A semi-open forum to slam (or support) whatever i dream up on my blogs. Have fun! :)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Rocky Raccoon

Now somewhere in the black minin' hills of Dakota
there lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon. . . .

- Lennon/McCartney

This entry doesn't need much from me. These are some of the photographs that I took while on my other Mineralogy/petrology class field trip. This one was out to the Black Hills. It consisted of two 12 hour drives, three days of mid-October camping, excellent weather, and good times. I think that my whole class enjoyed this trip, I know that I sure did.

Anyway, the photos speak for themselves. Enjoy! Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. The seventh photo down is of the above-ground portion of the world's most productive gold mine; the Homestake mine in Lead, South Dakota. Oh, yeah, and I didn't see ANY raccoons.

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Going Up the Country

I'm going up the country, babe don't you wanna go
I'm going up the country, babe don't you wanna go
I'm going to some place where I've never been before

I'm going, I'm going where the water tastes like wine
Well I'm going where the water tastes like wine
We can jump in the water, stay drunk all the time

- A. Wilson

As you people (what, all 3 or 4 of you - you know who you are. :)) who regularly read my blog know, I'm currently a geology major at UWEC. The nice thing about that, as I've written before, is that I get to take field trips as part of my education. I like field trips. I get to go places and learn things at those places. This is a story about a field trip that our Mineralogy/Petrology class took to northern Wisconsin. I had a very good time (I think that my whole class did) and took a few photos. Without bothering you with the geological details (that I have to pay perfectly good money to learn :)) I'll provide you with a story of that weekend, which occurred sometime in the middle of last September.

Our trip centered in Mellen, Wisconsin, which has a few famous quarries for the local granite. It's also fairly well-centered to show the 1.1 billion-year-old failed continental rift area in northern Wisconsin. It was just the right time of year for color change of the local flora, as you can see from some of the photos. We stayed at a campground on Mineral Lake, and we were there for three days and three nights. The weather was decent most of the time, with only one day of rain (but a pretty full day of light rain) on the whole trip.

Anyways, I'll pretty much let you see for yourself what it was like. Below (as per usual) are selected captioned photos of the trip. Enjoy! I sure had a good time taking them.

This is a nice photo of Mineral Lake, taken the morning after the all-day drizzle, from our campground area. I like mist.

A nice photo from a location just south of Mellen. This view typifies the scenery we encountered throughout the field trip. Not that I complained. . . .

One of our stops was an abandoned iron mine on top of Mount Whittlesey, about
3-4 miles from Mellen. This is a view from the top, looking (roughly) east.

And this is what the banded iron formation at the top looks like.

This is a view of the Mellen granite quarry. The granite is supposed to be rather famous as excellent material for counter tops and the like. This stop was made on the day it rained.

This is a nice photo of part of the series of waterfalls of the Potato River, taken from a rock out in the middle. This late in the year the water was both shallow and slow.

This is a composite of two photos of one of our last stops, the most northern point of our entire trip. Yes, this is one big lake! :) Actually, it's the biggest lake in the world, in surface area. You can guess the name. :) After two-and-a-half days of looking at and learning about rocks, we spent some time here eating lunch and getting vengeance on those rocks by throwing them into the lake. It was a fitting end to a great weekend. As I wrote, I had a lot of fun on this field trip. I hope that all of you like the photos and story. Let me know how you feel!

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Walk Like an Egyptian

All the school kids so sick of books
They like the punk and the metal band
When the buzzer rings (oh whey oh)
They're walking like an Egyptian. . . . .

- L. Sternberg

As you may have guessed by now, I'm back at school. I'm currently taking three courses, a pre-calculus math course, an intro. to archeology course, and one of my core courses for my major, mineralogy/petrology (min/pet for short). I'm also working part-time in the university's sandwich shop, about 20 hours per week. I'm much busier now than I was during the summer, and things seem to be going pretty well, so far.

One of the major advantages to taking UWEC's min/pet course is that we get to go on two major field trips during the semester. We also take shorter field trips about once every other week, depending upon the weather. For the last two weeks, we've been going to a nearby location called Lake Wissota. This entry is about those two trips.

Lake Wissota was formed when the power company built a dam across the Chippewa River near Chippewa Falls. The place we've been visiting is located downstream of the dam, and formerly was under water most of the time, depending on the river level. Like our last semester's visits to the Jim's Falls and Big Falls areas, the rocks exposed are very interesting and are not the usual strata found in the driftless area of Wisconsin (which is basically Cambrian-era sandstone). The most interesting feature of this Lake Wissota site is that it shows an intrusion of basaltic magma congruent with the continental rift event of about 1.1 billion years ago.

Anyways, the place is pretty cool, imo. :) Oh, and the title of this entry comes from the song we all heard on the radio while we were on our way to our little expedition. I hadn't heard it in more than a decade. :) Below are captioned photos taken at the Lake Wissota location. We had to hike in about a 1/2 mile from the van parking area. The weather on both visits was excellent, about 70 F. with mostly blue skies.

I know that I learned a lot, and had a good time; and I think my classmates felt the same. Let's hope that our next field trip(s) are as good as these were!

Most of our group having just unloaded at the parking area.
Lake Wissota. The power dam is an extension of the road on the right, out of view in the photo. Our group turned even further right than that, downstream of the dam.

After a while, we had to cross a creek.

The water-weathered rock formation that we passed over.

And the main site itself. Note the darker color of the rocks on the left compared to the right. On the left is the intrusive basaltic rocks, the right are the much older parent rocks.

Our group at the main formation.

Another view of the water-weathered basaltic flow.

Yet another view of the basaltic rock. Note the differences in weathering coloration.

Another photo of our group at the main site. We're studying rocks in Wisconsin! :)

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Summer in the City

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

But at night it's a different world
Go out and find a girl
Come-on come-on and dance all night
Despite the heat it'll be alright

And babe, don't you know it's a pity
That the days can't be like the nights
In the summer, in the city
In the summer, in the city

- M. Sebastian

I spent the better part of this last summer waiting for school to begin again. Most of my time was spent getting ready for my second semester at UWEC, and the rest was actually, for the most part, quite boring. I did take to walking around my new home of Oak Lair (not it's real name) and sometimes taking a few photos. That's pretty much what this article is about. :)

Many of you have already seen the only real excitement that I had this summer. If not, check out my previous entry. I'll remember the river float fondly, we all had such a good time.

Otherwise, I did watch quite a few Brewers games, and they tended to win. This now being late September, however, now they're not doing so good. It sort of doesn't matter, because school is now taking up an awful lot of my time. I've barely had time to process this blog and make any entries. However, I have to do this now, because I've already got two more posts planned; our first two field trips out to Lake Wissota, and our first REAL BIG field trip up to northern Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan. Anyway, this whole post is just to catch all of you up with where I'm at in life, right now.

Like any summer, it was hot here. However, it was an average summer; maybe a little on the coolish side, this year. We had a few thunderstorms pass through, but no real bad weather to note.

For the most part, these are just captioned photos taken this summer (well, one from late spring) here in town. I think that my digital camera sure makes my photography look good, but, understand - it's mostly the camera (and the subjects) - and not the operator that makes the difference here. :) Anyways, enjoy!

This one is taken from the top of a local high point called Mount Tom. Like most of western Wisconsin, there are a lot of whitetails in town.

Another high point in town is a place called Mount Simon. This is a photo from my climb to its summit.

This is what the summit looks like. Evidently, it's a fairly-secluded place for the local kids to party. :)

This is a nice shot of one of the views from the summit.

Not too far from Mount Simon is the small lake formed behind the Chippewa River dam in town. It's called Dell's Pond, and the fishing is supposed to be pretty good.

A nice 13+" smallmouth taken from the Dell's Pond dock. Decent. :)

This is a photo taken very close to where I live. The view is to the southwest.

Near the university is this building on Water Street. Gargoyles are cool!

Some elected official forgot that this was Wisconsin. :)

Another view of Dell's Pond. Sigh. :)

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Friday, August 08, 2008

I Got a Line on You

Let me take you baby, down to the river bed
Got to tell you somethin', go right to your head
Cause I got a line on you, babe
I got a line on you

- R. California

I've been spending most of my time this summer waiting and preparing for next fall's college term. In the meantime, I've been watching the Brewers do pretty well. Since I don't have a television of my own, I watch the games at the place where I also go to eat. That's handy for me, and this place also gives me somewhere to go when I'm bored. It's called the Amber Inn, and it's run by a very cool fellow by the name of Orv. One day, not too long ago, somebody got the bright idea to have a float on the local river that runs through town. This is the story of that fun-filled event, sponsored by the aforementioned Amber Inn.

Truthfully, in my opinion, the pictures pretty much speak for themselves. I've provided a few captions for you. We had about a dozen people on the float, most riding on some sort of inner tube. Orv sailed a canoe. Myself, I had a brandy-new tube to float on, and I had a very, very good time. I think we all did. Anyway, here you go!

This photo was taken at the Amber Inn's parking lot prior to our group loading up in the van and shuttling down to the start-landing.
Most of our group getting ready to start. The shove-off point on the river was just out of view behind the trees on the left.

Most of our group in the water, just before I got in.

Two views from the river. The large mostly-yellow float is actually a kiddie pool.

Our only stop along the way was this tree-swing. Hoo haa lots of fun!

Another view from the river.

The end of the line. The trip lasted about 4 1/2 hours, so we were pretty tired at this point.

And here we are back at the Amber Inn parking lot. The first thing most of us did was make plans for next year. Count me in!!!

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rock and Roll

Been a long time
Been a long time
Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely
Time. . . .

- R. Plant

One of the nice things about taking a geology course at UWEC is that our class got to go on a field trip. This happy occasion occurred during the first weekend in May. It was an all-day affair and, in my opinion, ended up being a lot of fun. The day started out cool & wet, but, right about noon, the sun came out and warmed things up considerably. We went to a number of geologic sites in the Oak Lair (not its real name) area and got a good hands-on education involving the geologic history of western Wisconsin.

Our first stop was at the local landfill. Since the course's name was Environmental Geology, landfills and waste disposal were a part of the curriculum. Our bus actually drove around the site, and we got to view some interesting things involved in it's operation. One of these things is that of producing electricity from the methane gas produced by the breakdown of garbage products within the landfill area. The entire area was quite large, but the landfill takes in garbage from a large area and from as far away as Minnesota. We didn't get off the bus, but that was OK as it was cold and kind of raining while we were there.

Our next stop was at a very pleasant place that I'd been to before, a place called "Big Falls". This is a rather large whitewater area of the Oak Lair (not it's real name) River, in which the river has cut down through the local sandstone to the underlying (and much older) precambrian metamorphic rock. These rocks demonstrate a mountain-building event in Wisconsin, known as the Penokean Orogeny. They looked cool, and it was also nice for me to scope out a part of the river I plan on fishing later. (OK, OK, so I'm easily distracted that way. . . . ) We were also able to view, along the banks, the newer Mount Simon formation sandstone that I've blogged about before (because it underlies an awful lot of Wisconsin - it's more common than dirt here). All-in-all, this is a very cool place; I highly recommend it to anybody visiting the area.

After that, we proceeded to another river stop, this on the Chippewa River - a place called Jim's Falls. The geology there was similar but a bit more accessible. We ate lunch there and then did a bit of exploring. That's about the time that the sun came out and made for a pleasant day. One of the most notable things about the metamorphic rock in this area is how very deformed it is - often forming whorls and Z's - as shown in the photos below.

Next on the agenda was a gravel pit near Popple Lake. This was a stop that demonstrated what the glacial till of Wisconsin looks like. We all got to poke around in the sand and gravel for rocks, basically to see that there was quite a variety of rocks deposited there. The vast majority of these rocks were not from the local area, and many of them could be demonstrated to have been transported from far away to the north. These are the hallmarks of glacial deposition, and this whole area was known to have been at the glacial margin. On a side note - I did a naughty and I actually swiped a rock from this site. :) It's obviously part of a banded iron formation, and it looks cool too. Hey, now, it's not like it's going to be missed; and, besides, the officials that be can pry it from my cold, dead fingers. :)

The final destination of our trip was a place called Tilden. This was a sandstone/siltstone pit that was closer to Oak Lair. This is sandstone that is more recent than the Mount Simon formation; and, at Tilden, contained numerous cambrian-era fossils. We could also see, at the pit, that this sandstone/siltstone was laid down in a different fashion than the Mt. Simon stuff because there was no cross-bedding and the deposited material is much finer and smaller than that of the Mt. Simon formation. It was very easy to spot many fossils; however, I looked for, but didn't find, any trilobite fossils. Still, it was very cool to see evidence of critters that lived more than 300 million years ago!

Needless to be said, it was a very busy day. We saw a lot, did a lot, and, in my case, learned a lot. We got back to the university more tired than when we left, but I'm sure we all enjoyed it. I know that I did. Hopefully, all my geology field trips will be as fun and as cool as this one. Anyways, I figured I'd share all of this with you fellow blog-heads out there; so here are captioned photos for you to enjoy!

This is a photo, shot through the bus window, of the methane gas-powered electrical generator at the landfill.

This is a shot of "Big Falls". The river actually splits in half, this is the southern part. The other half is to the left of this view. The river is also very high with spring runoff.

Our group on one of the metamorphic outcroppings at "Big Falls".

Mount Simon formation sandstone (note crossbedding) along the banks of the river at "Big Falls".

Close-up of the metamorphic rock at "Big Falls", quarter for size-reference.

The view upriver from the Jim's Falls stop. The Chippewa River actually doesn't show actual flowage here, as there is a hydroelectric generation station just downriver; and part of the river's flow is diverted into that via a canal. Also, the bridge is blocked-off and derelict.

A good view of one of the granite inclusions that cross-cuts the metamorphic rocks at Jim's Falls.

This is a good view of how heavily-deformed the metamorphic rocks at the Jim's Falls location are.

One of my classmates (Aaron) obtaining rocks for analysis at the Popple Lake gravel pit.

The sidewall of the Tilden sandstone pit. It's hard to see, but note the lack of crossbedding in the sandstone.

Trace fossils in the rocks at the Tilden site. These are probably burrows made by ancient worms or worm-like marine creatures. These were the most common fossil I saw there.

Aaron's hand showing hyolithid fossils. These were also fairly common, as were brachiopods.

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