Fall Fishies in a Lost and Found Spring

Just down the road a bit from Proxy Falls, there’s a meadow where people can pull in to camp. Behind that meadow is a spring, which Anne Jefferson showed us in July of 2013. Anne knows all of the best places in the McKenzie River watershed! Lockwood, B, and I went back on our last visit to the area. This time, we found more than serene and lovely water – we found fishies!

Image shows a bit of blue-green water with a log fallen over it. Fishes are swimming in the clear, shallow, still water.

Fishies in the spring I

Many many fishies!

Same view, with a few more fishies in it.

Fishies in the spring II

Are they trout? I wanna say trout. But I know very little about fish. We used to go fishing at Lake Powell, but the only fish I ever caught were the wee little sunfish that would flock to the boat, knowing I’d give them a salmon egg feast if they’d just bite the hook and tolerate me hauling them up and releasing them. I’m told fish don’t feel a lot of pain. I certainly hope that’s true. Regardless, the little dudes were never deterred, and they’d flock around me for as long as the salmon eggs held out. I think I might have caught a perch or two once, out by Glen Canyon Dam, and maybe something else as a wee youngster, but I’m obviously not an inveterate lover of all things fish and fishing. I can’t identify them for carp. But I do enjoy encountering them, especially when I don’t have to fish for them.

The same scene. Many fish have gathered in the center of the shot.

Fishies in the spring III

You have no idea how long I stood there squeeing and filming. I tried several photos, which as you can see are not the bestest. We always manage to get there near sundown, and the trees block a lot of the light. I decided to try a video instead. I think it turned out rather well, all things considered.

Alas, it’s a bit unstable, but it got a bit blurred when I tried to stabilize, so I suppose we can live with shaky-cam. Hopefully, all of the above are adequate for identification purposes. What kind of fishies do you think our fall fishes in the spring are?

One Courageous Cormorant

There’s a cormorant in this picture. I swear to you. Yes, I know there are very violent waves going on, but there’s a little seabird floating in the midst of all that chaos. Can you see it?

Image shows a portion of Devils Churn. There are steep, black basalt walls, with waves pounding against them. In the center of the photo, against the far wall, there's a cormorant swimming serenely in water that looks rather murderous.

Cormorants have no fear of fishing in the Devils Churn.

Here, this may help. The cormorant was where the big wave is now:

Image was taken a second or two after the previous. There is a rather hefty wave where the cormorant was.

The cormorant has dived below.

No? Well, let’s zoom in:

Image is cropped from the first image to show the tiny head of the cormorant floating in the churning sea.

Can you see the cormorant now?

This is something I hadn’t experienced at Devils Churn before: a seabird unconcernedly fishing in surf roiling in and slamming off the stone walls of a narrow chasm. I mean, imagine trying to grab dinner in a ginormous washing machine on the agitation cycle. With a bull ramming it every few seconds. And sharp, unforgiving rocks plastered on the sides. If a human fell into the Churn, it would go very hard for them. But this little bird fished as happily as if it had been on the serenest of seas.

I have a gif for you, showing the little bugger riding the waves:

Image is a serious of photos showing the cormorant floating atop churning waves.

Our enterprising little cormorant doesn’t appear to suffer seasickness.

Both the original photos and the cropped images are here, if you want to take a more leisurely look. They’ll give you an idea of just how wild the waves were. Of course, you can also watch the video:

I love the fact that nature has supplied remarkable creatures to go with the astounding geology. I hope to discuss all of that soon, but for the moment, I must away to scream thoroughly into a pillow regarding the continuing idiocy in atheism, followed by a nice calming session of rock magnet production with B later this afternoon. B is getting your newest Christianist miseducation post typed up, so you have that to look forward to. Right?

Six Snubbed Women in Science

Someone (if only I could remember who!) recently linked this 2013 NatGeo article: 6 Women Scientists Who Were Snubbed Due to Sexism. Rosalind Franklin is there, of course, but there are also women I’d never heard of: Esther Lederberg, Chien-Shiung Wu, and Nettie Stevens. The list hasn’t got any geologists, alas, but physics and biology are well-represented with one shout-out to astronomy.

Image shows Chinese scentist Chien-Shiung Wu smiling at the camera in an old black-and-white photo.

Chien-Shiung Wu. Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons.

I’m happy to be living in a time when women are finally beginning to get the recognition they deserve, but there’s a long way to go. I’ll be bringing back our Pioneering Women in the Geosciences series soon, now that summer field season is over. We won’t let their contributions be forgotten.

 

Originally published at Rosetta Stones.

Yet Moar Greetings from Oregon

Home now. Very tired. Gonna go take the rest of the evening off after I post this, which will probably involve chocolate, kitty cuddles, a warm bath, nearly-mindless reading, and SO MUCH SLEEP. But I couldn’t do those things without grabbing you all some pretty photos from the last day of the trip.

We stopped along the Siuslaw River a bit outside of Florence, OR. There’s a wee little park where, during the first trip we ever took, Lockwood took us for a view of the river and the turbedites that are such a huge component of the Coast Range there. I couldn’t resist the tug of nostalgia. And the calm river reflecting the autumn colors was magic. I’ll show you all that when I put together the autumn extravaganza posts I plan. For now, have some (probable) turbedite chunks reflecting in the river.

Image shows the far river bank, where a pyramid-shaped gray boulder and a smaller dark-gray one shaped a bit like a helmet are reflected in the river.

Rocks reflect.

We’ll be talking lots about turbedites one of these days. Hopefully, you’ll end up loving them as much as I do.

After lunch at a little tea room in Florence, we dropped by the Darlingtonia Wayside to show B carnivorous plants, and then decided to splurge on Sea Lion Caves. We’d never done that before, because you have to buy tickets for everyone, and the expense for a few minutes of seeing lots of sea lions plastered all over a sea cave just never seemed attractive compared to all of the other things we could be doing, many of which are free if you have a Northwest Forest Pass or go to a county park. But Lockwood’s been talking about it for a long time, and decided that we’re doing it this time. This turned out to be an awesome deal, because the sea lions are currently out to sea feeding up for the winter. This means the cave’s sans sea lions, the tickets are discounted, and you can use the same ticket to come back for free when the sea lions return. If you’re local, it’s a bargain. And the cave really is bloody amazing. I was able to shoot it without sea lions all in the way of the geology, which thrilled me to bits. We’ll be doing a post on that someday, hopefully soonish, but here’s a taste:

Image shows waves rolling in through a cleft in the basalt, with a diffuse glow from the sunlight at the far end of the cave.

Waves slipping through the tunnel.

This cave is huge, and there are channels to other bits of it, and the open sea beyond, and it’s enchanting. Especially when it isn’t obscured by biological entities. Don’t despair, seal fans! I will go back when the sea lions are there, and get you plenty of those, too. I’m just glad I got to see it without first.

That’s looking roughly south. On the other side, you basically walk up a set of stairs with a wooden canopy over them that keeps you from getting soaked by the water drip-dripping from the roof, and get this magnificent view at the end:

Image shows Heceta Head lighthouse and a swath of rocky shoreline. Foreground is framed by the dark walls of the cave.

Heceta Head Lighthouse from Sea Lion Caves.

How lovely is that?

After we got done admiring great coastal cave geology, we headed on up to Devils Churn, which I haven’t been to since our first trip. The whole Cape Perpetua area is incredible, and one I could happily spend many days at, but we only had a few hours. It was enough, at least, to shoot a great old tree:

Image shows the thick trunk and a huge lower branch of a spruce. The ocean is visible, framed by the curving tree limb.

Gnarly old tree.

We didn’t get a chance to play in the tide pools, because although this trip was meant to take advantage of low tides, we never did get to the coast when the tide was low. Silly us. I didn’t care a bit. There was a storm out to sea, which meant great waves.

Image shows rugged basalt, with a pool of water in the foreground, and the sea in the background. On the left, a wave has hit the basalt, looking like an eruption of water.

Wave breaking against the basalt.

And all I could do was stand there and stare in awe at everything.

Image shows me standing on the basalt, looking out to sea, with the mouth of the Churn in front of me. Waves are breaking against the rocks.

Moi at Devils Churn

It’s nice to be back home, with my kitty sleeping peacefully beside me, but I do wish I could be back on that coast, watching the waves break. Twas glorious.

Thanks, as always, to Lockwood, for making sure we get to see all the awesome things!

Mystery Flora: Interstate Flowers

So I stopped and smelled the roses blooming near the I405 on-ramp, like people say to do (don’t worry, there’s a footpath there, meant for creekside rambles). Once I’d done that and turned to go, these large purple flowers popped out at me.

Image shows a large bush full of purple flowers.

Mystery Flowers I

I’m not sure if these are cultivars or some sort of fancy native plant, although I lean towards cultivar. Whatever. I love them regardless, for they are large and purple and blooming in October.

Image shows a close-up of a bloom. It has five petals. Each petal is vaguely heart-shaped. The petals are purple, with darker-purple streaks.

Mystery Flowers II

They’re growing on bushy plants that were knee-high or better on me, and had gargantuan leaves to compliment them.

Image shows a single bloom with a clump of leaves behind it. The leaves have five lobes, serrated edges, and are crinkly.

Mystery Flowers III

And they’re completely full of pollen, which seems like it would be awesome for the local insects out looking for a good energy boost before winter. I didn’t see what was pollinating them, alas.

Image is an extreme close-up of a flower, showing the pollen-dotted center, and the dense streaks radiating out. The petals are very narrow at the base.

Mystery Flowers IV

I love how the center looks a bit like an anemone. Very awesome.

Image shows one of the bushes with the trees lining the freeway in the background.

Mystery Flowers V

They’re tall and flamboyant, but practically invisible from the road, for some reason. I didn’t notice them all the times I’ve passed by. It took getting over there on foot to see ‘em. If you can, when you can, get out of the steel cages and go see things at a slow pace. It’s amazing what you see.

Image shows one of the purple flowers turned toward a leaf, as if whispering a secret.

Mystery Flowers VI

It’s things like this that take the sting out of fall. This beauty, plus roses and sunshine and kitties in sunbeams, made the day very mellow indeed.

Moar Greetings from Oregon

We had a long and lovely day along the McKenzie River. This is a fabulous time of year to visit when you can get a clear day – the vine maples turn red, and other plants turn yellow, and Clear Lake becomes a rainbow:

Image shows the surface of Clear Lake: the water is green and blue, and there are streaks of red and yellow reflected from autumn leaves.

Clear Lake is a lakebow

We also got a demonstration of the majesty of nature, wot we should imitate, or so the new age folk tell me:

Image shows a dead fish floating belly-up against a bed of algae.

Isn’t nature amazing.

All right, maybe that wasn’t quite fair. Nature has its icky points, but it’s also beautiful and awesome sometimes, like when dragonflies are hovering by bird hotels:

Image shows a dragonfly hovering beside a wooden birdhouse on a tall pole. A sign on the pole says Clear Lake Bird Hotel.

Lodging for birds and other flying critters.

For the volcano lovers in the audience, here’s a fine set of formerly-flaming mountains:

Image shows a large black lava flow and several volcanoes visible at McKenzie Pass.

Many volcanoes at McKenzie Pass.

And, finally, something new! Here’s a glimpse of Lower Proxy Falls, which we didn’t make it to last time we were there.

Image shows several tendrils of water flowing over dark gray andesite and beds of moss.

Lower Proxy Falls

Tomorrow, we do the coast, and then make a beeline for home. See you there with lotsa pretty pics!

Fundamentals of Fungi: Tiny Orange Delights

There’s more than really nice gneiss and schist (plus a little native marble!) up by Ross Lake Dam. The short but challenging trail down to the the dam includes fascinating flora. I’ve been there in two seasons now. I can tell you that the early August flowers are magnificent (and I will show you some! Don’t let me forget!), but there’s a price to pay in sweat and heat exhaustion. It’s awesome in October, what with the temperature being tolerable and the lake lowered enough to see lotsa bits of marble. And yeah, there aren’t so many flowers, but there are fungi! These tiny little orange shrooms were peeking through the mosses along the trail, and they were like little chips of the sun sprinkled around.

Image shows a bed of bright green moss with tiny brilliant-orange mushrooms with wee conical caps and long, thin stems poking up.

Mystery Fungi I

So those brown pointy thingies? Those are fir needles. You know fir needles ain’t big. And yet, you see how they are huge in these photos. Even the moss looks rather big.

Photo shows a solitary orange shroom in a bed of moss.

Mystery Fungi II

They practically glowed. By the time we were headed back up the trail, it was an hour until sundown, and the trees were doing a good job blocking sunbeams. The whole forest was shadowy, and these little guys seemed to be absorbing most of the light and beaming it out. They were all, “NOTICE US WE ARE VERY BRIGHT WOOO!”

Another image of a solitary shroom. This one is peeking out, half-hidden in the moss and forest litter.

Mystery Fungi III

Now, you see how even the half-hidden ones sorta demand to be noticed. And the baby right there at the base of this one’s stem, the little button that will become a fully-grown shroom, that’s an even deeper red-orange color, practically suitable for using as crossing-guard gear. This photo can’t really do the colors justice. They were mega-intense. (Nice bit of lichen up at the top right, btw.)

And yet, I’m not kidding about how small these buggers are. Look at them with my finger for scale.

Photo shows several of the shrooms with my thumb for scale. I could fit bunches on just one fingernail.

Mystery Fungi IV

Makes my thumb look like a bloody giant’s, doesn’t it just? I love it. I love how tiny and vibrant these shrooms are. I don’t even care if they turn out to be enormously poisonous. They’re awesome. And exactly the right colors for fall!

Greetings from Oregon

Allo, allo! We’re in Oregon with Lockwood for a few days, gathering the last geology of the season (unless we get to Montana later this month – stay tuned!). Day One: Marys Peak, which B hasn’t seen yet.

The sun was at the perfect angle for finding faults:

Image shows me standing in front of a fault that has cracked a cliff of pillow basalts.

Moi with pillow basalt cliff fault.

When we reached the summit near sunset, we could just see the sunlight glittering off the waters of the Pacific Ocean:

Image shows the distant ocean through a few trees. The water is glinting and a bit pink.

Sunset Pacific

A bit later, we had sunset proper.

Image shows gold, orange and pink clouds over a dark treeline.

Marys Peak Sunset

And on the other side of the world, the moon:

Image shows a round, orange moon hovering over the city lights on the valley floor.

Marys Peak Moon

Tomorrow, we’re headed up to MacKenzie Pass, and possibly see some things I’ve never seen. Friday, if we’re lucky and the weather holds, we’ll be spending a bit of time at the Coast. And then, hopefully, we’ll return home to a living catsitter. Misha’s old, but she’s been feeling feisty lately…

Adventures in ACE IX: More Senseless about Sedimentary

We left our merry band of Creationists, so ignorant even other YECs can’t stand ‘em, breezily ignoring all the sedimentary rock in previously-frozen wastes. Now we shall continue on while they butcher the rest. I hope you have hair. You’re gonna need some to pull out. If nature has blessed you with a pate that requires no shampoo, you may wish to glue some locks to your noggin. Don’t worry about having to acquire appropriate hair-care products: they won’t be there for long.

Now just imagine having to read this tripe repeatedly…

Image is a polar bear standing against a rock wall with its front paws over its face. Caption says, "Ahhh, the horror! Make it stop."

The ACE folks must have heard a few facts about how rocks can form once, long ago, third-hand, and remembered a few bits. They know heat and pressure come in somewhere. So they just have the Floodwaters pile up “many feet (meters) above the mountains, pushing down on the layers with tremendous force.” A bit of hand waving about the pressure heating the sediment, and by gosh, you’ve got instant rock!

Um.

No.

You can’t just pile a bunch of water on sediment and get rock. Limestone’s happy to lithify pretty quick, sometimes, but your basic sandstones and shales, they need plenty of time. Sure, they need to be compacted, probably, but they’ve also got to get rid of excess water, and some nice chemicals to stick the grains together would be favorite. Also, when it comes to really fine grains, you’ve got more trouble than just the long periods they need to finally settle out. There’s a bigger problem: “Simple loading of other materials on top will not do; trapped water in the muds would cause sudden liquifaction of the entire mass…”

Whoopsies.

Then they have the supposedly-lithified layers of sediment getting up to all sorts of shenanigans “[d]uring and immediately after the Flood.” One would think Noah & Co. would’ve noticed all this snazzy new rock acting like it was suffering from St. Vitus’s dance, especially once they’d landed, but nobody saw fit to mention it in the Bible.

Well, perhaps Noah was just too drunk to remember.

Painting shows Noah passed out drunk and nearly nekkid. His sons surround him, putting a red blanket over him, with a bit already strategically draped over his nads. One of the kids looks disturbingly like he's about to feel daddy up.

Giovanni Bellini’s Drunkennes of Noah, ca 1515. Image courtesy Art Renewal Center.

Set aside the handful of hair you’ve ripped out and grab another: Mr. Wheeler’s about to explain about thrust faults. Ha ha ha psych! There are no thrust faults in fundie-land! All you geologists who’ve found old strata on top of young, and found evidence that the strata was overturned and put out of order by faults – you’re wrong! Science sez!

“Scientific examination shows further that some of these supposedly ‘out-of-order’ strata were smoothly deposited on top of each other, not pushed on top of each other.”

We’re told that it’s totes impossible for ancient limestone to end up on top of feisty young shale in Glacier National Park, because it’s really really big, and “Scientists have demonstrated that sliding such a large layer of rock for such a distance would be physically impossible even if the layers of rock were well lubricated.”

Oh, Mr. Wheeler, I have the oddest feeling you know nothing of lubrication, much as your “scientists” know nothing about thrust faults. There was no smooth deposition of old limestone atop young shale, and certainly not a solid, well-lubed or not, layer measuring “350 miles (560 km) wide, and 6 miles (10 km) thick” sliding up and over all in one go.

When a fault moves (for example during an earthquake) movement does not occur all along the fault, and those parts of the fault that do move are not in motion at the same time. An earthquake originates at a point along a fault, and the deformation caused by the earthquake propagates away from that point along the fault, until it dies out. The deformation also does not occur along the entire length of the fault. These observations are based on records of earthquake motions, such as those associated with the Great Alaskan Earthquake, recorded by seismometers. Similarly an earthquake along the San Andreas fault will not result in motion along the entire fault. The claim that the stresses required to cause movement along a thrust fault are large enough to shatter the rocks is based on the assumption that movement along the fault occurs simultaneously. This assumption is not valid, and any calculations made based on that assumption will be wrong.

My gosh, it’s as if the people putting words in Mr. Wheeler’s mouth know nothing about actual science, innit?

Image is a diagram showing the Lewis Overthrust and the other rocks and ranges of Glacier National Park.

Geologic Cross section of Glacier National Park, Montana, USA. Showing the Lewis overthrust fault and the proterozoic rocks above it. Image and caption courtesy Benutzer:Xavax via Wikimedia Commons.

According to the ACE geniuses, high pressure hardens fishies into fossils. No attempt is made to explain why the Flood did this to some of the animals it buried, but fossilized only hard bits like bone and shell for other animals, and pressured only impressions of some. But don’t be surprised Mr. Wheeler’s puppeteers don’t grok fossilization – these are the same folks who point to tree trunks buried upright and scream triumph when geologists actually do know that, yes, sometimes, different sedimentary layers are deposited quickly enough to preserve perishable things like standing trees. They also have a hard time comprehending things like, oh, say, whales getting fossilized in the horizontal, then tilted along with their layers later. No, their rigid faith in the Bible requires them to believe all this stuff happened practically instantly, so they deliberately misunderstand (or outright lie about) fossils like their beloved Santa Barbara whale. And we know it’s willful ignorance or deliberate deception, because scientists have had such polystrate fossils figured out since the 19th century.

No amount of creationist crap on sedimentary rock would be complete without them babbling about bats buried in flowstone. They get positively giddy at the thought of stalagmites forming quickly. Mr. Wheeler tells us that there’s a particular one growing by at least “2.5 cubic inches (41 cm^3) per year.” I tried and failed to find the origin of this claim. It appears not to have come from proper scientific investigation, but has been extracted whole from a creationist bunghole. They may also be conflating what grows in caves with the stuff that grows from water percolating through concrete or masonry, which is a completely different chemical reaction. As for their precious preserved bat – it’s pure bullshit.

Mr. Wheeler ends by telling us about shale, which was once clay mud hardened by – you guessed it – the Flood. You know, aside from the whole aforementioned liquefaction problem, there’s also the sad fact it takes bloody ages for clay to settle out of still water, and won’t settle well at all in turbulent water – a fact I’m sure all in the audience who made mud puddles and whirlpools with their garden hose can attest to.

It’s at this point that I pause again to marvel at the fact that ACE is a complete inversion of the natural order of textbooks; which always contain some errors, but are in the balance correct. These PACES seem to hail from some Bizzarro World where textbooks are meant to consist of endless errors, with the occasional lonely accurate fact stranded like a pristine kernel of corn in the midst of the sludge.

Next, we shall see how they muck up the metamorphic rocks. I hope all that hair you ripped out grows back rapidly – you’ll be tearing it out again shortly.

Image shows a cat with a shaved body and a disgruntled expression. Caption says, "Wut yoo lookin at?"