Monday, August 31, 2009

serendipity and planning

Once again today I was transporting myself across the country...but this time by air. I had the opportunity to spend 4.5 hours in a small airport waiting for the small plane to be fixed. While waiting I met a man who worked in Antarctica during the IGY. ( I am being somewhat vague as we didn't discuss sharing his life story on the Internet)What a serendipitous meeting. We discussed life on the ice, science in the 1950's and how he used planning and homework to turn (even more) serendipitous meetings into a career. His interest in earth sciences dated back to a work study job as an undergrad. He started in his specialty because he needed one more class to fill scholarship scheduling requirements. He spent 5 years in Antarctica because he was the only one in his field that applied to go. I am not saying he lucked into his work, but that hard work and chance meetings enabled his career to take him to some amazing places. His stories were amazing and I would love to have him sit down in a high school science class and discuss field science in Antarctica in the 1950's.

It got me thinking about my circuitous path to my present position and how I can, maybe, help the next generation of scientists turn some serendipitous meetings into full time careers.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Only biology, but what a beautiful summer for wildflowers

I wish I knew all of the names. We had a fast snow melt but then a long cool wet summer. The rain coupled with a rich volcanic soil made the best wildflower season in years.

Near Crested Butter

Blue Columbine, the state flower

Elephant heads

Waterfall dropping through a thick layer of volcanic tuff

An incredible outcrop of conglomerate. As my wife said, every trip is a geology trip!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wheeler Geologic Area

The Wheeler Geologic Area is found within the La Garita Wilderness. Once named a national monument the area lost that designation but is now protected as a special geologic area within the wilderness area. The rock is a welded rhyolite tuff formed during the formation of the San Luis caldera, one of many explosive volcanic remains in the San Juan Mountains.

The geologic area is at the end of a 7 mile hike. The trail crosses some incredible meadows with views in all directions. I would not want to be caught in a lightning storm out there! The geologic area is eroding out of a hill side and shows all of the usual hoodoos, pinnacles and towers. It appears that the tuff in this area is not quite as welded as in other places giving rise to these great eroded remnants.

Crossing the meadows

The Wheeler Geologic Area in the distance

The hoodoos of Wheeler