Monday, August 29, 2011

Volcanic Ramblings Part 2: A Dedication

I'd like to start off the more methodical portion of this "Volcanic Ramblings" series with a heart-felt dedication to Harold "Sharkey" Enlows, who first showed me many of the stops we made on this trip on the 1984 Petrology series spring excursion. Enlows could be curt and abrasive, but in his way, he was a very caring Teacher. He wasn't affectionate, but he simply wouldn't accept less than what he believed a student was capable of. His nickname arose not from fear, but from the respect and fondness his students felt toward him.

One example: I was not the most responsible student in the history of studenting (I've always said, "I'm an excellent learner, but I'm a terrible student."), and frequently missed early morning classes. The petrology/petrography series lectures fell into that category. So when the test for metapet rolled around, and I was confronted, on the first page, with the question, "Describe the mono-mineralogical problem with respect to metamorphic rocks," I mentally shrugged and skipped it. Sharkey typically sat in his office and did other paperwork while classes took tests, and when we finished, we took our tests to him and dropped them off. He glanced up when I dropped mine off. I turned to go, but he brought me to a sharp stop with "Hold it, DeWitt!" I knew that tone. I turned, and he had his finger on the hole where an answer should have been. I muttered, "I think I must have missed that day," to which he responded, "You did. But you can figure this out. Take this (he shoved the paper back at me) and go sit down until you do."

I had it sussed even before I got back to my seat. If you have only one mineral phase in a nice clean metamorphic rock- like a quartzite or marble- it's nearly impossible to say anything quantitative about the T & P history it's been through. Metapet depends on finding how differing elemental components have been partitioned into differing mineral phases; only one phase, no partitioning. So within a couple minutes I was back in his office, waiting, embarrassed, while he made a great show of reading my answer, then flipping through the rest of the pages to make sure there were no other blanks. He rolled his eyes at me and said, "Good. You're sharp. Don't let lazy get in the way."


When I graduated, some years later, I made a point to visit most of my profs to explicitly thank them for the effort they'd put into my education. I do believe most of them were close to teary-eyed (I know I was); too few students make that small effort of their own. But I didn't make that happy trip to Sharkey's office. Why? Because unbeknownst to us undergrads, he had been diagnosed with and in treatment for cancer for the entire year we'd had him as a teacher. In summer of 1984, just a month or so after we finished his class, and less than two after he took us on what remains to this day one of the best field trips of my life, the disease took him. One of my biggest regrets is that I never had a chance to express my respect, thanks, and admiration to his face. He wasn't my "favorite" prof, but he's the one who made me work the hardest, and from whom I learned the most.

And that's no small compliment.

So for each of the stops we made on our Volcanic Ramblings that I saw first under Sharkey's tutelage, I'll just skip over the long-winded intro, but preface the post with a dignified "In Memoriam: Harold "Sharkey" Enlows." It feels like the least I owe him.

I was going to write up our first official stop, Salt Creek Falls, but it occurs to me I've forgotten to eat today, and I need to blow my nose and dry my eyes. Dana will have Salt Creek Falls covered for you in the near future. Here's a spur-of-the-moment photo I took when we stopped for gas out near I-5, on our way out of town, looking back over Corvallis to the iconic profile of Marys Peak.
Marys Peak, Oregon: a fore-arc uplift of seafloor basalt overprinted with oceanic plateau basalt, topped with a frosting of deep-water turbidites, then intruded and capped with a gabbroic sill.


Dana Hunter said...

What an amazing teacher. I always loved the ones who made me work my arse off and didn't take excuses for an answer the most. Without them, I wouldn't have much of a mind. And they'll be with me the rest of my life.

Going to go blow my own nose and wipe my eyes now, then get on with the Salt Creek madness...

Garry Hayes said...

Thanks for this post, Lockwood.

Southern Geologist said...

Thank you for this post. It reminds me of a professor I dealt with at my former college. (Unfortunately, I was in the process of a psychological breakdown at the time I took his mineralogy course and he didn't understand that.) Ironically, he was a metamorphic petrologist.

One of these days I'll have to contact him and thank him for making an effort and expecting a lot out of me in spite of all the trouble I gave him before leaving.