The flying geologist’s summer 2011 vacation
Well, this blog is supposed to be about turbidites, and I think it probably will be. However, I have some photos I would like to share from a recent trip that was a trip of a lifetime.
I am a pilot and have a Cessna 206, a (slow) single engine 4 place airplane. I decided this summer to take a big long trip to see some of the best geology in the world in the western US. The map below shows the round trip route from Houston, TX, just over 5,000 miles, and a total of 30 hours in the plane!
1. my family’s ranch in west (Trans Pecos) Texas
2. Grand Canyon national Park
3. (Viva) Las Vegas
4. Colorado River (Arches and Canyonlands National Parks)
5.Yellowstone National Park
6. Columbia River
7. Leadville, CO (highest airport and city in North America, 10,152 ft)
First stop on the trip was an overnight in west Texas at my family’s ranch, which was featured in my first blog post and WoGE #297. I will do a detailed post on the geology there later, so let’s fly on down the road…
2. Grand Canyon
Photos to come…
3. (Viva) Las Vegas
Next stop was Las Vegas! Saw the largest bronze statue in the US, and the cool light show at the Bellagio. Also saw the Lion King – hakuna matata!
4. Colorado River from the air:
Overflight of the Grand Canyon – trust me, pictures do not do it justice.
Colorado River north of the Grand Canyon, but south of Lake Powell.
wow. this is a fluvial wonderland! For a nice multi-scale exhibit, see this page by Ron Schott.
This is a potash evaporation pond just about 10- miles south of Moab and Arches National Park. This has not been photoshopped. I know, hard to believe.
from the comment of Ron Schott:
“the bright blue ponds are potash evaporation ponds. Potash is extracted from the mineral sylvite which is mined in the area by a brine solution process. The bright colors are caused by food coloring added to the brine to increase its ability to absorb sunlight (and thus evaporate faster). I’ve been on the ground next to these and they’re as impressive up close as they are from the air: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rschott/4415887754/in/set-72157600137119310”
Grand Tetons – these were VERY impressive, and some rugged mountains. This photo was taken from 17,000 feet, so these are some high mountains!
5. Yellowstone National Park
No post about Yellowstone is complete without a nice photo of Old Faithful!
Here is Mammoth Hot Springs, a travertine buildup. This is caused by hot magmatic water rising through limestones and becoming supersaturated with calcium and bicarbonate. When this solution hits fresh air (usually aided by microbe activity), calcium carbonate is precipitated in spectacular fashion!
Here is a BIG grizzly bear that got very close, perhaps a bit too close. West Thumb Geyser basin in the background, and then Yellowstone Lake, then the Absaroka Range.
Some beautiful, deep mudcracks near the Mud Volcano. This is my new desktop background.
One of the most interesting things about the hot springs were the different colors, which are caused by various microbes that are happy in different water temperatures. The hotter the water, the less life and therefore color in the hot spring (but the color turns out blue). As the water temperature cools, yellows give way to oranges and reds, then finally blacks. In this case, two small hot springs of different temperatures coalesce. Nice.
This is Grand Prismatic Spring, with the blues reflected in the steam, and outwards from the spring, the different colors are apparent.
6. Columbia River
Wakeboarding on the Columbia River – water temperature was 55 degrees, though – brrr!
7. Leadville, CO
I dont have any photos handy from this stop, but needless to say it is a beautiful place. The pizza at High Mountain Pies is highly recommended! This town also has a great mining museum and some old mines that you can tour – very cool.