Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 4- Strike & Dip, Packing & Pacing

Today we started out by looking at our plans for the week. I also showed some pictures of gold being poured that my dad had taken. He used to work at Round Mountain, a open pit mine, and they had him take a few pictures of the process for PR. Now, that mine is partially owned by Kinross, which owns Fort Knox. Anyway, I showed my class some pictures he had taken.
Afterwards, we took a few rocks and our compasses and field notebooks outside. First, we each figure out the length of our pace, using a tape measure. Then we set up a couple of stations with the rocks and went to each one. First we had to calibrate our compasses to the declination (degrees between true and magnetic north) for Fairbanks. Then, our instructors had to spend 20 minutes figuring out how our cheaper, more simplistic compasses worked. Our cheap compasses weren’t very well designed, but they did the job.
Next we used them to measure the strike of the rock face. The strike is the compass direction of the outermost rock face. Basically, you hold you compass flat with one edge against the face and take a reading. Next we figured out the dip, which is the tilt or slope of the face. We measured this with a inclinometer built into out compasses. We recorded this, along with a GPS lat/lon/elev. Next we found the bearing to the next station, paced it off, and found the location of that sample. While we did this with rocks mounted on inclined metal plates, you would usually do it to a rock outcrop. You use the information to map a area and figure out what kind of folds and faults are in the outlying areas.
We also got to use a Niton X-Ray analyzer. It looks like a gun with a screen on top. You press it up against the rock and hold down the trigger and it shoots X-Rays through it and knocks electrons out of orbit (or something like that) and measures the elements. Unfortunately, since this is not performed in a vacuum, the gun can’t collect all of the X-rays and detached electrons, so elements with too low of a atomic number (meaning fewer electrons) are listed as unknown. However, you can still guess by thinking about what can’t be picked up and what it looks like the rock has in it.DSC_7373
After this we played with taking panoramas, then made a list of all of the food we would need for our trip, since we leave on Friday (tomorrow) morning. After planning out all of our meals, we went to Fred Meyer’s and bought a whole cart of marshmallows, pasta, chocolate, tortillas, jam, zucchini, etc.
After making sure we had everything packed, I went and played a great game of Ultimate Frisbee, which I like to play, despite the fact that I’m not that good a Frisbee thrower. It was a lot of fun but hard work, since it was 80 degrees and sunny out.
Since I leave tomorrow, this will be my last post until Tuesday night. I will try to keep a journal throughout my absence, but I won’t be able to post it until Tuesday.

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