Friday, September 25, 2009

Die Vergangenheit

Back in the old days there was a mountain man who liked to sniff flowers ("Peace - Love"). Times have changed. Who is this guy?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Waiting for Hurricane Danny

Well, we are at Bethany Beach for a week or two. Just missed Hurricane Bill, which flew by Saturday and Sunday last week. It was a non-event here at Sussex Shores - didn't flatten the beach or create any good wave conditions. Just smashing shore break that blows sand 30 feet in the air and will break the back or neck of anyone that tries to ride these death barrels.

Now we have near perfect calm - the quiet before the storm. Danny doesn't look to be much right now, and may not make hurricane strength, despite the weather channel's hype. Looks like we'll get a nor'easter out of it on Friday and early Saturday, but again, it might blow by so fast that the beach won't flatten out. We need something to get the sand offshore and make a break that won't just bash on the shore. Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer In Oregon

Hi! My name is Katarina and I am my grandpa's favorite grand daughter. I want to tell you about the crazy summer my grandpa has been having. He's been on the go and living in his camper for most of the time, either looking at rocks in Utah or climbing mountains in Oregon. He never slows down. He even rode a bicycle down the Oregon Coast for 250 miles, just to look at rocks. Silly grandpa! I finally got to see him when he took me swimming in the Alsea River. Don't I look cute in my sun hat? I'll probably always be the cutest grand daughter, because my Aunt Jackie will probably have another boy baby.

These are the guys that rode down the Oregon coast. One day they had really strong head winds and rain, but most of the time the weather was great and they all had a great ride.
So, this is a picture of Broken Top, a volcano near Sisters, Oregon. Grandpa couldn't stay up there too long because it started to thunder and lightning - pretty scary

This is a picture of my Uncle Josh before he left on his mission to Oklahoma. He went with grandpa to Utah to look at rocks with some oily geologists. They must be funny people to travel all that way just to look at rocks. I hope they take me down there one day, because I love rocks, too!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Lovely clays

Is this a message from the gods? XOXOXOXOX? I mean I love hairy illite and stuff, but I've never had these little beasties return my affection so clearly. It makes life so worthwhile to be loved!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Some mornings the view from my office window is just too nice to pass up. This morning is was like 28F outside and the snow from the previous day was down on the flanks of Mary's Peak. Even though it warmed up to about 60F during the afternoon, the morning was just perfect. Mary's Peak has many moods and we see them all from our vantage point on the farm. I wish I had a web cam dedicated to Mary's Peak attached to the side of my house. It would beat all the weather cams for this side of the valley.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Everyone has heard of kaopectate, that helpful white kaolin clay product that you take to end the squirts, when all else fails. But have you ever heard of smectopectate, the related product made with Wyoming Bentonite. Smectite is a highly expansive clay that sorbs water into its structure and can swell up to 1000 times its dry volume. I tried this little known product for some mild indegestion and noticed one of its more interesting side effects, as shown in the photo. I'm glad I only took 1 tablespoon of the stuff, or I might not be here today. My son thought my agony was really funny. Kids! Moral of the story: Stick with kaolin-based anti-squirt products and avoid gut splitting problems associated with expansive clays.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Art of Clays

Sometimes, when looking at things that are really small with a really good scanning electron microscope, you see things that remind you how beautiful and complex nature is, right down to the level of these tiny clay minerals. Whether it is "hairy illite" (you guess which one that is) or tiny remnants of solid hydrocarbon trapped in the "taco shell" of some grain-rimming iron-rich chlorite, it makes you pause and wonder who wrote the plan for these things. A lot of folks think oil just gushes from the ground and is easy to find and produce. So mnay of the rocks that contain oil have these darn clays plugging everything up that production of any fluid is very difficult. 90% of Americans don't have a clue how difficult it is to find and produce oil and gas. Just as long as it comes out a nozzel at the gas pump for a reasonable price, they don't want to know what it took to get there. Keep driving!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

When I look out my window

So, if you are wondering why I left California 16 years ago, this is the view from my office window. Enuf said.
Seriously, this landscape boggles the imagination. Do peneplains really exist? This view shows an erosion surface that may be well over 5 million years old. The Jory/Bellpine soils that occur out to the horizon have pedorelicts of gibbsite and decades-old volcanic ash. So much interesting stuff, all clothed in a beautiful doug fir forest. Mary's Peak in the background is an uplifted fault block that exposes 45 million year old sea floor pillow basalts overlain by deep marine sandstone. It's all a piece of Oregon's history. Too bad the sands don't contain a few hundred million barrels of oil. We could disguise the pumpers as log cabins or black berry bushes and make oil while appeasing the environmental types. Oregon's economy could use a kick in the pants. Our great govenor wants to put a gps device on every car in the state and tax us for the number of miles we drive. Since we have one of the highest gas taxes in the nation, but have too many fuel efficient cars (you know - powder-blue Prius'), the tax revenue has dropped as people have fought through $5 a gallon gas by not driving as much. So, if the gas tax can't bring in enough money, the gps locator tax is the best way to get more money and really hurt the poorer class that has to commute long distances to work due to less affordable homes in the big cities. It surely won't put the burden on the upper class. How about that political view? How did this get started? I was talking about geology and beauty and things millions of years old?!!!! Then oil and taxes? That's Oregon for you. Never a dull moment. My solution? Let's have a hunting season on Prisus' that will decrease overall fuel efficiency and increase gas tax revenue.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Honest, it was just glass...

Sometimes you want to find some cool clay, but end up with this amorphous junk. Pity, just glass!
So, you are wondering, what the heck is this curvy graph? Or if you were me, you'd say, what is an XRD pattern doing on a stupid blog? If you think this is dumb, just wait until you see some hairy illite, or snotty-looking smectite, or blocky kaolinite, or some other thing that tweaks a clay mineralogist's fancy.
Well, my eggs are done, so it's off to breakfast. Maybe I could greasy my potatoe gun's barrell with some bentonite and get more distance...

Altered Basalt

Nice looking smectite in altered basalts found in western Oregon! As it turns out, too much clay in basaltic rocks makes them troublesome for engineering uses. Take highway road beds and gravel roads for example. Spread this clay-rich basalt on a road and after a few rainstorms you have a muddy mess. Not what the doctor ordered! So while the clays are pretty under the microscope, they can be a royal pain in the bedonkadonk when they get into our roads and buildings. Some rocks should never be used for roads or buildings. That nice porous basaltic sandstone image actually comes from a building built in the 1800's that is falling apart at the seams. Wonder why? The sandstone is not cemented by anything other than a little expandable smectite clay. The building gets wet, the clay expands; the building dries, the clays shrink. A few years later, the building falls apart. Hmmmm. Next time use granite!