Using the iPad in geologic field work-Part 2

July 2nd, 2011

HAFNARFJORDUR, ICELAND- Guest Blogger: Lindsey Bowman

Our Estonia-based colleagues certainly have an advantage when it comes to timely blog posts; lagging three hours behind we are now appearing redundant in our post topic! We too have been using the iPad 2 in the field, particularly today in Vatnsskarth quarry as the rain has turned into intermittent mist. As Dr. Pollock and Travis took notes in their classic Rite in the Rain field books, I trailed along behind and took photos and annotated directly in front of the outcrop they were sketching.

Annotating the East wall of Vatnsskarth

We found it incredibly useful to take the photo and be able to reference the wall directly in front of us, as subtle differences between columnar and pillow basalts are sometimes hard to see in a photo. We also struggled a little with the glare, but found that Iceland’s weather was actually advantageous as we never saw the sun today. Below is an example of a photo annotated in the field:

Base of the pillow ridge showing glacial sediment directly overlain by basaltic pillows.

However, some photos do require more detailed annotation later in the cafe over a latte.

Annotation of a photo taken previously in the field

Below is a photo from Undirhlíðar that I plan to use in some capacity of my I.S.:

Undirhlíðar- SE wall

We also wanted to share one of our equipment finds that leaves us worry-free about tossing the iPad into our day packs with basalt samples and other sharp or heavy objects. Below is the Otterbox case that we have on the iPad, which not only keeps it safe, but also acts as an easel-like stand for when we want to use the iPad on a flat surface.

Otterbox case leaves us worry-free about the iPad's safety!

We have been using the annotation app ArtStudio which we have found to be flexible and intuitive. We are using a Just Mobile AluPen with the app to make drawing easier; like Dr. Wilson, I have found the stylus helpful.

Stylus > Finger

Finally, to keep the iPad safe from the rain and mist, we have found that a gallon-sized ziploc bag works just fine.

Tomorrow we will head back to Undirhlíðar, since we finished in Vatnsskarth today. We are hoping for clear skies, but watching the mist blow through the quarry and across the rocky landscape today was beautiful. Dr. Pollock mentioned how easy it is to visualize Icelandic folklore and legends in weather like this, and honestly, imagining ghostly vikings emerging from the billowing mist didn’t seem all that far-fetched.

First day of field work in Undirhlíðar Quarry

July 1st, 2011

HAFNARFJORDUR, ICELAND: Guest Blogger: Lindsey Bowman

Today Travis, Dr. Pollock and I started our field work in Undirhlíðar Quarry. It was cold, windy and rainy- perfect for our new rain gear!

Geochemists at work

We started mapping the quarry walls in detail where Becky Alcorn ’11 left off, and made it along the East wall in about six hours. We observed some gorgeous pillow lavas, the most abundant formation in the quarry.

Pillow from the East wall

Undirhlíðar is much larger than I had originally imagined it (certainly a  grander scale than Estonian quarries). Here’s a great picture taken by Travis:

Undirhlíðar quarry wall under consideration by Dr. Pollock and Lindsey Bowman

To brighten up this post, I’d like to nod to the colorful and abundant flora of Iceland. Barren? I think not.

Nootka Lupin outside Undirhlithar

Wood crane's bill

The only fauna that we’ve seen besides seagulls are these unfortunate fish- species unknown.

Dried fish- yummy!

Finally, below is a video taken by Travis today to give you an idea of Undirhlíðar in 3D-

Tomorrow we head to Vatnsskarth to continue our field work!

When Volcanoes Erupt

April 6th, 2011

WOOSTER, OH – Students in the Geology of Natural Hazards course spent a day studying the products of volcanic eruptions. Here are some of the outstanding samples in our volcanic collection:

Reticulite is a delicate network of basaltic glass that forms during Hawaiian fire fountaining. Volatiles expand easily in the low-viscosity magma, creating a dense network of interconnected vesicles separated by thin strands of quenched lava (sideromelane).

Accretionary lapilli are rounded pea-sized pieces of tephra that consist of volcanic ash. Ash aggregates into balls because of electrostatic forces in the eruption column.

Volcanic bombs are formed when lava is ejected and becomes airborne. The fusiform bomb has a rounded aerodynamic shape with an elongated tail, which tells us that the material was molten when it was ejected and was shaped as it traveled through the air.

The glassy surface of this basalt shows the classic ropy texture of pahoehoe. Ropy pahoehoe develops when the surface of a lava flow becomes partially solidified and wrinkles as the underlying lava continues to flow.

Deep in the heart of a lava flow

March 17th, 2011

ZZYZX, CALIFORNIA–This morning the Wooster Geologists enjoyed an ancient lava flow from the inside. We found our way to a lava tube near the center of the Mojave National Preserve and explored the interior with flashlights and flash cameras. It helped that there were a few “windows” in the basalt roof where sunlight could stream in. As Meagen Pollock (she who lives for basalt) explained, a lava tube is formed when a flow cools on its exterior portions while the lava is still moving.  When the lava drains out at the end of the flow, the result is a long tunnel of basalt.  Lava dripped from the ceilings, making the igneous equivalent of stalactites.  As the flow receded, it left horizontal “bath tub rings” along the side of the tube. It was fun to speculate on how many lava tubes remain undiscovered beneath the many square kilometers of basalt exposed in the Mojave Desert.

Igneous delights at Amboy Crater and in the Granite Mountains

March 16th, 2011

Greg Wiles on the rim of Amboy Crater.

ZZYZX, CALIFORNIA–This afternoon the Wooster geologists studied two very different magma products in the southern part of our field area. After lunch we drove to Amboy on historic Route 66 and then hiked up to the rim of Amboy Crater. Here we saw the extrusive, mafic rock basalt at its finest in the cinder cone itself and the lava flows across the valley.

Desert iguana on the basalt near Amboy Crater.

After Amboy, we traveled north to the Granite Mountains and examined wonderful alkali granites weathering into rounded boulders. The feldspar crystals in these intrusive felsic rocks were extraordinarily large and numerous, and there were many xenoliths scattered throughout. The countryside here was lush with desert vegetation that made our all-too-brief stop most enjoyable.

An exposure in the Granite Mountains, California.

The feldspar-rich alkali granite in closer view.

“A Creative Adventure”: Wooster Geologist Featured in a Higher Education Article

October 5th, 2010

WOOSTER, OHIO–”When College of Wooster Assistant Professor Meagen Pollock stands in front of one of her geology courses, she’s thinking beyond what her students need to accomplish during that class period, or even during that semester. Pollock is constantly thinking about how she can ensure that her students—all her students—develop good research skills.” This is the beginning of an article in the October 2010 AAC&U News, a widely-read publication of the Association of American Colleges & Universities. The topic is Wooster’s signature Independent Study program. Katie Holt of the Wooster’s Department of History is also featured. We are very proud of our colleagues … and just love the fact that one of our geology students in the field is pictured as an example!

Ali Drushal Sloan ('09) doing Independent Study fieldwork in northern Iceland.

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?

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