Hello folks — please forgive the mess that the blog is in — we are doing a site migration in preparation for starting the development process for an entirely new web presence coming in some months. But in the meantime, the blog here is in some chaos, so please bear with us! [Thanks, the admin]
As a follow-up to our public AEG seminar last week, following are three of the PowerPoint presentations:
City of Colorado SpringsGeological Hazards Ordinance, Peter Wysocki, AICP, Planning and Community Development Director, City of Colorado Springs
Requirements for the Colorado Springs Landslide Susceptibility Zone, presented by Bob Moore, P.E., Risk Management Engineer
Landslide Susceptibility in the Colorado Springs Area – Geology and History (download), Jonathan L. White, Colorado Geological Survey
Members of our geoscience staff are busy this week participating in the Annual Meeting of the Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists taking place in Colorado Springs this year. CGS Director and State Geologist, Karen Berry, PG, is the Technical Session Moderator, the organizer of Technical Session #18, and is hosting the annual Women in AEG/AWG Breakfast; Kevin McCoy, PhD, is a Symposium Convener and presenter; Jon Lovekin, PG, is leading the field-trip Fire, Flood, and Landslide Impacts and Mitigation around the area; CGS Deputy Director, Matthew L. Morgan presents Change Detection of the West Salt Creek Landslide, Colorado Using Multi-Temporal Lidar and UAVSAR Datasets; and Senior Engineering Geologist (Emeritus), Jon White, speaks on Landslide Susceptibility in the Colorado Springs Area — Geology and History at Technical Session #18: Landslide Hazard Info for Colorado Springs Residents and Real Estate Professionals which is a special program that is free and open to the public.
[See the AEG Annual Meeting Program/Abstracts catalog for further information.]
Kevin’s presentation, in particular, From Outcrop to Web: CGS Integrates Digital Data and GIS Technologies to Map Geology, Hazards, and Groundwater Resources, introduces some of the ground-breaking (pardon the pun!) work that we do on behalf of the citizens of the state of Colorado:
Abstract: The Colorado Geological Survey (CGS) employs an array of digital data and GIS technologies for mapping geology, natural hazards, and groundwater resources, and disseminating the resulting data to the public. Key technologies include iPads with GIS software for data collection and field verification of GIS models, a growing lidar data set for the state, digital aerial stereo imagery, GIS-based models for natural hazard analysis, GIS tools for mapping and analyzing groundwater resources, and web-based platforms for disseminating digital maps and data to the public. This talk will provide an overview of these technologies, a summary of current lidar data acquisition and statewide goals, and a summary of goals for integrating newly-emerging technologies in future projects. Two detailed case studies illustrating use of the technologies will be provided. In the County-Wide Debris Flow Susceptibility Mapping Program, CGS is mapping areas susceptible to debris flows and/or mudflows on a countywide basis for 43 counties in 13 Priority Areas comprising the mountainous portions of the state. Maps are prepared using GIS-based debris-flow source area and runout models, visual interpretation of high-resolution digital terrain data, and digitized geologic and soil survey data. In the County Geology and Groundwater Resources Program, geologists create three-dimensional layered models of geologic formations on a countywide basis in a GIS environment. This process integrates data from multiple sources starting with surface geologic maps and incorporating other datasets such as subsurface depth information, well distribution data, and water quality data. The compilation is presented in a format that allows users to visualize the spatial distribution of groundwater resources.
And the full presentation:
The city of Colorado Springs lies at the boundary between the Great Plains and the Front Range of the southern Rocky Mountains. Western sections of the city are underlain by weak claystones and shales that are prone to landslides. Several developed areas have experienced various degrees of damage from landslide movements during the 1990s and over the last several years. These landslides were widely reported in the press; however, it is apparent that significant segments of the general public are not aware that they reside in areas with landslide hazards. The purpose of this symposium is to help educate the public about the inherent risks, liabilities, and responsibilities of both living in and developing such terrain.
A free public symposium featuring a panel of experts will include informative presentations on landslide hazard risk, disclosure requirements for sellers and agents, construction requirements under the city’s revised geologic hazard ordinance, home warranties, and more.
Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently, and without warning. While Colorado is not as seismically active as some places, it does have a history of earthquake activity. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake. Repairing deep plaster cracks in ceilings and foundations, anchoring overhead lighting fixtures to the ceiling, and following local seismic building standards, will help reduce the impact of earthquakes.
Six Ways to Plan Ahead
Nearly 100 potentially hazardous faults have been identified in Colorado. Generally, these are faults thought to have had movement within about the past 2 million years. There are other faults in the state that may have potential for producing future earthquakes. Because the occurrence of earthquakes is relatively infrequent in Colorado and the historical earthquake record is relatively short (only about 130 years), it is not possible to accurately estimate the timing or location of future dangerous earthquakes in Colorado. Nevertheless, the available seismic hazard information can provide a basis for a reasoned and prudent approach to seismic safety.
Sudden movement on long faults is responsible for large earthquakes. By studying the geologic characteristics of faults, geoscientists can often determine when the fault last moved and estimate the magnitude of the earthquake that produced the last movement. In some cases it is possible to evaluate how frequently large earthquakes occurred on a specific fault during the recent geological past.
We’ve just uploaded the next of our free STATEMAP quadrangle map products to our online store: the Geologic Map of the Watkins Quadrangle, Arapahoe and Adams Counties, Colorado. The STATEMAP series in general provides a detailed description of the geology, mineral and ground-water resource potential, and the geologic hazards of an area. This free release from the CGS includes two plates (with a geologic map, cross-section with correlation, oblique 3D view, legend, and description) along with the corresponding GIS data package that allows for digital viewing, all in a single zip file..
Matt Morgan, Senior Research Geologist and CGS Deputy Director, along with Senior Engineering Geologist (Emeritus) Jon White generated this map with special input from Richard Madole (surficial geology) and Shannon Mahan (OSL analysis), both of the USGS. This free release from the CGS includes two PDF plates (with a geologic map, cross-section with correlation, oblique 3D view, and legend) along with the corresponding GIS data package that allows for digital viewing, all in a single ZIP file.
Manitou Springs occupies a narrow valley where Fountain Creek emerges from the foothills northeast of Pikes Peak and west of Colorado Springs. The valley slopes are composed of interbedded resistant sandstone and conglomerates (i.e., gravelly sandstone), and weaker mudstones and shale. The outcropping sandstone is most prevalent on the steeper slopes on the north side of the valley.
During the wet spring of 1995, rockfall and landslides incidents increased throughout Colorado, some resulting in fatalities. In Manitou Springs, a fortunate set of circumstances occurred before the Memorial Day holiday weekend when local residents observed the movements of a large, dangerous block of rock before it actually could fall. The observation set into motion an emergency declaration by the town, resulting in a compulsory evacuation of homes located below the rocky slope, the closing of the road in the area, and an immediate rock stabilization project. During this emergency situation, the Colorado Geological Survey was asked to provide expert assistance to help stabilize the rock. The emergency evacuation decree remained in effect until the rock was stabilized and the area subsequently declared safe.
The Association of American State Geologists announced that their annual John C. Frye Memorial Award for 2017 is granted to the CGS and the staff members who authored the report The West Salt Creek Landslide: A Catastrophic Rockslide and Rock/Debris Avalanche in Mesa County, Colorado (CGS Bulletin-55). Utilizing a rich field data set, the report includes a comprehensive review of the geologic history of the area and presents a detailed timeline of the events surrounding the “the longest landslide in Colorado’s historical record.”
History of the Award:
Environmental geology has steadily risen in prominence over recent decades, and to support the growth of this important field, the Frye Award was established in 1989 by GSA and AASG. It recognizes work on environmental geology issues such as water resources, engineering geology, and hazards.
John C. Frye joined the US Geological Survey in 1938, he went to the Kansas Geological Survey in 1942, he was its Director from 1945 to 1954, he was Chief of the Illinois State Geological Survey until 1974, and was Geological Society of America Executive Director until his retirement in 1982, shortly before his death. John was active in Association of American State Geologists and on national committees, and was influential in the growth of environmental geology.
The Award is given each year to a nominated environmental geology publication published in the current year or one of the three preceding calendar years either by GSA or by a state geological survey. A shared $1000 prize and a certificate to each author is presented at the AASG Mid-Year meeting, held Tuesday morning at the GSA annual meeting.
Can you name the features of the endless Rocky Mountain skyline as seen from the Front Range? Where are they actually located? The OF-16-03 Colorado Rocky Mountain Front Profiles poster is the key to finding out. Similar profiles created in the past featured approximate or artistic interpretations of the many summits. This poster accurately locates the elevation points as they exist in geographic space.
The CGS is proud to present this unique perspective of the dramatic Front Range of Colorado as a large 54×28 in (137×71 cm) poster offset-printed on premium glossy stock. The author and designer of this special edition poster, Larry Scott, is a long-time member of the CGS staff. A talented illustrator, he handles the design work on our maps, books, pamphlets, posters, and other print material. This special project is the realization of his long-standing interest in Colorado topography.
The elevation profiles are drafted horizon lines of the heights of the Continental Divide eastward towards the High Plains. Each mesa, hogback, hill, mountain top, and points in between were plotted by intersecting its specific elevation with its latitude. The relative viewing elevation is about 9,500 ft (2900 m), the halfway point of the vertical scale. This allows one to see what cannot typically be seen from ground-level along the Front Range. If you’ve ever flown into/out of Denver International Airport — altitude 5430 ft (1655 m) — and are sitting on the west side of the plane, this is what you might see a few minutes after taking off or before landing. From this vantage, many of the great mountain ranges of central Colorado to come into view; the Sangre de Cristo, the Sawatch, the Mosquito, and others up to and occasionally beyond the Continental Divide.
Below the three profiles are 32 selected highlights of notable geographic, historic, and geologic locations as indicated via numbered circles. Many of these cite special locations for viewing the various peaks and summits. For example, on a clear day in Denver — something that happens around 300+ days a year — a perfect place to see the mountain horizon is from City Park on the west steps of the Museum of Nature and Science. At an elevation of 5,500 ft (1675 m), this panoramic vista includes much of the Front Range with the downtown Denver skyline in the foreground.
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From the Explanation:
Each profile is a one-degree section beginning in the south at 37° 42′, the central section at 38° 42’, and the northern section at 39° 42’. As the south-north extent of Colorado lies between 37° and 41° latitude, these profiles represent three-quarters of the Colorado Rocky Mountain Front Range. This refers the region of mountains that descend to the plains from the Pikes Peak massif in the south, north to the Wyoming border and inclusive of all summits east to the Continental Divide. South of Pikes Peak, the mountains begin to trend southwesterly all the way to Cañon City where the Arkansas River cuts through the Royal Gorge and flows out onto the piedmont. South of Cañon City, the Wet Mountains form a barrier that drops to the plains along Interstate-25 (I-25). Further south, though not shown, the mountains lay more to the west in a broad stretch, dramatically reappearing in the form of the Spanish Peaks, which extend eastward from the spine of the southernmost Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado, the Culebra Range. To the north, beyond Rocky Mountain National Park, the mountains descend steadily to the Cache la Poudre River, marking the terminus of the Northern Section.
Clear Creek Canyon — Long before there was an I-70 to access the high country there were only Native American foot trails along Clear Creek. In 1858, after trace amounts of gold were discovered in Cherry Creek south of Denver, gold seekers soon began looking in the mountains. Early in January 1859, George Jackson found gold at “Jacksons Bar”, where Chicago Creek joins Clear Creek in present-day Idaho Springs. The “gold rush” was on and the canyon became the gateway to the mining camps, most notably those in the Central City area via North Clear Creek. The Colorado Central Railroad (1871-1939) occupied the canyon in those days, later becoming the roadbed for US-6. The road was not completed in the canyon until 1952 due to political infighting and the time needed to complete six tunnels in the narrow spots. Rockfall remains a constant threat along the Canyon, with a notably large event closing the road in the summer of 2005 for almost three months—the longest full-road closure in state history.
We’ve decided to revive one of our most popular print publications — RockTalk — as a blog so that we can continue to bring you interesting, informative, and timely postings related to our mission. This year, 2017, will see 110 years since the founding of the CGS.
The first RockTalk appeared in 1998 and was followed by forty seasonal issues until the most recent one in 2011. We constantly get requests for back issues and to continue publishing, so in accordance with the times, we decided to make the shift to digital media. We hope you will join us by subscribing (to receive an email when we make a new posting, please enter your email in the subscription box in the right-hand column).
Content-wise, we’ll be exploring all of the many aspects of our State Survey mission to:
- Help reduce the impact of geologic hazards on the citizens of Colorado
- Promote responsible economic development of mineral and energy resources
- Provide geologic insight into water resources
- Provide geologic advice and information to a variety of constituencies
And, along the way, we’ll also post pertinent information on general geology, geoscience research and education, science and engineering policy, and other items that cross our screens. If you have any questions or suggestions, please get in touch!
The CGS recently installed the first of five new seismic recording stations that will collect information on seismic events around the state and the region. The CGS seismic network acts in conjunction with those maintained by the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), and the US Geological Survey‘s National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) — to provide near real-time earthquake detection. The addition of our monitoring capacity, the wider network allows the geoscience research community to better understand background seismicity in Colorado and better discriminate between natural and induced seismic events that may occur in the region.
The CGS already operates four other stations with Streckeisen STS-2 Broadband Sensors (capable of sensing ground motions over the frequency band 0.01 Hz (100 sec) to 15 Hz). They were part of a national consortium — USARRAY — that was a portable seismic network migrating around to different locations in the US several years ago. State-level organizations were allowed to ‘adopt’ some of the stations that were deployed within each state. The CGS purchased the four stations in 2010 — they are included on the map below as red boxes.
The set-up for a typical recording station includes the seismometer and its associated data recorder, a power system, and a communications system. The install site is carefully chosen for its relative acoustic silence — such that human-caused (road and air-traffic) and natural (wind, animal) noise levels are minimal at the relevant frequencies. The CGS cooperates with the Colorado State Land Board and the Colorado State Parks system in locating optimal sites for the stations in the CGS network. The particular station illustrated here is our Briggsdale Seismic Station #T25A-1 near Greeley, Colorado.
We just uploaded the most recent of our STATEMAP mapping products to our online store: the Geologic Map of the Longmont Quadrangle, Boulder and Weld Counties, Colorado. The STATEMAP series in general provides a detailed description of the geology, mineral and ground-water resource potential, and the geologic hazards of an area. This particular 7.5-minute, 1:24,000 quadrangle is located immediately east of the Front Range uplift of Colorado and includes most of the town of Longmont within its borders. The geologic map plates were created via traditional field mapping, structural measurements, photographs, and field notes acquired by the investigators. Richard F. Madole, Scientist Emeritus at the USGS was the lead geologist for the project. This free release from the CGS includes two plates (with a geologic map, cross-section with correlation, oblique 3D view, legend, and description) along with the corresponding GIS data package that allows for digital viewing, all in a single zip file.
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We just found out about this year’s Cumbres & Toltec Geology Train adventure in southwest Colorado/northwest New Mexico — 18 June 2017. It’s a special opportunity to enjoy some of that Rio Grande Rift, Brazos Uplift, Tusas Mountains, San Luis Basin, and San Juan Sag scenery.
Our very own Peter Barkmann, geologist extraordinaire and veteran Geology Train guide, will be on board for an informative and energized day in the high country.
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On June 18th, a special train will depart to traverse spectacular geology along the 64 miles of Cumbres & Toltec track. But simply experiencing the incredible overviews of the Rio Grande Rift, the eruptive evidence of the San Juan Volcanic field, the Precambrian core of the Tusas Mountains, recent glacial deposits, and snapshots of the Jurassic, will not be enough. This special train will stop at many outcrops and rail cuts along the right of way, to mingle, marvel and collect photographs, samples and experiences only accessible on the train route.
We have a free 8.5- x 11-inch (pdf) geologic map of Colorado containing Geo-Whizology of Colorado on the reverse side.
Of course, we’re a bit biased, but we think Colorado has magnificent geology and it is beautifully displayed for all to see. The state holds many of the biggest, the best, the first, and the most diverse:
For instance, did you know:
No Geologist worth anything is permanently bound to a desk or laboratory, but the charming notion that true science can only be based on unbiased observation of nature in the raw is mythology. Creative work, in geology and anywhere else, is interaction and synthesis: half-baked ideas from a bar room, rocks in the field, chains of thought from lonely walks, numbers squeezed from rocks in a laboratory, numbers from a calculator riveted to a desk, fancy equipment usually malfunctioning on expensive ships, cheap equipment in the human cranium, arguments before a road cut.
— Stephen Gould
Any other ideas as to where/how creative geologic ideas arrive? Any personal mythologies out there?
One of the many fascinating videos from our geo-friends up the road at University of Colorado-Boulder.
The Interactive Geology Project was formed in 2002 by professor Paul Weimer and colleagues with the goal of producing short 3D animations about the geologic evolution of key US national parks. The first major project focused on the geology of the Colorado National Monument and is still on display in the park’s visitor center. Over time our focus shifted from national parks to animating Colorado’s geologic history, with a key goal of developing a series of 5-10 minute vignettes covering each geologic time period.
The current group of animators joined the project in the summer of 2011. In 2013 we began a major collaboration with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to explore new ways of using 3D technology in earth science education. We work with top subject-area experts to ensure our animations are as scientifically accurate and up-to-date as possible.
Our projects are on display in museums, parks, and other venues across Colorado, the Western US, and Canada. All of our work is also available to the general public free of charge on our website and our Vimeo page.
Diamonds are formed from pure carbon, one of the most abundant elements on planet Earth. Diamonds, even from ancient times, have been sought for their extraordinary hardness (they are the hardest substance known) and their brilliance, especially in the colorless transparent gemstone variety. Ironically the other form of pure carbon is graphite, which is very soft with a soapy feel and a dull gray color. Graphite is commonly the “lead” in a pencil.
The Mohs Hardness Scale of minerals starts at 1 (talc) and ranges to 10 (diamond). That does not mean that diamonds are ten times harder than talc; mineral number 9 on the Mohs scale is corundum, a class of minerals which includes rubies and sapphires. Diamonds can be from ten to hundreds times harder than corundum. Diamonds themselves vary in hardness; for example, stones from Australia are harder than those found in South Africa.
The four main optical characteristics of diamonds are transparency, luster, dispersion of light, and color. In its pure carbon form, diamond is completely clear and transparent. As in all natural substances, perfection is nearly impossible to find. Inclusions of other minerals and elements cause varying degrees of opacity. The surface of a diamond can be clouded by natural processes, such as the constant tumbling and scraping in the bed of a river.
Luster is the general appearance of a crystal surface in reflected light. Luster of a smooth crystal face of diamond is strong and brilliant. It is intermediate between glass and metal and has its own special term — adamantine.
The process of white light breaking up into its constituent colors is called dispersion. Diamonds have strong dispersion, which along with their strong luster, causes the beautiful play of colors so often referred to as the “fire” of a diamond.
Gemstone varieties of diamond and imperfections. Yellow or yellowish-brown and even brilliant yellow diamonds have been found. Very rarely, diamonds are blue, black, pale green, pink, violet, and even reddish.
The most famous blue diamond, the Hope Diamond, is intertwined with Colorado’s mining history. Thomas Walsh, discoverer of the rich Camp Bird Mine near Ouray, purchased the Hope Diamond for his wife in the early 1900s; it was later given to his daughter, Evelyn Walsh McLean who wore it almost continuously until the 1940s. The 45.5-carat Hope Diamond now resides at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Diamonds, in their perfect cubic crystal form, occur as isolated octahedral (eight-sided) crystals. Many variations on the cubic form are found in are usually clear and colorless, often containing minor inclusions nature, including twelve-sided crystals and a flattened triangular shape known as a macle. Gemologists recognize three main varieties of diamonds: ordinary, bort, and carbonado. Ordinary diamonds occur as crystals often with rounded faces, from colorless and free from flaws (“the first water” ) to stones of variable color and full of flaws. Bort diamonds occur in rounded forms without a good crystal structure. They are generally of inferior quality as a gemstone. Carbonados are black opaque diamonds usually from the Bahia Province of Brazil. They are crystalline but do not possess the mineral cleavage found in ordinary diamonds.
 An expression which refers to the highest quality diamonds and has come to mean the highest quality of just about anything. The comparison of diamonds with water dates back to at least the early 17th century, and Shakespeare alludes to it in Pericles, 1607:
Heavenly jewels which Pericles hath lost, Begin to part their fringes of bright gold.
The diamonds of a most praisèd water Doth appear, to make the world twice rich.
The current annual Colorado Mineral and Energy Industry Activities report 2015-16 is now available. Following up on the 2014 report, this report, based on 2015 production data, sketches a comprehensive overview of Colorado’s mineral resource production. Of note is the fact that total value of mineral and energy fuels production in Colorado for 2015 is estimated to be $13.43 billion, a 29% decline from the $18.8 billion production value in 2014. The decline was caused primarily by a precipitous decrease in oil and gas market prices which provide 70% of Colorado mineral resource revenue. Oil and gas production actually registered at all-time highs of 127.6 Mbbl and 1,709 Bcf, respectively.
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Nonfuel mineral production — including metals, industrial minerals, and construction materials — posted a modest 3.9% increase in revenue. Increased production of crushed stone, cement, and sand and gravel aggregate accounted for the increase. With a 2015 production of 21,790 metric tons of molybdenum from two mines, Colorado is the largest molybdenum producer in the U.S. Although just one mine in the state publicly reported gold production in 2015, Colorado remains the third largest producer of the metal in the U.S. as it was in 2014.