Almaden Mercury Mine spoil, April 2017

Notes on the Almaden Mercury Mine


Between 1932 and 1972, Nutmeg Mountain, eleven miles east of Weiser, Idaho, was a mercury mine. The mining was episodic, not continuous. Usually, it took a war to drive the price of mercury, which is used in explosives, to levels that made mining and extraction profitable. Changes in mining technology also affected the level of activity. Altogether,…

Engraving of Kilroy on the WWII Memorial in Washington DC

Geology 101: Meet the Ophiolites


Remember the “Kilroy was here” meme and doodle? It originated in World War II as a doodle by G.I.s. It was a way of saying, “An American G.I. was here.” Ophiolites are roughly analogous to Kilroy. Ophiolites are a characteristic geologic formation which says to a geologist, “An ocean was here.” And they turn up…

Shoshone Falls, Idaho, Vertical Composition

Notes on Shoshone Falls


The Snake River is dammed within an inch of its life. It’s polluted by agricultural runoff. Diverted for irrigation. There are at least 15 dams along its length, most of them in Idaho. But once in a while it can still bust loose and show some serious water. And when it does, there’s no better…

What WC Is Reading


The weather sucks, WC is struggling with a head cold and it’s the same old same old among the yard birds. So WC has been doing a lot of reading. Much of it has turned out to be pretty good. Here’s a quick overview of recent, decent stuff. Michael Lewis famously write Moneyball, which somehow got…

Ropey Pahoehoe, Craters of the Moon Nat'l Monument

Geology is Cool: Craters of the Moon


Think of it as a kind of “lava field light.” If you been to Hawai’i, especially to the Big Island, or hiked along the Pacific Crest Scenic trail through Mt. Washington and Three Sisters Wildernesses, Craters of the Moon is a pretty modest series of lava flows. But it is still an impressive display of volcanism.…