Sunday Science Photos, July 10 – 16

Just a moment of confession before we get on with this week’s selection of pictures: I do something terrible with this photo series. Worse than simply doing it, I know I do it and continue regardless. I frequently post pictures of rocks and minerals with – dun dun DUN! – no scale. This is, to be frank, kind of evil of me given the majority of my readers’ professions. I have exactly two defenses for my behavior, take them or leave them, but don’t try to change me, baby:

  1. The technical reason: Many of my photos of rocks and minerals are from museum displays that are behind glass. It’s often quite impossible for me to provide any meaningful scale in this context because of the weaknesses of depth perception.
  2. The liberal-artsy reason: These may be science themed photos, but I categorize them under “art.” I’m trying to go for “oooh, pretty” here rather than “hmmm intriguing.”

So that’s that. I promised Elli Goeke that I’d look more deeply into the schist photo to see if there was any extant research on the beautiful embedded garnets. All I had time to do was narrow down the unit from which the sample was extracted. Hopefully the location details provided below are of some use.

Garnet Mica Schist
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This slab of garnet mica schist was recovered from Garnet Ledge along the Stikine River near Wrangell, Alaska. The largest of the garnets is about the size of a bing cherry. Wanna see another sample of the same rock type? Check out @Dhunterauthor’s post at En Tequila Es Verdad. (And bookmark her site too, ‘cause she’s awesome.)

The Badlands Wall
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The 60 mile long wall at Badlands National Park runs parallel to the White River, which has incised into the landscape creating the dynamic topography of the region. The hills here consist of marine and subsequent flood plain sediments from the late Mesozoic through the mid-Cenozoic. If you want to know more, check out this excellent National Park Service video.

Leptomeryx evansi
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This miniature hornless antelope-like creature pranced around what is now Wyoming about 33 million years ago. This species had a good 13.2 million year run on this planet, but no fossils are found after 24 MYA.

Cascade Pass
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The North Cascades aren’t like the rest of the range further south. These mountains are accreted terrain with a point of origin far from their current locale. The pass shown above has long been used by natives and frontiersmen as a (relatively)accessible passage through the mountains.

The Devil’s Punchbowl
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This sandstone spit jutting out into the Pacific Ocean developed a sea cave that subsequently suffered a roof collapse. The result is this beautifully colored Oregon coastal caldron where visitors can explore tide pools and bear witness to erosion.

Anas platyrhynchos
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A relative to the common domestic duck, the White Crested Duck has been around since at least 1660. The crest itself is the result of a cranial deformity. Any crested duck is heterozygous for the crested allele, as two copies of this gene causes death of the zygote.

Starved Rock
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It may not seem like much to look at it in this photo, but the sandstone outcrop shown here to the left of the Illinois River was formed when this part of Illinois was south of the equator some 500 million years ago. The topography of the area was carved by a massive ice age flood called the Kankakee Torrent 14-15,000 years ago.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse
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Built in 1871, this lighthouse is the oldest building in Newport, Oregon. Though used as a navigation aid today, the lighthouse originally only had three years of service before being decommissioned in 1874 after the completion of the nearby Yaquina Head Lighthouse. Both lighthouses are open to visitors today.

Southwest Florida Swamp
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Posting this on Instagram I made the mistake of calling this an estuary scene. It’s not; I simply forgot where I had taken this picture. This is an inland swamp at Six Mile Cypress Nature Preserve in Ft. Myers, FL.

Pothole in a Mountain Stream
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Abrasive grains carried by the waters of this rapid mountain stream have carved out this pothole, which now catches tumblestones from the stream. Potholes are a great place to hunt for beautiful rocks!

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