Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A better "geologist's life list"

Tuesday was final exam day for me. While the students were bubbling in Scantron forms and writing essays, I did a bit of reading (reviewing a book about oil discoveries in Prudhoe Bay for EARTH) and I did a bit of thinking.

I was thinking about that meme we had going around over the weekend and the earlier part of this week -- the list of "100 things every geologist should try and do in their lifetime." Several folks pointed out the Americocentrism of the list, and it occurred to me to try and make a better list. I pulled out my notebook and started jotting down things I thought were worth seeing, places I thought were worth seeing, or activities I thought were worth experiencing to be a fully well-rounded geologist. Geoblogospherians, please take a look at this list and let me know what to add and what's spurious. Maybe we can submit the results as a newer, more-internationalized master list.

A scan of my jottings appear immediately below, and the formal list below that:

Specific places
  1. Visit the Chalk (England, France, Ireland...)
  2. Visit Iceland
  3. Visit Mt. Fuji, Japan
  4. Visit Great Barrier Reef, Australia
  5. Visit the Himalayas (Kashmir?)
  6. the Tibetan Plateau
  7. Visit the Gobi Desert
  8. Visit the Sahara Desert
  9. Visit the Sonoran Desert (for the saguaros)
  10. Visit the Atacama Desert
  11. Visit the Rub' al Khali (Empty Quarter)
  12. Visit Beijing or Shanghai (for the perspective on what really dirty air looks like)
  13. Visit the big island of Hawai'i
  14. Visit Yellowstone
  15. Visit the Galapagos Islands
  16. Visit Madagascar (for the lemurs)
  17. Visit Patagonia
  18. Visit the Andes
  19. Visit the Alps
  20. Visit the Canadian Rockies
  21. Visit Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska (and/or neighboring Kluane National Park in the Yukon Territory)
  22. Visit Denali, Alaska
  23. Visit the Aleutian Islands
  24. Visit Chimborazo, Ecuador (furthest point from the center of the Earth, due to the equatorial bulge)
  25. Visit Antarctica
  26. Visit the Siberian Traps
  27. Visit the Deccan Traps
  28. Visit the Columbia River flood basalt province
  29. Visit Sumatra/Krakatau/Java, Indonesia
  30. Visit the South Island of New Zealand
  31. Visit the Appalachians
  32. Visit the Dead Sea
  33. Visit the Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
  34. Visit the Great Rift Valley of East Africa
  35. Visit the Nile River
  36. Visit the Mississippi River
  37. Visit the Amazon River
  38. Visit the Grand Canyon
  39. Visit the Owens Valley, California (or anywhere in the Basin & Range, but the Owens Valley is pretty darned special, and geologically diverse)
  40. Visit Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Canada (walk on the "Moho")
  41. Visit Siccar Point, Scotland (for the unconformity)
  42. Visit Gibraltar, "UK"
  43. Visit Vesuvius, Pompei, and the Pompei-to-be, Naples
  44. Visit Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia
  45. Visit the Moon
Geological features
  1. A tectonic triple junction (Mendocino, CA is an example, or northern Burma, or Panama)
  2. Tower karst (Guilin, China, or southwestern Thailand are examples)
  3. A regional flood
  4. A flash flood
  5. Ediacaran fauna fossils in situ (possibilities include the type locality of the Ediacaran Hills in Australia, or Charnwood Forest in England, the White Sea region in Russia, or maybe the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland)
  6. Vertebrate fossils in situ
  7. Visiting a laggerstatten site (Burgess Shale, Chenjiang, Sirius Passet, Solnhofen?)
  8. An alpine glacier
  9. A continental glacier (ice cap or ice sheet)
  10. A kimberlite pipe (preferably with diamonds, and good luck with that)
  11. A coral atoll (take your pick)
  12. A meteor impact crater (not a buried one, either)
  13. A big river delta (Mississippi, Ganges, Nile, or any of the dozens of others)
  14. Barrier islands (Padre Island, Texas, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina come to mind, but I'm sure there are others on other continents)
  15. A craton (Canadian shield, Kaapvaal, North China, etc. etc. etc.)
  16. A big estuary (Cook Inlet, Chesapeake Bay, Bay of Fundy: all North American examples. Give me some others)
  17. See some karst.
  18. Kayak (or other boat) through a fjord.
  19. See a dropstone.
  20. See an ophiolite.
  21. Visit a major stike-slip fault (San Andreas in USA/Mexico, or North Anatolian in Turkey, or Tan Lo (sp?) in China)
  22. Visit a nappe or thrust sheet (Glarus Thrust in the Alps, Chief Mountain/Glacier NP in Montana, Blue Ridge in Virginia/North Carolina)
  23. Visit a really big cave (Mammoth, Lechugilla, or some other that I don't know about on another continent)
Activities and experiences
  1. A world-class natural history museum (London Museum of Natural History, American Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History all come to mind.)
  2. Meeting of a classic scientific society (Royal Society, Explorers Club, Cosmos Club...)
  3. Do some original research.
  4. Present your research at a meeting of other scientists.
  5. Publish your research in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
  6. Visit an original copy of "map that changed the world" (William Smith's geologic map of England, Wales, and part of Scotland)
  7. Experience a big earthquake (greater than 5.0 sounds like as good a cut-off as any)
  8. Experience a volcano erupting something other than gases (lava, pyroclastics)
  9. Go ice fishing (or just out onto a frozen lake/pond/sea/ocean and ponder the improbable nature of ice and how it freezes from the top down, preserving the living things underneath, like fish. Without this odd property, it would be tough to maintain life in our high-latitude/elevation lakes/etc. through the winter months.)
  10. Compare and contrast El Nino and La Nina.
  11. Go on an oceanographic research cruise for more than two weeks at sea.
  12. Experience a hurricane/typhoon/cyclone (preferably with surviving it as a caveat)
I welcome your additions and comments!

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Blogger ReBecca Foster said...

#5 should include seeing fossils on Mt. Everest ;)
Or at least seeing Mt. Everest.

December 17, 2008 1:56 PM  
Blogger Callan Bentley said...

That's a good point, ReBecca.

Maybe we should put: visit the tallest three mountains on Earth, as measured three different ways: Everest (highest above sea level), Chimborazo (furthest from the center of the Earth), and Mauna Kea (highest above its base).

Summiting Everest would be a good one, but I get the sense that's going to be beyond the abilities and comfort level of 99% of people. How low do the fossiliferous limestones outcrop on the mountain?

December 17, 2008 2:11 PM  
Blogger Crystallizations said...

The Grand Canyon should be seen from a raft on the Colorado and is a must do on my geology list.

December 17, 2008 5:16 PM  
Blogger Bryan said...

I like the arrangement; places to visit, geologic features to see, and experiences to be had.

December 17, 2008 9:30 PM  
Blogger Silver Fox said...

It's a great list - and the original is a classic!

December 17, 2008 11:47 PM  
Blogger Callan Bentley said...

On Facebook, a friend from the William and Mary geology department, Clair L., suggested the following:

"Great stuff, Callan. Victoria Falls, Racetrack Playa's sailing stones, and Devils Tower are worthy of the life list."

December 18, 2008 6:50 AM  
Blogger Callan Bentley said...

Christie at the Cape suggested some other additions in a post today:

1. A famous "big wave" e.g. Maverics or Dungeons, breaking.
2. A glacier calving into the sea
3. Pink sand beaches (e.g. Bahamas)
4. Singing beaches or dunes
5. Walk across and observe a metamorphic aureole
6. Experience an earthquake
7. See the snowball earth stratal assemblage (e.g. diamictites+carbonates)
8. An earthquake damaged area, e.g. Earthquake Park in Anchorage
9. A Bore tide
10.Hear the sound of waves in a fjord.

December 19, 2008 8:34 AM  
Blogger andrew said...

When I made a stab at such a list, I started thinking of the essential experiences of a geologist, broadly defined. Lots of these are not outdoor activities or destinations. they're things like: attend a major meeting. make and view a thin section. map some place.

December 19, 2008 10:49 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

Large scale normal fault like at the Grand Tetons.

And you can add Fire Island, Long Beach, etc. on the south Shore of Long Island, NY for your barrier island list.

December 23, 2008 3:54 PM  

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