Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Great Annular Eclipse of 2012

We timed our southwest adventure to coincide with the Annular solar eclipse visible in the western US. The National Park Service helped out by publishing a great web page with an interactive map helping us select which unit of the NPS would have the best viewing.

We chose Bandelier  National Monument in New Mexico. WE arrived a few hours before the event and so hiked around some great Volcanic Tuff outcrops made into cliff dwellings by the Ancestral Pueblos (worthy of a whole blog post by itself) 

When the time came we found a not-too-crowded overlook that faced the west and we sat down to watch. By the time the sun started to disappear there was a good little group watching. We all enjoyed the few who showed up with the proper equipment to directly view the eclipse as we only brought our trusty pin hole camera.

The ruins at Bandelier. The building material is all volcanic.

 Our camera couldn't quite capture the sun with out any filters.
 Our pin hole camera shows the annular eclipse just fine!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Visit to Shanghai

I had the pleasure of visiting China for the past month and although it was not a geology trip per say, geology is hard to ignore since life is indeed a field trip.

I was hoping to blog while on vacation but found that it was a little difficult posting anything while in China.

We flew into Shanghai Pudong airport and it was hard not to notice the low lying fields and what looked like rice paddies near the airport. Driving into the city we were treated to miles (or kilometers) of new construction of massive buildings. The scene of down town Shanghai shows the incredible buildings in the city center. Of course I am from a very small town in the inter mountain west and am unused to buildings over a few stories tall...anyway

What also caught my eye was the amount of water. There are canals and large drainage ditches everywhere. I live in an arid region and I am used to seeing irrigation canals, but these are drainage canals. 

It seems that the whole of the city is built on Quaternary deltaic sediments delivered by the Yangtze river. These sediments, a fine soft clay mixture are similar to what we find in the Mississippi delta region. It makes for great rice fields but not-so-great massive city basement. It seems that most of the new buildings have been built in the top clay layers and some have been sinking from compaction of clay as well as from the subsidence from the use of ground water. 

A water gage on a canal near Shanghai.

The down town at night, including the Oriental Pearl and the Shanghai World Financial Center, the tallest building in China