Geological wonders Essay

Abstract
Nature is a great bless for all man kind,and in this paper we are describing a tour,in which we will imaginary visit three typical geological wonders, and learn something new about them. we will discover 3 places in North America, in the United States to be specific,First,we will go to New mixeco and down to the most wonderful cave on earth, Carlsbad caverns in Guadalupe mountains to see how under ground waters made wonders. Second place would be in California and on the highest point on coast we would see how waves created troubles in San Diego County and Finally, Aloha Hawaii, Kilauea Mountain and its irresistible volcano is driving us crazy. We will learn something new about each place, where to go and how to enjoy our selves along withy amazing shots from those places would make you really wanting to see more.

Introduction
Geology is the language of earth, to know better about the land we live on, we must know how to communicate with mother nature and earth. The route of our tour will take us all around east of The United States, visiting three geological features. First place will not exactly be on earth, it would be a magnificent cave. A no-man land if we can say. A cave in New Mexico’s Guadalupe Mountains, where we would watch an under ground waters and its chemicals act. Second place would be in California ,on the cliffed coast of San Diego county. There we would watch how the sea fought land and erosion was the basic problem in this place. Our final destenation would be to Hawaii, in a very hot spot indeed, watching one of the interesting volcanic activities on earth, Mt Kilauea in Hawaii big island. This island would be our last stop, but by the end, we would be ready to know more about our earth, and would be ready to make more tours. We will take the route as described on the following map (see figure 1)

Figure 1.

The adventure
Destination one: Guadalupe Mountains, Lechuguilla Cave
In a TV program produced by PBS named “Mysterious Life of Caves”, a group of 8 scientists visited the marvelous cave of Lechuguilla in the heart of the Guadalupe Mountains in southern New Mexico at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. These sun-blasted ridges and the rock below them had been alive 250 million years ago. A magnificent barrier reef, geologists call El Capitán, had stretched for over 100 miles along the coast of a shallow inland sea that once covered the American Southwest. The living reef had died as the basin it enclosed grew too salty. Then, long buried under later deposits, the dead reef became limestone, the ideal stone for caves (see Figure 2) (Apsell, 2002).

     Figure 2.

El Capitán, mountain in New Mexico, houses Lechuguilla Cave.

The story of discovering this miraculous cave started on 1986, a natural collapse just inside the entrance pit had blocked Lechuguilla for thousands of years, until cavers dug through a rubble pile into a long, downward-sloping passage. It proved to be the entrance shaft to one of the largest, deepest, and most fantastically decorated caves in the Americas (Apsell, 2002).

The area around the cave entrance contains many kinds of wild life, we may spooked a small herd of deer while we head to the entrance Starting the tour in this cave, wearing suitable clothes, like shorts, T-shirts, and boots and hiking through the  cluster of the prickly lechuguilla bushes for which the cave was named  . Lechuguilla’s entrance was a rectangular hole 70 feet deep and wide enough to swallow a truck (Apsell, 2002).The miles of passage inside this cave had revealed no trace of humanity or, for that matter, bats or other traditional cave life. The cave’s chambers contains many wonders, a bizarre mineral formations identified nowhere else on Earth. Like gypsum deposits lining Lechuguilla’s limestone walls formatted by strong chemical reactions between ancient groundwater and hydrogen sulfide rises from a deep subterranean source.

Lechuguilla cave has many lakes containing one of the purist water on earth the temperature of which is about  67° Fahrenheit ,like, Lake Lebarge (see Figure 3), Lake Castrovalva and a small pool called Last Water(Apsell ,2002).

Figure 3.

Lake Lebarge

Climbing and hiking Fans would love the place beside all the under ground wonders made by chemicals and water reactions that would be great picture shots for photograph fans to add to their collections (see Figure 4)

Figure 4.

Geological wonders of lechuguilla cave made by underground water reactions

Destination two: San Diego’s cliffs, California
Figure 5.

San Diego County area

We are heading now to the northwestern United States, California, to the Coast of San Diego County, which is a combination of both sea cliffs and lowlands (see Figure 5).The coast of San Diego County is of two principal types. In the northern part and extending as far south as La Jolla, the coast is cliffed, with raised terraces and beach ridges. The cliffs and terraces at the northern end rise to several hundred feet in the central portion. This section of coast is cut by a series of relatively large valleys with partly filled estuaries at their mouths and barriers at their lower ends. The southern portion of this area has mostly lowlands with large estuaries, deltas, and barrier islands, the history of which has been investigated with special interest (Kuhn&Shepard, 1984, p.165).

The  cliffs  vary in height; the highest portion is between La Jolla north to Sorrento Valley, where some vertical  cliffs  reach 350 feet(p.3).the sea level in this area , rose owing to melting continental glaciers, which raised the level of the ocean by some 400 feet and flooded all these valleys, except where the rise in the land exceeded the rise in sea level and a considerable erosion from the highlands filled these estuaries sufficiently in recent years so that long shore currents were able to build barriers across their mouths(p.4).

California’s 840-mile coastline is world famous. One of its most popular harbors is in San Diego (Glassman, 2002, p.41) and we are visiting The High Cliffed Area between Sorrento Valley and North La Jolla, a place called Torrey Pines State Preserve and Its Cliffs. The spectacular cliffs along this section of the coast reach a maximum height of over 350 feet and extend from Sorrento Valley (Penasquitos Lagoon) to La Jolla Shores. These cliffs consist of ancient lagoonal marine and terrestrial sediments of Eocene age, with a capping of iron oxide—cemented terrace deposits of Pleistocene age .At the south end, a volcanic dike of Miocene age cuts the sediments, and south of the dike there is an in filled embayment of late Pleistocene sediment, including iron oxide—cemented alluvial sands and gravels (Kuhn& Shepard,

1984, p.107).

Torry Pines area was purchased by Miss Ellen Scripps as a state preserve in the 1920s. These magnificent cliffs and canyons thus have been preserved in their natural state and may be enjoyed by the general public.  Cliff  retreat along this area occurs in small rock falls, as far north as Bathtub Rock(see Figure 6) ,which was hollowed out by a Welsh coal miner who thought it looked promising for a coal seam, but nothing of the sort was found.

Figure 6.

Oblique aerial view of the cliffs looking south at Torrey Pines State Park, south of Del Mar.

Bathtub Rock is visible at the far right

Just north of Bathtub Rock, a path leads up to the Torrey Pines State Park Center and to the left of the trail, as it leaves the  cliffs , is a small sand deposit with many beach-type shells at an elevation of sixty-five to seventy feet above the present sea level. These sediments show the typical beach laminae. The shells have been dated at approximately 120,000 years B.P.South of Torrey Pines; the cliffs are disturbed by extensive landslides. The largest of these measures approximately 1,700 feet along the  cliff  and several hundred feet landward and is called the Torrey Pines Park landslide (p.111).Torrey Pines City Beach or what is called “Black Beach” has vertical and near-vertical  cliffs  over 350 feet high. During the summer, as many as 50,000 people may be on the beach at one time. For many years Blacks Beach was the only legal nude beach in southern California, and even today the practice is not entirely eliminated (p.112).

Many important scientific building were held in the area such as, The National Marine Fisheries Building constructed in the 1960s just above the cliffs, to the south, Scripps Institution (p.114) and the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) (p.115)

The most difficult problem facing this area, is rapid erosion made by waves and windstorms and was the reason of many massive landslide occurred at many locations along the coast (p.166) .southern California may be encouraged to provide better flood control channels and reservoirs wherever possible, and to prepare for the great storms which might recur in the not-too-distant future, following future volcanic episodes. It is also hoped that long-range weather forecasters of the future will use this historical information as an aid to their prediction methods (p.168).

Destination three: Mt Kilauea in Hawaii
Aloha, Aloha, That is how Hawaiians will say to you once you touch their Big Island (see Figure 7).

Figure 7.

Hawaii Big Island

 Tourism proper began in the 1860s. Kilauea volcano was one of the world’s prime attractions for adventure travelers (Foster, 2004, p.252).

 The Hawaiian-Emperor Island chain consists of ~107 volcanoes that range in age from 80 Ma at the northwestern end to currently active volcanoes at the southwestern end. The islands are remnants of these volcanoes, which rise between 5,000 and 10,000 m above the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii, the youngest island in the chain, is made up of five overlapping shield volcanoes, two of which remain active and one of them is the volcano of Kilauea, which is believed to be made up of a below-sea-level mass of submarine pillow basalt that is interbedded with and overlain by hyaloclastite deposits and subaerial basalt flows (Heiken & Wohletz, 1992, p.231)

There are currently three active volcanoes in Hawaii. On Hawaii’s Big Island you’ll find Mauna Loa and Kilauea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984 and Kilauea has been continuously erupting since 1983. Loihi is located underwater off the southern coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. Erupting since 1996, this emerging land mass may break the surface in about 250,000 years, adding a ninth island to the Hawaiian chain (Hawaii official tourism site, n.d.).We choosed to visit Kilauea  volcano ,which rises to an elevation of 1240 m above sea level and serves as a topographic barricade to the trade winds and rainfall; as a consequence, the eastern slopes of the volcano are covered with dense vegetation and the southwestern slopes are a desert.  Kilauea  is young and very active: 90% of the surface is younger than 1000 years. Approximately 50% of the volcano surface is covered with lavas that overflowed the summit caldera, but such an event has not occurred for 200 years; 81% of the lava flows are pahoehoe, and flows make up a smaller volume. During the last 500 years, periods of sustained summit activity have included only minimal flank (rift) activity. However, when there is little activity at the summit, other than caldera collapse, the flanks are more active (Heiken & Wohletz, 1992, p.239).

One of the marvelous sights is the volcanic haze dubbed “vog”, which is caused by gases released when molten lava—from the continuous eruption of the volcano on the flank of Kilauea on the Big Island—pours into the ocean. This hazy air, which looks like urban smog, limits viewing from scenic vistas and wreaks havoc with photographers trying to get clear panoramic shots. Some people claim that long-term exposure to vog has even caused bronchial ailments. There actually is a “vog” season in Hawaii: the fall and winter months, when the trade winds that blow the fumes out to sea die down (Foster, 2004, p.40)

There are many things to do there –besides watching Kilauea lava flowing into the sea-(see Figure 8). You may experience the mystery and awe of Kilauea volcano, home to the fiery goddess Pele and walk through the native Hawaiian rain forest, hike over just-cooled lava, and enjoy a sunset picnic overlooking one of the planet’s most active volcanoes. You may also visit the 52-foot Kilauea Lighthouse that was built in 1913 as a beacon for traveling ships. The view off the rugged northern coastline makes this the perfect vantage point for photos. This is also the location of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary for Hawaii’s unique seabirds. (Hawaii official tourism site, n.d.).

Figure 8.

                                                     Kilauea “vog” made by falling lava into the sea

The last note about Hawaii in general. Don’t climb on ancient Hawaiian heiau walls or carry home rocks, all of which belong to the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele. Some say it’s just a silly superstition or coincidence, but each year the U.S. Park Service gets boxes of lava rocks sent back to Hawaii by visitors who’ve experienced unusually bad luck (Foster, 2004, p.167).

Farewell
Our imaginary tour was made by mind and sight; those are important tools to learn about Earth and to continue notice, how much we are lucky to live on such a beautiful planet that is worth protected. Exploration and discovery are core components of the adventure process. The increased knowledge and self-awareness that accompanies the discovery of new places, cultures and skills forms one of the rewards that we have during travel (Beard, Leckie,Pomfret, &Swarbrooke,2003,p.13)and that what we achieved during our trip.

All destinations were in USA, but many tours may be done all over the world visiting other places. Learning about Geology may be fun beside its importance in keeping our planet healthy. We discussed three kinds of Geological features, One was a Coastal Feature(San Diego county Coast),other was an underground water feature (Lechuguilla cave) and the last was the volcanic activity of (Mt Kilauea in Hawaii).There are other Geological feature to be studied and visited, The fun will never end.

References
Apsell, P (Executive Producer). (2002, October). Mysterious Life of Caves Journey into Lechuguilla [Television broadcast].Boston, USA: NOVA Production for WGBH Educational Foundation.

Beard, C., Leckie, S., Pomfret, G., & Swarbrooke, J. (2003). Adventure Tourism: The new frontier. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Foster, J. (2004). Frommer’s Honolulu, Waikiki& Oahu: 8th Edition. New Jersey: Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Glassman, B. (Ed). (2002). The Black birch Kid’s Visual Reference of the United States Staff.USA: Black birch Press.

Hawaii official tourism site (n.d.).Retrieved June 3, 2007, from http://www.gohawaii.com

Heiken, G., & Wohletz, K. (1992). Volcanology and Geothermal Energy. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Kuhn, G., & Shepard, F. (1984). Sea Cliffs, Beaches, and Coastal Valleys of San Diego County Some Amazing Histories and Some Horrifying Implications. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

American Psychological Association (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th Ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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