Archive for July 17th, 2010

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.

The Bonneville Flood and where it began

July 17th, 2010

DOWNEY, IDAHO–Lake Bonneville has been one of the geological themes of my short visit to northern Utah this summer. The remnant wave-cut platforms of its shorelines dominate the geomorphology of the Logan area, and the lake sediments are the basis for the rich soils of the Cache Valley. Today my parents and I visited Red Rock Pass in southern Idaho where this massive lake breached a weak area of limestones and shales 14,500 years ago and then catastrophically flooded the land to the north. The Bonneville Flood was not as large as the Missoula Floods of geological legend, but it left a very similar record of scoured land, scattered boulders, huge waterfalls, and thick gravel bars.

Red Rock Pass near Downey, Idaho. The rocky hill in the center was part of the dam of sedimentary rocks which gave way 14,500 years ago and released the catastrophic Bonneville Flood.

View north from the dam area looking down one of the flood channels. On the left is a rocky outcrop of the original dam. On the right along the side of the channel is a gravel bar running parallel to the current direction.

Tragedy at Bear River: two very different historical narratives

July 17th, 2010

PRESTON, IDAHO–I knew on our drive this morning that Preston, Idaho, is famous as the setting for the Napoleon Dynamite movie. (You can even download “Napoleon Dynamite’s sweet map” of the town.) I did not know that just north of Preston on US Highway 91 is a place of great sadness — and some lessons about history.

Confluence of the Bear River and Battle Creek north of Preston, Idaho.

Bear River and Battle Creek join here in a fertile valley with green meadows and quiet farms. In January 1863, US Cavalry and infantry attacked a camp of Shoshone in what became known as the Battle of Bear River — and then much laterĀ  as the Bear River Massacre. You can follow the links to read the full story. I want to call attention to the separate narratives of the conflict found in two sets of memorials on the site:

Older account of the Battle of Bear River on a memorial erected by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers and other groups.

A modern sign that is part of a memorial established by the Western Shoshone on a hilltop overlooking the site.

History as with science requires evidence to support hypotheses, and all such ideas are provisional because we never have all the information we need. Some hypotheses are stronger than others, though, as we weigh the evidence and the arguments. The tragedy at Bear River is a case where the more complete story only emerged into the public generations later. It is difficult to believe that one of the largest massacres of Native Americans in history is still so poorly known 147 years later.

Shoshone prayer tree at Bear River.