Friday, July 29, 2011

Summer, a time for roving bands of geologists

We just returned home from a spontaneous road trip to the Pacific Northwest. While traveling through the Inter-mountain West we saw many a van load of students standing along side the road with notebooks at the ready with an older guy in front waving his arms around. The only part of the scene that changed was the rock cut, sometimes flood basalts (and some cool columnar basalt) sometimes river terraces and often rock units known for their fossils.

Field Trip Season!

Unfortunately I never had a camera ready when we came across a group of geology students learning the ways of rock cuts. And, only once did we have the chance to talk with any of the groups. A group from the University of Kentucky were on a western National Park tour after spending some quality time in a field camp near Gunnison Colorado.

It is good to see the tradition continues.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

First summit of the year

It really is a testament to the amount of snow and the cold spring that our first summit (and it really wasn't a real mountain) was on July 1st. Even now, many trailheads are not open and if they are the amounts of snow, especially in the sub-alpine forest is still pretty deep. We had tried other peaks earlier and were unsuccessful on everyone. So Twin Peaks right outside of Ouray was our first summit of 2011.

The summit rock is part of the San Juan formation or just the San Juan Tuff a volcanic-clastic sedimentary rock. Within this impressively thick formation (3000 feet in places) , you can identify breccia clasts from long ago pyroclastic flows and thick welded tuff segments resulting from falling ash. A cool place!

The "little sister" right before the last big climb. Even without zooming in you can see the brecciated surface.
There is still a bit of snow in the high country
A long way down to the City of Ouray CO. This was a fun 3000 foot climb.
An close up showing the volcanic-clasts within the matrix. Unfortunately there is quite a bit of biology hiding the rock details.