Sunday, April 6, 2008

Sunday stroll: Flat Stanley visits the Great Unconformity

My sister called a couple nights ago with a request. It seems that my oldest nephew's class is doing a geography project based on Flat Stanley, a children's book about a boy who is flattened in a tragic accident with a bulletin board, and who goes on to travel the world in an envelope. The original school project involved mailing Flat Stanley to other people, and having them mail back pictures and stories about his adventures. It's the Age of the Internet now, though, so Flat Stanley doesn't actually travel. My sister had a simple request: just take a couple pictures with my son in them, maybe at the train station, and e-mail them to her.

My sister should have known what I would do with a guest.

This is Flat Stanley, as drawn by my son and me:

I'm not quite sure what happened to his head. Perhaps it's a scar from the original bulletin board accident. In any case, Flat Stanley wants my nephew to know that yes, you can find several different types of cactus in Durango, even though it snows a lot here.

Flat Stanley went on a hike with us, looking for some places for my next week's field lab. When we were done, we drove up the valley to see some of the local geologic sites.

Here he is, admiring the brand-new travertine deposits at Pinkerton Hot (well, really tepid) Spring. (The rock pile was built about nine years ago by the Colorado Department of Transportation. The spring used to be on the other side of the highway, but the warm water caused a lot of road damage, so they piped it across the road and turned it into a tourist attraction.)

Then we headed down a side road to a place called Baker's Bridge. The Animas River goes through a steep-walled gorge there, but Flat Stanley was understandably concerned about getting wet. So we looked at rocks instead.

Flat Stanley is particularly fond of pink granites. Especially this one, because it's 1.7 billion years old, and there aren't any rocks that old in Connecticut!

And even better... the highlight of the trip: the Great Unconformity. Below: the 1.7 billion-year-old Baker's Bridge Granite. Above, a quartz-cemented sandstone that is either Cambrian or Devonian. In between, there's at least 1.2 billion years of time missing.

Flat Stanley wants to know what happened during all that time. I told him sorry: envelopes and e-mail aren't the same as a time machine.

Maybe next trip.


Julian said...

Ahahahaha! Awesome!
One of my good friends' cousin participated in a Flat Stanley project last year. This friend and I have gone on a few geology-related ("fault-poking") road trips, and Flat Stanley arrived on her doorstep just before one of them. It's as if he was asking to come to Parkfield with us!

Kim said...

:D I thought about ending the post by saying that Flat Stanley wished he could have gone fault-poking in Hayward and Berkeley with you!