Category Archives: Geology

Open House this weekend!

We’ve all set!  Covered areas in case the rain falls west of 281, a fire pit to keep us warm, really cool activities, and a grill for the hot dogs. New activities added:  Robert, the reptile guy who’s bringing some of his favorite pets, Craig the “butterfly guy” and Robyn, the bee keeper who’s bringing some tasty treats.   Hope to see you there!

UHLNC flyer Oct 18

5th Graders go for a Nature Scavenger Hunt

Guest Author:  Andrea Roach

 

On a cool spring day, 80 5th graders from Marble Falls visited Reveille Peak Ranch and were hosted by members of the UHLNC for the 5th year in a row.  The weather looked rainy but a cool front blew through, making it a nice day for the young naturalists.  One group of kids set off on a nature scavenger hunt around the lake and along the trails.  The others took a tour of Nature Hill to explore some of the interesting finds along those paths.
Scattering to start the scavenger hunt. (Courtesy of Alice Rheaume)
Scattering to start the scavenger hunt.
(Courtesy of Alice Rheaume)

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“Field of Dreams” for a Geologist!

CTC geology students listen as Charles Beierle from the Nature Center explains the key features of the geology amphitheater. (Courtesy of Jo Ellen Cashion)
Geology students listen as Charles Beierle from the Nature Center explains the key features of the geology amphitheater.
(Courtesy of Jo Ellen Cashion)

Over the course of a couple of weekends, 80 college students and professors from Austin Community College and Central Texas College recently explored the geology amphitheater, located just down the hill from the nature center.   The amphitheater was created in the 2007 floods caused by the 20 inches of rain that fell over four short, wet hours.  When the waters subsided, this treasure trove of geology was revealed.   The nature center geologist described it as “reading postcards from the past.”  In this case, the postcards dated from about 1.2 billion years ago!!

Geology Amphitheater Wall.   (Courtesy of Paula Richards)
Geology Amphitheater Wall.
(Courtesy of Paula Richards)

One of the students said it was like walking thru his text book, all of the geological rock classifications are present and within easy reach.   From the core elements of nature’s mountain building process in igneous rocks, to the layering from the sedimentary period of development and the fusing and formulation of metamorphic rocks, it’s all there.   Also clear is the destructive force of nature, with thousands of gallons of water a minute rushing thru the creek and eroding tons of materials, uncovering rocks that have not seen the light of day in tens of thousands of years.

Xenolith  (Courtesy of Paula Richards
Xenolith
(Courtesy of Paula Richards

In the photo above, the twisting, layering, faulting and uplifting visible in the rock face tells the story of the geological heart of Texas.  Notice how the rock looks folded and is turned on edge so we can clearly see the layering.  Also note the white stripe within the darker rock above, called a xenolith.  It is amazing to think of the power required to force the one into the fault line of the other, and that the white material, in this case granite and quartz, is actually 300M years younger than the material surrounding it.  Examining the size of the schist crystals, we can tell how quickly the material cooled, and we’re talking in terms of hundreds of thousands of years to cool and form these crystals!

As these student can attest, if you want to make your favorite geologist happy (especially your professor) just bring them out to the nature center and let them explore to their heart’s content.  It was a wonderful way to make science real.