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Water Erosion- Water and Rock

A small stream in San Juan County created a hole in the sandstone.  Water is a powerful erosion tool and is used in many mining processes including retrieving potash from deep within the Earth.  More on that with the Potash video. Beauties of nature. 

Nucla- Rock and Energy Resources 

The limestone quarry in Lisbon Valley located in San Juan County supplies the Nucla power plant with limestone used to reduce air pollution created from burning coal.  However, the coal mine in Nucla and the powerplant are shutting down due to new policies to reduce carbon emission in Colorado.  Reducing carbon emissions is great however, the concern is that its not just a power plant that is affected, dozens of lives are uprooted and changed with effects even being felt in San Juan County 70 miles away.  These are hard circumstances government, science, and people face when managing our resources.   

Johns Canyon​- Rock, Water and Life

Here you can see that the water table is lower than perhaps it has been historically.  The stream bed here is dry until the surface of the earth is low enough that the ground water becomes surface water.  This video shows the point where the waters to flow to the surface creating dozens of springs along this stream bottom. This creek will flow into the San Juan River and eventually into Lake Powell.  This water is an essential part of the ecosystem, creating unique riparian habitat for plants and wildlife.  

Below are videos I have created to help demonstrate the interaction of Earth's systems in our area.  The systems are Geosphere (Rock), Hydrosphere (Water), Atmosphere (Air), Biosphere (Life), and Space.  The videos especially highlight human impacts to these systems. 

Changing Paradox - Space, Energy Resource, and Life

This is a new solar farm near Paradox near the Colorado and Utah boarder which is also close to the Dolores River and Redd's ranch.  This type of renewable energy resource is on the rise in a country full of energy hogs.  However, just like in Monticello with the windfarm there is the side effect of technology marring the natural beauty of the landscape.    

Fossil in Limestone Near Bluff- Rock and Water

So in this very remote location by the Goosenecks are fossilized remnants of marine life.  But your in a desert! That is what makes it so fascinating.  Climate has been changing all the time throughout Earth's history.  Most of San Juan County has been covered with water multiple times over the last 400 million years.  Which is why we have so many amazing sandstone rock formations.  In recent history the climate has changed as well leaving the lands drier than it once was less than 1,ooo or even 100 years ago.     

Geology of Potash- Rock and Water

Earth has layers and these layers go deeper into time as you go down.  This reveals the fascinating past history of Eastern Utah.  During the Pennsylvanian time period 300 million years ago southeaster Utah was covered periodically with sea water.  The water would evaporate and leave behind salt deposits and then refill again and repeat over millions of years.  This salt layering is 3,000-4,000 ft deep within the Earth in what is known as the paradox formation.  The potash or sylvite KCl mineral ore is mined out of the Earth with solution mining and processed the exact same way it was created...with evaporation!  Potash is used in fertilizers today and about 60% of all potash fertilizer in the US comes from the Potash mine in San Juan County.      

Potash Mine- Rock and Water

Here is a tour of the Potash mine.  The chemist there shared some really great technology that will go along with atmosphere and space ties.  However, this video tour shows how the surprising technology of bubble production plays an important role in separating out the halite (regular salt) from sylvite (potash).  This mining process uses old school density separation with high tech bubble production to efficiently make potash.  A big thanks goes out to the Intrepid Potash Mine for letting me take a tour of the facilities and helping me to understand the geology and mining process for potash a little better.  Take everything with a grain of salt though (ha ha) because I am far from an expert.            

Melting Rates -  Water

This is an example of how melting rates are affected by temperature and pressure.  Just the small pressure of a leaf can cause faster melting than areas surrounding it.  This video was taken where the sun is hidden in the winter, blocked in the south by a large canyon so this phenomenon is not caused by the albedo affect.             

Spectroscopy - Space

This video shows how San Juan County uses x-ray flourecence spectroscopy in identifying the contents in their product, potash.  This video describes how materials gets excited by radiation and emit energy that can then be fingerprinted and identified as either halite (salt) or sylvite (potash).           

Last Phytosaur - Rock

This video shows the formations of the windgate and chinle layers deposited in San Juan County.  This outcropping contains the trace fossil of a phytosaur from the late triassic period when San Juan was much wetter and full of large lakes and swamps.  This crocodialian like species roamed the Earth with the dinosaurs.           

Layered Sediments - Rock

This amazing mammoth rock displays the layering process that happens deep on an ocean floor.  The ripples of from water are imprinted in the layers of sandstone.  The rock shows flat layers that have been turned vertically as the rock rolled from its original location.            

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