Geology

Rocks, rocks and more rocks. I like to collect rocks. Since I tend to look at where my feet are going more than looking around me, I tend to find some cool rocks. I will admit that I’ve mailed rocks home (flat-rate packages are great!).

I think of geology like a big puzzle. You find one piece and have to figure out how it fits into the whole puzzle we call Earth–past or present.


Swarm of earthquakes one for the history books

When the dishes and windows rattled and the house shook for 10 to 15 seconds my first thought was a major train derailment. But then I realized it might have been an earthquake. An earthquake in North Idaho! Sure enough, the USGS reported a quake within a few minutes on…

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Did you feel the earthquake?

Earthquakes are uncommon in North Idaho so when the windows rattled and the house shook, it took a minute register what happened. I hadn’t felt an earthquake since living in Anchorage, Alaska. Within minutes, the USGS reported a magnitude 4.1 earthquake centered 22 km southeast of Sandpoint, Idaho in the…

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Pondering Lake Pend Oreille

There is something about large bodies of water that I cannot describe. I found myself gazing in wonder out over Lake Pend Oreille on a recent hike at Mineral Point. Is it the vastness? The unknown? Mineral Point only offered a glimpse of the 111 miles of shoreline that twist…

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Digging deep into the formation of igneous rocks

Myrtle’s Turtle and the Beehive are two of the most spectacular rock exposures in the Selkirk Mountains. They are the Half Domes of the Selkirk Mountains and rightly so because they, including Half Dome in Yosemite, are masses of granitic rock. Last week, I discussed the composition of granitic rocks…

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Rocks in the Selkirks not all the same

From the giant rock faces of Myrtle’s Turtle and the Beehive to the rocky shorelines of Trout Lake, one can’t help but notice the rock that forms the Selkirk Mountains. The speckled black, white and gray rocks found underfoot on trails and shorelines in most of the Selkirk Mountains of…

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First day of summer longest but not hottest

The warm, sunny days in early June made the last part of spring feel like summer. Summer technically doesn’t begin until the summer solstice on June 21 but we’ve enjoyed summer-like weather for a few weeks. The summer solstice marks the day when the sun is at its farthest north…

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Stromatolites a window into Earth’s history

Fossils offer a glimpse of what organisms have lived on Earth, such as woolly mammoths and Tyrannosaurus rex, and most don’t exist today. Some fossils resemble modern-day counterparts, such as ferns and petrified wood, and others have living examples, such as stromatolites. Stromatolites are structures created by cyanobacteria (also known…

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Benchmarks lay the foundation for maps

“Where am I?” “How high am I?” These questions are easy to answer today with a GPS. People have always wondered where in the world they were located. Where is Bonners Ferry in relation to New York City? The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) was established in 1807 to provide the…

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Mountains moved to form the Purcell Trench

The Kootenai Valley and the Selkirk, Purcell and Cabinet Mountains are the main geographic features in the county. One geologic feature is responsible for how we see them today–the Purcell Trench. The Purcell Trench is the valley structure between the Selkirk Mountains and the Cabinet and Purcell Mountains. The Purcell…

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Mighty Yukon River

From the time I leave Bettles, Alaska until I cross over the Cassiar Mountains east of Whitehorse, Yukon on the Alaska Highway, I will be traveling almost entirely in the Yukon River watershed. Only one area along the Alaska Highway near Haines Junction drains to the Pacific Ocean through the…

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