Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What's up with upper-tier landslides?

After looking at landslide after landslide along the Owyhee, it is pretty clear that there are several modes of failure typical of the river corridor. Of course we have the basic earthflow type (the Hole in the Ground has great examples); the basic rotational slump type (Artillery landslide complex; Heaven's Gate landslide complex); and the basic cantilever slab type failures along the margins of the Quaternary intracanyon lava flows. Yes, there are complex combinations of all of these things as well. Recently, Liz and I were noting that there are areas where only the upper part of an exposued section is peeling away...this is particularly true in areas where there are stacks of massive lavas with occassional interbeds of lacustrine sediments or, more importantly, piles of lava-water interaction deposits. The Bullseye landslide in 'Sweetwater Canyon' (name from river guidebook) is a good example. There, the upper lava flow is peeling back across a cruddy looking bed of lava-water interaction deposits (LWID). The LWIDs overlie a relatively massive stack of lavas. It appears that the Bullseye landslide's head scarp is below the peeling section. Its ultimate failure would not have been possible without the peeling in the upper tiers of the section. This makes Bullseye a lower-tier slide candidate.

There are lots of examples of upper-tier sliding along the river. Possibly the most impressive is right across from Iron Point. In that case, the failing area is pinned on rhyolite. There are several landslides in this general reach that sole-out on rhyolite. Not sure whether they occurred when the river was at the level or if they freaking cascading over the rhyolite into the river. Probably the former since the latter sounds so cool.

There are many examples where the upper-tier sliding seems to be associated with an underlying LWID (like a lava delta) or otherwise incompetent unit (like a lens of mud). In some places, the lava deltas are obviously linked to massive landlsiding; in others, they support massive cliffs. Maybe when you peel away the top, they lead to massive landslides. Probably not that simple. Any thoughts? Anyone?

Is the Bogus Lake bogus?

Check out the extent of a lake with surface elevation of 3900'...

Shockingly Voluminous (Once Dreaded) Rim Gravel, redux

Alas, brother spud, unless we are on different conceptual planes here, the paper in question does not directly address the SV(OD)RG. Instead, it is focused on the fluvial sediments in the middle Miocene part of the section, specifically the arkosic sandstone and mudstones that we see interbedded with rhyolite just downstream from AM-PM camp:

In the context of our studies, this part of the record is only a glimpse into an ancient precursor drainage system. In fact, I think that a fair amount of the SV(OD)RG in our study area is related to lava damming events in the latest(?) Miocene and into the Pliocene (i.e. the Bogus Rim).Thus, is is possible that the SV(OD)RG represent blockage of an integrated / partially integrated Owyhee. Recall that the base of the Bogus lava sits on river gravel in various places between Iron Point and Birch Creek. I suspect it was the blockage of this system in the early Pliocene to late Miocene(?) that deposited the gravels that form a flat surface at 3900'. Subsequent and possibly sporadic incision through the gravel cover after the breach formed several discernible levels of gravel. This is directly analogous to the distribution of the much less widespread and voluminous gravels above the Quaternary blockages. It is that latter point that really pulls me in. Any counter arguments? Anyone?

In the figure below, I have pointed out some features of the gravel. I have approximated its MINIMUM extent using the snow-like pattern. Have also noted the problem with the Ice Axe as Bogus Rim (stay tuned for explanatory post on that one). This is a crude mock-up. A more formal figure will be forthcoming with lots of elevation data...(just got me a Trimble XH...arrived today!).

(click on image for full size)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Reference related to the "Shockingly Voluminous" Rim Gravel

Hi Folks:

Here is a reference from my thesis that a very nice man (who once offered me a job in mineral exploration) turned me on to:
Rytuba, James J., and Vander Meulen, Dean B., 1991, Hot-Spring Precious
Metal Systems in the Lake Owyhee Volcanic Field, Oregon-Idaho;
in Raines, G.L., et al., 1991, Geology and Ore Deposits of the Great Basin,
Symposium Proceedings, USGS and Geological Society Nevada, Reno, Nevada,
Volume II, pp. 1085-1096.
If I remember correctly, I think it is pretty relevant to the dreadfully voluminous rim gravel and provides some corroboration of some of the things Dr. Jerque and others are finding in the field. Dr. Jerque may have a copy and I can scan you a copy sometime if you can't find it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Traverse Map, PKH, July 2008

Using some very handy applications and hardware (Garmin 60csx; GlobalMapper; ArcGIS), I created this nice little map of my recent field excursion. Note that using the bridge in Rome Valley instead of the Arock route gets you into the field much more quickly. I took a ridiculously rough road out of Arock at first and returned via the bridge near Crooked Creek.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer 2008 on the Owyhee, Part 1

Spent all of last week on the Owyhee. Many rim hikes and a few forays down to the wet stuff. The latter with Liz and her students. Learned alot. Found a fault in Sweetwater Canyon (that between Jordan Creek and Hike-out Camp). Determined that the once 'dreaded' rim gravels are really the 'shockingly voluminous' rim gravels. As for the latter, there appears to be a culmination of aggradation on a platform at about 3900'. Multiple levels are present below this, mainly on the Artillery Rim. Found a tephra in a rare exposed section at the 3900' level near Owyhee Butte. Learned that the Heaven's Gate landslide complex (including an upper reach and a lower reach) is quite huge, particulary when viewed from the perspective of the canyon rim...wow. Can't imagine how this complex was not the source of multiple blockages and breaches. Liz nearly single-handedly augered a 4 m hole in a perfect closed depression. We found the Mazama, and certainly drilled into the late Pleistocene...but didn't find the fat tephra bed that we found in the slide below Bogus Point. For now, please view the following slide show for substantiation of most of the claims above (view in Google Maps or Google Earth for the full informative effect):