Friday, July 22, 2011

Plane geology and other observations

My flight to San Francisco starting from Wichita led me to Minneapolis which in turn flew to SFO.

On the flight to Minneapolis, being a day flight, I stole the window seat on the plane. I doubt the other passenger noticed, especially since he had an aura of alcohol which i could smell before he even sat down!

Since I did not have my camera on me, I kept a note of all the different streams that I came across as the plane flew below the clouds. A 105° day with no clouds was a great day to fly! Cloud cover mostly started to appear closer to Minneapolis and then on the flight to SFO.

The most noticeable geology features on the flight to Minneapolis were the different types of streams. So there are 4 different types of streams in general. Straight, alluvial fan type, braided, and meandering.

Meandering streams are mostly common on flatter lands. Most of the meandering streams on this route had bars within them. These bars as you will see in the figures below were probably old point bars that became isolated from the bank as the water made it's way around it. In time, these bars became stable and then grass & shrubs started to grow on it. Now this is east of the Rockies and the rivers in the Central Plains and north of that are mostly meandering and most of them drain into the Mississippi River. Here are my observations:

The 1st meandering stream that I paid most attention to was a huge river which was closer to being straight than meandering like Fig. 1, but it still had the noticeable point bars. This stream also had bars within the channel that had shrubs/trees growing on it. So these bars were stable and weren't being eroded off enough which allowed plants to grow on them. As i mentioned earlier, these bars were probably created by the water moving around existing point bars.

The other streams that i noticed were highly meandering streams. Whilst some had bars within the channel (Fig. 2), others did not (Fig. 3).

Then getting excited to see the Rockies again, I decided to keep my camera on me on the flight to SFO. Here's what I noticed on the flight:

Red beds of possibly the Chugwater Formation (a sandstone deposited during the Triassic period of about 250-200my) in Wyoming.

This highly meandering stream seen (in WY) where the floodplain (green) is well developed is lying in a valley.

And so here are the Rockies in Wyoming.

First time seeing the Great Salt Lake in Utah. This very arid lake is surrounded by evaporites (white) and longshore currents are creating groin-like structures in the evaporites if you look closer to the bottom (lake portion) of the picture.

First time seeing Lake Tahoe that is right on the border of Nevada & California. I wouldn't have known it was that lake if it wasn't for the nice lady sitting next to me. First thing I noticed was that it was smaller than the Great Salt Lake and was set between the mountains (Sierra Nevadas).

Low cloud hanging over a bridge (not sure which one) in the San Francisco area.

The rest of the pictures are taken once i got off from the plane.

This is the view of the the bay in Milbrae, California and the run way where the planes land at the San Francisco airport. If you look closer at the bay area in between the run way and the land, you'll see that there is a little channel in between the algae. Photo taken at 1pm.

Here's a close up view of that channel.

Here's that same area at 3pm. The water has risen and is flooding over the algae.

Same view with plane landing :D

Same view at 4pm. The algae is all flooded!

Same area at 6pm with the grassy area flooded! The bay water rose quite a bit throughout the course of the day.

The following 2 pics are close up views of the channel inlets

A variety of birds were feeding on the insects (?) within the algae and I caught a close up. My guess is these are Marbled Godwits but I am no bird watcher.

These are a type of Brodiaea (?) found close to the channel. I saw these abundantly growing around the bay area.

At the Ocean Beach (at the Pacific Ocean) in western San Francisco. This is a rocky beach where cliffs are found near the ocean as you see here. Those rocky islands seen off in the distance is the Seal Rocks where sea lions used to roost at.

Now there are only sea gulls and pelicans perking on the island.

And then there are sea caves that have been created by the sea eroding away that sandstone cliff that is part of the Santa Cruz mountains.

Highly eroded cliff face that's overlooking the Ocean Beach.

A platform jutting out into the Pacific Ocean at Muir Beach north of the San Francisco Bay.

Little lagoon hidden away behind the Muir Beach.

Then I came across an authentic Sri Lankan restaurant (Kadupul). I was dying to get some good Sri Lankan food since there is none anyway within or in the vicinity of Kansas.

Had some delicious and spicy lamprice (or lamprie). A dutch influenced dish which consisted of rice cooked in stock with fried fish, poached egg, fried brinjals, a fish cutlet (the brown ball seen in the background), caramelized onions (aka seeni sambol), and fried plantains, all on a banana leaf. It was DELICHE!

To taste a wood apple drink again topped with ice cream was heavenly!

And Krishna ended up having a Sri Lankan biriyani. It was a tad spicier than what we expected! Was made of fried rice with cashews, raisens, a poached egg, and a variety of vegetables.

On the plane back to Kansas, not having a camera, I made more drawings of fluvial (river) geology.

Braided streams are more common within a mountainous range. This is what I observed which I believe were in the Sierra Nevadas. There were of course meandering rivers like in the following picture.

Here's an attempt on a panoramic view from my phone camera of a salty lake (Great Salt lake again?) possibly near the Colorado/Utah border.

And so my observations ended there as night befell the rest of the journey back.

I have to give a lot of credit to my boyfriend for sponsoring my trip to San Francisco as I observed and learned a lot during the trip.

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