Ensimatic

I am sitting in the Imaging Center working on my thesis: for now that means reading through really dense papers about Appalachian orogenic belts. Joy of joys.

Okay, it isn’t that bad, but I’d rather be outside on this beautiful day.

Anyway, here I am shedding tears and drops of sweat over 50 page papers on Silurian suture keys when I come across this gem: “It marks where the Ordovician Tetagouche-Exploits ensimatic back-arc basin (TEB), which opened within the leading peri-Gondwanan Gander terrain, finally closed.” Besides the mouthful of ancient geologic events and geographic places there is only one word that stumped me. Ensimatic. Solution? Google.

Double take. Fourth hit.  “Rhymes with ensimatic…” What?! Of course that is why I am looking up this really arcane, unused word, Google. Of course. Unable to move any further without clicking on this gem of a link I succumbed to taking a little break.

And let me tell you, it was enlightening.  There are 76, yes!, seventy-six, words that rhyme with ensimatic according to rhymebrain.com. Which is, well, amazing, because I would so much rather be writing poetry about rocks than an annotated bibliography.

Laurentia is just chilling in the west,
Not knowing, a back-arc basin is doing its best:
To move on over and collide is its quest.
Its movement is swift because its ensimatic,
When it hits, it will be problematic,
Because this back-arc basin is pretty erratic.

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And now, Google has proved far more of a distraction than what would be considered a normal work break. Back to the annotated bibliography I go…

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P.S. After looking up “simatic” I was able to deduce that ensimatic means that the back-arc basin is perched on the lowest layer of the Earth’s crust, which is rich in both silica and magnesium and usually contains a high about of basaltic magma. Hopefully that is what it means because if I have to look up more words I might begin writing an ode.

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First Steps

It has been almost exactly one month since the proposal for this project was submitted to the USGS. The proposal will be reviewed by the committee later this month just prior to Christmas and announcements about accepted proposals should be made in January.

The proposed mapping area is Small Point, Maine – the southernmost point of the Phippsburg Peninsula. Maine’s coastline is almost exclusively defined by metamorphic rock and Small Point is no exception. The goal of the study to determine exactly how this area fits into the huge geologic picture of Maine. To find out more about the geology of coastal Maine, I highly recommend visiting the Maine Geological Survey. They have slideshows with excellent descriptions of Maine’s Bedrock. If you are looking for a more detailed history try checking out the Simplified Bedrock Map of Maine, or this summary of Maine’s Bedrock History.

The people working on the project are:

Professor Dykstra Eusden

Jennifer Lindelof (Bates College, Class of ’12)

Heather Doolittle (Bates College, Class of ’12)

Haley Sive (Bates College, Class of ’12)

So, the biggest question you are asking is, “Why Small Point?”

The reason: Small Point is one of the only areas in the state of Maine to have new LiDAR imaging.

This is a JPEG of the LiDAR image for Small Point. (A real LiDAR image has so much information filed into every megapixel, it would be nearly impossible to post on this website!)Notice all the fine lines in the image signifying potential fractures in bedrock.

LiDAR is an extremely accurate and high resolution digital elevation model. It allows us to see beneath trees and biota to the very surface of bedrock. Incredible! For geologists this is particularly exciting because it means we can see parts of the story of our Earth we have never seen before. To find out more, watch this video produced by Sarah Robinson and Andrew Whitesides.

Stay tuned for more information about Small Point Geology, the status of the grant proposal and the personnel working on the project!