Sunday Science Photos, May 1 – 7

Enjoy this week’s random sampling of science themed photos.

Black Canyon Wilderness95d3686d54394858a4f62363c2d57eed_7

Looking at this scene, you might think that Black Canyon is a particularly apropos name for this landscape, as it is thoroughly scarred by forest fires. The destruction began with a lightning strike on July 13th, 2002. Over the month the fire raged, 17,290 acres of forest burned. It is one of the most surreal landscapes I’ve ever hiked through. You’ll find it in Oregon’s Ochoco National Forest.

The Largest Known Ammonited7efa52b502744be9e3b6b492ac5e259_7

In 1895, German zoologist Hermann Landois discovered this ammonite fossil in 78 million-year-old deposits near Munster, Germany. Weighing around three-and-a-half tons with a  diameter more than eight feet, it is the largest ammonite ever found. Ammonites are an extinct subclass of cephalopods. They didn’t make it past the extinction event that ended the Cretaceous.

Solanum dulcamara90783ecf3ade4162ba44f528f8a9a558_7

The deep purple and yellow flower of the bittersweet nightshade, though beautiful, is in fact an invasive species in the Americas. I’m sure you know better from the common name, but no part of this plant should be eaten, as the poisons it contains are potentially fatal.

Steins Pillar

Between 25 and 30 million years ago, volcanism around what is now central Oregon produced massive deposits of rhyolitic ash. The heat of these ashfalls welded them together, forming what is called an ignimbrite. It is from these welded tuffs that Steins Pillar is carved.


Through the Astoria Formation

The Astoria formation consists of marine sediments of the Miocene epoch. They’re extremely widespread up-and-down the state, cropping up in Newport, Tillamook, and (of course) Astoria. Many portions of these deposits are rich with fossils and can be found and uncovered with ease.

Cnidarian Carnage

A hydra has set his sights on his prey: A water flea which has already received a deadly sting from the hydra’s cnidocytes. The neurotoxin which it has injected into the flea has paralyzed it, allowing the hydra to eat at its pleasure. Hydras are cnidarians sharing the phylum with jellyfish & anemones.

The Rowena Gap Faulta039a4cfa07840059c1c8569a25e2489_7

This portion of the Columbia River Gorge is deserving of it’s own full blog post, and one day I hope to write it. The rocks here are from the Sentinel Bluffs flows of the Grande Ronde basalt group. They’ve been overturned and shattered by the tectonic forces of the region.

Wind Mountain Talus Slope

Wind Mountain is an exposed intrusive igneous body in the Columbia River Gorge. It is hypothesized to be an old magma chamber. The rocks are a micro diorite and are fracturing away from the main body creating an extensive scree slope along the mountainside.

Wizard Islandb58a4109638a4782880b520a9b0c52d6_7

Crater Lake is the only National Park in the state of Oregon. Formed 7,700 years ago from the violent eruption of Mount Mazama (then the highest peak in Oregon), the lake is now the deepest in the United States and the 9th deepest in the world. Wizard Island shown in this photo is a cinder cone which emerged well after the caldera-forming eruption.

Milky Way & Star Trails

Night photography is a very different art from daytime photography and it’s fairly new to me. This was my first attempt to capture the Milky Way galaxy with my SLR camera. It takes a moonless night and a clear sky far from cities to capture it, but the Milky Way is there for you to admire on the right evening. This was a several minute long exposure, so there are visible star trails.


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