Field hazards



A few weeks ago I had to get a chest x-ray taken as part of a series of relatively routine tests (nothing serious). Today as we were looking at the images, my doctor pointed to the area indicated above and asked “Have you ever broken any ribs?.” I replied, “Well, there was this one time when I was doing field work…”

In October 2010 I was in Indiana collecting rocks for the Rocks to Racing exhibit. As I mentioned in a blog post at the time, at one road cut I stepped awkwardly on a rock and fell, injuring my right side. I didn’t indicate in the post how badly I was hurt; I was actually unable to drive for several days because it was too painful to step on the gas pedal. I continued going to outcrops (even the same day), using a crowbar as a walking stick, but my mobility was limited for several weeks. I assumed at the time that I had simple bruised the intercostal muscles on my right side (and I probably had), but that it was nothing more than that. Apparently I was mistaken.

The circled area on my x-ray is an apparent healed break in one of my right ribs. There are also areas on each adjacent rib that hint at healed breaks, but that aren’t as definitive. It seems that I cracked at least one and possibly three ribs severely enough to form a fracture callus.

What is most embarrassing about this injury is that it happened in such a mundane fashion. I would love to be able to say that I sacrificed my body trying to save a valuable specimen from damage. But in fact I was simply walking on level ground, and not paying attention to where I was stepping. There are risks inherent in doing field work, even if the “work” is just walking between two points!

On that note, this weekend I leave for Carmel Church, for a two-week excavation funded by donations to our campaign. Weather permitting we’ll start digging on Monday and, as in the past, I’ll be posting daily updates on our progress.

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4 Responses to Field hazards

  1. Brian Schrock says:

    One of my most prominent scars is a V shaped cut on the base of my palm where I tripped during field camp and landed poorly on a sharp rock. It just means you are a true geologist!

  2. Boesse says:

    Similarly embarassing field injury here – I was climbing down a gully in an abandoned sand/gravel quarry near Santa Cruz, California, which was fairly steep, and I couldn’t climb back up the way I came, so I decided to slide down and jump the last ten feet where it went vertical – it looked like there was a nice talus pile of loose sand at the bottom. I jumped with both toes pointing straight down, and it was actually a talus-cone shaped exposure of lightly consolidated sandstone with a thin layer of loose sand – my feet bounced off and I took about 95% of the impact right on my tailbone. That was back in March 2010 (I was on spring break and had to drive back to Montana from California on that tailbone five days after), and it still hurts at the end of the day after sitting down for too long.

  3. Andrew Moore says:

    He totally went down like a sack of bricks. All I could think of was “if he can’t get up on his own power, HOW am I going to get him off this outcrop?” Was quite relieved since he’s pretty much my oldest friend and it wouldn’t exactly be hospitable to leave him there…

  4. altondooley says:

    I’m not sure which was more painful: the injuries themselves, or having to give Andy the keys to my new truck when I found I couldn’t step on the gas!

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