Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Moon Rise Over the Wasatch in October

Just a few shots of the full moon as it peaked through the clouds coming up over the mountains.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Views from Ice Cave Peak, Uinta Mountains

These are a few photos taken last week while out mapping along the south flank of the Uinta Mountains. Ice Cave Peak gives a great view of the Whiterocks River valley and the rocks that are exposed along that valley. Late June is a great time to visit because the mountains are so green and the temperatures are pleasant. In the higher mountains, rain clouds form almost every afternoon.

View to southwest from Ice Cave Peak across Whiterocks River valley. On the far side of the river you can see, starting at the far left on the far ridge, gray outcrops of the Pennsylvanian Weber Sandstone, then red outcrops of the Morgan Formation, also Pennsylvanian. At the bottom of the red Morgan cliffs is a thinner gray cliff of Round Valley Limestone, completing the Pennsylvanian outcrops.  The Round Valley Limestone sits above a dark streak of green trees that are growing in the strike valley formed by the soft shale of the Doughnut Formation (Mississippian). Then at the top of the closer ridge, and still dipping off to the left, is a somewhat covered slope (with trees and scrub) of the Humbug Formation sitting atop several ledges with some trees that comprise the Deseret and Madison Limestones, all Mississippian in age. These Mississippian units sit unconformably on a yellow orange unit, called the Red Pine Shale. The Red Pine Shale here appears to be almost horizontal. It is the oldest unit in the photo and is Proterozoic in age. That's probably more geology than you really wanted to know.

Another view to the southwest across Whiterocks River valley.

Looking to the north from Ice Cave Peak to the high rounded peaks of the Uinta Mountains with rain clouds gathering for their afternoon frolic.

A broader view to the northwest.

The storm clouds begin to dump their treasure onto the higher peaks.

Standing on the Mississippian limestones of the Madison Limestone that make up most of the outcrops around Ice Cave Peak and looking south. Below are a couple more shots to the northwest.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sights of the Old Clark Ranch, Montana

A few more pictures of our recent trip to Montana. These are from the area around my brother-in-law's ranch. You can view more pictures of Montana on these earlier posts
The old wagon wheel.

Log fence along roadway.

One of the penstemon/beardtongue family members that likes fairly dry locations. I'm not sure of the species. Maybe you can figure it out from this Montana government web site.

Looks like a sluice box used in placer mining on wheels.

The Big Hole River in the backyard.

Unfortunately, the prickly pear cacti were not in bloom yet.

The old wagon is missing a couple of key parts.

 Sagebrush by the river.

The stairway to heaven. Access from the house down to the Big Hole River.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Beautiful Montana!

On my way to some Geological Society of America Meetings in Bozeman, Montana last week, I took the drive from Dillon to Twin Bridges to Whitehall to Bozeman on the way there. And on the way back I drove the road from Bozeman to Norris to Ennis to Virginia City and then back to Twin Bridges. The scenery was spectacular. I can see why the people of Montana love their state. The map below is courtesy of Arrow Real Estate, Ennis, Montana.

Our trip in Montana began along I-15 as we stopped at the rest stop near Lima. The sky was clouding over but I took this shot of the Lima Peaks.

I wondered what the Lima Peaks might look like on a nice sunny day with just a few clouds, so I Photoshopped the sky into this picture. You can see what the sky really looked like in the photo above.

After stopping in Twin Bridges to drop my wife off at her brother's ranch, I headed north toward I-90 and the town of Whitehall. Thunderclouds were gathering, but the sun was leaking through as I passed this scenic spot.

After the meetings in Bozeman, I drove west along Highway 84 towards Norris. The ranches were beautiful, particularly this one with the Spanish Peaks covered in snow as a backdrop.

Even the barbed wire seemed to need a photo.

A bit farther along Highway 84 near the western edge of Gallatin Valley. The farms and mountains were incredibly beautiful.

In Bozeman Pass, I stopped to look at the rocks. I am a geologists, after all. These Precambrian biotite schists were folded and faulted into this interesting pattern.

Coming down out of the pass, I found the Madison Valley to be equally lovely. The Madison Range is the backdrop on east side of the valley.

 On the west side of the valley, the ranches sit at the foot of the Tobacco Root Mountains.

Looking down from Highway 287 towards Ennis in the valley and the Madison Range in the back.

Another view back across the Madison Valley, with Sphinx Mountain in about the center of the photo.

A close up of Sphinx Mountain taken with my zoom lens. I can see why it was called Sphinx Mountain.

Another ranch situated at the foot of the Tobacco Root Mountains near Alder.

A close-up of the Tobacco Root Mountains in the view above.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Birds at Clark Ranch, near Twin Bridges, Montana

During a short stay at my brother-in-law's ranch this past week near Twin Bridges, Montana, I took a few photos of some of the birds that frequent their front porch and yard. I could have spent a couple more days just watching these colorful birds.

 Male Bullock's Oriole coming to the feeder for grape jelly and oranges.

 Male Mountain Bluebird standing guard at the house.

 Female Cassin's Finch with the typical pronounced crest.

 American Goldfinch wondering when it will be safe to return to the feeder.

 House Finch enjoying a breakfast of sunflower seeds.

A Grackle trying to get his turn at the birdfeeder.

 Another Bullock's Oriole.

 A female Western Tananger enjoying the orange and jelly.

 Male Western Tananger.

Male and female tanangers at the feeder.

You can read more and see more pictures of these birds at:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Some Features on the Nugget/Navajo Sandstone, San Rafael Swell, Utah

A dinosaur track in the top of the Jurassic Nugget Sandstone (also called the Navajo Sandstone) on the San Rafael Swell, Utah. This was located in the bottom of a wash and has since been covered or eroded away. The middle toe must have been loaded with mud as the dinosaur stepped into this spot.

An interesting structure on the same surface as the dino print above. I thought this might be a burrow of some type, but my friend and colleague, Dr. Steven Hasiotis, who is an expert in trace fossils was unconvinced. We decided it must be some kind of fluid "pebble dike" like structure, where the solid sandstone was broken up and then redeposited as water or other fluids moved through the rock.

Also found on the Nugget Sandstone on the San Rafael Swell, this picture shows the individual avalanche deposits of sand that tumbled down the dune face before this became a rock.

Here is another view of this dune in the Nugget Sandstone. You can see the surface with the avalanche deposits in the foreground and in the background a lower face of the dune that is covered with ripples.

In one spot on this petrified dune, there were these small circle-like structures (see piece of chalk for scale). I am not sure what caused them.

Just below the dunes shown above, the sandstone is ribbed with giant polygonal cracks filled with sandstone that is slightly more resistant to erosion. My colleague, Ron Blakey at Univ. of Northern Arizona has published several papers on these structures.

One of the most interesting features to me found on a couple of the dune faces were these  triangular and rectangular structures. They represent salt or gypsum that crystallized in the sand and, after leaving an impression, dissolved away.

Another probable dinosaur undertrack on the top of the Nugget.

Along the edge of the wash, a series of these possible dino tracks seem to form a trackway.