Life in Death Valley


Today, Monday, I am pretending I know about rocks. I will affirmatively shake my head in agreement as a lot of smart kids and a smarter professor will talk about their mapping strategies of the incredible Cambrian geology in Death Valley. At the southern tip of the 3 million acres of Death Valley, Emigrant Pass wonders through the 26 mile long Nopah mountain range that sits close to the Nevada-California border.

EMIGRANT PASS AERIAL VIEW

Emigrant Pass Aerial PhotoEighteen smart Geology students from Bucknell University, along with their even smarter Professor, Jeff Trop, are spending their spring vacation mapping, studying and analyzing this awe-inspiring piece of history. Cambrian rock makes Geology lovers drool. It is from 500 to 540 million years old (soak that number in your brain a second) and there are only a few exposed, easy-to-get-to places around the world of Cambrian rock. I know there is a large Cambrian formation in the Appalachians, which is two thousand miles closer to Bucknell, so I’m anxious to understand the difference in the Death Valley formation and what it tells us about our historic evolutionary path.

CAMBRIAN LIMESTONE ROCK IN DEATH VALLEY

Cambrian rock of marine limestonr

You are probably wondering why I would be traipsing along with these kids, shaking my head in agreement about stuff I know nothing about.  Well, first of all, I have to admit, I love freaking rocks. I always have. Since I moved to California 33 years ago, I have been fascinated with the rocks, their formations caused by earthquakes and volcanoes and our incredible mountain ranges. I fell in love with the Geology of California.

Secondly, and even better, this smart Geology professor fell in love with my daughter, his wife, and he’s bringing her along on this Death Valley excursion.

So, around 5am this morning, I pointed my Honda Civic in a Northeasterly direction and hopefully arrived four hours later (plus potty stops). For the next two days I will probably learn more “new” information then I have learned since kindergarten.  Yet, the thing I remember best about kindergarten is the one thing that will keep me smiling today; remember the first word we learned from the “Dick & Jane” books and the biggest word of all….”LOOK”

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About bakoheat

Writer/Musician
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3 Responses to Life in Death Valley

  1. Mary says:

    Was the word “See” or “Look”?

  2. Stephanie says:

    California has some spectacular Geology indeed! I’m glad you love rocks so much, so do I, which is why I study them 🙂

  3. rod wolber says:

    Is that where they get Rock Candy?

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