over-rated) “date shakes”. (Think flurry with little date bits thrown in.) The students and other faculty enjoyed them, though, and they were in their eccentric way a fitting end to our Mojave adventure.
Unless my colleagues surprise me this evening, this will be our last post from the Mojave. We will have many more entries for this field trip, though, as we sort through student images and observations back on campus. We will also add more technical notes about the sites we saw, and maybe even throw in a video or two. It has been an extraordinary trip which will live in our departmental memory for a very long time.
Mark Wilson March 10th, 2010
ZZYZX, CALIFORNIA–One of the most attractive aspects of geology is how many materials and processes are included in the study of the Earth. Today’s field experiences show this diversity. One of the best reasons to teach in a liberal arts geology program is that we are continually in touch with topics outside of our original disciplinary training. This trip has been so much fun in part because all four of our faculty are involved at each of our stops, and we always learn from each other by having no fear about asking any questions. We seem to be successfully modeling this attitude with our students because they certainly have no hesitation in asking questions either.
Our teaching approach in the field has been to introduce students to the general framework of information about a particular site, and then let them explore the area, each bringing back questions, observations and specimens for a summary session with all the faculty. This has worked very well with this class because they are advanced and very enthusiastic students. Their curiosity has been an inspiration.
This morning was sunny, windy and cold (starting in the forties and not getting past 53°F). It hardly mattered though because we had so many interesting outcrops to study. Our first stop was Hole-In-The-Wall in the southeastern quadrant of Mojave National Preserve. Here are magnificent tuffs from an explosive volcano eruption about 18.5 million years ago. Dr. Pollock will have more to say about the geological details.
Our second stop was to climb the Kelso Dunes in the southwestern portion of the Preserve. The pile of sand here reaches 160 meters. It is trapped against the Granite Mountains in an endless swirl of winds. The students climbed the highest and most popular dune in the complex while the faculty chose to ascend a slightly lower but untrampled dune. Oddly enough, when we stood on these dunes in the middle afternoon, for the first time the wind stopped!
Our last two stops were relatively brief. One was at an outcrop of the Chambless Limestone, a Cambrian unit showing oncolites and dolomite-filled burrow systems. The other was at the tip of a lava flow from the cinder cones near the center of the Preserve. We returned to the station in the early evening with sand-filled shoes and sun-reddened faces. Another wonderful day in the Mojave.
Mark Wilson March 9th, 2010
ZZYZX, CALIFORNIA–Our second and last stop of the day was Amboy Crater, which is about halfway between Barstow and Needles, California, near Route 66. Meagen Pollock, our ace petrologist, prepared us well for this visit, so we’ll wait for her to post the geological details and her expert observations. I want to prepare the ground with some photos of our hike up this remarkably recent cinder cone.
mpollock July 19th, 2009
After a relatively uneventful journey and a short stay in Wooster, we’ve made it to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. We’re spending the week analyzing our samples on Dickinson’s X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (XRF) and X-Ray Diffractometer (XRD). First, we need to turn our rocks into powder. We typically begin by cutting down the sample on a rock saw.
Then we grind the smaller pieces to get rid of any contamination introduced by the saw.
The samples get cleaned in a sonicator.
And the clean samples get set out to dry.
Finally, the samples can be crushed. We can crush them in a shatterbox or by hand using an agate mortar and pestle.
Voila! We have powder!