My motivation to sit down in front of a computer was a little low this summer... so it has been awhile since I've posted any thoughts or images, but I expect that since I'll be spending more time in the office that I'll be updating more frequently...
Earlier this summer I lead a field trip out west to explore the geology of western national parks (e.g. - Bryce, Zion, Capitol Reef, Tetons, Yellowstone and Great Basin). Eventually I'll add a page to my photo gallery, but for now I just wanted to share one of my favorite photos from the trip. It's not a beautiful flower, mountain or "nerdy" geologic formation, but rather the Robinson Copper Mine in Ruth, Nevada owned and operated by Quadra Mining Ltd. (zoom in and pan around to see a nice aerial view on Google maps).
Part of my "geologist" brain finds the forces behind this scene incredibly intriguing and downright magical (see my post on the San Andreas). It's the purpose of the mine and its inherent link with our economy and how we interact with our landscape. Many perceive this as a scar, a blight and unnecessary. Yet the same people (I place myself in this vague sea of culprits) that argue for "less" and expound upon possible alternatives, are still buying cars, cell phones, digital cameras, wide-screen television, etc. For example, I'm typing this on a computer that contains steel, copper, aluminum, gold, nickel, tantalum, tungsten, silica, platinum, palladium, rhodium, zinc, lead, etc. The information is being sent over Cat5 ethernet cables (copper), stored on a network server containing all the same metals in a typical computer, and then viewed on your computer, PDA, iPhone, etc. (again, same metals). So this photo is a reminder of my hypocrisy, and one of the reasons we didn't renegotiate our relationship with nature in the 1970's - it's hard to give up our stuff. It's much easier to talk about what we should do and how we should live, than to realize our own idealism.
If you need other reminders, or are just really intrigued by open pit mining, here are some great photos of the Diavik Mine in Russia and the Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah. I'm not chastising anyone, nor have climbed up on my soapbox, I'm just confessing to my role in helping to make these huge holes in the ground deeper AND that I really do enjoy the geology associated with them and respect the engineering required to create them.