Archive for the ‘Geology’ Category

Thunderbird Park   2 comments

I am a lucky guy–always have been.  I have a sister and a brother who both look out for me, and help me improve my health.  A lot of this is done by walking and exercise.

Today my brother and I went out for a walk at Thunderbird Park, north of Glendale in the Phoenix area.  This is a great park for hikers, with at least 4 different hills criss-crossed with trails.  There are some steep climbs, and some gentle climbs, some varied scenery, and a whole lot of igneous rock.  As part of my continuing plan to show off the beauty of desert Arizona, I offer this photo essay of today’s walk.  I think we covered about 3.5 miles, and boy was I tired by the end of it.

When I left my apartment, I started with a coat, a sweater, and a t-shirt.  By the time we started the walk, I as down to the sweater, and the Trollgod's Hat.

When I left my apartment, I started with a coat, a sweater, and a t-shirt. By the time we started the walk, I as down to the sweater, and the Trollgod’s Hat.

Brian was taking the pictures.  I hardly ever feel better than when I'm out walking in the desert.

Brian was taking the pictures. I hardly ever feel better than when I’m out walking in the desert.

Truth in photography.  My hat is really old, and my glasses are really thick.

Truth in photography. My hat is really old, and my glasses are really thick.

This is the kind of natural staircase that I imagine the Dwarves carving in the wilds of Trollworld.

This is the kind of natural staircase that I imagine the Dwarves carving in the wilds of Trollworld.

One of the things I really like about Arizona is the mountains.  The purple range in the distance is called The White Tanks.

One of the things I really like about Arizona is the mountains. The purple range in the distance is called The White Tanks.

Here I am near the top of the  hill.  Notice the walking stick in my hand--it belongs to Brian and it saves me from many a fall and misstep on the very rough and rocky trails.

Here I am near the top of the hill. Notice the walking stick in my hand–it belongs to Brian and it saves me from many a fall and misstep on the very rough and rocky trails.

Arizona, Land of 1000 Lakes?  This northern suburban community has lakes all over the place and a golf course too.

Arizona, Land of 1000 Lakes? This northern suburban community has lakes all over the place and a golf course too.

Brian took a bunch of pictures that I don't like that much--probably because they show me as I really am, a bit haggard at the top of the hill.

Brian took a bunch of pictures that I don’t like that much–probably because they show me as I really am, a bit haggard at the top of the hill.

Starting back down the hill.  Look at that panoramic view!

Starting back down the hill. Look at that panoramic view!

Do you believe in LIttle People?  Brian really makes me look small here.

Do you believe in LIttle People? Brian really makes me look small here.

I'm still standing in the same spot, wondering why Brian is taking so many pix.  I think it was a clever ploy on his part to allow me to catch my breath.

I’m still standing in the same spot, wondering why Brian is taking so many pix. I think it was a clever ploy on his part to allow me to catch my breath.

Looking as regal as a ragged old hiker can.  True shadow of a cloud on the hillside across the highway.

Looking as regal as a ragged old hiker can. True shadow of a cloud on the hillside across the highway.

I thought the shadow of the cloud was worth recording.  It shows the true chaotic cloud shape.

I thought the shadow of the cloud was worth recording. It shows the true chaotic cloud shape.

Last photo on my camera, showing the long road back down the hill.

Last photo on my camera, showing the long road back down the hill.

It was all downhill from here.  Still about a mile back to the car.  Thunderbird Park is a great place to hike, but not one of my favorite places for scenery.  There are some good shots from the top of the hills, but not much to be seen on the way up or down.  The vegetation is not as varied as it was for the Vulture Peak hike, being mostly Palo Verde trees and scrub grass.  Nor was there much in the way of wildlife for a two hour hike.  I got a good workout this morning.  You, dear reader, got these candid shots or the Arizona desert northwest of Phoenix.

If you would go hiking with me in the Arizona desert some time, why not leave a comment?

–end

Advertisements

Geology–the Science of Disasters   2 comments

Wave if you think the Japanese have the good life!

 

At the age of 63 I went back to school this year.  I’m only taking a single class, and with such a light schedule, I’m enjoying it.  There’s no pressure.  I intend to get an A, but even if I flunked, it wouldn’t matter.  I’m just here to learn what I can and enjoy the college experience all over again.  Actually, it’s the junior college experience.  I was always at university before, and I was rushing like mad because I had degree programs to finish.

My class is Physical Geology 101.  It is by default the easiest physical science course available.  I think the administrators only put it in the catalog to give athletes a chance to satisfy their physical science requirements.  It is a much easier course than Biology, Chemisty, or Physics.  I know it’s a dump course because there is no geology 102. 

I don’t care.  I took the class because I wanted to know more about rocks, the earth, and geology itself.  I’m having a ball.  I’m learning a lot.  Even though this is the easiest of all physical sciences, it is too hard for most of the jocks who signed up for the class.  I know it’s too hard for them because they don’t show up.

We just finished a chapter about something called Mass Wasting.  Translation: landslides.  There’s Creep which is gradual movement of soil downhill at speeds as slow as 1 cm. per  year, and there are slides at speeds up to 400 km. per hour.  The slides are the ones that kill people outright.

A mudslide in Peru completely wiped out this village. This seems to happen a lot in Peru.

The geology textbook is full of all these pictures of great landslides, landslips, mudslides, deformed graveyards built on hillsides, etc. 

This prompted me to comment that “Geology is really the science of disasters.”  And the Geology Professor answered, “Yes, and that’s why we love it!”   Julietta added that Mother Earth is always seeking equilibrium–balance out the forces at work.  These balancing movements are almost always harmful to the stuff that we human beings are doing.  Nature works to increase entropy.  Men work to reverse it.  

Well, I can tell you, from my experiences of being involved in minor disasters–they are no fun for the people experiencing them.  Injury, death, property damage, and the loss of everything a person loves–these are human tragedies.  I feel sorry for the people of Japan.

And yet, if one can pull back from the experience of disaster and watch it from a distance, there is something awesome about them.  I don’t get any pleasure from the suffering that disasters cause.  I do, however, experience awe and delight in seeing these amazing natural forces in action.  It is the same glee that comes from watching lightning bolts in the sky during a storm.  I don’t want to be hit by one, and I’m sorry for anyone who is, but wow! those natural forces are superb.

Lightning attack on the city.

Geological disasters have many forms: earthquakes, tidal waves, volcanoes, landslides, and even simple erosion by means of such things as floods and windstorms count.  We live by the motto of “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”  When the big stuff comes along, we are very likely to die from it.

But everything is relative–one person’s catastrophe is another person’s opportunity.  In the short run Nature fights a losing battle with us.  For every town and village that Geology destroys, two or more will rise to take their place.  Men die, but Man perseveres and conquers.

And Geology enables us to understand it all.

It looks like destruction, but it's really basic world-building in action.

Kali, how I love you and the destructive forces of Nature!  Just don’t destroy me, please.  And if you do, make it quick.

End

Posted April 12, 2011 by atroll in Geology, Natural Disasters, Uncategorized