1. Attachments are working again! Check out this thread for more details and to report any other bugs.

Grand Canyon National Park

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by tochatihu, Feb 22, 2019.

  1. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    9,032
    3,525
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    Grand Canyon National Park has 100th Anniversary on February 26. Perhaps to some readers’ dismay, I have comments about it.

    It has several unique ecological features. Caves (some are secret!) include prehistorical evidence of previous climates, plant communities and giant ground sloths. Wooly mammoths co-occurred with them elsewhere, but as others have written they would have been gravitationally challenged by terrain. Why there is no ‘mock-up’ of a sloth on display, I have no idea. As it is now much drier, plants and animals have both thinned out. California condors (introduced population) get a lot of attention. Ravens (especially at lower elevations) are fun to observe there in part because they mimic so many sounds.

    Colorado River is an important feature; without its action this place would have been just more of the large Colorado Plateau. Downcutting took place most between 6 and 1 million years ago. This was a pivotal period in primate evolution, but that was happening somewhere else. Far from saber toothed cats! Upstream dam has slowed canyon erosion, but I was lucky to witness a dramatic collapse in person in 1990s. (Be careful near those edges).

    It is a wonderful reveal of geological layers, but other than having different colors and offering dramatic vistas, many visitors may not thrill at that. Youngest (remaining) strata on top are about 260 million years old. Thus mostly predating earth’s most charismatic prior inhabitants; yonder dinosaurs. Before we ‘descend’, I mention that younger strata have persisted further north, including old fossil bones. Seeing entire geo/bio story needs one to take a bigger view of Colorado Plateau.

    Lace up boots, fill water bottles, and start down. When you reach Tonto Platform you are ‘back’ to about 510 million years ago. This is generally called a large accomplishment. Indeed it may seem so if you turn around here and climb back out. That will require less than 250 million years but it won’t be a small effort.

    By Tonto, you have got back to early evolution of animals with complex bodies. Rocks you passed, though, mostly have fossilized clams. I (among many others) want you to feel impressed by your accomplishment, but realistically you have been walking through shallow-sea sediments and seeing clams. Or more likely, not seeing them.

    And yet, continue down into the inner canyon (and forget about seeing fossils there). You enter times when Earth was less about biology and more about rocks angry with each other. Earliest (deepest) that you will see is Vishnu schist, 1730 (ish) million years old. It is fully baked and contorted and probably the most wrecked rock you could ever see. Perhaps not by coincidence, Hindu Vishnu is the preserver against forces of violent change. You go, Vishnu.

    Hiker, you have penetrated more than a third of Earth’s history. As Earth’s crust is (generally) on a 200-million-year renewal cycle, this is an accomplishment. As you will discover by climbing back out :). But don’t climb just yet. Consider what you did not see. Heavily represented in National Park signage are ‘unconformities’. Several ‘long’ layers of geological history are missing. What up?

    They were stripped off by erosion way back when. Largest is ~500 million years missing after Vishnu, and it is a matter of much discussion. Earth was ‘snowballed’ (full global glaciations) late in that time, with ~10% less solar energy and with other independent lines of evidence. Only very recently are geologists talking about global ice scraping this long swath of earth (continental crust) history and passing it to oceans where it got subducted into ‘do not know’. This unconformity (of missing layers) is global, to the extent that it can be seen.

    What you cannot see in Grand Canyon is as important as what you can see. That’s what I’m selling.

    Hikers to the bottom ought not reverse yet. First visit Phantom Ranch facility where cold beer is sold. See also on display bird nests woven from mule hair, from those mules who hauled folks paying, instead of doing the walk.

    See, finally, that Grand Canyon is your best view into Earth history on scales from years to a billion. In some ways subtle, but why would one expect non-subtle lessons about this complicated planet?

    To all disinclined to hiking down and up, come, stay on the rim, take tour buses and selfies. Experience is well described and certainly well monetized. I might only add, get out of your damn bunk before sunrise and watch change of light from ‘the rim’.

    May not have made it entirely clear that I effing love this place, but I do.
     
    #1 tochatihu, Feb 22, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2019
    Merkey likes this.
  2. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    108,544
    49,322
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    Perhaps some, but I found it enlightening, thank you
     
  3. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    9,032
    3,525
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    Free entry to south rim on Feb 26. However there is a lot of snow right now.

    S. rim visits in Sept or Oct should consider this:
    Hawkwatch International - Grand Canyon, AZ

    Canyon is narrowest around Yaki Point and perhaps surprisingly this matters to hawks and falcons on migration. At least in past, Hawkwatch would put fake owls in trees. Migrants would land for a closer look (perhaps thinking "that's probably a fake owl like last year but gotta be sure"). So humans could also get closer looks at migrants and perhaps ID them.

    Condors all wear big number tags so they are easy to ID.
     
  4. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    108,544
    49,322
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    hawks are cheap and easy, i've never seen a condor. anyways, you won't get me out of paradise for another four weeks. i'll have to settle for pics and word stories.

    great video in that link btw, peeps with binocs :cool:

    my parents took us when i was 10. iirc, there was no guardrail at the rim then?
     
  5. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    9,032
    3,525
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    Not just redtails - a bunch of species. Matters to some. Oh well.

    ==
    Once coming up Kaibab trail, saw helicopter with a sling load I could not ID. Plus it was in normally closed airspace. On shuttle bus asked driver about it. Earlier that day there had been a training trip for 'student mules' on Bright Angel trail. Normal.

    One mule took a bad step near edge. Rider/trainer kicked off on the 'safe side' and physics sent student mule over the edge. Not normal.

    Sling load was that, being hauled to some remote North Rim location where condors and vultures would benefit.

    ==
    Calif condors are the smaller ones, <3 m wingspan. An Andean condor, stretched out, spans distance from floor to basketball hoop.
     
  6. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    108,544
    49,322
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    ah, thanks. i had no idea. florida offers a multitude of large fascinating birds, but id is difficult. still, they are beautiful.
     
  7. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    9,032
    3,525
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    When at grand Canyon, do not do this:

    Canyon bad photography.jpg

    Six million visitors per year. 1000 aid required on trails, 300 back country searches (now with ranger drones). Twelve deaths is long term average but has been higher in recent years.

    Number of people seen doing lunatic things: could not even guess.
     
  8. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    108,544
    49,322
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    opioid crisis
     
  9. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    9,032
    3,525
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    A very popular book on Grand Canyon deaths has had several updated editions. You should buy it, of course, but I relate a few memorable ones.

    A man who said he was deathly afraid of snakes, saw one. A heart attack or something similar ended that interaction. No snakebite deaths have been reported there.

    Another man climbed on top of guard rail (Mather Point perhaps) and flailed his arms to simulate falling to scare his 4-yr-old daughter. He fell. That orphan can perhaps forget the scene.

    Two planes collided in 1956. 128 souls on board in total. After that, radar surveillance and positive spacing was initiated.

    One should lighten the mood. After viewing Thelma and Louise movie (several times) a fella decided to re-enact its conclusion. His car got hung up on a ledge rock. He got out and then fell in the more common way.

    Squirrel bites, following quaint (but bone headed) feedings, are the number one injury there. I would have thought boot blisters - perhaps those go largely unreported.
     
  10. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2006
    21,992
    11,479
    0
    Location:
    eastern Pennsylvania
    Vehicle:
    Other Non-Hybrid
    Was there around the same age, and I'm guessing a few decades later than you, and still no guard rails in spots.

    Probably more relevant in the animal thread, but the bald eagle screech in film is a sound no bald eagle has ever made. they dub in the cry of a red tail hawk.

    On Sanibel Island, the egrets let you get almost within petting distance.
     
  11. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    9,032
    3,525
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
  12. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    108,544
    49,322
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    not to mention evel kenevil, a rare bird if there ever was one
     
  13. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    9,032
    3,525
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    If you say so.

    Birdsong on internet is an amazing hole to fall into. But let me mention two things. Their sound maker (syrinx) works in both directions unlike those reading here. Their lungs are filled from inflatable air sacks, so those lungs work in just one direction. Unlike yours. Both connected and both opposite your setup.
     
  14. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2010
    7,744
    6,537
    0
    Location:
    Redneck Riviera (Gulf South)
    Vehicle:
    Other Non-Hybrid
    Model:
    N/A
    Wadn’t me...it was ‘fake news’ although I saw it elsewhere.

    I have too many patrols under my belt to fear a bucket of rocks.
     
  15. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    9,032
    3,525
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    Yes, the buckets of uranium ore. I've read both that tourists' exposure was serious, and no big deal. In any case they have been moved back into Orphan mine, under lock and key.

    My guess is that workers in that museum had months or years of exposure vs. day-visit tourists. And that their identities are known. Might want to check on them to see about jumbled chromosomes.
     
    #16 tochatihu, Feb 24, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
  16. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    9,032
    3,525
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    'If you say so' was for level kenevel.

    In general I suspect submariners are much better protected against gamma rays than uranium miners. Except on very rare occasions :eek:

    There are buckets of rocks to rightly fear. Cherenkov's blue glow? You better go.
     
  17. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    108,544
    49,322
    0
    Location:
    boston
    Vehicle:
    2012 Prius Plug-in
    Model:
    Plug-in Base
    the fella who filed the complaint turned out to be a disgruntled employee with an action against the gov for being passed over or something.

    the fella who said the rocks were not a health hazard is a professor and uranium specialist.
     
  18. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    9,032
    3,525
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    In no way intending to generate complacency about radioisotopic exposure, but one ought to know their alpha beta gamma. Uranium produces alphas, least penetrating of all, if you don't inhale or eat, it is tough to get bit. Its radon 'daughters' are more feisty including some strong beta emitters. Inhale over long times and perhaps regret it.

    Before folks unlocked this box. earth's isotopes (and internal heat engine) was mostly about potassium (gamma) and thorium (alpha). You might possibly nuke yourself by eating a lot of potassium bananas, but it would be quite a lot. Coleman (TM) lantern mantles are famously thorium-rich but folks don't eat those.

    Yet there are places where uranium accumulates, and gets mined. Don't go in those places without good reason. Bad rocks. Alpha beta gamma are all on display.

    The radioisotope box got unlocked. Make big bombs to end wars. Later, make energy too cheap to measure (neither has entirely panned out so far). Must now add wandering neutrons to this zoo. Your cells care little about wandering neutrons (unless latter are way too many). Heavy elements and isotopes do care. Wandering neutrons send those off in novel directions.

    These new 'activities' produce, besides booms or heat for boiling water, previously absent elements and isotopes that 'enrich' our environment with alpha beta gamma. Novel stuff for biologicals.

    Now it's time to mention Geiger counters. They tick for betas and gammas, and if well made, alphas as well. Their rates of ticking is (sadly) not well correlated to biological risks. But we use them to know where to dig holes for uranium and to detect what has come out.

    ==
    Grand Canyon buckets of rocks risk was Geiger counted by a visitor. This could not by itself assess risk. And yet one must wonder why staff were totally complacent. It were their chromosomes to be jumbled after all.
     
    #19 tochatihu, Feb 24, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
  19. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2004
    9,032
    3,525
    0
    Location:
    Kunming Yunnan China
    Vehicle:
    2001 Prius
    Urge to mention one over R squared is very strong.