Monday, December 31, 2007


One of the things as ubiquitous as mountains in the basin and range, are abandoned mines, here is a few pics of a mine on the way to the rig.

I was hoping for more sunlight on the far mountains (which I have to drive around to get to Winnemucca). The headgear of the mine stands out on the horizon as you drive by, a nice 4x4 trail leads up to it. I'm not too sure what was mined here, but from the spoils that are piled all around, I would judge some kind of sulfide ore, most likely cinnabar, I found several small pieces of the red ore around, mixed in with the hydrothermal alteration of the native rock, possibly a phyllite.

A view down the mineshaft, showing the rails for the carts, whoever mined here was not claustrophobic.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

my daily commute

7.5 miles of paved roads, and 18.5 miles of this, one of the more remote locations (by far not the worst though) to be working. On the other hand, the scenery is nice:)

Toto, we're not in Hawaii anymore.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Saturday, December 8, 2007

deciduous basalt?

Lava trees, at Lava Trees State park near Pahoa, an interesting formation of basalt lava, when it up and wraps itself around a ohia tree, then the bulk of the very fluid flow drains away, leaving the cooled remnant standing upright.

these are 'O'hia trees that are growing on a 1954 aa lava flow

sometimes, the contact and cooling is fast enough to preserve surface textures of the bark on the gnarled trees, in a chamber running up the middle of the lava tree (mold), but the light was failing me so I couldn't get a good picture of the inside tube/chamber to show this texture. The tree eventually burns/rots out of the mold cavity. Some of these geologic feature range from just holes in the ground to almost 20 feet tall.

my attempt at a stereo pair, good luck

EDIT: I've been trying to get back to the park and retake the stereo pair, unfortunately, its has rained pretty consistently and I haven't had the chance. My flight leaves in a few hours, and I may not have the chance to go back again until early next year (crosses fingers).

Thursday, December 6, 2007

with a resounding (albiet silent) thud

the rainbow crashes onto the motor shed roof

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

You would think....


is a noni fruit, a lush, common fruit, at least on this part of the big island, mabey it would be good, on the other hand, did you ever see that little rascal episode where they are all forced to take a spoon full of cod liver oil? You get the idea. Other critters like them.... and they are welcome to them as far as I am concerned (albiet a lot of people sell a snakeoil product made from them, juice, pulp powder, ect.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

ooooooooo paradise

It snowed the day after I left to come to Hawaii, it was 76 in Hilo when I landed, i was impressed, you know the weather is mild somewhere the airport and related facilities often only have a roof, no walls. It does rain a lot here, to the tune of 150 inches a year here on the eastern rift zone of the island Hawaii (if that doesn't make sense too you, neenerneener, I'm a geologist, I'll be happy to teach you geology, not geography, geography is just overburden to us hardrock types). here is a simple pic, of a rainbow over a flash separation facility.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Splat! (in ultra slow motion: Wavelite)

Al3(PO4)2(OH)3-(H2O)5, Hydrated Aluminum Phosphate Hydroxide

Wavelite is an interesting mineral, its a soft, yellow-green, what makes it so interesting is it habit of forming radiating globules of crystals, so much so that when you see this Crystal form in a book, wavelite will be the picture they show you to demonstrate this. The crystals them selves are actually orthorhombic needles radiating from the center (radiating along the c-axis; very long, skinny crystals). I found this sample in a small rock shop in California while driving down the 101

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

its fall? really?

here it is November 7, and I stop for lunch at a taco bell, all the trees are brown, most of the grass (where there is grass, and not sage brush) is brown, this little bush decides to say "HEY, LOOK AT ME!!!", so I obliged it:) and decided that maybe others should take a look at it too.

addendum: the flowers are about 1.5 inches across

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Moment Tensor Solutions

The magnitude 5.6 earthquake near San Jose on Tuesday is one of the most "classic" strike/slip fault rupture I've seen in a while, it makes reading a moment tensor solution of the waves very easy, the west side of the fault moving north west (Vader voice on)"come to the dark side Luke"(Vader voice off), tensors like these can be hard to read sometimes without a good idea of what faults in the locality are doing already, lucky for us, this location is very well documented, and the motion was almost totally along the strike of the fault. (thanks to the USGS for collating this information into one, easy to find location)

Friday, October 26, 2007

In Your Face!

So, did you get out and see the full moon at perigee last night? That's as big as it gets, almost 10% bigger than when at apogee, nearly the earths circumference closer than at apogee. It really was a glorious full moon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

nipples and bits

Seems two of the most important things in my job are nipples and bits, pipe nipples and rock bits that is. I use a pile of nipples to connect different sensors (mostly pressure transducers) to different parts of the drill rig to measure all sorts of parameters for the log. As to bits, I don't directly interface with them, just what they produce.

The first pic is a 3.75" drill bit I was given, next to it is a 1/2", sch 40 pipe nipple, 6" long, that will give scale to all the other pics of drill bits, several different sizes of drill bits are used to drill a well. Most people do not realize that a well is not one size, all the way down, as drilling proceeds, different parts of the well have to be sealed off from others, to prevent the migration of fluids, and to provide integrity to the well wall, to help prevent it collapsing in behind the drill bit, at different depths, different weights of drilling mud are needed to keep fluids down in the hole, and too much pressure differential from one part of the hole to another can cause all kinds of headaches (and cost all kinds of $$$), hence, at the surface, most geothermal wells start as a 36" hole for about the first 100 feet, into this, the conductor, a 30" diam pipe is cemented into place.

After the cement is cured, a 26" hole is drilled, with a 20" casing cemented into place(300-600').

Out of the bottom of the 20", a 17.5" hole is drilled to a depth of 600-2000', and a 13.375" casing is cemented in place.

(this pic is of 17.5 and 12.25 bits)
A 12.25 hole is drilled is drilled as deep as 6000 or so feet, with a 9.625 casing.

Misc pics:

Different teeth are needed for different kind of rocks, soft rocks (shale, limestone, sandstone (most sandstones that is) enjoy the ministrations of a wide chisel tooth of a mill tooth bit, knocking out large chunks, and often drilling rapidly down (PDC bits are for a later date). The carbide button tooth is used for hard rocks, like granite, basalts, gneisses, quartzites, and quartz cemented sandstones (near quartzite).
The following pic is of a carbide button chisel tooth bit, well worn, the rounded nubs of carbide used to terminate in a chisel like tooth, this one has seen a lot of hours making lots of hole.

Contrary to popular belief, all of these bits (tri-cone roller bits) do not scrape the rock away, instead, a lot of force is used, pushing down on the bit, as the cones roll around in a circle, an immense amount of force is concentrated at the tip of the tooth as it rolls over the rock, this action simply pops a little chuck of rock out of the drilling surface, much like dropping something heavy on concrete will do, but this action is performed over and over and over, with drilling mud picking up these fragments and carrying them to the surface, for me to collect, study, analyze, classify, and document.

EDIT: the depths listed are just a generality, and for some wells, may be off by a factor of x2, also, deeper wells continue the theme of getting smaller in diam, the next stage is a 8.5" bit with 7" casing and so on add nauseum.....

The Story of My Life

Thursday, October 18, 2007

(cliche alert) There's a fungus among us

I'm not a mycologist, never have been a mycologist, I don't even play one on TV. On the other hand, I am fascinated by science, fungi are one of the things that I do enjoy (eating and looking at) the morphology and colors can be quite varied and fascinating, here is a fungus that is growing on an old stump in front of my house, some kind of (shelf?) fungus, don't know which, that grows quite large, the first pic will give you scale, the second shows the other expressions occurring on the stump, due to the nature of fungi, there is a real possibility that these are actually all expressions of one organism living in/on/under the stump (not sure of the tree type, but i think it was either a cotton wood or a maple that was growing way too close to the foundation, and the land owner about three years ago cut it down, I spent the intervening time trying to kill it, as it would send up new starts from the rim and roots (does that help identify it to anyone? if i was smart, I would have looked up they type of tree from the leaves, hind sight is 20/20)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

they had the right stuff

60 years ago today, 24 year old Cpt Charles Yeager climbed into a 31 foot bullet with wings and a rocket engine, dropped from a B-29, eased back on the flight yolk, closed a switch, and flew into history.
Here we are today, 60 years later, with the F-22 Raptor, with supercruise, it can fly faster than the speed of sound, without resorting to afterburners.
Its tough to remember to appreciate all the advances in technology, and the luxuries that tech and engineering deliver to us every day, if not for people like Chuck Yeager, Henry Ford, Niel Armstrong, Wernher Von Braun, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Tycho Brahe, Niels Bohr, Albert Einstein, Rene Descartes, Issac Newton, Rudolph Diesel, Eli Whitney, Louis Pasteur and way too many others to name who bucked the norm, dreamed big dreams and chased them relentlessly we would still probably work where we live, and loose 30% of our children in their first year.

Friday, October 12, 2007

camera shy

my wife hates having her picture taken, especially right before she starts to beat on people with a stick

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mommy and Daddy's little chiefs chearleader

Went to a Kansas City Chiefs game, not that great a game, the chiefs lost 17-7, and only scored on at the VERY end of the game to prevent a shutout. It wasn't pretty, but Jacque was:)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

six steps from mercs to violins

Segues, its how a train of thought, during a conversation can lead from German cars to Venetian violins, via the paleolithic.

I gave away my old '74 Mercedes Benz diesel the other day, since it was given to me if i could make it run, which i did. The Merc was not appropriate for use with my job (67 horse power just isn't enough to get up the mountains out west), and some mechanical issues i just didn't want to address at the time. I seriously wanted to restore the car, just never wanted to invest the time or money to do so, even though she is a beautiful car, with the classic Benz lines and curves; I would rather build a jeep, while not as pretty, much more fun. So, as I was saying, I gave it away to a guy who would restore it, not just sell it for salvage (he loves the look too). as we were cleaning out the truck, i had several pieces of obsidian to transfer into the garage when napping arrow heads came up, the process and techniques of doing so, and that in Kansas, large pieces of obsidian are HARD to come by, well napping arrow heads led to an old collection of early ozarks indian arrow heads I had way back when (wish I still did, they were around 2-10k years old, from the style), this led to a discussion on the fact that they weren't really arrow heads, but atlatl dart points, the atlatl led to other type of spear chuckers of the middle ages (ballista), this of course led into all kinds of period artillery and cannon, a brief discussion on the invention of trunnions and how that made cannon mobile and much easier to use, somehow that triggered an old memory in my head about Niccolo Paganini's "The Cannon" (a Guarnieri masterwork) of Venice and an old NPR article I listened to as a driveway moment.
Nice segues don't you think?

Monday, October 8, 2007

natures velvet

this is an interesting sample of psilomalane, barium-manganese oxide hydroxide (Ba,H2O)2Mn5O10 most often it occurs in massive or botryoidal masses, this occurrence is a sample of the fibrous on botryoidal, the pic doesn't show that well, but the fibers are like the fibers of velvet. What's most odd is I found this sample for sale at a children's center in kansas city.

still experimenting with my new camera, I think I like its macro focus, still need to work on it some

Thursday, October 4, 2007

ahhh, its good to be home:)

Jacque discovered she can do a new trick

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I got to go mud'n on the way to work

two days ago, it was 80 degrees, last night, it snowed, gotta love mountain weather, it was supposed to snow down to 7k feet, Reno is at about 4.5k, wish a pic would show the steepness of a hill i like to climb on the way to work (there is a road around the hill, but that's no fun if you own a jeep!).

I really need new tires (no Heather, not yet, there is still about two or three yeas left on these at least:() almost lost forward momentum up the hill (about 30% slope, and muddy) but she bit in at the last and got on top, of course, its just as slick on the other side and i went down it kind of sideways, took a bit of effort to pry my ass off the seat after that pucker event.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

the difference is day and night

tried to do this with a couple of pics of reno, from the side of the mountain at steamboat, but my camera wouldnt take the night shot very well, a couple of the casinos downtown look really cool at night with all the colored lights, but the are just blurry streaks on the camera (not enough pixels), oh well, so instead i took a couple pics of the rig, about six hours apart, during the new moon (about two weeks ago), of course, this was before it got cold up here, odd weather, one day im running the ac, the next the heater, go figure, if you look carefully, off the the right side of the pic is another rig:) i want to go home.