Thursday, September 19, 2013

Vajont Dam

Today I went looking for the Toarcian Ocean Anoxic Event (TOAE) in a deep water section: Longarone. 

Longarone is a (geologically) famous town because 50 years ago a massive wall of water came over the dam and wiped out 80% of the town (1800 fatalities). It is a sad case of a geological failure (and a structural win in same ways).

Top of the dam!

The Dam (from above)
After some smaller landslides, earlier in the month, on Oct. 9 1963, there was a massive slump and half the mountain (Monte Toc?) slid into the reservoir behind the dam, displacing most of the water. 

Slump Scar

The Slump!
Sadly, the only direction for the water to go was over the 262m dam (which held, by the way), and crash into the town of Longarone and the other villages in the valley. 

50 years later the reservoir is no more, now the lake is higher up the valley, damed by the massive slip that filled in the valley. The Vajont dam is inactive but serves as a strong reminder of the damage that can be done by inadequate geology! 

I now feel like I need to try harder (fortunately paleontology rarely has as high a price for failure as Geo engineering)! For more information, check out this blog:

Northern Italy is Beautiful

Just some gratuitous driving photos... More science updates soon, this is a drive by blogging while driving!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Up and down the mountain!

Here are some fun time-lapse videos I took while driving around the Italian mountains (these videos should really have some silly music to go with them).

Oh, and if switchbacks make you car sick, you might want to skip this post.

Going up in the morning!

Driving around the Mountain to find the field site!

Coming down in the evening!

A good start to the day!

What a gorgeous view this morning! I think I'll go look for some fossils on those mountains...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Same bivalves, different country

Over the last few days I have been working in Italia (Italy), trying to track down some Early Jurassic reefs!

The first day we started at a paleontology/geology museum in Camposilvano!

They had an awesome vertebrae on display (from an ichthyosaur I think)

and some beautifully displayed lithiotid bivalves (among a bunch of other things)!

So far good material has been scarce, but we have found a few things, like this sponge...

Some really impressive lithiotid mounds (Renato is looking at the dip between two mounds in the middle of the section)

Here is a "book" of lithiotid bivalves (the linear grey lines are the cross sections of the bivalve shells)

You can't hold back the bivalves!

Lots of chert!

 And some beautiful examples of bivalve bouquets!

My guides for the trip, Daniele and Renato!

Even if the reefs are scare, this is a gorgeous place to do research!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

From whence "Karst" came....

For our last day in Slovenia, we visited the "Kras" region (the region where many "Karst" phenomena were first described, also where karst terminology is frequently derived).

Karst is a geological feature produced by the dissolution of rocks (usually limestones or dolomites) by water.

In the Kras region, rivers disappear into underground caves, and large dolines (a.k.a. sinkholes) dot the landscape.

The Reka river, flowing along one of the massive dolines 
Wider angle of the last shot
These karst regions often have beautiful caves with lovely stalactites and stalagmites, and other classic cave features, but the Škocjan Caves of Slovenia (a UNESCO world heritage site)have some of the largest and more awe-inspiring caverns I have ever seen! Sadly, taking photos is not allowed, except at the very entrance, so here's a few of my shots, to get a feel for the place....

Dude on the hiking trail for scale!

And here are some much better photos:

I definitely loved Slovenia!