A Geologist’s 100 Things

From Geotripper, a list of 100 things a geologist should see in his/her lifetime. Ones I’ve seen are in bold, with locations in brackets. I count 36. I’m working on the rest!

1. See an erupting volcano [Kilauea, HI]
2. See a glacier
3. See an active geyser such as those in Yellowstone, New Zealand or the type locality of Iceland [Yellowstone]
4. Visit the Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) Boundary. Possible locations include Gubbio, Italy, Stevns Klint, Denmark, the Red Deer River Valley near Drumheller, Alberta. [Gubbio, Italy, and Elk Basin, WY]
5. Observe (from a safe distance) a river whose discharge is above bankful stage
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) [Howe Caverns, upstate NY, plus several caves in France... I know this is cheating, since these aren't the same scale as Carlsbad Caverns]
7. Tour an open pit mine, such as those in Butte, Montana, Bingham Canyon, Utah, Summitville, Colorado, Globe or Morenci, Arizona, or Chuquicamata, Chile.[A few small ones in Cyprus]
8. Explore a subsurface mine. [Palermo Mine, NH; Unfortunately, I didn't have time for the 40-hour OSHA training to explore the Stillwater mine when I was there]
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). [Troodos; also New Hampshire]
10. An anorthosite complex, such as those in Labrador, the Adirondacks, and Niger (there’s some anorthosite in southern California too). [Laramie Complex, WY]
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. [Yosemite]
14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana or the Skaergaard Complex in Eastern Greenland. [Do
15. Coastlines along the leading and trailing edge of a tectonic plate (check out The Dynamic Earth - The Story of Plate Tectonics - an excellent website). [Leading: Olympic Peninsula. Trailing: Long Island, NY (and the Breton coast, France)]
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. [Not in the wild... planted in road medians in Pasadena, CA!]
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)
18. A field of glacial erratics [Probably while mapping glacial geology at YBRA field camp, but I've forgotten]
19. A caldera [Yellowstone]
20. A sand dune more than 200 feet high [Kelso Dunes, Mojave NP, CA]
21. A fjord [I live on one, technically - Commencement Bay]
22. A recently formed fault scarp
23. A megabreccia
24. An actively accreting river delta
25. A natural bridge [Olympic Coast]
26. A large sinkhole
27. A glacial outwash plain
28. A sea stack [Olympic Coast]
29. A house-sized glacial erratic
30. An underground lake or river [I forget which cave, Dordogne, France]
31. The continental divide
32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals [First time: Pratt Museum, Amherst College, MA]
33. Petrified trees [Wyoming]
34. Lava tubes [Kilauea]
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) [Moncton]
39. The Waterpocket Fold, Utah, to see well exposed folds on a massive scale.
40. The Banded Iron Formation, Michigan, to better appreciate the air you breathe. [Not in Michigan, but I have seen BIF in the field]
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
45. The Alps. [Avoriaz, France]
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.
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. [Driven by...]
55. The Giant’s Causeway and the Antrim Plateau, Northern Ireland, to see polygonally fractured basaltic flows.
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
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 [Stood on it in Mecca Hills, CA]
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 [1/10/09: Oops - just noticed the wording here... Sturzstrom deposits in Split Mountain Gorge, CA don't count because I wasn't around to see the event!]
76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National Park
77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches) [Both, on the Big Island]
78. Barton Springs in Texas
79. Hells Canyon in Idaho [Though I have been all over Hell's Half Acre... literally]
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. [Northridge and Whittier Narrows EQs]
83. Find dinosaur footprints in situ [Central Massachusetts]
84. Find a trilobite (or a dinosaur bone or any other fossil) [Trilobites, Tecopa Springs, CA]
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
91. Witness a tornado firsthand. (Important rules of this game).
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 [Surfside, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA...]

What about these?

The northernmost or southernmost point on a continent
An Archean granite/greenstone terrane
A type section for a geologic time interval
A mid-ocean ridge
An island about to be submerged by rising sea levels
A single crystal larger than your fist
Cueva de los Cristales, Chihuahua, Mexico
A diamond-bearing kimberlite
The fossil natural fission reactors at Oklo, Gabon

…I’m sure there are more!

One Comment

  1. Chuck says:

    I would suggest a visit to Lake Superior on the MN side from Duluth to Grand Portage. Numerous rivers and rock formations all along the coast, with beautiful cliffs and sunrises to boot.