Lake Pend Oreille, looking across to the easterly shore

It’s Pronounced “Ponderay”


WC has written before about the ginormous, ancient, vanished Idaho lakes and the incredible floods they produced. The Bonneville Flood, a one-timer, happened some 17,500 years ago, when Lake Bonneville overtopped the soft rocks of Red Rock Pass, flooding much of the length of the Snake River, and the middle and lower Columbia River. The…

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.…