Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The Ancient Bristlecone Pines of the Great Basin

At high elevations in a region of the western United States recognized as the Great Basin. Here is a species of pine lives a quiet, isolated, and exceptionally long life. Bristlecone pines are famous for attaining great ages, have been found that have lived more than 5,000 years longer than any other non-clonal organism. Bristlecone pines are small to medium-sized windblown trees ranging from about 5 to 16 meters (15 to 50 feet) in height Bristlecone pines grow in isolated groves just below the tree line; grow in soils that are shallow lithosols, usually derived from dolomite and sometimes limestone, and sporadically sandstone or quartzite soils. Dolomite soils are alkaline, high in calcium and magnesium, and low in phosphorus.

The trees are extremely hardy, surviving in harsh freezing cold temperatures, being buried in snow, and restorative powerful winds. However, in several cases, portions of the tree can die-off and allow the tree to preserve its limited resources. Hence, Bristlecones aren’t very tall and every so often appear dead or very weathered. Few other plants can grow in the hard rock that Bristlecones prefer, and often the oldest trees are those that live in the most exposed and precarious places. Further, the Rocky Mountain population is sternly threatened by an introduced fungal disease recognized as white pine blister rust, and by pine beetles. The bark of the Great Basin bristlecone pine is characteristically orange-yellow to light brown, whereas that of the Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine is typically gray-brown. The female cones are ovoid in shape and deep purple when young; they mature to a pale brown and bear a characteristic bristle on each scale.

Although, one thing they can’t last is chainsaws. In what is now the Great Basin National Park of eastern Nevada, a tree known as “Prometheus” was being studied by a group of ecologists. Experts drill cores out of trees in order to count and measure the rings that chronicle their growth. Thus, much about the tree’s life and the ecological conditions in the area can be derived from these samples. Unluckily, when Prometheus was drilled for a core, the tool used for this process broke off inside. The investigator needed his tool back and to get it, he had to cut the tree down. Once he’d retrieved his tool and the core from Prometheus, he was able to define that the tree had lived 4,862 years longer than any other single living organism.

Moreover, an older tree hasn’t been found since, though one recognized as Methuselah is believed to be about 4,850 years old and its specific location is also being kept secret. Most of the living groves of these trees are under better protection now and can be visited in numerous locations throughout the Great Basin and in California. The other two species, Pinus balfouriana and Pinus aristata are also long-lived; specimens of both have been measured or estimated to be up to 3,000 years old. The study of the wood of these ancient trees has revealed environmental conditions stretching back to almost 9,000 years ago.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Spook Hill ! Florida's

Spook Hill is located on the Lake Wales Ridge, (about 50 miles south of Disney World) a geologically significant range of sand and limestone hills, which were islands from two to three million years ago, when sea levels were much higher than at present. The Legends abound regarding this landmark, and famous as a magnetic hill, anti-gravity location or simply a “gravity hill” a car, placed in neutral, will appear to roll uphill  Spook Hill is  an optical illusion where cars appear to roll up the spooky hill. Spook Hill is located directly across the street from Spook Hill Elementary School, which conveniently adopted "Casper the Friendly Ghost" as their school mascot. The Friendly Ghost as their school mascot. Before the age of automobiles, horses would supposedly struggle to go downhill. The town embraces and officially recognizes the hill’s curious properties.

The attraction is also in close proximity to Bok Tower. Spook Hill received national media attention when an article about it appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on October 25, 1990, and it was featured in a segment on CBS Morning News with Charles Osgood on November 5, 1990. The Legends believe that an Indian chief battled an alligator that had been terrorizing the local village. The fight was outwardly so intense that both combatants eventually died, on top of the hill. The legends are split as to whether it is the chief or the alligator’s spirit that haunts the hill. In reality neither chief nor alligator are responsible for the hill’s anti-gravity properties, but like all other anti-gravity spots is the result of a unusual optical illusion. Moreover, you should read the cute sign, drive slowly to the white line in the road, stop, put your car in neutral and BE CAREFUL looking backwards as your car mysteriously rolls uphill and you try to keep your car in the middle of the road and not crash into another dumb tourist.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Scared Devils Tower

Devils Tower National Monument, a unique and striking geologic wonder steeped, is a modern day national park and climbers' challenge, one of the most remarkable natural creations. Devils Tower is a laccolithic butte composed of igneous rock in the Bear Lodge Mountains near Hulett and Sundance in Crook County, northeastern Wyoming. The Devils Tower is also called Mato Tipila, which means “Bear Lodge”. The scared devils tower is an astonishing geologic feature that protrudes out of the prairie surrounding the Black Hills. Numerous ideas have evolved since the official discovery of Devils Tower. Geologists came to the conclusion that the Tower was indeed formed by an igneous intrusion. Other ideas have suggested that Devils Tower is a volcanic plug or that it is the neck of an extinct volcano. Though there is no evidence of volcanic activity - volcanic ash, lava flows, or volcanic debris - anywhere in the surrounding countryside.
Devils Tower is 386 meter above the surrounding terrain and the summit is 1,558 meter above sea level. The 1.25-mile Tower Trail encircles the base. Geologists have faith in that the tower is the eroded remains of a large mass of igneous rock poking through a layer of overlying sedimentary rock beds. Devils Tower is considered sacred by Northern Plains Indians and indigenous people. Hundreds of parallel cracks make it one of the finest crack climbing areas in North America. Devils Tower is US first national monument, as most of peoples have gazed at the Tower and wondered, "How did this amazing formation form?" This self-guided hike offers close-up views of the forest and wildlife, not to mention spectacular views of the Tower itself.
During rain and snow continue to erode the sedimentary rocks surrounding the Tower's base, and exposed more. Although Devils Tower has been eroded over the ages, and portions, or even entire columns, of rock are continually breaking off and falling. But at the same time, the Tower itself is gradually being eroded. Rocks are continually breaking off and falling from the steep walls. Rarely do entire columns fall, but on remote occasions, they do. Piles of rubble, broken columns, boulders, small rocks, and stones, lie at the base of the Tower, indicating that it was, at some time in the past, larger than it is today.
Moreover the piles of scary devils towers are broken columns, boulders, small rocks, and stones lie at the base of the tower, indicating that it was once wider than it is today. The Ladder at Devils Tower was first constructed and used in 1893 by William Rogers and Willard Ripley to publicly ascend Devil's Tower. Devils Tower entices traveler to learn more, explore and define place in the natural and cultural world.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Wave Rock, Australia

Wave Rock is a strange natural rock formation located east of the small town of Hyden in Western Australia. Wave Rock name derives from the fact that it is shaped like a tall breaking ocean wave, composed of granite and the total outcrop covers several hectares. The wave rock is about 15 meters high and about 110 meters long. Wave Rock is a remarkable example of what geomorphologists call a "flared slope". A flared slope is a concave-upward or -inward bedrock surface that is naturally found around the base of inselbergs, bornhardts, and granitic boulders and also on their higher slopes. Wave Rock is 27 million years old and made up of grey and red granite strips, is quite a formation aboriginal rock paintings can also be seen at nearby Bates Cave.

The shape of the rock is not caused by a wave phenomenon, rather its rounded wave-like shape was formed by subsurface chemical weathering followed by removal of the soft weathered granite by fluvial erosion, and therefore the weathering occurred below ground level before it was exposed. The end result is an undercut base, leaving a round overhang. Further, in the spring season, water running down the rock during wetter months dissolves minerals adding to the coloring of the wave. Moreover the other aspect of Wave Rock not often shown on photographs is the retaining wall about halfway up the rock. This follows the contours and lets rainwater to be collected in a storage dam. It was constructed in 1951 by the Public Works Department, and such walls are common on many similar rocks in the Wheat-belt region of Western Australia. You will find interpretive signage around the rock; enlighten you on the history of the rock and surrounding areas. In the spring, one can find many orchids and other flowers growing around the base in the Sheoak trees.

Friday, 26 January 2018

The Floating Golf Course of Idaho

The incredible world’s only floating golf green that can only be reached by BOAT at Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho.  Every year, more than 30,000 balls are retrieved from the water at the bizarre course in Idaho. Golfers have to strike the perfect shot at the 14th hole because it's on a man-made green on the water.
But the unusual hole proves too much of a challenge for many taking on the course. The golf course consist of 200 acre property opened the world renowned course back in 1991 and since then it has been voted in the top 100 greatest courses in the world. The famous 14th hole is one of the most unique and recognizable golf holes in the world' according to the resort. This majestic floating, movable golf green should be on every golfer's bucket list. Amazingly land on the island, and you're a hero, otherwise, your ball will be one of thousands fished out of the water by divers every year. Whichever way, it's a one-of-a-kind golf hole and a golf experience like no other.
Over 22,000 tonne Island is able to move along thanks to an intricate underwater cable system to varied distances from the tee. Each day, the par three distance changes to play anywhere from 90 yards all the way up to 220 yards from the championship tees. Moreover, the standard tee will typically play from 140 to 170 yards. The 18-hole championship layout is lined with red geraniums and other colorful plants and is annually ranked among the well-manicured golf courses in the world.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Ausangate Mountain, Peru

Ausangate or Auzangate is a stunning mountain of the Vilcanota mountain range in the Andes of Peru. Ausangate has an elevation of 6,384 meters, situated around 100 kilometers southeast of Cusco in the Cusco Region, Ocongate District. The mountain has great significance in Incan mythology, every year the Quyllur Rit'i festival, which entices thousands of Quechua pilgrims is celebrating festival which took one week before the Corpus Christi feast. This area is inhabited by llama and alpaca herding communities, and constitutes one of the few remaining pastoralist societies in the world.

Moreover, high mountain trails are used by these herders to trade with agricultural communities at lower elevations. Currently, one of these trails, "the road of the Apu Ausangate", is one of the most famous treks in Peru. The area has four major geological features, the Andean uplift formed by Granits, the hanging glaciers and glacial erosional valleys, the Permian formation with its singular colors: red, ochre, and turquoise and the Cretaceous, limestone forests.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Oymyakon: The World’s Coldest Village

The world's coldest village “Oymyakon” Siberian outpost reaches near-record cold temperatures as thermometer breaks after recording minus 62C. This is the coldest village on earth where the average temperature in January is -50C and inhabitant's eye lashes freeze solid mere moments after stepping outside. The remote Siberian village is the coldest permanently inhabited settlement in the world.  

It was so icy in the Russian village that a new electronic thermometer conked out after recording a bone-cracking minus 62C.  The official weather station at the 'pole of cold' registered minus 59C, but locals said their readings were as low as minus 67C - less than 1C off the lowest accepted temperature for a permanent settlement anywhere in the world. And that record breaking recording was taken in the town back in 1933. One villager in Oymyakon recorded a temperature of minus 67C, while others agreed that the official reading of minus 59C did not tell the full story. In 1933, a temperature of minus 67.7C was recorded in Oymyakon, accepted as the lowest ever in the northern hemisphere. Lower temperatures are recorded in Antarctica, but here there are no permanently inhabited settlements.

The digital thermometer was installed last year to help Oymyakon market itself to tourists, but it gave up the ghost at minus 62C. It broke because it was too cold. The village is home to around 500 hardy people and in the 1920s and 1930s was a stopover for reindeer herders who would water their flocks from the thermal spring. This is how the town got its name which translates as 'the water that doesn't freeze'.  The Soviet government later made the site a permanent settlement during a drive to force its nomadic population into putting down roots.

The people daily problems are that come with living in Oymyakon include pen ink freezing, glasses freezing to people's faces and batteries losing power. Locals are said to leave their cars running all day for fear of not being able to restart them. Rock solid earth makes burying the dead a difficult task. The earth must first have thawed adequately in order to dig, so a bonfire is lit for a few hours. Hot coals are then pushed to the side and a hole just a few inches deep is dug. The process is repeated for a number of days until the hole is deep enough to bury the coffin. However, in summer the town can get up to 21 hours of light and temperatures can rise to an average of 73 degrees Fahrenheit in July.