Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Geology of the National Parks in Pictures - Rocky Mountain NP

The next up on my tour of the geology of the National Parks in pictures is:


For our travels through Rocky Mountain NP, I have a lot of scenery photos, but not much in the way of strictly geological photos. It was mostly a scenic drive through the park. Also it has been a while since I was actually there so my remembrance of the features may be a bit hazy.

Obligatory entrance sign

Panorama of some mountains. 

Ok, I really don't remember what this was for. But it's rocks.

 View from the visitors center.

 Mountains

 More mountains

 I believe this is the same valley you can see from the visitors center.

 Yay, some geology. This is a cirque.

 Another cirque

 Some cirques, glaciers, tarns, and probably an arête (or a few).

 An edge of a cirque

 A paternoster lake, perhaps?


 Gotta love the continental divide.

 And of course, more mountains.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Geology of the National Parks in Pictures - Zion National Park: Take 2

The next up on my tour of the National Parks is a revisited park. You can see part one HERE.


Obligatory entrance sign

 View down the Lower Fork Virgin River from the bridge that leads to the Emerald Pools Trail.

 Nice view up the cliff along the Emerald Pools Trail.

 The tired hiker on the trail.

 Under one of the many waterfalls along the trail.

 Some really nice crossbedding.

 View out of the Emerald Pools Trail into the main valley.

 Another view into the main valley.

 View of the Three Kings

 Loving some cross bedding.

Some more cross bedding.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Geology of the National Parks in Pictures - Fossil Butte

The next up on my tour of the geology of the National Parks in pictures is 


We visited Fossil Butte about 2 years ago, so I'm happy to finally get these pictures posted. 

 The obligatory entrance sign.

Since the park is a fossil based park, and most fossils you can't see in their "natural habitat", the best places to see the local fossils are in the visitor centers of these parks. Here we have a fossil wall of some of the spectacular fish fossils found. 


Many of the fossil plants found in the park. 


 A crocodilian skeleton.


 Some local turtle fossils.


 Vertebrate fossils like lizards, bats, and a tiny early horse.


 Panoramic view of the park from one of the highest points along the main drive.


 First view of the Historic Quarry as we hiked up to it.


Up close view of the Historic Quarry as you come up on it from the main trail. 


Me in front of the quarry. 


 View of the further side of the Historic Quarry where the trail switchbacks up to the upper layers.


 View of some of the main fossil bearing units in the upper portion of the Historic Quarry. You can see the individual laminae pretty well from here.

 Panoramic view of the valley standing at the Historic Quarry 


 A highlight of where to find some fossils among the many laminae of the prehistoric lake bed.


Entering the old fossil hunter's home.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Personal Thoughts - Search for primary source of information

I have been wanting to write a post lately describing the search for the primary information in the literature. What I mean by this, is searching for where an idea originated. Frequently people will just cite the source where they read the information, not caring if that idea was cited from some previous source. The problem though lies in the fact that that information came from somewhere else, and your citation does not adequately represent the source of the information. But there is another problem. Perhaps they changed the purpose of that information a little, and the people they are citing changed it a little, and so on back to the source. It is like a game a telephone, where the original source of the information has very little in common with the final source.

Take for instance my search for the "Grey-weighted distance transform" which I used in my paper: Lehane and Ekdale, 2014, Analytical tools for quantifying the morphology of invertebrate trace fossils. The grey-weighted distance transform is a technique that I used in order to help determine Network Tortuosity of a trace fossil by calculating the tortuosity for each path through the trace.

Figure 6 from Lehane and Ekdale (2014) showing the calculation of the Network Tortuosity. 

When I was looking for a technique to do this, I stumbled upon Wu et al.'s (2006) paper on doing this type of network tortuosity measurements on fracture patterns. In the paper they state:
"The path length was determined using the ‘gray-weighted distance transform’ (Verbeek and Verwer, 1990). This algorithm calculates the path that results in the shortest traveling time when going from a set of predefined starting points to any other point in the image."
 So clearly this appears to be a computer program set to calculate the length of the shortest paths across a surface. So I went to the article they cited, Verbeek and Verwer (1990). In that paper they state:
"Already in 1968 Rutovitz (1968) introduced the grey-weighted distance transform in which the  distance of a point to a set of reference points (the sources) is calculated as the lowest path sum of grey values (i.e. the lowest of the sums over all possible paths from that point to the sources)."
A couple of things are noticeable here. 1. Wu et al. (2006), changed the spelling of the "grey" to "gray" to match the language designations of where they were publishing, even though it was an already established title to an algorithm . 2. Even though the original idea for the process came from Rutovitz (1968), there is no citing of his paper anywhere in the Wu et al. (2006) paper.

And that is where part of my issue lies. This is not a slight against Wu et al. (they were a tremendous help to me on my dissertation) mainly because this is not an isolated incident. Should researchers be expected to find the primary source of  information or is the information cited far along in the game of telephone more relevant than the original source? Or should all of the links in the chain be cited?

To continue in our search backwards we go to Rutovitz (1968) who states under his section "Grey-weighted distance transform":
"Let S be a subset of the integer coordinate plane. The result of the pure distance transform of the characteristic function of S is a function d defined on S such that at each point (i,j) ϵ S, d(i,j) is the minimal path distance from (i,j) to S. Suppose though that we have a function g defined on S, and that we think of the values of g as heights of a surface above the (i,j)-plane. We want to set up a modified distance function on S, such that points accessible from outside of S via low-lying paths have lower values than points accessible only by higher paths of the same length. Of course, optimal relative weightings for the values of the function g in relation to the lengths of paths in the raster must be found."
So, how much relevance does this have, from a time before computers to the modern application, where the computers used would have been even beyond comprehension at the time the original algorithm was conceived.  The basic theory is generally similar, but the use and changes that it has undergone through the decades has changed it. Is the original even relevant anymore?

Personally, I feel all such applications should be cited. From the original source, up through the modern example, because they all had a hand in crafting what it had became so that I was able to use it in my research.

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Lehane, J.R. and Ekdale, A.A. 2014. Analytical tools for quantifying the morphology of invertebrate trace fossils: Journal of Paleontology, v. 88, p. 747-759

Rutovitz, D. 1968. Data structures for operations on digital images, p. 105–133. In G. C. Cheng, R. S. Ledley, D. K. Pollock, and A. Rosenfeld (eds.), Pictorial Pattern Recognition. Thompson, Washington DC.

Verbeek, P. W. and B. J. H. Verwer. 1990. Shading from shape, the eikonal equation solved by grey-weighted distance transform. Pattern Recognition Letters, 11:681–690.

Wu, Y. S., L. J. Van Vliet, H. W. Frijlink, and K. Van der Voort Maarschalk. 2006. The determination of relative path length as a measure for tortuosity in compacts using image analysis. European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 28:433–440.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Geology in Pop Culture - Disney's California Adventure

Not much in the way of "Geological wonders" in California Adventure in Disneyland, however there is one cool spot in Cars Land. The backdrop of the Radiator Springs Racers ride is the awesome looking panorama, evoking a southern Utah feel to it. They even provide a National Park Service type brochure explaining all of the features.



The Ornament Valley Brochure is below. I tried to do a panorama shot on it but it is really hard to do that on an iPhone for a static picture so I also took an overall picture. They have fantastic references to actual geologic features like "Pipe's Peak", "Mount Ever Rust", "Lincoln Continental Divide", and "Mount Hood".



I also had to take a picture of this sign that I ran by during my Half Marathon that went through part of the park.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Dinos in Pop Culture - Jurassic World Dino Gummies

Would you like a prehistoric snack? 
Well now you can munch on some dinosaurs with Jurassic World fruit flavored snacks.


Truth be told, I am actually quite fond of fruit snacks and these taste like any others that you are going to find in the grocery aisle.


You can match the shapes up with what they had and the shapes were pretty cool. It was hard to get a picture showing the detail of the fruit snacks, but it's there if you look. The yellow one was the hardest to notice any detail on, even in person. 


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Dinos/Geology in Pop Culture - SLC FanX 2015

Continuing on of my coverage of the Dinosaurs and Geology in Pop Culture of the Salt Lake City comic conventions (Comic Con and FanX), we have the 2015 entry of FanX, which was held January 29th-31st, 2015. A bit of dinosaurs this time around.


As with Salt Lake Comic Con a few years ago we have a company with the animatronic dinosaur suit walking around, however it appears to be a different company and a different type of suit this year around. This year it is from DinosaurEvents.com. I felt the previous suit was a bit more realistic, however this one is not bad.

A picture of the dinosaur suit.


View from above, later while he was walking around. The person in the suit could have tried to match the coloring with his clothes a bit better though. The previous dinosaur suit the person was wear spandex the same color and pattern as the suit.


There was also a Jurassic Park panel, where some filmmakers discussed the world of Jurassic Park and the upcoming Lost World. During the panel, they had a clever bit where the dinosaur invaded and interacted with the panel.

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Also new to the Salt Lake Comic scene is this nice Jurassic Park replica jeep. This couple from near my house in Utah runs a Facebook page called Jurassic Jeep 01

 They came with a nice Alan Grant costume and pet Velociraptor.

 Some fossil replicas including a real fossil of an Apatosaurus vertebrae.

And of course, what Jurassic Park crew isn't complete without Ellie Sattler.

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And last, but not least. The Lego Club builders of Utah presented a nice little Lego model of our famous rock arch from Arches National Park.