December 16, 2011

Friday Geology Picture: Red, Red Las Vegas Rocks

Posted by Evelyn Mervine

Red and white sandstone with casinos in the far distance, Las Vegas, July 2011.

For the final picture in geology picture-a-day week here at Georneys, I’ve selected a landscape from Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas. The canyon’s name originates from the color of fossilized sand dunes that have been oxidized, converting the Fe (iron) in the rock from a 2+ to 3+ charge, which changes the color of the sandstone from white-tan to bright, rusty red. Recently, Red Rock Canyon was in the news because hikers stumbled across some dinosaur footprints, the first to be found in Nevada.

Although I am not generally very fond of cities or casinos, I have a soft spot in my heart for Las Vegas. In fact, I travel to Las Vegas often. I’ve traveled to Las Vegas a couple of times for geology field trips, and every year I spend a few days in Las Vegas to attend The Amaz!ng Meeting, a meeting founded by James “The Amaz!ng” Randi— a conjurer, writer, advocate for reason, and fighter of pseudoscientific nonsense. I’ve known Randi for many years, and I spent a couple of semesters back in undergrad working for him as an intern. I feel very fortunate to be able to call him a dear, dear friend. If you aren’t familiar with Randi’s work, I highly recommend reading some of his books. Some of them are even available for Kindle— and on sale for the holiday season!

As much as I enjoy seeing Randi and attending The Amaz!ng Meetings, the sparkle, fluorescence, garish carpeting, temperature control, liquor scent, smokey haze, and ching-ching-ching of a Las Vegas casino start to drive me crazy after a day or two. So, whenever I attend The Amaz!ng Meeting, I try to escape to Red Rock Canyon for an afternoon or two. Red Rock Canyon is about a half hour drive from the casinos and provides a peaceful, beautiful, and geologically interesting escape. Over the years, I’ve even led a few geologic field trips to Red Rock Canyon for Amaz!ng Meeting attendees. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to attend the 2012 Amaz!ng Meeting, but if I do I’ll be sure to take a quick trip out to the red, red rocks.

Here are some more pictures from my 2011 visit to Red Rock Canyon. I never did write up a post about the geology of Red Rock Canyon, but I promise to do so sometime! And, in case you missed them, here are my other geology pictures from this week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Well, that wraps up geology picture-a-day week. I’ve enjoyed posting these geology pictures so much that I’m actually going to add a new weekly feature to Georneys: the Monday Geology Picture! Every Monday, I’ll post an interesting– and perhaps pretty– geology picture from my georneys (geological journeys) that will help inspire and motivate me for the work week ahead. As I finish up my PhD over the next few months, I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for regular blogging. I’ll do my best to blog when I can– mostly when I need a study break, I imagine– but I’m going to cut myself a little bit of slack over the next few months. If the Geology Word of the Week doesn’t appear some weeks, it’s because I’m feeling overwhelmed by my thesis. I should be able to keep up with a weekly geology picture, though– and hopefully some other more substantial posts now and then!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures this week! Thanks to everyone who joined in and also posted geology pictures on their geoblogs. I’ve enjoyed seeing all of your pictures as well. If you haven’t already participated, it’s not too late to post a Friday Geology Picture!