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Andrew Alden

The Geologist's Top 100 List

By January 1, 2013

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In late 2008 there was a list running around the blogs, Geotripper's "100 Things You've Done, Geologist's version". Looks like I'm halfway through with 50 or so:

Boldface entries are things I've done, with notes in parentheses and links when appropriate:

1. See an erupting volcano
2. See a glacier
3. See an active geyser
4. Visit the Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) Boundary
5. Observe a river whose discharge is above bankful stage
6. Explore a limestone cave
7. Tour an open pit mine
8. Explore a subsurface mine
9. See an ophiolite, such as the ophiolite complex in Oman or the Troodos complex on the Island Cyprus (Coast Ranges of California)
10. An anorthosite complex, such as those in Labrador, the Adirondacks, and Niger (there's some anorthosite in southern California too).
11. A slot canyon
12. Varves
13. An exfoliation dome
14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana or the Skaergaard Complex in Eastern Greenland
15. Coastlines along the leading and trailing edge of a tectonic plate (That's easy, just visit the east and west coasts of the USA)
16. A gingko tree, lone survivor of an ancient group of softwoods that covered much of the Northern Hemisphere in the Mesozoic (more about this and two other botanical "living fossils")
17. Stromatolites
18. A field of glacial erratics
19. A caldera
20. A sand dune more than 200 feet high
21. A fjord
22. A recently formed fault scarp
23. A megabreccia
24. An actively accreting river delta
25. A natural bridge
26. A large sinkhole
27. A glacial outwash plain
28. A sea stack (better, an ancient stack)
29. A house-sized glacial erratic
30. An underground lake or river
31. The continental divide
32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals
33. Petrified trees
34. Lava tubes
35. The Grand Canyon. All the way down. And back. (Come on, that's too much)
36. Meteor Crater, Arizona, also known as Barringer Crater, to see an impact crater on a scale that is comprehensible
37. The Great Barrier Reef
38. The Bay of Fundy, to see the highest tides in the world (up to 16 m)
39. The Waterpocket Fold, Utah, to see well exposed folds on a massive scale
40. Banded Iron Formation, in Michigan, to better appreciate the air you breathe (I have a piece of banded iron, does that count?)
41. The snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
42. Lake Baikal, Siberia, deepest lake in the world (1,620 m) with 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water
43. Ayers Rock (Uluru), Australia, the classic inselberg
44. Devil's Tower, northeastern Wyoming, a classic example of columnar jointing
45. The Alps
46. Telescope Peak, in Death Valley National Park, from whose summit you can look down onto the floor of Death Valley 11,330 feet below
47. The Li River, China, to see the fantastic tower karst that appears in much Chinese art
48. The Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, to see the original karst
49. The Gorge of Bhagirathi, one of the sacred headwaters of the Ganges, in the Indian Himalayas, where the river flows from an ice tunnel beneath the Gangatori Glacier into a deep gorge
50. The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah, an impressive series of entrenched meanders
51. Shiprock, New Mexico, a large volcanic neck
52. Land's End, Cornwall, Great Britain, with fractured granites that have feldspar crystals bigger than your fist
53. Tierra del Fuego, to see the Straits of Magellan and the southernmost tip of South America
54. Mount St. Helens (although that was before it erupted in 1980)
55. The Giant's Causeway and the Antrim Plateau, Northern Ireland, to see polygonally fractured basaltic flows
56. The Great Rift Valley in Africa
57. The Matterhorn, along the Swiss/Italian border, to see the classic "horn"
58. The Carolina Bays, along the Carolinian and Georgian coastal plain
59. The Mima Mounds near Olympia, Washington
60. Siccar Point, Berwickshire, Scotland, where James Hutton (the "father" of modern geology) observed the classic unconformity
61. The moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley
62. Yosemite Valley
63. Landscape Arch (or Delicate Arch) in Utah
64. The Burgess Shale in British Columbia
65. The Channeled Scablands of central Washington
66. Bryce Canyon
67. Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone
68. Monument Valley
69. The San Andreas fault
70. The dinosaur footprints in La Rioja, Spain
71. The volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands
72. The Pyrenees Mountains
73. The Lime Caves at Karamea on the West Coast of New Zealand
74. Denali (an orogeny in progress)
75. A catastrophic mass wasting event
76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National Park
77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches)
78. Barton Springs in Texas
79. Hells Canyon in Idaho
80. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado
81. The Tunguska impact site in Siberia
82. Feel an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0
83. Find dinosaur footprints in situ (Put it this way, I've seen them)
84. Find a trilobite (or a dinosaur bone or any other fossil)
85. Find gold, however small the flake
86. Find a meteorite fragment
87. Experience a volcanic ashfall
88. Experience a sandstorm
89. See a tsunami
90. Witness a total solar eclipse (I've seen two)
91. Witness a tornado firsthand
92. Witness a meteor storm, a particularly intense (1000+ per minute) meteor shower (Almost, I saw one with hundreds per hour once)
93. View Saturn and its moons through a respectable telescope
94. See the aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights (it was off Alaska in 1978)
95. View a great naked-eye comet
96. See a lunar eclipse
97. View a distant galaxy through a large telescope
98. Experience a hurricane
99. See noctilucent clouds
100. See the green flash (This deserves an explanation: I was in the Gulf of Alaska, many miles offshore, as the sun rose from behind Mount St. Elias, and the first few seconds of its emergence was a bright BLUE flash. Since then I've seen a green flash twice.)

Chris Rowan compiled a bunch of the scores people have reported, and Callan Bentley tried out an improved version. I have some ideas of my own, so expect this meme to be updated. And the blog carnival Accretionery Wdge #16 collected a wonderful array of places to visit.

The original top 100 list started on Geotimes.

Comments

December 22, 2008 at 11:58 am
(1) Thomas Kavenaugh says:

I am not a world traveler and still got 40.
But when you live in California many are right here from lava tubes, limestone caves to the “Racetrack” which we just saw a few weeks ago. And who hasn’t been through a 6.0 earthquake? You might add ice caves, Badwater, Mono Lake and the columnar jointing at Mammoth.

December 22, 2008 at 8:25 pm
(2) Geology Guide says:

It’s true, California could have a 100 list all its own.

December 22, 2008 at 11:41 pm
(3) rock science says:

I’ve got over 75 from this list, but my all-time favorite is the Moeraki Boulders, from the South Island of New Zealand.

January 1, 2013 at 9:08 am
(4) Nissanka Nanayakkara says:

Your comments are worth reading and i always appreciate them.Living with Geology helping me lot to the environment around us better. Best wishes for the year 2013 and more surprises in findings in near future.

April 22, 2013 at 3:34 am
(5) alquiler casa terres de l'ebre says:

The Geologist’s Top 100 List, ¿Que mas nos puedes explicar?, me resulta insterense esta post. Saludos.

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