Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sexy Geology?!?! - The AW for this month

This month the Accretionary Wedge is calling for Sexy Geology from Lockwood at Outside the Interzone: (The deadline is this Friday, August 26th, so get your submissions in!)
I mean geology that makes your heart race, your pupils dilate. Rocks and exposures that make you feel woozy and warm. Structures and concepts that make your skin alternately sweaty and covered with goosebumps. Places you’ve visited, read about, or seen photos of that make you feel weak-kneed, and induce a pit in your stomach.
So I sat and wondered, what have I seen that got me excited and made my heart race. The first thing that came to mind was my first Paleodictyon in the field. For anyone who doesn't know, and I imagine that is a good chunk of you, Paleodictyon is a trace fossil (evidence that an organism moved through the sediment, not the actual remains of the organism) that is very highly organized into a mesh-like maze of burrows. These burrows are often so perfect that they are usually all the same size with almost perfect edge lengths.

This is partially what I am studying. How did this pattern evolve, along with other patterned burrows called graphoglyptids from the deep sea, and what changes have occurred to their organization over time. So being a very noticeable and remarkable trace fossil, it is not something you find in the field everyday.

Well, on my trip to Spain this summer we went to some of the outcrops that are world renowned for graphoglyptids in Zumaia. We hit up one of the sea shore outcrops and were able to find very little. Our second stop was to wander up shore to the K-T boundary, where again we found very little. It wasn't until the second day in the field that we decided to travel to a roadside outcrop between a neighboring town. We proceeded to hunt around for a little while until Andreas Wetzel, one of the foremost experts on grapholgyptids calls us (Tommy, my field assistant, and I) over yelling "Here it is, our first Paleodictyon". The excitement was beyond belief. Here it was, what I came to Europe to find. My doubts had started to build that I wouldn't find much while I was there but this one little sample opened the floodgates and we started finding more and more graphoglyptids. I eventually took over 1,000 pictures of different samples in the field. All in all, a very nice start of my field excursion.

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