Geologists’ 100 things meme

Geotripper has started a geology-oriented 100 things meme. Thing’s I’ve done are in bold, with partial credit in italics.
1. See an erupting volcano.
2. See a glacier. [South coast of New Zealand, Alps, Canada.]
3. See an active geyser such as those in Yellowstone, New Zealand or the type locality of Iceland. [Rotorua, New Zealand.]
4. Visit the Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) Boundary. Possible locations include Gubbio, Italy, Stevns Klint, Denmark, the Red Deer River Valley near Drumheller, Alberta.
5. Observe (from a safe distance) a river whose discharge is above bankful stage. [The river Cam.]
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). [Waitomo Caves, New Zealand; the home of some very cool glowworms.]
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 coal mine in Bohemia, Czech Republic, although it was more of a sampling trip than a tour.]
8. Explore a subsurface mine. [A 19th century copper mine in North Wales, and an old gold mine near Barberton, South Africa.]
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). [I’ve visited an ‘ophiolite’ in Greece, but it wasn’t particularly well-exposed.]
10. An anorthosite complex, such as those in Labrador, the Adirondacks, and Niger (there’s some anorthosite in southern California too).
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. [In the Blue Mountains of Australia.]
12. Varves, whether you see the type section in Sweden or examples elsewhere.
13. An exfoliation dome, such as those in the Sierra Nevada.
14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana or the Skaergaard Complex in Eastern Greenland. [The Bushveld Complex, South Africa.]
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). [Assuming that this is just a really weird way of describing active and passive margins, the east coast of New Zealand and the west coast of the UK – and both coasts of South Africa – respectively.]
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.
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) [Never seen them living, but seen fossilised ones in plenty of places, including Archean ones in South Africa and late Neoproterozoic ones in Namibia.]
18. A field of glacial erratics. [in the Canadian Rockies, but there’s lots about in Wales and Scotland, too]
19. A caldera [A couple in SW Spain, and Taupo in New Zealand].
20. A sand dune more than 200 feet high [Sossusvlei in Namibia.]


21. A fjord. [Fjordland, New Zealand.]
22. A recently formed fault scarp. [Assuming ‘recently formed’ stretches to ‘in the last 15 years’, in Greece.]
23. A megabreccia. [In southwest Spain – see third picture down – and the Gwna Melange on Anglesey]
24. An actively accreting river delta. [in Greece.]
25. A natural bridge.
26. A large sinkhole.
27. A glacial outwash plain [Alps and Canadian Rockies.]
28. A sea stack.
29. A house-sized glacial erratic.
30. An underground lake or river.
31. The continental divide.
32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals. [In the Natural History Museum.]
33. Petrified trees.
34. Lava tubes. [On Rangitoto Island, just offshore from Auckland, New Zealand].
35. The Grand Canyon. All the way down. And back. [I only got down to the bottom of the outer canyon.]
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).
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.. [BIFs don’t just occur here, and I’ve seen a fair number in South Africa, including in one of my field areas – scroll to the bottom.]
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.
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.
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. [I’ve visited the equivalent contact on the Isle of Arran.]
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
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
76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National Park [I’ve not been to Zion but have seen giant crossbeds in the same area.]
77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches)
78. Barton Springs in Texas
79. Hells Canyon in Idaho
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. [There was a magnitude 5.4 in the Netherlands when I was there in 1992. I woke up to the room shaking, figured that I was dreaming because everyone knows that you don’t get earthquakes in the Netherlands, and went straight back to sleep.]
83. Find dinosaur footprints in situ [Somewhere on the Jurassic Coast of southern England].
84. Find a trilobite (or a dinosaur bone or any other fossil)
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 [I was just a little bit too far north in the UK in 1999 to see a total eclipse, but it was pretty close.]
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. [Hale-Bopp in 1997]
96. See a lunar eclipse.
97. View a distant galaxy through a large telescope
98. Experience a hurricane. [The Great Storm of 1987 had hurricane-strength winds, although I understand it was not technically a true hurricane.]
99. See noctilucent clouds
100. See the green flash
This list has a lot of specific US localities on it, which might partially explain my low(ish) score – although I’m quite disturbed to be towards to bottom of the geoblogosphere on this one (Update: not to mention being soundly trumped by some non-geologists). Is relegation looming?
The Geoblogospheric league table:
Callan 67
Geotripper 65
Lockwood 62
Seablogger 56
Silver Fox 56
SciGuy315 53
ReBecca 50
Kim 49
Crysallizations 44
Christie 42
Bryan 39.5
Hypocentre 39
Me 38
Brian 37
Zeolite 36
Volcanista 34
Julia 33
Short Geologist 33
Lost Geologist 29
Suvrat 28
Maria 27.5
John McKay 26
Tuff Cookie 26
Saxifraga 25.5

Categories: bloggery, geology, outcrops, photos

Comments (25)

  1. Susannah says:

    My score; 65. And I’m not a geologist, nor anything related; just an insanely curious daughter of an insanely curious mother who has done quite a bit of travelling from early childhood on. And I’m old; I’ve had a lot of time.
    They missed out tar pits, lava beds, and hoodoos, which would have brought my score up to 68.

  2. Gray Gaffer says:

    I’m not a geologist or a blogger, but I have been around a little. So I offer my few that you missed (ageing nyah-nyah, I guess, but these things are very interesting). All are significant experiences for me, as are the rest of the list you were so fortunate as to witness.
    1: See an erupting volcano. Kilauea Caldera on Hawaii, from a helicopter, then seeing and smelling the lava rivers pouring into the sea.
    13. An exfoliation dome, such as those in the Sierra Nevada. I’m surprised you haven’t been to Yosemite yet. Half-dome is the classic touristy one, but there are others, many much more accessible.
    45. The Alps. We drove over a side-road into Innsbruck. Major hairpins and barrier-free verticals. And fading brakes and a trailer. Interesting.
    46. Telescope Peak, in Death Valley National Park. And of course the park itself, on several camping trips. From Stove-pipe Wells, standing at the Sea Level marker, you can see the peak.
    54. Mount St. Helens, Washington. Actually went there the year after the eruption, on a motor cycle camping trip. The only open campsite we found was on the North side, and had a floor of 1″ to 2″ fresh black ash. Which got into everything.
    61. The moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley. Actually, Death Valley has a plethora of unique geological features. The racetrack was one of the more mysterious, but is moslty explained by now. I can not claim to have seen a rock in one place one day and another the next, or moving, but I have seen the tracks and the rocks at their end.
    62. Yosemite Valley. Also replete with remarkable formations.
    65. The Channeled Scablands of central Washington. Pretty awesome, when you know how what you are seeing came into being.
    69. The San Andreas fault. Several sections.
    72. The Pyrennees Mountains. Well, in my teens, we drove around France a lot.
    77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii. There are National Forest administered cabins on the beach for $60/day. Book ahead.
    82. Feel an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0. I know you got this one, but I lived in the San Fernando Valley for a long time and felt several. In particular I was there for the Northridge quake. You do not mistake a 7.0 for a dream. There were a good half-dozen aftershocks in the 5.4 – 6.0 range.
    85. Find gold, however small the flake. Middle Fork of the American River, the drained ox-bow around Tunnel Chute. The Chinese gold miners did not like panning. So they drained sections of the river instead, by dynamiting the necks of Ox-bow sections. Leaving some radical white-water chutes.
    93. View Saturn and its moons through a respectable telescope. I own one. Jupiter is equally impressive through 8″ or above on a perfect night at 400x.
    94. See the Aurora Borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights. Occasionally visible here in the Puget Sound.
    100. See the green flash. Another one of those things for which no preparation or description can really prepare you. It lasts for about 2 seconds, maybe a bit longer, and covers the entire sky. To call it “green” is really missing the point. Like calling the Mona Lisa “some dame smiling”. I saw it just before dawn whilst on a motor cycle marathon rally in So Cal. I had never heard of it at the time.
    101: I have to add this one. See the rising full moon out of one eye at the same time as seeing the setting sun out of the other. And I mean simultaneously. I have a measured 220 degree field of vision so it was very clear – and distracting – to me, motor-cycling due S on CA I395 one evening. 4 hours later there was a total Lunar eclipse.
    102: Another one to add: see a flash flood take out a road in the desert in 110 degree clear sky weather. Another charming Death Valley (approach) experience. I had seen all the Flash Flood warning signs but had no idea what they meant. Now I know.
    103: And another: observe a tidal bore (the Severn River, UK, also Deception Pass in the San Juans though that is really a race not a bore).
    104: Volcanic Plugs. Moro Rock is a prominent one. Also many on OR I90 (?) North of Bend. Actually, not particularly rare unless I just keep passing them by chance.
    105: The Painted Desert in Arizona. Alumn Bay and point on the Ilse of Wight UK is a similar colorful formation though of course much smaller. They no longer let you scrape your own collections since it is getting noticeably smaller from tourist predations. When I first went there it was a one lane road that dead-ended at the sea. No buildings, fences, or gates, other than the usual livestock kissing gates.
    I also share 2, 3, 5 (not from a safe distance; I was living in Topanga CA in Feb 1979 when it got 18″ rain in one afternoon. Nasty), 6, 9, 11, 15, 18, 19, 21, 26, 33, 34, 35, 52, 90, 95, 96, 97. And maybe 8, if you count wriggling into a Roman tin mine entrance in Wales (? may have been Cornwall, I was much younger then). It was about 3′ diameter. I got claustrophobic and had to back out.
    Not too shabby for an amateur.

  3. John McKay says:

    I managed 26 and a couple halves, which is not bad considering I’m not a geologist and not especially well traveled. If they’re going list atmospheric phenomena, I think I should get credit for sundogs and solar halos.

  4. BrianR says:

    I only got a 38 🙁

  5. Bob O'H says:

    I’m surprised you haven’t seen a gingko – they’re not that uncommon as ornamental trees in the UK. They’re more commonly known as “monkey puzzle trees”
    I got 7. 8 if you include Denmark as a glacial outwash plain.

  6. Garry says:

    I agree that the list is too North America-centric, and would love to see what you intercontinental folks think should be added to the list.

  7. Lassi Hippel‰inen says:

    Too few things about the Ice Age. For example, the Finnish Archipelago, which is humps of 2+ billion old bedrock, exposed by the grinding ice, and almost inundated by the sea. The cliffs are so smooth that the only possible way to walk on them is barefooted. Near by the Finnish Lakeland is sort of the opposite of islands.
    Talking about islands: atolls. A living being that grows out of the sea. The geologic part is the volcano that has sunk, but the corals keep the memory alive.

  8. Chris Rowan says:

    Bob – it’s entirely possible I have, but I can’t dredge up a specific memory, so I erred on the side of caution.
    This list could certainly be made a bit more generalised (the Denali isn’t the only active orogeny in existence), but I wouldn’t want anyone to make the mistake of taking it too seriously. I’ve always been a little uneasy with these ‘100 things to tick off before you die’ lists, and the subtle implication that a low score corresponds to a boring and unfulfilled life. Whereas all of these things are worth seeing, ticking them off your list should not be the point of going to see them.

  9. What a great diversion! I came up with around 37, and now I realize that I probably have seen a gingko, believe I did go to Zion when I was a kid, and wasn’t sure whether the mass wasting event had to be witnessed in action so maybe it’s pushing 40 (which I was a long time ago). And, as one of the “intercontinental folk”, my personal list would include the Moine thrust (which I still haven’t seen), the Red Sea/Gulf of Suez, the “Jurassic Coast”, an oasis and ……..

  10. Erin says:

    No Mt. Pinatubo? I watched it erupt as a kid. Which is obviously waaaaay cooler than Mt. St. Helen’s!

  11. Michael Welland says:

    Well, now you mention it – being erupted on by Anak Krakatoa was cool (in retrospect)
    I forgot to mention finding desert glass in the Great Sand Sea, and looking at the Gilf Kebir by moonlight and ……

  12. Chris Rowan says:

    See, this is what I think would be better and more interesting – rather than comparing experiences against an arbitrary list, just list the cool and amazing things you have seen… and make everyone else jealous!

  13. Lab Lemming says:

    Any list without stromatolites on it is crap.

  14. Lab Lemming says:

    Serves me right for not reading carefully.
    39 +/- 2 depending on nits picked.

  15. cope says:

    Well, then, to follow your suggestion of waving our own:
    1) I participated in a float trip from Lee’s Ferry to Bright Angel ranch in the Grand Canyon in March of 1969, the centenary year of Powell’s trip;
    2) I found a small meteorite in Nevada while looking for human artifacts;
    3) I spent a night in August of 1970, sleeping out in the open beneath the cliffs of Clogwyn Du’r Arddu on Snowdon. In the middle of the night, I awoke to a fantastic display of the Perseids. I watched all night and when I got out of my sleeping bag in the morning and walked a bit up out of the cwm, I beheld solid cloud cover filling in the valleys below me while the sky above was crystal clear.
    4) I’ve walked in a bog that was firm enough to stand on but bounced underfoot like Jello.
    5) I got close enough to being struck by lightning at the summit of Mt. Sneffels (14,150′) that my hair was sticking straight out and the metal tip of my ice axe was buzzing like a swarm of bees. (Not really geological in nature, I know, and really stupid to be in that position.)
    6) I scored 41 (+ or – a couple) on the list above.

  16. Silver Fox says:

    I’m going to update mine to include a mass wasting event or two – inactive and in-progress – I’m up to 56, I guess, +- nits picked or otherwise. One per year.

  17. Lockwood says:

    62 for me.
    I agree with the general buzz that the list is NA-centric, but I thnk much of that could be dealt with by generalizing the feature rather than the specific site. For example, Have you seen banded iron formation, generally, rather than specifically in Michigan. There are a few though that are such classic sites (Grand Canyon, Siccar Point, for example- yes and no for me, respectively) that they really can’t be generallized.
    Other suggestions: Have you been on dry land below sea level? Have you visited terrain and examined rock there from all three recorded eons (Archaen, Proterozoic, Phanerozoic)? Walked from one tectonic plate to another, thinking about what a grand act it was (i.e. aware that you were doing so)? Tried to explain a moderately complex geologic concept, such as plate tectonics or Bowen’s Reation Series, to someone with little or no background in science?

  18. Gray Gaffer says:

    Lockwwod: both places with morbid names – Death Valley and the Dead Sea, for below sea level dry land (the banks of the DS of course!). Also on the inside of dykes in Holland.
    try these: accidentally dangled your legs over the edge of a 1000′ pure vertical cliff and only realized it when you recognized those dots were cows (Symonds Yat, Wales, may be wrong about the height but not the cows.) Also visited open pit slate mines that trip. And if Saturn and Galaxies are included, also have to add a large nebula such as the Great Nebula in Orion, through a large enough telescope to clearly separate all the stars in the Trapezium, and also see a Globular Cluster such as M13 in Hercules. By large I mean 28″. It takes that for the cluster to look like a glistening ball of diamonds. But you’ll only see color in our local planets with the naked eye, however large the ‘scope. The rest are always gray fuzzies. But beautiful fuzzies. But you can get all four experiences in one night once you get to a telescope.
    I missed Mass Wasting. Several. Malibu, for rock falls and slumps. The floods in Topanga Canyon in 79 caused multiple large slumps, mudslides, sink holes, tore out bridges, etc. I have pics. And I got married in a private ranch whose buildings straddled the Portuguese Bend, Palos Verdes Peninsula, California, separation seam. They have to run all service pipes above ground because it is constantly on the move. The buildings were surreal, but still livable. Adobe is very flexible and readily patched.
    Also missed petrified trees. Mono Lake qualifies I think?
    Remember Christopher Robin running between the rain drops? Count a rain storm with knife-edges, dry one side, soaking wet just a few feet away. Moving slowly enough to be able to run ahead of it to shelter.
    I see I’ve used up my nostalgia quota for the day. So good night all.

  19. Silver Fox says:

    Gray Gaffer:

    Count a rain storm with knife-edges, dry one side, soaking wet just a few feet away. Moving slowly enough to be able to run ahead of it to shelter.

    I think that’s a neat one; saw that once on the Great Plains when I was about 5. I was duly impressed.
    I don’t think the tufa spires at Mono Lake are petrified trees, but maybe you are thinking of something else at Mono?

  20. volcanista says:

    I agree, less type localities and more general features! I was sad my BIFs didn’t count. Also, no komatiites? Or kimberlites? Or things at sea? I guess I should make my own list. 😀

  21. Chris Rowan says:

    volcanista (and everyone else) – you might be pleased to hear that February’s Accretionary Wedge will be devoted to just that subject

  22. Short Geologist says:

    I’ve got 33, but I also got a late start (ahem) compared to other folks.

  23. Andrew says:

    Looks like I’ve got almost 50, including a green flash if you count seeing a blue one.

  24. Ron Schott says:

    I finally got mine done. I count a strict 55 complete, not counting partials. I’m definitely suffering from a lack of international travel.