President’s Column – September 2004

Title: Cruising Through the Rock Library
Author: Donna S. Anderson
Publication: The Outcrop, September 2004, p. 3

As I write this column, the dog days of summer are upon us. By the time you read this, summer will be quickly moving into fall. I am thinking that July is second only to the December holiday season in the number of people who take time off to visit people and places. In July however, geology commonly constitutes a major component to many destinations. For example, consider how many state and national parks and monuments in the Rocky Mountain region have geology as focal points. In Colorado, alone, I venture that nearly all national parks and monuments have some geologic focus; many of these places are major vacation destinations. Along those lines, the RMAG, expedited by the efforts of Ray Thomasson and the American Geological Institute, is considering the adoption of one of the newest national parks: Great Sand Dunes in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Elmo Brown (president-elect of RMAG) is heavily involved in this effort. I look forward to the fruition of this initiative next year.

Pres column photo_DpicSummer in the Rockies, with its generally good weather, is the time for geology field camps that come to the Rockies to see rocks in their full glory. It’s easy to forget that students still need to see folds, faults, and stratigraphic pinchouts in three dimensions at a scale that makes humans feel tiny. It is also the time that many public and private organizations conduct field courses, attend field trips, and carry out fieldwork. For a truly international experience, go browse through the pages of the Book Cliffs of Utah and Colorado. Afterwards you may end up at a well-known restaurant in Green River, Utah, where it is common to hear geology mingled with river talk in many accents. Given the current regulatory environment, summer is also the drilling season in the Rockies. Many of our RMAG members are madly involved with well-site work in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. Their rock library is underground, but in many cases they don’t have to look too far to see the correlative rocks on the surface.

Now I’d like to address what I’ll call the true geology nerds in our membership. You will qualify for this distinctive classification if you have ever been driving somewhere, cruising through the rock library performing what I term “autocorrelation” and made the following exclamation, usually to no one in particular, “Wow (or equivalent exclamatory word), look at that/those _________ (fill in geologic blank here).” Such statements are also accompanied by adroit rapid vehicle realignments. I have anecdotal evidence that this occurs frequently, because some of my students who have geologic (to them, fossilized) parents tell me that this occurs with frightening regularity. Perhaps it is even a reflex.

I fear that by living here, we take the rock library for granite.