Accretionary Wedge #36…Stuff Left Behind, With Regrets


(Note: this is a repost of Accretionary Wedge #36…Stuff Left Behind, With Regrets, originally posted at GeoSciBlog. To see original post and all the comments, click the link above.)

What have you left behind in the field? What have you lost or what do you regret not having collected, including photographs?  [Before going further, I would like to thank all of the participants.]

The first contributor, Evelyn Mervine recounts some fascinating field work in the Indian Ocean, then she goes on to relate what she regrets not bringing home – a baby goat or a baby camel from Oman. I wonder what U.S. Customs would have had to say about that? [I once used a large paper cup to catch a kangaroo rat (for a few minutes) in the Eagle Mts. of West Texas, but it wouldn’t have acclimated to a caged existence.]  If one lived on a farm, bringing home such “souvenirs” from the field might work, but not so sure in a two-bedroom apartment.  I don’t know whether goats and camels can be housebroken.  Here is her post in its entirety.

From Ann’s Musings on Geology, Ann muses on her extensive 35-mm photographic past and photos she didn’t get. She recounts such issues as not wanting to expose her camera to adverse conditions, e.g., dust or rain or not wanting to carry the extra weight. [Been there, done that on both counts.] She also described the familiar college-student issues, such as the expense of film purchases and development costs. As I did, she chose slides as they were cheaper. Another constant issue with 35-mm film photography, you had to wait to know if you got one or more decent shots.  Many times, once she found out that she didn’t get a good photo, it was in a situation where there were no do-overs, no chance to revisit the site.  [Another 35-mm hazard – forgetting to reel the film back into the cartridge before you open the back of the camera.  In 1982, I lost all of my Wisconsin glacial features slides when I did this.]  As I do, she now faces the dilemma over what to do about all of those slides and how to convert them.  Hopefully this can be resolved in a satisfactory way, with a scanner of some type.  [I have a scanner, but not the time.]

Dana Hunter also reminisces about the Photo Not Taken. Actually of the photos not taken when she lived in Arizona. The empty photo-box syndrome. I can attest that there is plenty of good geology to be photographed in all of Arizona, especially the northern half of the state…San Francisco Peaks, Page, Sunset Crater, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Jerome, Barringer Crater, Canyon de Chelly, Shiprock,…

Silver Fox at Looking for Detachment is the first to report on regretting leaving a geological/archeological item in the field.  From her account, after being literally dropped-off by helicopter at a field site: …”I found a large pink projectile point in the middle of the drainage I was walking down, a drainage that had obviously seen some flooding in the last 1 to 5 years. The point was possibly made of Ivanhoe “chert” (more precisely opalite or silicified tuff) from the Tosawihi Quarries of northern Nevada, a large series of rock quarries made by ancient to nearly present-day native Americans…”   In following accepted archeological protocols, she left the point, intending to mark the locality on a map for later collecting by a “trained professional”.  For whatever reason, the info didn’t get passed along and the point was probably washed further downslope with later weather events.  [I once got a polite lecture from a friend about collecting a silicified limestone “hand tool” from a roadside site, but I was able to drive him to the site and point to the exact location, so he could relate it to his archeologist girlfriend, so no damage done.]

The next contribution comes from Egypt!  Way cool.  Selim Abdelrhman reports on the strange rocks of Wadi Elbattekh in Egypt.  From his words: “OK, Wadi Elbattekh or وادي البطيخ my translation is “Watermelon Valley” it’s aWadi filled with strange rock shape and very soft in touch. i think the origin of this rocks is still a mystery.”…

From Casey at Giosciencecomes regrets of not having collected more samples (and taken more photos) of ripple-marked sandstones during at 1998 GSA Southeastern Section fieldtrip in WV, a fieldtrip that included the legendary sedimentary petrologist Bob Folk.  The ripple marks were in the Devonian Foreknobs Formation, part of the Catskill Delta.

The proprietor ofGeologyMelange brings us his first geoblog post.  The subject of regret was a past visit to part of Marble Canyon in Death Valley.  Of most interest was an apparently un-mapped outcrop of deformed crinoid “hash”.  There were a sufficient number of photos taken, but no measurements were taken of the size or orientation of the outcrop and not enough samples were collected.  But of even more interest were the cobbles of white marble, the origins of which were not discovered.

A photo of Christopher with a fault-breccia in Marble Canyon, just above the canyon sediments.

Ron Schott admitted not collecting enough samples from certain sites, taking enough notes, or taking enough photos.  But his greatest regret was losing his first Estwing Rock Hammer, which he was given as part of his Colgate Univ. Field camp gear.  It served him well in field camp, but when he visited Giant Mountain in the Adirondacks, the spirits of the mountain became incensed at his collection of samples of the Roaring Brook intrusion breccia.  The spirits extracted their revenge by relieving him of his beloved hammer from its improvised rope belt.  [I know the feeling.  My Dad gave me a brand new Estwing Rock Hammer when I left home to go to UTEP for grad school.  Despite having the handle wrapped with day-glow orange tape, I managed to lose it in the Eagle Mts., about a year and a half later.]

Jessica Ball (aka Tuff Cookie) has a similar story of losing a “first piece of field equipment”, a little smaller, but still important.  Somewhere in the area of Sugar Hollow in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains, her first hand lens slipped off its lanyard.  From a separate adventure, she regrets not having kept her first pair of hiking boots, with partially-melted soles from an encounter with some of Kilauea’s fresh lava flows.  I am sure that those boots would have been good for some stories.

For my contributions, there are actually two different ones. In 1979, I had a summer job in the San Juan Basin of NW New Mexico, as part of a fossil recovery project, prior to the opening of an open-pit coal mine. Outside of our project area – on the road back to the dirt “highway”, there was a reddish-colored outcrop of “clinker” material, i.e., baked Cretaceous shale with plant fossils. The baking was probably courtesy of an ancient, underground coal-seam fire. After driving by this site to – and from – my “days off”, I decided to stop and have a look. I regret only picking up two specimens from this site, one (pictured) with an angiosperm leaf and a stem fragment and another with a piece of a stem. WHY DIDN’T I AT LEAST FILL A BUCKET FROM THIS SITE? I will never know.

The image is labeled for use in my classes.

The other under-collected site was the previous summer, when I was in the Eagle Mountains in West Texas. While surveying the area – as part of a planned thesis project, which was never finished, in favor of another a few years, later – amid the caldera breccias and ash flow tuffs, I found a chunk of siltstone, with some tiny impact craters. I regret not even doing a rough draft of the extent of this intra-caldera siltstone. It most likely was reworked, water-deposited ash, with roughly-defined bedding planes. The surface was marked by a few tiny impact craters, suggesting bombardment by explosion debris, while the upper surface was exposed, but soft and “plastic”. Looking at cross-sectional view, there was evidence of other small impacts by broken crystals/rock fragments. I often include this in lab instructions to remind students that it is possible to find sedimentary rocks inside of volcanoes. SO WHY DIDN’T I PICK UP MORE CHUNKS OF SILTSTONE?  [BTW, the place where I lost my Estwing rock hammer was a stop or two past the siltstone locality.  Hmm, is there a connection?]

[Update: A couple more attendees to the party!]

Water and Rocks…At The Same Time reports on the discovery of a chevron fold in an outcrop of the Dolgeville Fault on a tributary of the Mohawk River, near Dolgeville, NY.  The photo at left shows a portion of the fold.  Several members of the field trip party picked up folded portions of (presumed siltstone), but Roy didn’t want to add anymore clutter to the crowded van (be there, done that on a crowded field trip bus, it is hard to keep samples organized and under control).  This was his 2nd chevron fold, the first he donated to his alma mater, SUNY Oneonta.  Roy, you have my permission to collect the next chevron fold for yourself.

Dr. Ian at Hypo-center reports on some important items ALMOST LOST during field work in Lukmanier Pass region of Ticino, Switzerland years ago.  After picking up a fair-sized sample of gneiss: …”I was crossing a boulder field and noticed an interesting looking exposure up a steep face to my right. I put my notebook down on a rock, placed my map case on top of it, and my gneiss sample on that to stop it blowing away. I then headed up to the steep outcrop with my compass-clinometer thinking I could easily remember a couple of readings and rock details and return to record the information in my notebook.”…  After climbing upwards to check out more interesting metamorphics and record several more structural readings, he turned around to re-orient himself and return to collect his sample, notebook, and map case, when he realized – “Just damn! – all them boulders look the same!” (or something like that).  More from Ian: …”After an hour a mild panic started to set in. Had I just lost three weeks work down to my own stupidity? Since I knew that they had to be in the boulder field somewhere,…”  He searched for two more hours.  At the point of almost giving up hope, he decided to do two more passes through the boulder field, then he realized that the items of interest were a mere 10 meters away from him.  But a sad postcript follows this reunification of geologist and field equipment…  …”After my degree, I went to Cardiff to do a Ph.D. and I told the metamorphic petrology lecturer about the wonderful metamorphic rocks at Lukmanierpass, including hornblende garbenschiefer and kyanite schists…I showed him the box of my rock samples that I had collected there. He asked if he could hang on to them for a while and I agreed. With the passing of my Ph.D. I completely forgot that I had lent him the rock samples. I moved on to Keele, and he moved on from Cardiff.”  So the location of the box of rocks is a mystery.

Well, us Geologists and our stories of “the ones that got away”.  Maybe some younger folks will learn something from our travails, lost samples, unphotographed localities, lost equipment, and regrets.


2 Responses to “Accretionary Wedge #36…Stuff Left Behind, With Regrets”

  1. Flat Sales Blog Says:

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    […] d at his collection of samples of the Roaring Brook intrusion breccia.  The spi […]…

  2. Cornelia Montiel Says:

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