A huge volcano erupted violently about 760,000 years ago on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, forming a large depression called the Long Valley Caldera. This “super-eruption” was estimated to be more than 2,000 times larger than the 1980 eruption of Mt St Helens...Today, the Mammoth Lakes resort area is on the western edge of the ancient caldera.
Hundreds of years before the Inca Empire rose to fame and glory, the Tiwanaku culture flourished in cold and thin air in the Andes Mountains....Collecting and transporting heavy stone blocks from distant quarries were among the many impressive accomplishments of the Tiwanaku people.
In the Andes Mountains of South America, the Incas and their ancestors invested enormous amounts of time and labor in the meticulous work of quarrying, transporting, and fitting together multi-ton stone blocks, or megaliths, for monumental construction projects..... The ancient Andean stonework is so impressive that many have found it difficult to believe that mere humans, who lacked draft animals and were using only stone-age tools, could be responsible for the construction.
Small salt ponds numbering in the thousands are arranged on steep mountain slopes near the city of Cusco, former capital of the Inca Empire, high in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Known as Maras, and originating from a saline spring, these salt ponds have been tended carefully since Inca times 500 years ago, and possibly for hundreds (or thousands?) of years before the Incas.
Evidence indicating where ancient people collected the valuable pigment red ochre thousands of years ago may seem like an unlikely combination with underwater archaeology – but that isn’t the case. Sea levels have been substantially lower than at present for most of human existence, so we know that many traces of our history are hidden beneath water.
A birds-eye view of view the landscape as it unfolds is unique. For this reason, many travelers, and especially geologists, try to sit in window seats on airline flights. Unfortunately, many of us are not planning to travel on airplanes anytime soon...but we can admire photos!
Among the high peaks of the Andes Mountains, gold-bearing quartz veins in the granitic bedrock have been exposed by erosion from ice, wind and water. Numerous ancient small gold mines are found at altitudes that cluster around an impressively high elevation of 16,000 feet.
Rich deposits of metals, created by the dynamic geologic environment that built the rugged Andes Mountains, became intertwined with Andean cultures in the New World. The Incas and their ancestors created metal products primarily for aesthetic uses and for religious goods. This contrasts with Old World cultures, where the emphasis was on the mechanical properties of metals -- strength, hardness and sharpness—for tools and weapons.
There is a lot of misinformation floating about right now, with rumors and distortions promoted on social media and even at the top levels of governments. Unfortunately, this also extends to the realm of geologic hazards, which particularly catches my attention (and great annoyance).
Geologic time scales, which show a chronological sequence of events that have occurred during Earth’s history, become more or less embedded in the brains of geologists. As for other people – probably not so much. Having a rough idea of this history and familiarity with a few names, however, will be helpful if you like to think about natural history, and especially geology topics...