Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thursday July 2, 2009

Today “Group A’ spent the morning with Dr. Haskell learning about the animal diversity on the plateau, cove, and valley. We mainly focused on the species of snails and birds in the area because they are related by the need for calcium in the snails’ shells and birds’ eggs. The group only found one snail on the plateau which we learned was a result of the sandstone which is low in calcium, and little moisture in the area. After a hike off trail down the mountain a little ways we found a larger population of snails in the cove. As we approached the limestone valley which is rich in calcium carbonate we found hundreds of snail shells. Mark scared the girls in the group by taking a tumble down a slope but was fine and impressed many of the guys. We all enjoyed sack lunches in the valley by a stream and rested before the trek back up the mountain. Instead of taking the easy way up, we all decided to climb up the empty stream bed full of huge rocks and boulders. Needless to say at the top the entire group was drenched and exhausted but had a great time with Dr. Haskell.

After a short break the entire group set out with Dr. Knoll to study the hydrology of the limestone in the valley. We returned to Morgan’s Steep where we had been with Dr. Haskell that morning and set out down the other side of the mountain. Along the trail the group saw many caves and vertical shafts formed by the gradual erosion of limestone by acid rain. If too much erosion occurs the caves fall in on themselves and form sink holes which were also along the trail. We saw many house-sized sandstone boulders that had fallen from the plateau above into the cove. The group learned the underground air in the caves is constantly 56 degrees by hanging near them to escape the heat of the day. The limestone in the area is a sedimentary rock from an ancient shallow sea so we saw many marine fossils. After the second hike back up the mountain we all enjoyed a much needed rest and got ready for tomorrow’s activities

-Mark and Kenzie

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