Finishing our Tour of Yellowstone

August 20th, 2010

After hiking through the Tetons, we continued our tour of Yellowstone by visiting a number of places in the eastern and northern portions of the park. We visited Signal Mountain Summit, which is a great overlook of the glacial outwash plain due to the glaciation of Yellowstone. (However, I was just as fascinated by the little black bear that we saw on the drive up to the summit.) We also stopped at Artist Point, south of Canyon Village. (We actually stayed the night in Canyon Village’s cabins.)

Then, our journey took us to Norris Geyser Basin, Obsidian Cliff, Sheepeater Cliff, and the Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces. All I can really say is “Wow”!!

Above is a scenic view of one section of Norris Geyser Basin, which had some of the most interesting thermal activity in the park.

Above is a scenic view of one section of Norris Geyser Basin, which had some of the most interesting thermal activity in the park.

Take a look at Sheepeater Cliff, which is composed of basalts that exhibit columnar jointing.  Sheepeater Cliff is a result of the bimodal volcanism that was present in Yellowstone.

Take a look at Sheepeater Cliff, which is composed of basalts that exhibit columnar jointing. Sheepeater Cliff is a result of the bimodal volcanism that was present in Yellowstone.

Mammoth Springs provided some wonderful exposures of travertine terraces, several of which were very active.

Mammoth Springs provided some wonderful exposures of travertine terraces, several of which were very active.

Of course, along our journey we made some friends, such as this moose grazing along the river bank.  It was amazing how one creature could tie up so much traffic!!

Of course, along our journey we made some friends, such as this moose grazing along the river bank. It was amazing how one creature could tie up so much traffic!!

Yet another friend...a very, very large bison.

Yet another friend...a very, very large bison.

The day ended with a trip to the Gardner River.  The picture above shows a small stream of thermally-influenced water flowing into the Gardner River.  Along the river bank, temperatures are easily over 100-110 degrees F, and thus many people enjoy one of nature's very own hot tubs.  But, if you walk just a few feet out into the main portion of the Gardner, the water is ice cold.

The day ended with a trip to the Gardner River. The picture above shows a small stream of thermally-influenced water flowing into the Gardner River. Along the river bank, temperatures are easily over 100-110 degrees F, and thus many people enjoy one of nature's very own hot tubs. But, if you walk just a few feet out into the main portion of the Gardner, the water is ice cold.

Last stop in Europe: The Senckenberg Museum of Natural History

August 18th, 2010

FRANKFURT, GERMANY–Isn’t that a great front yard for a Natural History Museum? Diplodocus longus strides by columnar basalt and a massive chunk of conglomerate. This is the Naturmuseum Senckenberg in downtown Frankfurt, about two blocks from my hotel. On my last day in Europe I met with Dr. Mena Schemm-Gregory, a brilliant young paleontologist who specializes in brachiopods. I was very impressed with the labor-intensive way by which she makes three-dimensional reconstructions of brachiopods embedded in matrix, including their internal structures. I also simply enjoyed the museum displays. This is a good way to end this eventful trip — a visual survey of the history of life!

The front of the Senckenberg Museum, which was built in the first decade of the 20th Century. The tall object on the left is a life-sized reconstruction of a Carboniferous seedless vascular plant. I'm cleverly using it to hide an annoying smokestack in the background!

Close-up of a massive piece of Banded Iron Formation also standing outside the museum. This one is anywhere from 3.5 to 1.9 billion years old. It represents a complex interaction of ancient microbes, seawater and the atmosphere which is still not completely understood.

Even the living plants highlight life's history. This is a branch of a ginkgo tree, a group which has an ancient lineage extending back to the Triassic. Er ist ein "Lebendes Fossil".

Palisade Falls in Hyalite Canyon, Montana

August 16th, 2010

Today, we ended the indoor classroom portion of the Teaching in the Field Workshop with a lively discussion on the use of technology in the field. Everyone seemed to agree about its usefulness in research; however, there were many different views when the discussion turned to the use of technology in the field when teaching students how to map. Digital mapping is used by state geological surveys and the USGS, but the techniques are not universally used in the classroom and in field camps across the country. When this friendly debate was concluded, it was time for dinner. Instead of eating in the conference room in the student union, the workshop coordinators had organized a picnic for us overlooking Hyalite Reservoir.

Hyalite Canyon is located just south of Bozeman in the Gallatin Range, and it exposes rocks of all ages — Archean gneisses through Eocene volcanics. Before dinner, we hiked to Palisade Falls for a spectacular view that underscored the fact that I was definitely not in Ohio.

As we walked to Palisade Falls in Hyalite Canyon, we followed a wonderful stream flowing through a sub-alpine forest.

As we walked to Palisade Falls in Hyalite Canyon, we followed a wonderful stream flowing through a sub-alpine forest.

Palisade Falls, shown above, was gorgeous during the early evening light.

Palisade Falls, shown above, was gorgeous during the early evening light.

Notice the wonderful columnar jointing that makes up the wall for Palisade Falls.  It was very difficult to pull 50+ geologists off of this outcrop, but dinner was ready!!

Notice the wonderful columnar jointing that makes up the wall for Palisade Falls. It was very difficult to pull 50+ geologists off of this outcrop, but dinner was ready!!

The rest of the week, the workshop on Teaching in the Field is actually taking to the field to put boots on the ground.

Basalt from way, way down south

July 21st, 2010

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND–Andrew Collins, our Wooster Geology student abroad in New Zealand, has posted another set of photographs from his adventures. Of course they include field geology!  Here is one of his images from a recent outing:

Cave Rock near Sumner, which is a suburb of Christchurch, New Zealand. Photograph by Andrew Collins.

This view fits into one of our major themes this year: basalt!  We had plenty of it on the Mojave field trip, the Utah group dabbled in it, and the Iceland team is defined by this dense black rock. Now I’m no expert, but here’s my interpretation of the above outcrop: it looks like a basalt flow over a coarse conglomerate with a magnificent baked zone at the top of the conglomerate (the bright red) and a chilled zone at the base of the basalt.  What do you think?

Goodbye Iceland

July 20th, 2010

Guest blogger: Becky Alcorn

Unfortunately this is our last night in Iceland so I will not be posting again anytime soon. We did have a great last day though. We spent the morning working on my abstract and packing things up before we found a wonderful geothermal area to relax in after our long week. This evening we drove into Reykjavik to say goodbye to Steina, Meagen’s colleague who helped get us into my field site, and enjoyed a real meal that wasn’t peanut butter and jelly. Overall we had a fantastic trip and I’m excited to work on my IS. I’m very sad to say goodbye to this beautiful country, but it’ll be good to be back home.

Enjoying the geothermal water

Today was our first gloomy day

Wooster Takes on the Volcano

July 19th, 2010

Guest Blogger: Becky Alcorn

We just returned from our trip to the volcano and are too tired to give the full details right now, but here are a few pictures from our trip. Meagen promises to write a future blog post on Eyjafjallajokull.

I can't believe Meagen forgot our inflatable raft. How was I ever supposed to touch Vatnajokull?

They were still getting ash at our campsite!

Eyjafjallajokull! It was incredible! I wanted to touch this one too but our bus was leaving.

So much ash on the glacier (and in my shoes)!

A view of the flood path from the top of the mountain we hiked. An excursion bus drove us through the flood plain since our tiny car would probably have just floated away.

Meagen and I at the top of the mountain with ominous Eyjafjallajokull in the background. We were standing on a slope...she's not really that short.

Right before getting back on the bus we ran into Wooster alumni Lisa Beam and Josh Schaffer returning from a three day hike! Seems like a very small world sometimes.

I’m so tired I don’t even want to title this.

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.

Bustin out the brunton

Collecting a sample from the top of the quarry. I didn't enjoy being up that high but it was worth it.

One of the many pictures I labeled today even though it was beautiful outside.

Hey Icelandic Researchers, We’ve Got Some Basalt, Too!!

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.

Jesse Davenport, studious as ever, is listening intently to a lecture on the Ice Springs Volcanic Field.  The rough, brecciated aa of the field is behind him.

Jesse Davenport, studious as ever, is listening intently to a lecture on the Ice Springs Volcanic Field. The rough, brecciated aa of the field is behind him.

Elyssa Krivicich (left, '09) and Elizabeth Deering (right) proudly display the Utah basalt.  The Red Dome cinder cone is in the background.  Hey Dr. Pollock and Becky Alcorn (our Icelandic Team)...do you like it?

Elyssa Krivicich (left, '09) and Elizabeth Deering (right) proudly display the Utah basalt. The Red Dome cinder cone is in the background. Hey Dr. Pollock and Becky Alcorn (our Icelandic Team)...do you like it?

This is a photo of a cross-section through the Red Dome cinder cone, which is quarried for landscaping purposes.  Take a look at the pronounced bedding that is due to successive pulses of air-fall deposits.  We collected volcanic blocks and bombs both at the base of the cinder cone and then at the very top.

This is a photo of a cross-section through the Red Dome cinder cone, which is quarried for landscaping purposes. Take a look at the pronounced bedding that is due to successive pulses of air-fall deposits. We collected volcanic blocks and bombs both at the base of the cinder cone and then at the very top.

The view from the top of the Red Dome cinder cone is amazing.  You can see a smaller cinder cone nearby.  In the distance, you can see Pahvant Butte.  If you look close enough, the ancient shorelines of Lake Bonneville are exposed at the base of Pahvant Butte.

The view from the top of the Red Dome cinder cone is amazing. You can see a smaller cinder cone nearby. In the distance, you can see Pahvant Butte. If you look close enough, the ancient shorelines of Lake Bonneville are exposed at the base of Pahvant Butte.

Let the Work Begin

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.

The smallest of the three dikes I will be working with

A close up on some wonderful plagioclase (about 1cm) and olivine crystals in the same dike as above

Trying to see the "sparkly" vesicles in a sample

Breaking in my new rock hammer on my first sample

The Golden Circle Tour

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).

A panoramic view of Thingvellir

Standing on the edge at Thingvellir

The original Geysir

Strokkur geyser at Geysir

The Gullfoss (Golden Waterfall)

As you can see you can get as close to the water at Gullfoss as you'd like

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