Parfrey’s Glen

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.

Parfrey’s Glen seems an unlikely feature to be located in southern Wisconsin, within a few hours drive of Milwaukee and Chicago; a beautiful, wooded, steep-sided canyon:

Tim was here to do a lab, and spent much of his time taking notes and recording strikes and dips with his phone:

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):

A field full of Equisetum (horsetails):

A rock covered with liverworts (this is a small part of a patch of liverworts that completely covered about a square meter of rock):

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.

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2 Responses to Parfrey’s Glen

  1. Bobby says:

    Today I learned that there is an Iphone app for taking strike and dip…. awesome!

  2. altondooley says:

    It actually seems to work pretty well, too.

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