Shoofly Oolites, about 5 times life size; 100mm f2.8 at 6 inches

Geology 101: The Shoofly Oolite


WC knows geology isn’t the most popular topic around Wickersham’s Conscience, but today, at least, it can take your mind off of taxes. WC has written earlier about the massive Lake Idaho that filled much of the western Snake River Plain, in southwestern Idaho. Lake Idaho was an extremely long-lasting freshwater lake, possibly as long…

Redoubt Volcano, Chigmit Mountains, Alaska, Ranked No. 4 (Very High Threat)

Gasp! Dangerous Volcanoes Sighted Near America


The U.S. Geological Survey has released its update to 2005’s Volcano Threat Assessment. The 2018 Report is a good read, especially if you live on the west coast, in Alaska or in Hawai’i in these United States. But the press coverage has been a little hysterical. The Associated Press lead, for example: “Government scientists have…

Red Hill from the Loop Trail, Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds Nat'l Monument, Oregon

Notes on Geologic Time


Geologic time can be beyond human comprehension. Sure, geologists have broken it into units: periods, epochs and stages, but it is still mind-numbingly vast. And at the same time, just a bit facile. Let’s use the Oligocene Epoch as an example. On the one hand, in terns of the history of the planet, the period…

Large Daphoenine skull, a "bear dog" skull, about 18 mya

Really a Fossil


WC has written a couple of times recently about the John Day Fossil Beds but, as a reader pointed out, hasn’t shown his readers any fossils. Partly that’s because the unwashed masses like WC aren’t permitted to see very many fossils in the wild. Partly that’s because paleontology isn’t really one of WC’s interest areas.…

Painted Hills, Painted Hills Unit, John Day Fossil Beds Nat'l Monument

Geology 101: Northeastern Oregon


To paraphrase the great John McPhee in Assembling California, most of Oregon, like most Oregonians, originally came from somewhere else. Specifically, the Wallowa, Baker, Izee and Olds Ferry Terranes originated out in the Pacific Ocean and over the course of millions of years and the inexorable forces of plate tectonics they collided with the North American…

Thomas Condon, undated photo believed to be from the 1870s

Thomas Condon and Oregon Geology


WC’s fascination with geology began with classes at the University of Oregon. Most of those classes – all of them, except for Introduction to Geology (“Rocks for Jocks”) – were held in Condon Hall. WC honestly never gave a moment’s thought to the building’s name. There were sophomoric jokes about it, but there were jokes…