Saturday, February 2, 2013

Geo 365: Feb. 2, Day 33: McKenzie Pass Lava

Looking approximately northwest from Dee Wright Observatory, Little Belknap Crater (pronounced "bell-knap," silent 'k') center, Belknap Crater, left, and Mount Washington, right. I had glanced at various maps of the flows in this area, but never taken much time to think about them. It turns out, Route 242 more or less follows the convergence zone of young flows from the Belknap area and those from the north flank of the North Sister- in particular, a flow (or flows) from Yapoah Crater border the south side of the road. Just east of the pass and observatory, a young flow from Yapoah crosses and extends some distance in a finger to the north east.

Below are a couple of screen captures from issues of DOGAMI's "Ore Bin"/Oregon Geology. The first shows the regional structure of the area I've been dwelling on the last couple of weeks, Upper McKenzie River and McKenzie Pass. The second shows a map of the layout and sources of the young lava flows in the area.
Screen capture from page 6 of this PDF; scale and location moved digitally. McKenzie Pass and Dee Wright Observatory would be just west of the circled "242" route label near the center of the image.
This map of lava flows in the area dates to 1965, which I mention because I'm certain there have been some changes. However, I doubt the general overview has, very much. From "RECENT VOLCANISM BETWEEN THREE FINGERED JACK AND NORTH SISTER OREGON CASCADE RANGE" (PDF, screen capture from page 3.)

Photo unmodified. August 21, 2011. FlashEarth location.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Another "Funny" Ternary: Energy Sources

This occurred to me a few days ago, but it took me some time to decide how I wanted to lay it out. Based on 2010 data from Wikipedia.

Followup: I was actually a bit surprised at how much of the total went to renewables. If I'd had to guess, I'd have pretty much reversed that with nuclear. Also, adding "geology" tag. As I commented elsewhere, "where ever we go from where we are, the geology community and professionals will be the ones to allow us to get there." Whether petroleum/coal, nuclear or REE's, geology is going to be a significant part of whatever energy future we ultimately decide upon.

Geo 365: Feb. 1, Day 32: Dee Wright Volcano Observatory

The Dee Wright Volcano Observatory was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp during the 1930's, using stone from the surrounding lava flows. I have always been struck, on one hand, how well it blends in to the surrounding landscape, and on the other, how nicely it stands out and crowns it. Whether they're interested in geology or not, I'm always a little surprised when a person who's lived in Oregon more than a few years tells me they've never heard of it.

Photo unmodified. August 21, 2011. FlashEarth location.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

When Am I Thinking of the Thing, Itself?

The above just came through my Twitter feed. It's a retweet by someone I do follow, from someone I don't, so I've anonymized it.

When I was working in science ed, one of the things I think was valued about my input to discussions was my persistent need to tease out meanings of words, concepts, things. There are often meanings that are presumed by groups that go beyond formal definitions, and formal definitions often do not evolve to keep up with shifting nuances of meaning. I can't help but poke and prod at things like that.

One extended conversation, over several days, seemed to have most people either stumped, or bemused about why I thought it was important- and have no doubt, I did think it was important. It was my comment and question, "When I reflect on my own thinking, I find that when I think about a thing, I think in terms of images, metaphors, and similes. In other words, I think about the thing in terms of other things, not the thing itself. When am I actually thinking about the thing itself?"

Now that was a puzzler. Some suggested it might be that we do in fact think of all things in terms that are simply relational- that is, nothing has meaning except in terms of other things. I wasn't really satisfied with that; to me, it seems tautological. As I mentioned, some shrugged the question off as not very important, but it seemed to me that questions of individuality and uniqueness required a thinker to know what was distinct about "the thing itself." And that was what led me to a satisfying answer.

My solution? "I'm thinking about the thing itself when I'm thinking about how the thing is different from the images, metaphors, and similes I use to think about it."

Geo 365: Jan. 31, Day 31: McKenzie Wagon Road

The view east from Dee Wright Observatory at McKenzie Pass. Route 242 turns to the right in the mid-distance. At that turn, there appears to be a path or trail going up the hillside. That is actually the old McKenzie wagon road, which eastern Americans of European roots used to get to the southern portion of the Willamette Valley. Segments of that road can be seen nearby the modern road in a number of places in this area.

This landscape is unimaginably hostile- I've never felt comfortable getting off developed areas, such as roads or trails, more than a few feet. That chunk of rock you step onto may be firmly rooted to the deeper portion of the flow, or it may roll out from under you, sending you sprawling, face-down, onto the sharp, ragged aa. I stand in the middle of this stark but strangely beautiful landscape, and ponder those early settlers. I think about their struggle to cross the American West... the Rockies... the desert, and the Great Basin... likely, hostile natives... hunger... thirst... disease. I imagine their first glimpse of the central Cascades, a few days of their time before Bend, rising majestic and snow covered, on the horizon. I imagine their increasing excitement as the landscape graded from juniper and sage, to lodgepole pine, to a magnificent ponderosa forest, just east of here. Excitedly chattering about the lush paradise of the promised Willamette Valley.

Then I picture them reaching this area, and looking across what, to them, would most certainly not have been "beautiful." It would have looked like congealed hell, a wasteland.

And I can't help but think some number of them just tossed up their hands, and said, in effect, "Fuck this noise. We're going back home."

Photo unmodified. October 9 2012. Flash Earth Location. In that view, the wagon road is clearly visible as the path internal to, and generally parallel to, the gooseneck on the modern road, off to the east of the cross hairs, which are on the spot where I took this photo.

Also: one month down! Woot!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Geo 365: Jan. 30, Day 30: North and Middle Sisters

A few miles farther up the road, there's a pull-out on the south side (right, as you drive east) of the road, with a glorious view of North and Middle Sisters. North Sister is older, Middle Sister is younger. South Sister, which is hidden behind Middle Sister from this viewpoint, is younger still. A smallish lake in its summit crater is Oregon's highest elevation lake, and an example of a true "crater lake" (as opposed to a caldera lake).

Photo unmodified. October 9, 2012. FlashEarth location.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!

Since Sunday, people using Chrome have been getting a malware warning upon attempting to visit this blog. I'm not terribly knowledgeable about this stuff, but I was able to determine what the likely problem was: a post from nearly two years ago, with a link to another website I won't name- you'll see it in a moment. At any rate, I deleted that whole post yesterday, though it still shows up in a search. But if you were to click  on that link, as I did, you'd be told "That page does not exist."
Note that the OTI post, the first result, is not labeled as a hazard. All the others, hosted at the apparently offending site, are.

I will point out that two Chrome users have told me they were blocked from going to the page, but had no problem reading it in RSS. So there's that option.

Additionally, I did a malware scan (results here, though I don't know how long they'll be cached), and was told OTI was malware-free. I'm not sure how often Chrome updates its "dangerous sites" data base, but I'm hoping it gets cleared up. I'm a little confused... isn't Chrome a Google product? Why would Chrome mark a site (or page) dangerous, but not Google? At any rate, sorry people are having to deal with this, and I hope what I've done already is enough to get it cleared up, sooner or later.

Of course the people having the problem won't be able to read this, either.

Geo 365: Jan. 29, Day 29: Black Crater

Same location as yesterday, looking roughly ENE, toward McKenzie Pass and Black Crater on the horizon. Just as at the "headwaters" of the McKenzie River, there is no surface drainage here, despite receiving quite literally hundreds of inches of snow every winter. A number of arterial roads that cross the Cascades are maintained and kept open through the winter months, with the exception of brief closures during the most intense storms. Route 242, though, closes with the first heavy snow, and is only opened when it's mostly melted off. Typically, the last few drifts are plowed, then the road is opened to exclusively bicyclists and hikers for a few days before being opened to motorized traffic. It generally opens in late June to early July, though in especially heavy snow years, it can be late July, and closes sometime in mid-October to November. Information about the highway can be found here. (Note, they have last fall's closure mislabeled with respect to the year.)

In this area, there are a slew of young flows coming from both Belknap (yesterday's photo) to the north and from the area between North Sister and the highway to the south. They converge on the pass area, then flow off to both the east and west. I've never made any effort to sort out the sources and ages of the flows in the pass area- just enjoyed the sense of awe of the earth renewing itself, and the starkness of the landscape. Come to think of it, though, I'm pretty sure I do have a source at home that might clarify some details on this area. I'll try to remember to bring that in.

Photo unmodified. October 9, 2012. FlashEarth location.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Geo 365: Jan. 28, Day 28: Belknap Crater

Moving uphill from the McKenzie River on Route 242, we're approaching McKenzie Pass. This is a pullout where the road first encounters a fresh, young lava flow. The view is to the NNE, and the peak on the horizon is Belknap Crater.

Photo unmodified. October 9, 2012. FlashEarth location. Note: you may have noticed, I have a distinct preference for vertically formatted photos. This is because I'm limited, on this platform, by width, and not by height. But I'm pretty sure that if you right-click and "open link in new tab," it makes no difference in the actual resolution you in which you can see it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday Funnies: Tea Party Edition

Clay Bennett
What Would Jack Do?
"When I get asked a question on my oral exam." What Should We Call Grad School?
Sober in a Nightclub
Lunar Baboon
Sober in a Nightclub
"When the only thing I talk about at family dinner is geology, and I've only been in college 1 semester" Geology is Hard
Tastefully Offensive
Narcolepsy, Incorporated
Lunar Baboon
Tastefully Offensive
Very Demotivational
Bits and Pieces
TYWKIWDBI- "The cover of New Yorker, Sept. 1993."
 Words of wisdom. Are You Talking to Meme? Indeed. I recite this first thing when  I wake up each day.
Very Demotivational
Very Demotivational
Arctic Ice
Cyanide and Happiness
The Far Left Side
UPS Delivery to the ISS. Senor Gif
Ugliest Tattoos
Funny to Me.

Geo 365: Jan. 27, Day 27: Springing Forth

While the views at Koosah Falls were very limited, peering through the foliage, I was struck by the amount of water coming out near the base of the gorge below the falls. While it's a bit washed out by the brightly lit foliage in the foreground- and this is typical throughout this area- the spring gushing out at the foot of the cliff is quite obvious. And this was merely one of quite a few. The area is not accessible, but it seemed as if they were all coming out at about the same elevation. I have to wonder if this is either a basal breccia for an overlying lava flow, or a surficial aa on the top of an underlying, older, flow. Whatever the explanation, it was awfully pretty, and I spent more time gazing at these than looking at the falls themselves.

Photo unmodified. October 9, 2012. FlashEarth location. (cross hairs on approximate location of springs)