Friday, September 21, 2007

Metamorphic meanderings...

Turned in my first observation paper today, and I felt pretty good about it. I am still struggling a bit with the tree and non-woody plant identification, though I expected that since I haven't had much practice. I am anxious to see what my Community Ecology teacher has to say about the paper. We had a lecture today on niches and factors in competition. It was hard for me to focus on and take notes because I feel like I already know what he's talking about from Ecology at UNH or just from being a real bio geek. You can't talk about anything going on at the shoreline without understanding competition, predation, coevolution, etc. I did learn that some plants have nasty chemicals in their leaves which, when they fall, inhibit the germination of other seeds anywhere near the base of the plant. Sneaky way to make sure that you are the only tree around...

This afternoon, though, in Earth Systems Science, we took a field trip to visit various road outcrops and actually an abandoned old pigmatite mine. Most of what we saw were metamorphic rocks, bent, melted, twisted and recrystallized into other rocks. As we learned more about what processes caused those types of formations, I realized that, collecting "rocks" as a kid, I never really connected fully with the overall processes like igneous intrusions, metamorphic rocks, etc, because the rocks I had were on such a small scale. It was great to have some familiarity with them (and the three different types of rocks in general) so that I could try to grasp the bigger picture things that were going on.

I got to see contact zones and intrusions and varying crystal structures based on the rate of cooling, erosional factors... throwing me back into the world of rocks. It was a great outing because we got to visit several different sites, and the pigmatite mines were VERY cool. There they have a specific kind of granite that is rare, and also contains huge pieces of mica (and even a little garnet).

The second site we went to was awesome, too, because there was a huge stone bridge built over a stream, and the builders left a huge jut of rock and used it as part of the bridge. It was beautiful to see the natural and the man-shaped structures side by side (all of the rocks used in the bridge were obviously local stones of the same types.

On the way home, in traffic, I caught myself observing the road cuts and looking at the different types of rocks there. I love my life!

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