Photo Friday: Transmogrify / Hoodoos



Wyoming Hoodoos

Photo Friday Challenge: Transmogrify

Today’s Photo Friday Challenge is “Transmogrify,” which means “to change in appearance or form, especially strangely or grotesquely; transform.” Rocks known as hoodoos are a prime example of transmogrification. What is a hoodoo? In geology, it’s a column of rock that is weathered by the elements (rain, wind, etc.) into a usually top-heavy form.

View through the Hoodoos

View through the hoodoos in Wyoming, and some of the water that helps form the hoodoos – photo by kei

These hoodoos from the Wind River Basin in the US state of Wyoming are made of sandstone, and thus they have a soft look about them. You can see them throughout the northwest US and into Canada. The same structures appear throughout the world, and there some spectacular examples in places like Taiwan and New Zealand, which I unfortunately have been unable to visit.

Hoodoos form where rock that resists weathering lays on top of softer, more easily weathered rock. The softer rock weathers away faster, and the more resistant rock rests precariously on top. Sometimes it’s the same rock, like these sandstone hoodoos, and in other cases the two rocks are of different types. Usually, hoodoos are found in national parks and other desolate areas (like the ones I found in Wyoming), so you might have to hike to find them.

Have you ever seen a hoodoo? What is your favorite geology feature? Hot springs? Volcanoes? Let me know in the comments!

Photo Friday: Look Up / Sinks Canyon Cliffs


Sinks Canyon

Photo Friday Challenge: Look Up

Still playing catch-up for Photo Friday, I chose this photo from Sinks Canyon in the Wind River Basin of Wyoming for the theme “Look Up.” It’s always amazing what you see when you look up, and this day in June 2015 was no different. I was there for the sandstone, which forms these enormous cliffs that line the entrance to Sinks Canyon. The other people in this photo were at the cliffs for another reason. Did you see them yet? The lady near the top was leading the other two up the cliff face, and seemed to be a rock climbing pro. I, too, climbed to the top, but I took a different route. Off to the left of the photo, there is a slightly gentler slope that I used to switchback to the top of the cliffs and check out the limestone at the top.

What do you see when you look up? Let me know in the comments!

Photo Friday: Earth / Owakudani


Owakudani, Hakone, Japan

Photo Friday Challenge: Earth

Today’s Photo Friday Challenge is…. on Tuesday. Oops. So I probably should have joined the Blog Every Day in May challenge to keep myself posting regularly, but sometimes life happens. Anyway, on to the photo!

Owakudani 大涌谷 is located in Hakone, Japan, and is essentially the area around a crater created during the last eruption of Mount Hakone around 3,000 years ago. This is an active volcanic zone where the volcanic activity heats vents (fumaroles) with sulfurous fumes and hot springs. Hiking on the trail near the sulfurous vents, where they boil eggs that you can eat, you can truly see the power that lies just below the surface.

When I visited Owakudani, I could understand the power of the Earth on which we live as I wandered over a volcanic magma chamber, as well as the natural resources that we can utilize, such as geothermal energy. Wandering in the “Great Boiling Valley” (the meaning of the name Owakudani) and looking at the andesitic igneous rocks (that are 3,000 years or older) that remind me of the explosive nature of this volcano, I couldn’t help but stand in awe of the Earth – and this photo reminds me of that experience.

What do you think represents best the power of the Earth? Have you visited a volcanic area before? Let me know in the comments!



It’s well-known that Japan is susceptible to earthquakes. It is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area encircling the Pacific Ocean that is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity due to Earth’s tectonics. Just offshore of Japan is the Boso Triple Junction, where three tectonic plates meet (usually only two plates meet), and another source of earthquakes. If you have lived in Japan for any length of time you have most likely experienced an earthquake.

Earthquakes can be really severe, as the recent Kumamoto earthquakes and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake demonstrate. What makes the earthquakes so destructive? Ground shaking leads to building collapse, fire outbreak, tsunami, and other destruction. I’m going to take a look at how we measure the ground shaking and the destructive nature of these natural phenomena.

3.11 Tohoku Earthquake

On May 11, 2011, a major earthquake shook the Tohoku 東北 region – that’s the northeastern part of the main island of Japan, including Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, and Yamagata prefectures. The earthquake waves were felt across most of the eastern part of the main island, and destruction occurred even in Tokyo.

The main earthquake was magnitude 9.0 and occurred just before 2:30 PM. There were a number of foreshocks (before the main event) and aftershocks (after the main event) of very large magnitude. Luckily, my friends and their families were not affected by loss of life or loss of home during this earthquake. However, almost 16,000 people lost their lives, and many thousands more were permanently displaced. Continue reading

Photo Friday: One Love / Lewis & Clark Caverns


Lewis & Clark Caverns

Photo Friday Challenge: One Love

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park lies just west of the town of Three Forks, Montana, in the northern part of the US. Near this cavern system, the explorers Lewis and Clark split up to find horses and the Mississippi River. Lewis and Clark never explored the caverns, but Native Americans knew of their existence long before the expedition. The caverns have been expanded and commercialized for tours since 1900, and have been studied in their entire current extent by a geologist named Rich Aram (his maps are available on T-shirts at the gift shop).

Public 2 hour tours are available, but they are limited to May 1-September 30 due to weather. The public tours are lit (sometimes with cool lights, as in the photo) and your guide has a flashlight. When they turn out the lights it’s really dark – super cool, but not for the faint of heart! The cavern is also cooler than outside (wear a jacket!), has some parts where you can look down into the depths of the cavern with just a flimsy rail supporting you, and there is a lot of walking (over 3 km!). I am unsure about ADA, so please call ahead with concerns!

Geology of the Caverns

The caverns have been slowly dissolved away in beds of Madison Limestone (Mississippian in age, ~350 million years old), which was later uplifted during the Laramide orogeny (~70-50 million years ago). Water flowing through the limestone found weaknesses in the jointing and dissolved the large holes that now make up the caverns. It is likely that a majority of cavern excavation occurred in connection with periods of glaciation (Ice Ages), because of the large amount of water required to create such massive caverns. Geology, yay!

Why “One Love”??

Why is this a good candidate for the “One Love” photo challenge? Well, when I visited the caverns I took a geology tour and I got to hear about stalactites and stalagmites, as well as geological processes in cave formation. However, if you take the normal tour (which is a lot of fun! and no big, boring geology words so it’s great for families), they will point out some of the more interesting cave formations, including one that they call “Romeo & Juliet” – because it resembles the lovers outside a tower, perhaps when they meet their fate. (That’s the love part…)

The Photo

I’m not sure if I took a photo of that part, because I took the geology tour and not the public tour, but this photo was taken when they turned on some of the lighting that they use for the public tours. The effect from the blur of the camera and the lighting I think makes a spectacular effect I could never replicate if I tried ^^ However, the pink color, the Romeo & Juliet story, and my love of geology sort of combine into the best representation of the theme I could muster!

What do you think of my interpretation of “One Love”? Have you ever visited the Lewis & Clark Caverns? Let me know in the comments!