Friday, June 12, 2009

Sorry Yeehows, Our Secret is Out

The hydrograph above effectively encapsulates the ambient conditions of field camp. The overall wetness was pretty freaking shocking.

The field camp experiment is over. It was a muddy success. The region was (and still may be) under the influence of a persistent cutoff low pressure system that delivered record amounts of rainfall. It is true that the roads on the rim become somewhat challenging when they get wet, but we did manage to get seven vehicles all the way in and out to the Artillery Rim camp site (eventually). The first night at Rome launch, it rained nearly 1.5 inches. A record for Rome. It was truly disheartening. While lamenting my plight at the Rome Cafe very early on Saturday, the woman in charge at the time offered up access to the Grange building in Arock for us to use while we waited out the rain. Once in Arock, we were given access to the Arock School by an extremely gracious host. The school was a perfect fit for water, bathrooms, class rooms with high-speed internet, a playground, etc.

While at the school waiting out the rain, I gave a marathon lecture (with playground breaks) about the study area, the Quaternary, surficial geologic mapping, and of course provided various demonstrations about geotagging photos, how the gigapan robot works, how I make a map in ArcGIS, and how the magic pen works.

Thankfully, Duane and Caitlin were also there. Duane gave a lecture about the history of paleomagnetism and described how it works in the case of correlating basalt units in the field area.

Caitlin gave a lecture about her project. That night it rained like hell and we enjoyed watching a major thunderstorm plow through Arock. All the more enjoyable because we had a dry place to sleep.

The next day, we had a foreshortened tour of the field area (mud concerns) and made it to the Coffee Pot lava field and the vent by way of the Rockhouse Coffee Shop...all great places to take students.

The road to Birch Creek was in good shape so we peered over the rim. The students were moderately amazed because all they had seen of the river so far was the boring reach at Rome. We then headed out through JV and actually made it to Artillery Rim with only minor mud delays.

Once at the camp site, we approached the rim on foot as a group, and it was the perfect field camp moment. Everyone was awestruck by the view from there.

What then ensued were two perfect field days in the Artillery Rim landslide complex...full of ticks and snakes (lots of snakes), but the weather was perfect. The students had never faced such a complex array of landforms and deposits. Rest assured they have newfound respect for rivers, canyons, and Quaternary geology (and rattlesnakes).

The field camp mascot...saw 9 or 10 rattlesnakes in two days.

Here's an idea. Bring the girls from the Mackay School of Mines Mining Team into the field to dig for you. Next year, the augering competition. In less than 15 minutes they created the best exposure of the Qfl that any of us has ever seen.

The last day ended with an all night soaking rain, and we (the TAs, the cook, and I) were concerned that we may be stuck for a day. It was extremely wet that morning. But, alas, Duane (who proved various times on the trip that his last name is no fluke) and his field assistant Nicole showed up at our camp around 8 AM proving that the roads were viable. As we then rapidly started to take the camp down, it started to rain very hard and things were horribly wet. As we pulled out of the camp, there was a lot of water running down the rocky road past the gate. The rim roads were muddy as hell in the immediate area and one van got mired. It was a relatively easy extraction and we were again on our way through the mud. As we approached the (once-named) veneers of dreaded rim gravel, we changed the name to the sanctified rim gravel. The roads were fine and we proceeded out of the field with no incident.

Looks like my UNR field camp session will hit the Owyhee every year. It remains an amazing place worthy of sharing.

A beautiful evening looking north over the Artillery Rim landslide complex. Worth the trip.

1 comment:

  1. Kyle: I became damp just reading this. Sounds like a memorable excursion for all...well done!


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