The Rogue Valley region in SW Oregon: displaying 300 million years of geologic time

Typically, I post blogs when traveling away from my home in Ashland, Oregon. But with COVID-19 keeping us all at home, it seems a good time to investigate the landscape of my local region. Ashland is a tourist town best known as the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), an eight-month season of 11 plays—four by Shakespeare and seven...
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Trekking through Cinque Terre turbidites

Cinque Terre National Park, with its five charming villages clinging to steep rocky slopes along the edge of the turquoise-colored Ligurian Sea, is a wildly popular tourist destination. For example, here is the southernmost town of Riomaggiore. Below is a map of the five villages, with the protected park area in a darker green color. The Cinque Terre is located...
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The Famous Marble from Carrara Italy

Carrara marble is known worldwide because its pure white color makes it highly sought after for sculpture and ornamental work. Perhaps most famously, Michelangelo made his David and Pietà statues out of Carrara marble. The David statue was by accident—he acquired the piece of Carrara marble when it was rejected by another artist. After that he went to Carrara and...
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Traversing the Swiss Alps on the Haute Route—the eastern end

After three days of traversing steep rocky passes in the cold and snow, we were ready for warm, clear weather and green valleys with quaint Swiss villages. The last snowy impediment was the Pas de Chévres, which was a little intimidating because of its vertical steel ladders. But by the time we had crossed over the glacier east of Cabane...
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Traversing the Swiss Alps on the Haute Route—the middle section

Continuing eastward on the Haute Route is a roller-coaster trek of long uphills and downhills, with great expectations about what type of landscape will appear after topping the next pass and then what little village will lie in the valley at the bottom. In general, lodging in the valleys is in small hotels; in some parts, the route stays high...
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Traversing the Swiss Alps on the Haute Route—the western end

The Haute Route was established as a route for skiers but is now also very popular for hikers in the summer. The route extends from Chamonix (France) to Zermatt (Switzerland). There are many variations on the route; most people choose a 7–14 day transect that could include "short cuts" of chair lifts, trains and/or buses. The map below (from
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The silver mines of Guanajuato Mexico: bringing riches to the region

The city of Guanajuato was founded in 1559 due to the region's rich silver and gold deposits. The conquistador Juan de Tolosa observed the native people with shiny rocks. He started looking in Zacatecas (a state located farther north in Mexico) and in 1546 found silver mines that made him very rich. Other conquistadors started looking too, and in 1548...
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Dinosaur National Monument—more public lands worth preserving

My last four posts have been about our public spaces—two national parks and two national monuments. With increased petroleum and mineral exploration and drilling in and near our preserved lands, it behooves us to learn more about the places that may be threatened by the current U.S. administration. In June we visited Dinosaur National Monument, an out-of the way park...
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Craters of the Moon National Monument—a little bit of Hawai’i in Idaho

If you ignore the arid climate and sagebrush vegetation in the Snake River Plain of Idaho, and just look at the landscape of lava, you can imagine yourself on the Big Island of Hawai'i. This photograph shows basalt-type lava in pahoe'oe and a'a flows, with cinder cones in the background. The area is still considered to be volcanically active, with...
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Mount St. Helens—the most active Cascade volcano

The 1980 eruption of Mt St Helens was the most deadly and costly volcanic event in U.S. history, which is not to say that it will be the most dangerous volcano in the future—that honor may go to Mt Rainier. In contrast to Hawaiian shield-type volcanoes, whose eruptions can damage property but are easy to get away from, Cascade composite-type...
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Kilauea in Hawai’i—safely visiting an active volcano

Kilauea grabbed the attention of the media and the public when it began a new eruption on May 4, 2018. This is normal business for one of the most active (maybe THE most active) volcanoes on Earth. The Big Island of Hawai'i is located on top of a hot spot that is providing the fuel for continuing volcanic activity—imagine a...
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What is so special about the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument?

This national monument spans the border between Oregon (Jackson County) and California (Siskiyou County) immediately east of the I-5 freeway. It was first established in 2000 by President Bill Clinton and expanded in January 2017 by President Obama as one of his last actions before leaving office. The monument is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from the...
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About the Blogger

Karen (here with Mt. Shasta in background) is a geology professor emerita who aims to provide a "pocket geologist" for world travelers. Follow the blog to explore the landscapes of our planet and figure out what causes them to look the way they do.

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