Friday, December 16, 2011

AGU days 4 and 5

Better late than never, eh?

After being completely overwhelmed the first 3 days of AGU, I finally got into the convention groove my last two days. I spent a lot of time in the poster halls pouring over research friends, potential colleagues and new acquaintances have done. I spent most of my time wandering between the earth processes and tectonophysics posters.

Sure, I saw some great science at AGU but the most interesting thing about the meeting was overhearing conversations about the process of research. For example, I was looking at a poster of a potential adviser for graduate school, discussing the program at his institution. Out of the blue came 'big name scientist' and began to chat with my potential adviser about his research and, more importantly, how they had new questions to answer. New questions require more money. How were they going to go back to Venezuela? How many grants/proposals, ect did he put in? What could he be competing with? It was interesting overhearing this because I have a very vague sense of the process to get research funded and the more confounding processes inside funding organizations. These are things I imagine I will be part of for years to come with grad school *hopefully* on the horizon.

And now, back to graduate school applications!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

AGU Days 2 and 3

Whew! What a week it's been.

On Tuesday morning I happened to walk into Moscone West when the exhibit hall had been open for about 10 minutes. I followed the flow of people to the NASA booth and experienced a frenzy. Hands everywhere grabbing posters, post cards, comic books, calendars, and bags. This is what I imagined black Friday looking like a few weeks ago. I decided I didn't want to carry around a bunch of swag all day, so I limited my plunder to what fit in my messenger bag and folded posters. This worked out nicely. The exhibit hall has a lot of interesting products, services, organizations and plenty of people to talk to.

I stopped by Little River Research and Design when they were first setting up the Em3 table. I have been really excited to see this product in action and it certainly delivered. The colored grains are actually pieces of plastic that are a specific size by color. They've been blogging too about AGU and it's been an adventurous one for them.
Fun for all!

I also stopped by the OpenTopography booth, shared with NCALM (National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping) on NSF street, #1123. OpenTopography is a great resource for anyone looking for LiDAR or just play around with it in Google Earth, which is what I do. They are consistently updating their available data, with recent additions of the Lake Tahoe Basin, the Tetons in WY and the John Day watershed in OR. While wandering the posters Wednesday morning, I noticed many have used OT data in their research, especially of geomorphological markers of fault motion. 

I spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday talking to people in the poster hall, going to interesting presentations, visiting the exhibit hall. Everything is a bit overwhelming, especially since I have a few looming graduate school application dates this week, but I am having a blast.

It's great that you spend all morning being totally immersed in the geo-world and when lunch rolls around, you walk outside and you're in San Francisco! I've spent quite a bit of time in the City and it's always such a treat to walk up to Union Square for lunch, wander into Soma for a beer and take the bus back to the Mission district where I'm staying with a friend. Believe me, Mission style burrito have been a staple of my diet this week.

Time to head off to the meeting! Hopefully I don't look as lost as this little guy while I'm wandering around.

Monday, December 5, 2011

AGU day 1

Agu, or American Geophysical Union, is an annual meeting of national and international geoscientists for scientific discourse and geeking out about earth science. I arrived in San Francisco Sunday night and prepared for this meeting with a little bit of sleep. This is my first time at AGU and I can safely say that this meeting is overwhelming. I'm not a complete conference rookie as I attended the 2009 GSA meeting in Portland, OR. I know that there's lots going on and I will not see everything I want to see. I started the morning by attending S11C Active Fault Data as Input for Seismic Hazard Analysis. As I am relatively new to this specific field, I enjoyed hearing about the considerations needed for completing an accurate seismic analysis. Things like how do you incorporate new analyses into existing policy and regulations? How can blind faults be included in SHA? Fun stuff. I also spent some time hunting down potential advisors for graduate school, catching up with old friends and just soaking it all in. I attended the social media soiree where i met new people and talked about science blogging. I was especially interested to meet a gentleman who worked for AGU in Washington DC. He told me about the overlying mission of AGU as an organization, which is focused around the support of science research for the benefit of our cultures. So far so good. I am looking forward to exploring the exhibit hall tomorrow. Also, I am currently have 71 followers on twitter and my goal before the end of the meeting is to get over 100. If you aren't following yet, I am @Emily_erratic_

Saturday, November 12, 2011



Not even or regular in pattern or movement; unpredictable.
A rock or boulder that differs from the surrounding rock and is believed to have been brought from a distance by glacial action.

The title of this blog claims post-graduate adventures and missadventures of a young geologist. Well, this entry is to serve that claim. Here's a little story... After graduating from undergrad in California, I moved to a small town in Oregon for a job. A great job with nice co-workers and flexibility. For the most part, I've enjoyed my time in the workplace, but I have felt a massive void. I missed having other geologists around. When people hear you're a geologist, you commonly get "rock, eh? What about 'em?" or "Where's the gold then..." and so fourth and so on. I have come to love being a geologist and thinking about the world around me. I love delving into the history of an outcrop, looking out a plane window, and making visualizations of what the world around me was through geologic time. It's truly a joy that I share with so many other geologists. When I moved to Oregon, I was so happy to find the geoblogosphere. I found my peers. I have started into the chatter on twitter and (somewhat) on this blog.

Sometimes, we think of life as being very linear, with forks in the road and road blocks. Other times, life seems more like a circle, bringing us back to the idea, people and places we've been before. I am coming to find out that as much as I want to put a shape to the time I spend, the choices I make, there is none. With several turbulent personal occurrences, re-locations, losses, gains in the last few years, I've come to a point where I've made some tough but exciting choices. I decided to return to my homeland (San Diego) and apply to graduate school (not necessarily in San Diego). I am taking some time off to live by my whims, fly by the seat of my pants and just see what I can do with some free time. I have a big list of ideas, challenges, pursuits and I am thoroughly stoked.

So, with that, I will (presumably) have more time to update, once grad applications are in. SO, there's going to be some changes to this blog in the next few months. I will be moving my post-graduate adventures to Southern California. Oh yes, there will be posts on granite and faults. you will see...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

All I want is mountains!

So, following along with some of the advice I recieved from fellow bloggers, I am going to write about what I love: MOUNTAINS!

A few weeks ago, some friends of mine got hitched in North Lake Tahoe in a beautiful outdoor ceremony. I was lucky to attend this event and get a week off to travel back-up to Oregon with my S.O. (significant other), all the while exploring, camping, hiking, biking, and sampling all the beauty of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountain Range.

We started off by escaping some crazy traffic in North Lake Tahoe on a Sunday afternoon and heading North towards the Tahoe National Forest. I was overjoyed to be (1) getting away from suburban assault vehicles with screaming children and (2) to be going to an area that I had been on a field trip almost 2 years prior. In Fall 2009, I took an 'advanced field' class which was your classic read a lot of papers then go out in the field and arm wave a lot. It was my first real field class I'd had in my undergraduate career and sure, I had a few classes with ONE field trip, but the field was the basis for this whole class. Needless to say, I was a happy geology student.

Our first field trip for the class was exploring the Sierra Nevada crest in the Tahoe National Forest and many different rocks representing a Paleozoic volcanic arc that had been squished, uplifted and eroded by glaciers. A volcanic arc is a series of volcanoes that form in a 'chain' due to their position relative to a subduction zone. A modern day example of a volcanic arc is the Cascade Mountain range, or for an island arc example, the Mariana Islands in the S. Pacific.

So, to simplify, the rocks in the Sierra Buttes represent some very chaotic environments (and one quiet one). Are you excited yet?

Andesite columns formed from rapid cooling. Photo taken in 2009.

Andesite columns are familiar to me and other geoblogers here in Oregon, but I think I can say these are some of the first columns I ever saw as a geologist. I have memories from being a wee one and seeing 'skyscrapers' in the rocks along the Snake River on a family rafting trip. Now when I recreate around Oregon, I see them all the time, and I still want to put my nose on every one of them with my hand-lens. Anyways, Cool! These andesite columns define a volcanic flow, where the surface is perpendicular to the column shape.

Chert with phosphate blebs. Photo from 2009.

Further up the trail from the last photo, we found a dark sedimentary rock with interesting white, lenticular shapes. This is chert*, which was formed in a 'quiet' marine environment, like a continental shelf. On a side note, Brian Romans at Clastic Detritus posted on twitter today that "a sedimentary particle 1 micron in diameter takes about 3 weeks to settle through 1 meter of water." If this rock formed in a deep, quiet marine environment, imagine how long it took the grains to get to the thickness shown in the hand sample in the picture. The white lenses in this rock are phosphate 'blebs,' as I have it written in my field notes. These blebs underwent a process called diagenesis, where sediment chemically and/or physically alters as it's being created into a hard rock. So this is a little quiet compared to what I promised earlier.

2009 photo of some supah slickenlines.

WAIT. What is this I see in this chert? Are those slickenlines!? Yes! These were the first slickenlines I had ever seen in the field. Glad to share them with you, internetz.

Rock hammer for scale. Photo from 2009.

Now we're into the chaos! May I present a MEGABRECCIA! The large and varying sizes of the clasts in this rock, which turn out to be quartz and  plagioclaise, represent a high energy environment.

This next photo is of some volcanostratigraphy in the Taylor formation which, quite frankly, blew my mind. At that time in my young geology career, I had never thought of what would happen when ash from a volcano came in contact with water. I guess I was more infatuated with imagining mountains blowing up (can you blame me?). Well, this is what it might look like when a lot of volcanic ash from a pyroclastic flow hits a lake, or other calm water body. It helps that the sun was hitting this outcrop just right too.

Volcanostratigraphy of the Taylor Formation. Fall 2009.

Well, now since I've talked about the rocks for a bit, I should give some flashy photos of the scenery here at the top o' the Sierras.

Horse Lake or Deer Lake with MEGABRECCIA. Sierra Buttes peepin up in the background. photo taken in 2009.

Sierra Buttes and Deer Lake (for sure on this one). Taken summer 2011.

The scenery was defiantly competing with the rocks for "which one does Emily want to look at more!?" Thankfully, this was not very stressful because, geologists love all different scales of geology, from the nose of the rock to trying to fit it all into your eyeballs. Completely satisfied.

Wonky trees on the Pacific Crest Trail. A question came up on the trail about why the moss is so far up the trees and is not uniform on the tree. My theory was the snowpack stops at the bottom of the moss, and the moss grows on the side of the tree getting hit by wind (and sticky snow). Any other ideas?

Geologist loves playing with scale...

I'm not sure if this shows up in this photo, but from this view I could see the Sutter Buttes in the Great Valley and even a very faint horizon of the far far distant California Coast Range! This view is looking SW. Taken summer 2011.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my adventures in the Tahoe National Forest! It's defiantly worth a visit for anyone craving mountains and solidarity.

*I've always really enjoyed the word "chert" because I like to imagine how a British person would say it. Go ahead, try it! Okay, well, I guess I've always been amused by it...

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Okay. I have a confession. This blog has not started out the way I imagined. Here's a little story...

I am the only geologist in my office, so when I found out about the geoblogsphere, I was ecstatic! This is how I can keep up my conversation with other geologists not only locally, but around the world! Awesome. I got the name, URL, twitter, ect within 30 minutes, I was a member of the geoblogsphere! Hooray! Now, what to write about... I am a recent graduate and just moved to a town where I know no one, started a job where I have a lot of responsibility, and I've changed plate margins. There's plenty to write about! So why haven't I been clogging up all the RSS feeds with all this new and exciting adventure?

Well, here's my lesson I've learned for blogging. You've got to set your own rules. I have plenty of ideas, good ones too. However, I have not taken the time to set my own rules.

So, here's my first crack at some guidelines for myself:
1. Allow yourself time to find your 'voice'
2. Be prepared to make mistakes, and ask for corrections.
3. A blog can be a conversation. I've found that my fellow geobloggers are very chatty and enjoy answering questions about a photo of an outcrop or weighing in about the media and geologic occurrences (Japan, VA Earthquake, Flooding of the Mississippi to name a recent few...)
4. Visuals are important.
5. For me specifically, don't set your standards too high. I'm too new at this to think I can pull off some of the amazing posts I see everyday on my google reader.

Now, does anyone have guidelines to add? (#3)

(#4) Picture from Lassen Volcanic National Park. Taken August, 2011. Post to come soon!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

From Coast Range to Cascades-Part 1

Since my last post, I have graduated from UC Davis and started a job on the Oregon Coast as a federal geologist. With the arrival of summer here on the coast, I will have many opportunities to explore the people, places and geology of this superb state.

Sand and Driftwood just north of Floras Lake State Park. Taken April, 2011

In an effort to explore the state of Oregon, I will be spending plenty of time this summer playing in the Coast Range and Cascades. My first escapade of the full transect was this last Memorial Day 2011, a wonderful 3 day weekend I spent with my mother. Our trip was planned where we'd meet in Eugene then drive over to Bend for the weekend. What ended up happening is I met my mom in Bend after she had some difficulties with her airline in Salt Lake City (don't fly Delta).

Looking South from 101

I enjoy driving in the car on my own, especially in Oregon. The scenery engulfs the roads, as if you're not supposed to be there. As if you are intruding on someone. Driving up 101N, the highway is flanked by tall Douglas fir trees, which grow up to 3ft a year here. Along my drive are several state parks, Forest Service parks and community parks. There's basically some sort of park about every 10 miles. This is in part due to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation area, a 60 mile stretch of exquisite sand dunes that people like to break their faces on with OHV's.

Sand is a dominant feature on the Oregon Coastline. Of the 310 miles of coast, about 140 of them are sand dunes or sand beaches. The sand dominance on the coast is probably due to erosion in the pre-Cascades and post-Cascade landscapes to the east. Point is, there is A LOT of sand on the Oregon Coast and it makes for a very interesting and dynamic natural system.

Paddling some sick gnar gnar Class -2 rapids* through the Dunes. Siltcoos River.

On the Coast, you can tell what season it is not by the weather, but by the prevailing wind direction. When I first moved here, I remember being struck as I walked out of the office on a rainy, cold day to a warm southern wind. It was quite pleasant. It seems like the rain isn’t the big weather draw-back to the coast, it’s the summer wind. A strong northern wind blows and it is chilling. Quick sidenote: The predominant travel direction for bike-tourists along the 101 is north to south because of that wind. If it’s blowing 10-15mph, you want that at your back! So, for our lovely dune fields, grains of sand follow these wind patterns and shift seasonally. Another key seasonal variation are the stormy moths of November through April (more like May this year). Winter storms pound away at the beaches and dunes, taking thousands of cubic meters of sand out to sea. In the summer months, much of this sand is re-deposited onto the beaches. A truly chaotic and dynamic system, even without mentioning the invasive grasses, recreational activities and wetlands that also occur at dunes!

Looking up the Floras Drainage. May, 2011.

I haven’t taken much time to explore the beaches/dunes on the Coast, but in writing this entry, I think I will have to make a trip soon…Next time, the Coast Range!

Thanks for reading!


*That is a joke...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Field Photo #2

The Sierra Nevada from White Mountain Research Station ~5am. This photo commemorates my summer field camp experience, which is where I was one year ago. I guarantee this exact photo has been taken by hundreds of geology students at WMRS before heading out for our mapping exercise a the Poleta Folds at 6am. This is the view that says "Yeah, I chose to study the right thing."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Field Photo #1

The first field photo is from a spot about 50 miles south of where I live. This is from a spot that, as you're driving down 101, has a big arrow that says "OCEAN VIEW." These are a set of some uplifted terraces fitting nicely into the morning shot. On the far right of the photo, where the topography is becoming noticeably steeper, is Humbug Mountain, which is part of the accreted Klamath terrains materials. It is made of early cretaceous marine sediments. The terraces represent former shorelines that have been uplifted by activity associated with the Cascadia subduction zone. Cape Blanco, about another 50 miles south from this picture, is the westernmost point of Oregon and, according to the GPS station sitting on top of it, the fastest rising (~1in/year!)