Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Ol' Gardener

The Rites of Spring

O, Briar-rose, can’t you see how the mountains have toughened you?
Even the harsh storms of winter cannot subdue your fragile beauty!
When I see you bursting forth, I know that the annual rhythms are expressing themselves-
And that you portray the resiliency of all of Nature’s creatures.
You have risen above the frigidity of the previous season, which produced your subtle colors.

There was a time when the boisterousness of youth trampled upon you, when your subtle aroma passed unnoticed on the mountain air. But you persisted- each year you displayed your blossoms, if only for the bees to appreciate.
Your silent swaying in the springtime air could not be subdued.
And now that the contrasts of life’s honey and wine are too much for me, I see you waiting there- waiting for your moment- the Moment when the attentiveness of the bees is insufficient for you.
Now I see you, o Briar-rose, with a clarity that the passions of youth cannot attain. Surrounded by your friends, you create a new harmony on the once barren hillside, and show clearly the subtleties of Nature.


Little puffballs on a hillside arch defiantly to the wind-
Showing all their fragile color, as they caress the barren earth.
How I yearn to share their secret,
How I envy all their grace-
As I watch their dainty movements and their dancing in the sunlight
With a silent simple pace.
(captioned Design, Berkeley, 1967)

It was not enough that you satisfy only the bees, those that traded sustenance for your propagation. The Plan was more that that- the higher entities of life must interact with you. It must be more than casual observation that man bestows upon you- more than scientific indulgence. His spirit is lifted up by you, by your exquisite blend of aroma, color, and harmony. And he realizes, with time, that there is more than sensual- causing beauty, grace and form. He finds harmony with his own self, when he perceives your annual cycle.
And how quickly you do change, Briar-rose, throughout the day. How you do play upon the light- but is it only my perception which varies with the noontime light? Once I thought that you were a constant entity- but how I was mistaken! Even the bees know that your sweetness must be sampled in the appropriate light.


The low hanging mist clung silently to the early dawn
As the willowy marsh land beckoned to me;
Strange ghostly forms appeared in the morning fog,
And wove an unearthly web about my uncomprehending mind.
In that still twilight mist, I could feel the tug of the land.

I yearned to be a part of that ephemeral landscape-
So I clutched at it, but it was away from me.
It moved stealthily as life itself-
Always beckoning, yet forever in the distance;
And I felt closer than ever to that silent marshland.
(captioned Early Morn, Houston, TX 1968)

I capture you now, when you are in your best dress- O Briar-rose. Now is the time to see you in the springtime light, when all of your surroundings accentuate your furtive movements. Now is the time to become a part of you.

I climbed a high steep hill today,
Looking for my Soul.

The ridge seemed from another time-
A time when life was sweet.
I saw the swaying eucalyptus nod,
Murmuring about spring nights.
I heard the raucous jay,
Teasing me with his talk.
Soft breezes fanned my face,
But did not stop the search.

I looked in every drooping leaf,
To see if life blood was returning;
They talked to me softly,
Too faintly to hear.

I must go higher on the hill;
They say the view is best from there,
And I think that my soul is there-
Somewhere to the north.
(Captioned Quest, summer, 1967, Berkeley)

But I cannot ever become you, Briar-rose; I can only sense you. Your charms will forever be only in my perception, and will fade slowly- just like the evening light.

The old gardener looked at the new bud,
Carefully appraising it with a quizzical eye;
"There is yet hope, or is this still another hybrid rose?" Says he.

I developed it and the first blushing flower from a bare stalk;
I nurtured and raised it as my own, saving it from a watery doom.
But then I transferred it to a window box- and that was the gardener’s first mistake.

It has never since then been the same- but then it only unfurled its true beauty with my hand.
It was the hand that mixed it with those half-weed plants of another clime-
Yielding blossoms which I never liked.

It’s a new breed, says he, and not my own- I must let it go free.
I loved it, but it is not mine;
I saved its life, and thought ‘twas there to stay.

But then, a free thing is never owned-
Just as the gardener, so goes the rose.
I’ll prune the thorns that want to share their beauty, but ‘twill not be the same.

Since, I’ve known a rose that loved the gardener as its own;
The taste was O so sweet-
That I would give my All, just to save it once again.
(Captioned Nurture of a Rose, Spring, 1995, Verde Village, AZ)

Pre-Earth Science

----- The Old Lineman

I just hung up my Hooks
Midst D-rings and musty books
And I'll never ride that rangepole any more
But I've splintered my rear end
The last time, and I'll send my lusty climbing blue jeans to the pore'.
(now I could have lied, with prattle
About roaming 'mongst the cattle
But my sweat was always brown
From stringing wire about the town,
Ever' since some fiend put glue on my saddle.)

The thing that stung me most,
Making me see the Holy Ghost
Was when I was out astraddle of the wire;
And this twenty-four volt charge
Which hit my crotch so large
Just left my underwear a blackened funeral pyre.

But I figured that my toast
Was likely a pre-planned roast,
And a pre-planned way to initiate me right;
So I resolved to hobble on, Showing disdain with a yawn
And to keep my reddened rear-end out of sight.

The Cable-Splicer was my boss,
A gent not called ol' Hoss
But in Phone lingo was a proper chief named Speed.
Now he quickly took my face,
And replaced it with a space
And forever after I was Fireball, yes indeed!

There was a new recruit named Wiles,

Who got lost among the files-
But before he did so, he fixed me proper good.
He double-dated me with Moose
A girl many years on the loose,
And before long I had EX-Virginian styles.

But in thankfulness, I'll say this-
It wasn't long before he couldn't hiss,
Or think amiss, or any of those other rhyming words;
But I forged ahead, not tense,
Just as if I had good sense
And I'm still functioning nicely- like the birds.

Well, ol' Chili Wiles and I
We helped put messages in the sky,
From the Crossarms and Transpositions
That we placed.
But we quite never knew our spot
In the Big Picture, or the Pot
And eventually both our pictures were erased.

But before we got away,
There were still more things to say-
And I have to bring up Duckworth to the fore.
He was my mentor, so to speak,
And he certainly did have cheek,
He impressed me-an l8 year older- to the core.
Although bespectacled, called four eyes,
He could quickly bring to size
Anyone who used that phrase out on the floor.

And he had the young girls waiting,
While the masculine teeth were grating
As he hustled one or more of them around.
I could never cop his style,
But I certainly kept his file
Stowed deep, deep in my psyche, Near the Ground.

Duckworth, Chili, Fireball, Speed
These are all the names I need
To resurrect This Long-Suppressed Melee;
And I pass it on to you
And other members of my crew
Who will likely soon review the family
tree. HLO

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Snakes Rattle and Roll!

Since I have been "struck at" as they say in Arkansas, by a cobra, one Cottonmouth, several "dormant" rattlesnakes, and a pink coral snake, I am going to forego my usual attempt to maintain decorum with my EARTH Blog, and make a sashay into Biology with the following rendition sent by my erstwhile comrade:

Glenn Wasson's compadres in a writing group have been encouraging him to submit
something to the Rattlesnake Press, an active literary organization
based in Sacramento. The following doggerel was accepted for
in their June 2007 issue:


A literary genre for RATTLESNAKES!?
How horrible, for Heaven's sakes.
But since you seem to like Sidewinders
Here's a couple of more reminders.

You probably never thought to get
A reptile for a family pet.
There are many breeds, so take a chance
With a Cobra, Asp, or Fer de Lance.

They'll rid your house of unwanted guests;
Likewise rats and mice and other pests.
They won't leave hair on your divan,
They'll coil beneath it when they can.

Snakes don't scratch or bark at night;
As a general rule keep out of sight.
You can entertain them with a flute-
With flicking tongues they're awfully cute.

You only feed them once a week
Which keeps them pacified and sleek.
They make no mess, they're serpentine,
There'll be no litter box to clean.

They glide with grace and love to flex
And loop around young ladies' necks
They'll speak to you if you care to listen
All they need is a pit to hiss in.


I must go now. My pet Cobra keeps getting out and I must find him
before he eats another one of my canaries. I think he's hiding in the
guest bedroom.

Salt Dome Lore

Salty Tales about the Earth

Since I became deeply involved in exploring the relation of buried oil and the salt water enveloping it, I investigated quite a number of Salt Domes- both at the surface expression and inside salt mines. Some of these are one kilometer in the earth, and I have descended into two of them, to make measurements concerning the environment there and to investigate whether there might be a cosmic ray-free zone for use with radiation instruments.
I found no low radiation environment in the domed salt, because of the presence of KCl, which is also a salt, but I did collect a number of events which are lively enough to pass on. One of these is a model of the dynamics which incur in these natural anomalies:
On the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, there are a number of these kilometer diameter shafts of almost pure salt, the most interesting of which was the Avery Island dome. This dome reaches to the surface by creating a hill of sediments, below which there exists the salt- both NaCl and CaSO4 and some exotic compounds, such as sulphur, white gypsum (compared to the anhydrite in the dome proper) and stinky H2S below bedded limestone Caprock.
In the center of this surface hill is a fresh water lake, and the whole island is surrounded by brackish or sea water from the Gulf of Mexico. The hill is only some 50- 100 feet above sea level, but nevertheless is sufficiently elevated such that the salt water does not contaminate the rain-filled lake. In the swamps of Louisiana these hills can be easily seen protruding above the monotonous swamp vegetation. Visualize this small island covered by southern woods (oak and ash) contrasted to the mangrove and salt-tolerating vegetation off the hill. The island is fairly round, since the salt is pushing it upward on the order of a centimeter yearly, and the erosion of the uplifted sediments is not able to keep up with the uplift. The fresh-water lake is formed due to dissolution of some of the underlying salt as subsurface waters flow downward due to the tendency of NaCl to attract water (hygroscopic attraction)- where some sinking of the hilltop occurs.
Where this dissolution occurs, other compounds flow into the gap, such as oil and gas, and there is a chemical rearrangement of some of the previous salt compounds- which are now ionic solutions in the downward percolating meteoric waters. If one were to make a slice of the earth as you went into the earth (or drilled out the rock with a tool able to return the samples, called a “core”, you would see the following as you went deeper:
a. a Caprock of a few feet thickness would occur at the kilometer or less depth, of limestone (in otherwise sand and shale rock);
b. Below the limestone is a vuggy or hole-containing section, where stinky gases and sulphur occur.
c. Gypsum occurs below this, which is CaSO4.H2O (hydrated anhydrite);
d. Oil will occur in pores in the rock, along with salt water and fractured sandstone; and finally
e. A dome of salt, containing both halite and anhydrite, will increase in purity and percentage with depth until 100% salt occurs. In this zone, sufficiently deep so that water does not enter the diggings, there will be a zone which is mined for rock salt.
On Avery Island there are other interesting features, which are internationally known. First there is the McIlhenny Tabasco works, where Tabasco peppers are grown, salt is taken from the mine, tomatoes are raised and Tabasco Sauce is bottled and shipped. Everything is the color of Tabasco red- similar to the tomato sauce- even the owner’s sailboat with Tabasco-colored sails.
Then there is the salt works, where rooms the size of houses are excavated in the deep rock salt, and where pure salt us taken out by elevator. Workers are able to descend into the 3000 foot shaft, as have been complete trucks and front-end loaders, dissembled and reassembled in the half mile working rooms. The air is completely dry there, since the salt absorbs all moisture, and salt dust is everywhere.
Nearby, working on the edge of the island are the various petroleum facilities, some producing, some drilling for new oil, and some abandoned. Now you have the complete picture- there is a surface factory for Tabasco, there is a picturesque fresh-water lake, the oil people are drilling away and producing black gold in the distance, and there is the hidden salt works chipping away on the solid salt walls down below.
To complete this romantic scene, a fisherman has floated his boat out to the lake where he, with luck, can catch bass or freshwater catfish. All is serene for the moment. But the local newspaper developed headlines later for the events which were about to transpire:
Picture the angler, who is sitting in his pirogue, eagerly awaiting the sluggish fish. Then off in the distance with hardly a ripple on the lake ensuing, the rig has encountered a fault in the earth, which will take some of the heavy weighted drilling fluid and allow it to descend into the earth along what is usually a 45 degree angle toward the solid salt below. The mine crew is chipping away for the daily output of rock salt which is elevated to the ground surface and which has produced additional mine space. Oil is being produced nearby, thereby leaving a void in the earth which tends to cause the earth to sag, and finally the Tabasco plant is ginning away, producing America’s favorite barbeque sauce (especially for
Texans who are depleting the oil).
When the extending fault and fracture takes the drilling fluid, the fluid falls rapidly into the earth, eventually finding its way into the mine space to start filling it. This whole procedure opens a fault all the way to the bottom of the lake and water begins to rush downward into the mine also. The mining crew takes notice and escapes by the elevator, rushing to the Tabasco works to give the alarm.
The fisherman notices nothing at first, since the downward flow is gradual. But eventually, the flow increases and a whirlpool develops. Faster and faster the water sinks into the bowels of the earth, and this focuses the attention of the angler on the falling water level. His boat moves rapidly toward the gigantic whirlpool in the now-draining lake. Rowing frantically, since he has not the time to engage the outboard engine, he grimaces and gestures wildly: “Get out, get out, “he screeches” escape with your lives- the world is coming to an end!”
From the files and memoirs of Harold L. Overton (Jan 20. 2007)

Stirrings of the Past


Once when I was young and lusty, not as now with thoughts so musty,
Did I long and yearn to see beyond the veil.
I could sense the mystics saintly, in my mind’s eye e’er so faintly-
And the Spirits of the past did long prevail.
Will those thoughts forever grieve me,
Will they never, ever leave me,
Can you just, in time, believe me?
Say the Muses “Ever fail!”

Then I took to mountains sensing, Rocks and Petroglyphs- not mincing
Words which soon would ferret out the grievous tale.
How the Hittites in their rockwork, in their tasseled shoes like clockwork,
Wove the story and the tapestry, oh so pale.
And the ancient Jews before them- is it possible to ignore them?
Time and time I always swore them;
Say the Ancients “Stay the sail!”

Now I hear the music ghostly, it is in my psyche mostly,
And it penetrates so deeply in my armor mail;
Yet I quickly never lose it, with senility I peruse it,
And now lately I accuse it- of the loss of will and Spirit O so frail.
Did Sumerians, yes, so burly and the men who came most early
Feel the urgings and the mergings of the inner sounds that wail?
Quipped the cynics “Stop the tale!”

Lately I have turned to thoughts of Turkey- where the peaks and crests so murky,
Hide the musings of the past within their vale. How the dağlar
and their sounding, speak a plaintive language- founding
For the rhythms and the songs of humans’ trail.
Now I long to ever hear them, take their vibes and never fear them-
All those sounds will e’er endear them.
Speak the köyli “Hear the wail!”

Tell me, oh, now all you mortals, ye who pass through all these portals,
Don’t you hear all of those whisperings and the sighing through the gale?
If you never, never feel them, then with Life you’ll never deal them
All the hands they should have gotten throughout the Pale.
Listen, listen- hear the longing; hear the earth’s mysterious songing-
Hear the creaking and the gonging.
Say the Muses “Never Fail!”

Harold L. Overton

Monday, May 14, 2007

How Life (including grains) helped form the Crust

Glacial National Park Elderhostel (June 27, 04)

Flathead Musings

My wife and I thought ‘twould be nice
If we reflected on the ice,
Which was reputed to occur
In the mountains of the chain
That stretched abruptly from the plain
And the wilds of the island, where we were.

However, we soon found to our dismay
That global warming has had its say
And the Glaciers which had beckoned
Were long gone, so some had reckoned,
So that we were soon chagrined
That we had missed our goal, tho’ had not sinned.

Nevertheless we remained undaunted,
Since the mountains and rocks soon flaunted
Sufficient scenes and colors just along the way,
That we felt inspired to write
Phrase and sonnet which sound jus-trite,
And non-fiction which was most appropriate for the day.

Now in the ultimate scheme of things
We rely on Fate which shortly brings
More of Serendipity and Chance for us to ponder;
We will in future leave to ‘Hostel
Further programs- so to jostle-
And to vagaries of raw Chance, for Trips out Yonder.


We did not find the blue Ice which we desired but we did make several forays into the faulted and upthrown Precambrian outcrops which were scheduled for the trip, in Glacial Natinal Park.
I noticed that the Proterozoic had few shales in the beds, but they did have many siltstones and fine-grained metamorphic sediments. There were some organic remains such as stromatolites, and this indicated that the algae and bacteria were at work in those 0.6- 1.6 billion year age rocks. The siltstones also had much calcitic cementation, indicating that limestones were beginning to form; in this age of silicic rocks, carbonates were beginning to take their place. I had already noticed the following features in previous excursions:
1. The incidence of bedded limestones increases as organic remains- mainly algae- increase with time (observing the sediments from Precambrian to late Paleozoic); that is, life in the ancient seas incorporates CO2 from the atmosphere and incorporates it into the seafloor- the end result of which becomes CaCO3 or calcareous cement;
2. Oxygen is given off by this process- especially after trees proliferated- and therefore the atmosphere would increase in O2 composition with time (all the way through the Paleozoic into the Mesozoic where silicates again predominate);
3. Life would have to accommodate this process, and would adjust to increasing oxygen gradually; this would involve oxygen-using invertebrates in the Cambrian and later.

An example of limestone being formed by LIFE (even though outwardly it appears to be a result of inorganic processes) is as follows, for the Gulf of Mexico:
a. Rivers- which are dominant in calcium ion at the expense of sodium and potassium- bring di-valent ions of Ca and Mg to the sea;
b. These ions are grabbed by living organisms, which convert them to shells, carapaces, and slightly soluble solid materials in the seawater (with the addition of CO2 from the air);
c. As the organisms die, the hard parts sink to the bottom of the Gulf, where the pressure is higher and the temperature is colder;
e. For both colder and high pressure conditions, the solubility of CaCO3 and MgCO3 is increased- hence the ionic concentration of both increase in seawater;
f Currents incorporate this saturated solution (with respect to the alkaline earth cations) of brine and force it over the shallow ridges at the south of Florida, thereby elevating its T and decreasing the P;
g. The limestone drops out of solution for these changed T and P and forms oolites in the Bahamas. NOTICE that a key to this whole sequence is LIFE- without which the process would not occur (or as easily).
Dr Beus, a paleontologist, took issue with all this, stating from his life study of the Grand Canyon, that there was indeed limestone in the Proterozoic, e.g. in the Bass limestone. My rejoinder is that these limestones are a result of stromatolites, again a result of life processes. Others may want to challenge the idea that most limestones are created by life and that lifeless planets can have none.

I theorize that soil and organic compounds are also directly involved in this conversion of the atmosphere into organic sediments (clay and shale) in the following way:
a. As the seafloor rises with all of its attendant organic deposition, it becomes mulch for life, when the seafloor is raised with subduction or other thermal expansion. This creates soil, as the mulch, organic remains and living creatures, oxygen, and mineralized waters create a regime in which vegetation can live, in the land elevated above the sea (distant from the salt water);
b. This soil, with its organic components and gases and water, is converted to shale when it is buried throughout time. Shales are created as the carbonate cycle is replaced by the silicate cycle at the end of the Paleozoic (they are more like the obsolete marls until the occurrence of redbeds in the Permian and later Mesozoic). The organic contents are buried in the Crust either continuing to live or as dead remains;
c. By the time of the Carboniferous, the oxygenating influence is dominant, resulting in overkill- by Permian time, the atmospheric oxygen is toxic (the air has excessive oxygen, killing off most of the life which cannot accommodate this process). By Jurassic time, the survivors have adjusted, the atmosphere has decreased in oxygen fraction, and finally the carbonates begin to re-form limestones in the Cretaceous (man may be able to restart this process, with his release of CO2 from coals and hydrocarbons). Evidently the Cretaceous has a buildup of carbonates from the increasing CO2 in the atmosphere (at least until the beginning of the Tertiary).
d. So long as life remains in terrestrial soil, shales will accompany the burial of organic sediments, and carbonates will not be the dominant deposition. The decreased formation of carbonates is an indicator of the health of the life-sustaining atmosphere and water system. Whenever CO2 builds up from combustion of carbon compounds (or from a paucity of trees), there is a decrease of the oxygen fraction. This helps dissolve the exposed carbonates with the increase of acidity in the air and moves the earth towards a new life mix (water-dwelling creatures, at the expense of land dwellers). This is evidently an evolutionary process, since immediately the seas become more acidic as carbon dioxide increases. Limestones would not precipitate in acidic conditions, and for an alkaline condition to occur, Life must adjust to the new conditions for the theorized sequence to occur.
This sequence had been introduced to me whenever I arranged several patents for processes noticed in oilwell cuttings, converted into slurries of shale fines and distilled water in my oil patch days. Here is what I observed:
A.A handful of cuttings were rapidly heated in an ordinary skillet (all of these measurements were made using common kitchen and drilling mud monitoring equipment used on the oil platform) to remove all but the capillary water. These dry cuttings were sieved with 50 mesh screens, so that 50 grams of fines could be mixed with 50 cc. of distilled water to make a clay slurry.
B. This slurry was measured for electrical resistivity, so that it could be compared to the shale baseline on the Electrical Log. Only 5 cc was necessary for a reading;
C. The cooled slurry was then filtered through a standard filter press, using 100 psi pressure and 100 Whatman filter paper- timing the process in minutes/10 cubic centimeters;
D. The time of filtration was inversely proportional to the hydration of water- well-hydrated clays containing potassium, nitrate, and phosphate compounds would release the water with difficulty;
E. The color of the effluent, filtrate, varied inversely with the Time of filtration; for very slow filtration, the color was gold to amber- indicating hydrated ions. For fast filtration, color was clear. Five visual color changes were used: clear, slightly yellow, yellow, gold and amber;
F. The filtrate was then measured using ion-selective membranes- for Na, K, and resistivity.
A Log could then be made showing resistivity and Sodium Potential versus depth. This was somewhat similar to the ordinarily electric log for shales. Unusual high pressure in the shale would be noticed for low resistivity cuttings and a sodium high would occur for a high sand content with its accompanying NaCl.
The preceding process was much later performed for garden soils, and it took me a lengthy period to realize that the results were similar, indicating that what occurred in a garden soil was also occurring deep in the earth’s Crust. Living organisms were interacting with the clay fines and aqueous solutions to produce some important processes;
1. Gas was being produced by the organisms, producing Geopressure deep in the earth or gasified soil in the garden;
2. Life was being sustained by the action of sunlight on carbon compounds in water (electrons are freed by low energy light), while evolved life in the subsurface was being assisted by natural radioactivity in shales to propagate itself (electrons are knocked off by energetic gamma rays); and,
3. Simple fine particles, assisted by Life, are converted into shale as it is buried in the subsurface, and finally into slate. Without the Life partnership, the fines would remain as silts or non-living rock dust, which is what was noticed in the Glacial Park rock (few shales or slates, but many siltstones) Soil, shale, slate and the crust are being created by Life Processes. The crust is being thickened with Geologic Time, while Life is making a nest for itself!