Hey, geobloggers: If you're going to AGU, will you tell us what you hear that is new and different? PLEEZ?

Emily Lackdawilla at the Planetary Society Blog can't make it to all the sessions she wants to see and is hoping to swap notes about Enceladus:

I desperately need help from someone who will be at the Enceladus sessions to jot down a few notes for me on anything that is new or changed from previous thoughts on the nature of that moon.

I just want to know what you think is interesting, exciting, or trendy this year, and why. Subjective "buzz" and plain ol' irresponsible speculation are more fun than the stuff that makes it into journals; the opportunity to eavesdrop and run my mouth network is what I'm most sad to miss. If you don't have a blog, feel free to email me (anonymously, if you wish) and I'll gather the answers for a post.

I'll be thinking wistfully of the geoblogosphere dinner on Wednesday, especially since I'm planning to spend that evening brute forcing a large refrigerator through an only slightly larger window.

Below the fold: Geotripper dug up a list of 100 things geologists should see in their lifetimes, and turned it into a meme.

Bold items are things I've seen or done; my comments are in italics.

1. See an erupting volcano
- Kilauea

2. See a glacier

3. See an active geyser such as those in Yellowstone, New Zealand or the type locality of Iceland

4. Visit the Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) Boundary. Possible locations include Gubbio, Italy, Stevns Klint, Denmark, the Red Deer River Valley near Drumheller, Alberta.

5. Observe (from a safe distance) a river whose discharge is above bankful stage - I didn't observe so much as live near, and drive over, the Iowa River during the flood of 1993.

6. Explore a limestone cave. Try Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park, or the caves of Kentucky or TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia) - Guided tours don't count as "exploring", especially if they set up a skeleton in the middle of the tour and tell ghost stories instead of talking about geology.

7. Tour an open pit mine, such as those in Butte, Montana, Bingham Canyon, Utah, Summitville, Colorado, Globe or Morenci, Arizona, or Chuquicamata, Chile.

8. Explore Tour a subsurface mine. - Uh, I've toured a salt mine, but didn't really go "exploring"... this tour didn't have any pirate ghosts, though, so I think it counts.

9. See an ophiolite, such as the ophiolite complex in Oman or the Troodos complex on the Island Cyprus (if on a budget, try the Coast Ranges or Klamath Mountains of California).

10. An anorthosite complex, such as those in Labrador, the Adirondacks, and Niger (there's some anorthosite in southern California too).

11. A slot canyon. Many of these amazing canyons are less than 3 feet wide and over 100 feet deep. They reside on the Colorado Plateau. Among the best are Antelope Canyon, Brimstone Canyon, Spooky Gulch and the Round Valley Draw.

12. Varves, whether you see the type section in Sweden or examples elsewhere.

13. An exfoliation dome, such as those in the Sierra Nevada.

14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana or the Skaergaard Complex in Eastern Greenland.

15. Coastlines along the leading and trailing edge of a tectonic plate - I haven't actually been to the North American east coast, but I've seen both the east and west coasts of Baja California!

16. A gingko tree, which is the lone survivor of an ancient group of softwoods that covered much of the Northern Hemisphere in the Mesozoic.

17. Living and fossilized stromatolites (Glacier National Park is a great place to see fossil stromatolites, while Shark Bay in Australia is the place to see living ones) - Okay, I haven't actually seen fossilized stromatolites in situ, but we looked at them in labs in undergrad...

18. A field of glacial erratics

19. A caldera

20. A sand dune more than 200 feet high - Aw, dang, this means the nearly 200 foot dunes at the Indiana Dunes National Lake Shore don't count.

21. A fjord

22. A recently formed fault scarp - 1857 is "recent".

23. A megabreccia

24. An actively accreting river delta

25. A natural bridge

26. A large sinkhole

27. A glacial outwash plain

28. A sea stack

29. A house-sized glacial erratic

30. An underground lake or river

31. The A continental divide - The Great Divide, famous in North America for dividing the Atlantic from the Pacific watershed, is hardly the only continental divide in existence. I think the signs marking the Atlantic/Arctic watershed divide (which I've seen in Minnesota - in addition to driving over the Atlantic/Pacific divide in Colorado) are actually more educational than those at the Great Divide, because the unimpressive local topography forces you to think about what a watershed divide really means.

32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals

33. Petrified trees - Do lava trees count?

34. Lava tubes

35. The Grand Canyon. All the way down. And back.

36. Meteor Crater, Arizona, also known as the Barringer Crater, to see an impact crater on a scale that is comprehensible

37. The Great Barrier Reef, northeastern Australia, to see the largest coral reef in the world.

38. The Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, to see the highest tides in the world (up to 16m)

39. The Waterpocket Fold, Utah, to see well exposed folds on a massive scale.

40. A Banded Iron Formation, to better appreciate the air you breathe.

41. The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania,

42. Lake Baikal, Siberia, to see the deepest lake in the world (1,620 m) with 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water.

43. Ayers Rock (known now by the Aboriginal name of Uluru), Australia. This inselberg of nearly vertical Precambrian strata is about 2.5 kilometers long and more than 350 meters high

44. Devil's Tower, northeastern Wyoming, to see a classic example of columnar jointing - I haven't been to Devil's Tower, but Devil's Postpile, in California, is another classic example... I'm going to count it!

45. The Alps.

46. Telescope Peak, in Death Valley National Park. From this spectacular summit you can look down onto the floor of Death Valley - 11,330 feet below.

47. The Li River, China, to see the fantastic tower karst that appears in much Chinese art

48. The Dalmation Coast of Croatia, to see the original Karst.

49. The Gorge of Bhagirathi, one of the sacred headwaters of the Ganges, in the Indian Himalayas, where the river flows from an ice tunnel beneath the Gangatori Glacier into a deep gorge.

50. The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah, an impressive series of entrenched meanders.

51. Shiprock, New Mexico, to see a large volcanic neck

52. Land's End, Cornwall, Great Britain, for fractured granites that have feldspar crystals bigger than your fist. - the feldspar megacrysts in the Sierra Nevada are pretty impressive, but not fist-sized!

53. Tierra del Fuego, Chile and Argentina, to see the Straights of Magellan and the southernmost tip of South America.

54. Mount St. Helens, Washington, to see the results of recent explosive volcanism.

55. The Giant's Causeway and the Antrim Plateau, Northern Ireland, to see polygonally fractured basaltic flows. - This is just Devil's Postpile seen from the top! And I've seen Devil's Postpile from the top.

56. The Great Rift Valley in Africa.

57. The Matterhorn, along the Swiss/Italian border, to see the classic "horn".

58. The Carolina Bays, along the Carolinian and Georgian coastal plain

59. The Mima Mounds near Olympia, Washington - I've never even heard of these before! They're on the itinerary now...

60. Siccar Point, Berwickshire, Scotland, where James Hutton (the "father" of modern geology) observed the classic unconformity

61. The moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley

62. Yosemite Valley

63. Landscape Arch (or Delicate Arch) in Utah

64. The Burgess Shale in British Columbia

65. The Channeled Scablands of central Washington

66. Bryce Canyon

67. Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone

68. Monument Valley

69. The San Andreas fault

70. The dinosaur footprints in La Rioja, Spain

71. The volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands

72. The Pyrennees Mountains

73. The Lime Caves at Karamea on the West Coast of New Zealand

74. Denali (an orogeny in progress)

75. A catastrophic mass wasting event

76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National Park

77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches)

78. Barton Springs in Texas

79. Hells Canyon in Idaho

80. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado

81. The Tunguska Impact site in Siberia

82. Feel an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0. - The first earthquake I ever felt was in October, 1999 - the M7.1 Hector Mine earthquake out in the Mojave desert. I was at a safe distance in Pasadena.

83. Find dinosaur footprints in situ

84. Find a trilobite (or a dinosaur bone or any other fossil) - I grew up on top of fossiliferous Devonian limestones. Buckets and buckets of brachiopods!

85. Find gold, however small the flake

86. Find a meteorite fragment

87. Experience a volcanic ashfall

88. Experience a sandstorm

89. See a tsunami

90. Witness a total solar eclipse - Several partial eclipses, but never totality.

91. Witness a tornado firsthand.

92. Witness a meteor storm, a term used to describe a particularly intense (1000+ per minute) meteor shower

93. View Saturn and its moons through a respectable telescope.

94. See the Aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights.

95. View a great naked-eye comet, an opportunity which occurs only a few times per century

96. See a lunar eclipse

97. View a distant galaxy through a large telescope

98. Experience a hurricane

99. See noctilucent clouds

100. See the green flash - NB: This is the green flash seen at sunset or sunrise, not the one that's fabled to occur when you smash a pumpkin that's been frozen in liquid nitrogen, e.g. by dropping it off of a nine-story building. Just in case you were confused.

What I would add to the list:

101. An active mud volcano

102. Tar pits - I somehow spent 6 years in the greater Los Angeles area without ever once seeing the La Brea tar pits. Regret! But I'll visit you, my pretties, and your little smilodon, too...

103. See a seiche

104. "Human-scale" evidence of fault creep (e.g., displaced curbs, or the Berkeley football stadium)

I'm only at 27.5, which makes me one of the most poorly-traveled members of the geoblogosphere. And I'm totally cheating on the columnar jointing ones, too. I can't even use the excuse that the list is biased towards the United States! Luckily, now is the perfect time to daydream about hot desert vacations...


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It's not what you've seen but what you've done and learned from the things you've seen. The tar pits and other items are a good add; I am thinking of a number of places I would put on the list, too. I didn't actually think of it as a contest, but I admit I revisited the original article from 1990 to see if I had added anything to my life list. I didn't cross overseas until the last 7 years, for instance.

Thanks for jumping in!

If you can attach a number to it, it's a contest! Especially if that number is also correlated to, say, your socioeconomic status... everyone likes competing over that ;)

Luckily, one could pick up a few more of these without venturing too far from Seattle. (Road trip!! At least after it stops snowing....)

18, 29, 33, and 65 (plus Dry Falls and Soap Lake) can be found on a trip through central Washington. There are plenty of 2 and 27 in the Cascades... and reportedly 85 in the foothills, if one is patient. Would Hood Canal count for 21?

By Cyanotypo (not verified) on 15 Dec 2008 #permalink

Next time I'm up visiting the in-laws in Olympia, we should get together and go to the Mima Mounds. (They were a big geo-mystery in... the early 90's, maybe? People were speculating about anything from earthquakes to giant gophers to space aliens. The speculation, more than anything else, makes them worth the trip.)

The channeled scablands are also spectacular. (If you've seen pictures of concerts at The Gorge, you've seen a good view in it.)

Also, there's a decent chance that I won't actually be at AGU. It's currently dumping snow, and flights tend to get cancelled when it snows here. Bah.

Hood Canal totally counts for 21, but not if you drive over it without noticing.

Kim, that would be fun! Maybe I can figure out some way to make money by claiming it was space aliens...