Thursday morning Tim and I began driving from Martinsville to Minneapolis for the Geological Society of America meeting. Tim is currently taking a geology class from Brett and me, which includes several field labs. A site we picked for one of his labs is a classic geologic area around Baraboo, Wisconsin, a place I haven’t visited in over 20 years. We arrived in Baraboo early enough today to make our first stop, at Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area.
I’m going to leave the geology as a teaser, though. We’re visiting several other stops tomorrow, and hopefully in a day or two I’ll be able to write a large post on the geology of the Baraboo area. Instead I’m going to show pictures of some of the other sites along the 1 km trail.
A snake that was in danger of being trampled on the trail (Tim conducted it to the safety of the woods):
OK, I said I’d do the geology later, but here’s one little piece. When I visited Parfrey’s Glen as an undergraduate student back around 1989 or 1990, there was a nice boardwalk that went all the way up into the canyon. In 2008 a massive flood completely destroyed the boardwalk and caused the creek to carve a new channel (in part where the boardwalk used to be). As we walked up the trail (now just a dirt and gravel path) I noticed this tree, with all of its lower branches snapped off up to a height of around 8-10 feet:
Andy Moore, who works on tsunamis, once explained to me that after a tsunami he’ll look at the trees to see how high up the branches have been broken, which gives an initial estimate of the wave height. I think this tree may have lost its branches in the 2008 flood (or perhaps a subsequent flood in 2010). After I saw this, I began looking more closely and saw that, in fact, very few of the older trees had intact branches close to the ground; the ones that did were saplings that may have only been a 2 or 3 years old.
Tomorrow we should complete our tour of the Baraboo area, and continue to Minneapolis for the meeting.