Seeing these old friends make it feel like Spring is truely here! Love these bright beauties adding their color to the high desert landscape.
Hope everyone is having a great one! Posts have been a little scarce lately, but we will be back to posting weekly now. Happy May Day everyone!
There’s a dance party happening across much of the basin and range as the sage grouse strut their stuff to try to attract females. This is more a Madrid type party than a stateside party as the fun only gets started at dawn. That’s when the males start to dance. There are many descriptions of their dance out there, but it is electric as any disco when you see one of these fantastic beings puffing and stretching in a predawn. It is only the males who puff and strut about, but the more camoflauged females are there too, looking for the best dance partner.
Sage grouse are well known. NDOW has a quick overview of them and I’m sure there are others. But what you might not know is that you can check out the party (from a very respectful distance of course) if you volunteer with NDOWs lek count program. While the program for 2018 is already underway, 2019 is will be here soon. Volunteering provides a great opportunity to explore the basin and range region, see some amazing sunrises, start your hike or play day doing citizen science all while getting to see these unique birds in action.
Get out there lekkin’!
Growing up near Pyramid and Mono Lakes I am pretty familiar with tufa and tufa towers. I am not so familiar with travertine however, I have heard of it, but never really thought about how it was formed and it's relation to tufa.
The other day I was reading a book and it was discussing travertine. It stated that "As water moves through faults it is enriched in calcium and bicarbonate from the enclosing limestone rocks...carbon dioxide escapes as gas and bicarbonate combines with calcium to precipitate as travertine, a calcium carbonate." It also discussed how travertine deposits form a variety of shapes such as mounds and towers. Hmmmm, sounds quite similar to tufa to me. That got me thinking, what is the difference between travertine and tufa?
What is Tufa?
Tufa is a rock composed of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), essentially limestone, that forms at the mouth of a spring, from lake water, or form a mixture of spring and lake water. Most of the tufa at Pyramid Lake formed between 26,000 and 13,000 years ago. when the area was much wetter and Pyramid was joined to lakes in nearby basins.
Tufa mounds form when springs discharged from the bottom of a lake, supplying calcium that combines with carbonate dissolved in lake water to form the mounds. The thickest tufa deposits form near lake-bottom sites of ground-water discharge, and at overflow elevations where the lake was held near-constant levels for long periods of time.
What is Travertine?
Travertine is a terrestrial sedimentary rock, formed by the precipitation of carbonate minerals from solution in ground and surface waters, and/or geothermally heated hot-springs.
Like tufa, travertine is a form calcium carbonate (CaCO3) limestone deposited by mineral springs, especially hot springs. Travertine exists in white, tan, cream-colored, and even rusty varieties. It is formed by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate, often at the mouth of a hot spring or in a limestone cave. In the latter, it can form stalactites, stalagmites, and other speleothems.
Tufa and Travertine are similar, but tufa is softer and more porous than travertine. Tufa has a higher porosity, woody texture, and is generally a cool fresh water deposit. Conversely, travertine is commonly deposited in warm water and is more lithified, hard and smooth.
Way back on February 17 I spotted this lovely little biscuitroot (Lomatium nevadense-I believe). With all the weather we have had lately I haven’t spotted much more in the way of wildflowers this season. Hopefully I’ll remedy that soon, perhaps I’ll go out for a wildflower walk this weekend.
What wildfowers have have you seen this season?
Clark Mountain, the highest peak toward the northern end of the Virginia Range east of Reno, appears a humped desert peak from downtown Reno. It is usually overshadowed by the Carson Range and Mount Rose to the west and Peavine Mountain to the northwest and even sometimes by Spanish Springs Peak in the Pah Rah's or the colorful hills of Hidden Valley, although there is a splendid view of Clark Mountain from UNR looking east. It might not attract much attention, but it is much more than meets the eye! Before the Sierra Nevada even rose, Clark Mountain would have dominated the landscape as a volcano in the style of the Cascades, and in fact was created by the same process of subduction. These volcanic processes took place from 35 million to 7 million years ago, when volcanism mostly stopped this far south and the Sierra processes started.*
Much of the Virginia Range, and this part of the Basin and Range in general, was created by these same volcanic processes, and its more well-known and larger southern neighbor, Mount Davidson, overlooking Virgnia City, was a stratovolcano during this period. Vegetation would have been much different at this time as well, their being evidence of the existence of redwood (or redwood ancestors) in the region.
Read an account of climbing Clark Mountain here. This climb is from McCarran Ranch rather than climbing via Lagomarsino Canyon as per the mountain's summitpost.com entry.
*Probably a massive simplification, any amplification in comments is welcome!
There’s been a lot of talk lately about Miracle March and wether or not this March will be one.
What is miracle March?
In 1991, California was experiencing its worst drought since the Dust Bowl, Lake Tahoe was at its lowest levels in recorded history, and Tahoe was on track for its lowest snow year on record.
So far, March has brought us a good amount of snow, but it’s not looking quite like the miracle March of ‘91, some are calling it March mitigation. I guess we’ll see once March is over.
Source: https://snowbrains.com/miracle-march-1991-march-saved-tahoe/ accessed 3/15/2018.
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