Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Watauga Falls

In the Fall of 2007, we went out to this outcrop, or waterfall in Delaware County, rather proximal to the town of Delhi. I don't remember the exact stratigraphic location of the falls themselves, but I do recall an abundance of excellent sedimentary structures, including ripple marks, as well as cross stratification in multiple directions.

The bad news: after about 1 hour we realized there was a Delaware Co. police vehicle parked behind our van. Needless to say, we were out of there way too soon, but there long enough to get some nice shots of the falls.

On a side note, this was the top terrace of a two-fall system. The second terrace was much larger, at least 4x as wide, and over 100' vertical drop. However, the lower falls were not accessible from out position.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Formation of Rodinia

"For every tectonic event there is a sedimentary response" Dr. Ebert

Greetings all, this is mt first post and I'd like to start by taking you on a journey that I recently travelled with my Historical Geology at SUNY Oneonta. This journey, guided by Dr. Ebert, took as back 1.2 billion years into the past and forward in time to look at glacial features.

Our first stop is in the Mohawk River Valley 1.2 billion years in the past. The rocks are a highly metamorphosed gneiss. There are two distinct features present in the gneiss. The first is the pink and purple crystals that can be found all over the rocks. These crystals are in fact garnets! The other predominate feature is extensive foliation, or banding, seen with in the rocks. The foliation is both on small scale

Our second stop brings us to Canajoharie where a large grouping of sedimentary rocks begins to show us some indicators that an orogeny, mountain building event, is eminent. The first two lays of rock are carbonates. The first layer is dolostone, a chemically altered limestone, and the second layer is a limestone. The first layer is bare of fossils except for stromatolites, a feature formed by mats of algae. This, combined with the present of carbonates indicates that the environment was very warm. The second layer was rich in bryozoans, brachiopods and crinoids. The third and final layer was an extremely black shale. The black shale indicates that the water extremely deep and very anoxic. The only life that can be found in these shales are graptolites, a floating organism. The two limestones are part of what is called The Great American Bank, a large deposit of carbonate rocks that indicate the subsidence of the continent. The shale is part of what is called the Starved Basins which is a time when the crust has subsided a lot and has a very small sediment source.

The third stop brought us to a sequence of alternating sandstone and shales. These rocks were filled with burrows and flute casts, a sedimentary structure that indicates the flow of water and sediment. This sequence is known as flysch. This is a sequence that indicates that an approaching landmass is now close enough to dump sediment on the area.

Our final stop was in Schoharie and was simply a fossil prospecting run. These fossils were everywhere at this site, among them were bryozoans, cephalopods, brachiopods, crinoids and tentaculids.

A Lacuna is NOT a pore of a "various inverebrate"

So, I'm going to start posting geology photos every few days that I have taken (and maybe Rock Doctor Aucoin will as well) with sometimes brief explanations to them. Today - we fly up to Bering Glacier, AK and take a look at a (glacial) Lacuna.

A lacuna is defined in the geologic dictionary as follows:

1. A chronological stratigraphic unit representing a gap in the record. Syn: unconformity.
2. A pore, opening or hole, or gap in various invertebrate organisms.

For those looking to fill a gap in the stratigraphic/evolutionary record, please be advised that a glacial lacuna is not a "various invertebrate organism"...

No. Far from it. A glacial lacuna is actually, through a rough translation, a lake. Now, when I was standing in this particular lacuna, on the Piedmont lobe of Bering, I can certainly say the only liquid water here was a small ephemeral stream running from the top of the ice into this very deep void. 

It is thought that these formations are due to rapid wasting of ice in certain locations, but not through typical phase change. What makes the most sense to this particular, amateur glaciologist is sublimation, when solid water transitions to gaseous water. Believe it or not, the temperature on the top of the ice sheet this day was a comfortable 55F or so, while within the lacuna, out of the Chugach Range's strong adiabatic wind, was over 75F.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Weekend Water Quality Testing of Upper Susquehanna Watershed

Watershed Management (Geology 384) headed down the Susquehanna River to check on Nitrogen loads. The main idea was to check into wether the Susquehanna River was contributing the most Nitrogen load, or if the Unadilla and Chenango Rivers were contributing more. The results were quite typical, and as of right now, the Susquehanna exiting the state of New York falls within the nitrogen alottment.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Maine USGS Makes the US a little more Green

Just got this email from Augusta, Maine's Water Science Center and they really impressed me with this one. They have developed an instrument powered by both wind and solar energy to measure rain and snowfall in remote regions in Maine in order to predict the amount of spring meltwater to be expected in Maine's reservoirs. 

The whole article can be seen on the USGS website.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Welcome Notice

Welcome all ye water and rock loving geologers, naturalists, outdoor nerds and such to this elegant "blog" depicting life as a student of Earth (and sometimes Mars...) The purpose of this blog is to account for the natural beauty of our glorious planet, to observe and report the phenomenon that make this rock the best place in the universe to live; and much, much more.

The meaning behind the title dates back to the Spring of 2006, just before a joint field trip between a Mineralogy and Water Resources class at Oneonta State in Southern NY. Realizing something had been forgotten in his office, Dr. Devin Castendyk, from here on out to be referred to simply as Devin, was unlocking the door to his office, smiling and saying to himself, 

"Water and rocks...at the same time.." 

Those words, witnessed by myself and fellow undergrad hard-rock aficionado Mike DeVasto, come to life here in this humble post, which will concentrate on the local geology of wherever I find myself traveling to in my up-and-coming "real life". 

So enjoy it.You never know when it's all going to be gone. If you read this post, please realize your inside, and nothing you can ever get from this will ever account for a simple suprise moment in the wilderness, coming across a great mineral intrusion, or jumping a whitetail doe and faun from a quiet, seemingly quiet swamp. Read on, play on, live on.