Well, it was good to be back in the field again after a week of “vacation” (painting my daughter’s bedroom). The weather is really getting a lot nicer now, and the ticks have almost given up. We’re still working on the larger tributaries to the Middle Fork, so that they will be done by the time the dry season ends. The Middle Fork is still low enough for us to cross it easily which is good because road access on the north side of the river turned out to be very limited.
We finished up the last two big drainages that flow south into the Middle Fork east of Shirley. Mostly a big stack of massive-bedded, calcareous sandstone, but little sign of the shalier Cane Hill which is still prominent along the river to the west. This might suggest that the Cane Hill is either faulted out or that the tilt of the rocks to the southeast brings the Witts Springs to a lower elevation near the large southwest-northeast trending fault just to the south along the river. Whichever it is, we’ll need more data to determine. We did see a good example of travertine precipitating on some of the thin-bedded calcareous sandstone. Slightly acidic groundwater is solutioning the calcium carbonate (calcite) with which this particular sandstone is cemented. It is then precipitated where the water seeps out of the rock, in this case along a joint. This lets us know that the adjacent rocks are calcareous, which in turn may help us determine what formation it’s in.
We also saw some good deformation bands, which as I’ve said in a previous post is one of the signs that a fault is nearby. These were in float, and though I looked high and low, I couldn’t find the source. Certainly evidence of a lot of stress in these rocks!
The other drainage we looked at is north of Shirley and is extremely steep and badly overgrown. The sides were so boxed in we couldn’t come down the main channel, and had to try a side branch. We did make it down that way, but with great difficulty. Once we got to the bottom, we could only get within about 40 feet of the Witts Springs/Cane Hill contact in the main channel, because the lower end was boxed in as well. We usually don’t give up until we get our point, but this one was deemed impenetrable. The break is visible in the contours, so shouldn’t be too difficult to draw in anyway. On the way down the side branch, I spied a round rock or “Prim boulder”. These are definitely coming out of the Witts Springs.
Also saw more deformation bands, this time way up at the top of a 40 foot massive of basal Witts Springs sandstone. That band you see in the close-up is about 6 inches wide! The last photo is the Cane Hill in the box canyon below the contact. The sheer bluff of massive Witts Springs sandstone was visible on both sides above. I was rewarded by finding a large patch of muscadines on the way out. They continue to get sweeter each week! Wish I could have stayed to fill a bucket, but had to make do with a pocketful. Made a nice snack during the hike back to the Jeep. This is definitely a banner year for the muscadine crop!
Hope y’all have a good week, and see you on the outcrop!
Tick attacks: mild