Saturday, June 23, 2012

Oregon Geo-sites: Comments and a Request for Help

I've started listing out Oregon sites of particular geological significance, and am beginning to realize it'll be no small task. In terms of reaching 100, no problem. In terms of ranking... well... problem. In terms of "uniqueness," again, problem. I think what I'll do is aim at 150 to 200 sites, which will take some time in and of itself, then cull the list down to 100. I'll list them by physiographic province, then follow with my own personal ranking. In other words, if I was to recommend to a geologically interested person sites to visit, the order in which I would recommend a site, assuming travel schedule, distance, and time were not issues (though of course, they always are). I will list all the sites that don't make the top 100 as unranked runners up.

Despite how it may seem, there are lots of places in Oregon I've never been, including places with great geology. Off the top of my head, a few examples include:
  • Crest of Steens Mountain
  • Smith Rocks State Park
  • Leslie Gulch and Owyhee Canyon
  • Jordan Craters
  • Saddle Mountain
  • Richardson's Rock Ranch
...and I don't doubt there are many more. As I said, those are just a few great spots that popped into my head in a few moments of thought, which I'd like to visit, but have never quite worked into other trips. I'm aiming at particular, rather specific spots, though some areas, such as Crater Lake and Newberry Volcano have dozens, if not hundreds, of noteworthy sites in and of themselves. Given the futility of trying to list all the important features of areas such as those two examples, I'll just list them as single locations.

This is prompted, in part, by Callan Bentley's geomeme of two posts back, and in particular by my exasperation at Lava River Cave as one of only two Oregon sites listed. There's nothing wrong with Lava River Cave, and it will definitely make my list. It's the longest tube in Oregon, it's developed, so anyone in moderately good physical shape can enjoy it, and it's easy to get to and find. On the other hand, I can think of three other lava tubes that I think have more to offer than this one (I will be including these in my final list as well). They are, in descending order, Derrick Cave, Wind Cave, and Malheur Cave. The first has an amazing slew of cool features, the second is breath-taking in its sheer size/cross-sectional area, and the third has an underground lake as its terminus. If I had to pick my top two Oregon sites, I would cheat and pick three, with Newberry Volcano and Crater Lake in a tie for first, and the Columbia River Gorge in second. NV and CL are, in broad terms, very similar. Much of what one can see at CL can only be seen at a distance, though there are things to see there that aren't visible at NV. On the other hand, there's plenty to see at NV that's not at CL, and it's easier to get hands-on there. Toss-up. (Honestly, though, if I wasn't inclined to cheat, I'd have to give CL the nod on the basis of its scientific importance.)

The reason I'm posting this heads-up, though, is to request help. I'll probably spend a couple of weeks or more working on this. Maybe much more. If you've spent time geologizing in Oregon, please leave a comment on this post, or @ me on Twitter (@lockwooddewitt), with sites that struck you as particularly geologically awesome, important, or beautiful. As I said, there are plenty of Oregon spots I know are important, but nevertheless have not had the opportunity to visit. I'll be relying on Geology of Oregon to fill in some of the gaps, but I am curious to hear what others have to say, and it will help me avoid missing sites that deserve to be included.

Thanks ahead of time for any help given.


Anonymous said...

Three Sisters. Crooked River from the High Bridge. Oregon dunes. Seal Rock. Harbor at Depoe Bay. Hope this helps!

Lyle said...

John Day Fossil Beds Sheep Rock Unit, as well as the Ochoco Highway for the nice exposure of Columbia River Basalts without annoying vegetation to block the rocks.
Fort Rock, and Albert Rim,

Lyle said...

Thinking further: The Blue Mountains, Hells Canyon, and while I have not been there the Owyee Canyon, as well as Steens Mountain