Monday, December 21, 2015

Geology of the National Parks in Pictures - Hagerman Fossil Beds

My next post about the Geology of the National Parks Through Pictures is part of a series of parks that the the family hit while we were visiting the southern Idaho.

You can find more Geology of the National Parks Through Pictures as well as my Geological State Symbols Across America series at my website


As we continued our tour through southern Idaho, I really wanted to visit Hagerman, not the least because I am a paleontologist. Well, let me just get this out of the way first off, I saw no fossil localities, unlike at Dinosaur NM or Fossil Butte NM. This is more of a preserve to protect the fossils but they don't have the infrastructure (yet?) to allow the public access to see the actual dig sites. Hopefully that will come along sometime in the future. But as a paleontological National Park, this is the weakest one I have been to.

Me and my Gummy Bear doing our sign thing.

 When we were planning on going to the park, I read everywhere that we had to go to the Visitor's Center first. Well this is the first thing that we noticed upon walking up to the door.

So as most any paleontologist is wont to do, we started digging to see what we could find.

Inside they also had a nice display full of fossils and other geological specimens for the kids to play with and analyze.

And they also had some of the more common mammal fossils.

Along with fossils found within the park too, like this lovely horse.

 And some elephantine specimens

After leaving the Visitor's Center there is one road with a couple of view spot's along it. This one describes the changing landscape from the Pliocene, when the fossils are from, to today.

There are also remnants of the Oregon Trail, as seen here with the trail ruts.

And here you can see them really well on the left side of the photo where the road bends. 

The Snake River Plain, where Hagerman is located, is known for its volcanic landscape. As the North American Plate traveled westward, the plate was dragged across the Yellowstone Hot Spot. The hot spot melted a swath through the Idaho countryside that left a significant mark on the landscape. The remnants of the old shield volcanoes and lava flows are pervasive throughout the region, as is described in this display.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Drunk on Geology - Black Butte Porter

The next up in our Drunk on Geology series is Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery out of Bend, OR. (Also home to the Obsidian Stout and the Inversion IPA)

Although "butte" is a generic geological term for an isolated mountain jutting out of the landscape (, Black Butte is a specific mountain located within Oregon.

Location of Black Butte, Oregon.

Here is the geology of Black Butte from the webpage:
As you drive toward the flats of Central Oregon toward this symmetrical volcano, you might well wonder why it erupted here. The more famous High Cascades peaks formed along a fault that has been leaking lava for millions of years. But Black Butte grew along a different, parallel crack to the east. This fault also uplifted Green Ridge's scarp to the north, leaving the Metolius Valley as a long trough. 
Black Butte began to erupt quite recently, perhaps only 20,000 years ago. It quickly built up a 3,000-foot pile of cinders, one of the tallest such cones in the state. The eruption also buried the Metoilius River, creating Black Butte Ranch's swampy meadows on one side of the mountain and Metolius Springs on the other, where the river now emerges.
I can not find much information on the volcano, besides what is on (and we all know how accurate that can be at times).  However, with that being said, this is what I can glean from them. Black Butte is a shield volcano that is approximately 1.4 million years old (in stark contrast to what the page states). It is an extinct volcano, which I am inclined to agree with, since there is very little information about it and it is not listed on the USGS's list of volcanoes, which lists all of the volcanoes that have erupted in the last 10,000 years.

Besides that, Wikipedia mentions that the primary rock is basaltic andesite. This makes sense since it is "Black" Butte and basaltic andesite is a very darkly colored rock, common to volcanoes.

Basaltic andesite from

The volcano is also artistically rendered on the bottle and the package.

A nice picture of the actual mountain from 

Some of the descriptive wording presented on the stem.

And the other side of the stem.

Glamour shot