Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Donuts, Pie, Beer and the Occasional Ecological Trek: A Beginner's Guide to The Oregon Coast

Hey everyone!

Spring is here, and with it a new class of 450'ers has blown into Newport for what some have called "the reason why I chose OSU in the first place!!" Our great adventure started on Monday with an orientation to the Hatfield Marine Science Center by Itchung Cheung, the Academic Program Coordinator of the facility. Tuesday we had our first lecture by BI450's head professor Dr. Sally Hacker, then headed directly to Cascade Head, just north of Lincoln City. This headland serves as a prime example of the many geological processes and events we had just discussed in lecture that morning- beach deposition, rip tides, headland erosion (see photo), estuary formation and several types of coastal dunes (see photo) can all be seen at a single glance!

A half-mile hike up 500ft of muddy, twisting, single track trail opened up onto a large grassy hill with a sweeping view of land and sea, where we could see a most dramatic example of coastal geology:

A giant landslide on the western face of the hill just north of the headland (see photo) sent tons of rocks, sandstone and other debris washing down into the sea, toppling dozens of trees and creating a jagged scar on the hillside! General erosion of the cliffs and hillsides that come in direct contact with the sea over thousands of years was discussed in class, but to see such a dramatic example of this on such a massive and rapid scale was incredible.

As the day wrapped up and multiple group photos were taken, an increasing sense of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead left us all in high spirits. The feast of pie and witty banter at the close of the evening solidified this feeling and helped us relax, if only for a few hours before the next day's adventure swept us off again.

Until next time, peace and firm footing to you all!!

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