The lack of blog posts in the past few days has been due to the lack of internet here in Death Valley. We are staying at SHEAR, Shoshone Education and Research facility in the small town of Shoshone, CA, population 100. The town is about three blocks long and has a post office, a general store/gas station, a town museum, an RV park and the Crowbar. When we arrived in Shoshone on Saturday night, we cooked dinner on SHEAR’s grills and then visited the Crowbar!
On Sunday, we had a much needed day off! We slept in and then had breakfast at the Crowbar, which is also a café. Then I did laundry (much needed) and went for a swim in the town’s hot springs-turned-pool. Then I went to the Crowbar, the only place to access the internet, to send some emails about potential grad schools. In the evening, we relaxed and cooked an epic kabob dinner! And, the evening would not be complete without a night swim!
The next day, we visited some of the oldest rocks in the area from the Neoproterozoic. We hiked around observing all of the different rock types in the area. We also saw an oolite, which is a rock made out of round calcite clasts. It is made out of small (few mm) spheres. It looks really awesome!
On Tuesday, we had two Celebrations of Learning (a.k.a. field quizzes). They consisted of observing an out crop, recording our observations, and making interpretations about how the rock formed based on our observations. Both C.O.L.s were at very complex and confusing outcrops. The second one is even called the Amargosa Chaos! After our C.O.L.s were over (relief!) we visited more Neoprotoerozoic rocks and saw evidence of glaciers! We also saw hematite, which would have only precipitated in ocean conditions during the Proterozioc, as evidenced by the well-known Banded Iron Formation. Then, we went to some SAND DUNES!!! I had never been to any sand dunes, so I had a blast! It was so much fun running up and down the dunes and seeing the wind-blown ripples!
Along the way to DV, we stopped and saw Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental US!
Please see Andrew Gregovitch’s blog for an update about the passed few days, which consisted of independent group work followed by a tour of the area with each group presenting their research. We are now driving south to Death Valley to learn about the more recent tectonic events in the region. Internet access will be limited there, so there won’t be many blog posts for awhile.
This week marks the next phase of our study of the CA/NV region: a two-to-three day independent research project. We split into four groups, each studying a different aspect of the local geology: glacial geology, plutonic geology, metamorphic geology and continental volcanism. I am part of the plutonic geology group. We are observing and researching the Sierra Nevada Batholith, which formed by the slow cooling of magma bodies. The plutonic rock was associated with an oceanic magmatic arc that was later accreted onto the North American continent. We began the day by observing some metamorphosed igneous rocks associated with that magmatic arc. Then, we hiked around near SNARL and examined some plutonic rocks associated with the Batholith. When we returned to SNARL, I made a stir-fry dinner for everyone!
The reason for the lack of blog posts over the last few days is because we were camping and didn’t have internet access! On Saturday we left the cabin we had been staying at and ventured into the Mono Lakes area to explore the region ‘s volcanic deposits. Saturday afternoon we packed up the cabin and drove toward Lake Tahoe! We learned that Lake Tahoe is actually a graben that has been naturally dammed by volcanics and filled with water. After a brief stop at the Lake to view the surrounding landscape, we continued driving. Later that afternoon, I awoke from a nice car-ride nap to discover that we had arrived at some hot springs! There were several different pools, and each was a different temperature. The hot springs were so relaxing, none of us wanted to leave. When we’d managed to drag ourselves out of the warm water, we drove to the small town of Bridgeport and had dinner at a restaurant. Then we drove to our campsite and slept comfortably on some pumice deposits.
The next day (Sunday) we woke up and visited some volcanic deposits. First, we saw some obsidian-rich deposits from Glass Mountain. Then we drove to visit the rhyolitic dome in Devil’s Punch Bowl. After exploring and eating lunch there, we ventured to the Devil’s Post Pile (see a theme here?) and observed beautifully columnar jointed basaltic lava flows.
Our plan for Monday had been to explore the rocks in Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately, due to the government shutdown, we weren’t able to explore the park in the way we’d hoped. Even though the park itself was closed, the road that runs through the park, highway 120, was still open, so we just drove through the park and observed the geology through the car windows. We stopped just outside the park to get a closer look at some of the rocks. The we drove to our new lodging, SNARL, Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab.
Today’s schedule was a change of pace from our usual packed days. We had a leisurely morning; we woke up a bit later and cooked a hot breakfast (bacon and eggs). Then we set off to hike a nearby ridge (part of the PCT) and examine the rocks at the top. We knew it was going to be a cold hike, so we prepared with jackets and wind breakers, but it was very windy. Towards the top of the ridge, the winds gushes were so strong I was almost blown over several times!! After seeing the rocks, we split up into two groups: one group was going to hike to another peak and the other was going to head back to the cabin. I was part of the later group. On our way back to the cabin, we stopped in town and went to a coffee shop to warm up. After returning to the cabin, we worked on writing the geologic history of the region based on our observations thus far. Then, we went to the beach of nearby Ice Lake and played a game of Ultimate Frisbee.