Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Desert And A Tragic Occurrence

While I was out in Anza-Borrego State Park this weekend, I was able to view an incredible landscape that is as harsh as it is beautiful. We hiked around the park and visited the desert palms in a canyon, as well as taking an opportunity to look at the various rocks and minerals in the area. I was highly surprised to find evidence of past volcanism pretty much everywhere, from small red cinder rocks from a nearby dead volcano known as Table Mountain, to blocks of andesite in areas that were eroded so that previous dike intrusions were exposed. We also saw plenty of quartz (a favorite sign for gold miners that there is gold somewhere in the area!).

All that, and we had a great time stargazing and had a brilliant view of the "Super-Moon" that was out on the weekend.

Unfortunately, I was only able to snap a few photos of the trip, as our technology tends to fail int he high-heat of the desert. Even more unfortunately, we were witness to a search and rescue team that was called out to a tragic scene. A man exploring the mud caves with his family fell down a crevasse with no shirt, no shoes, no water, and eventually died.

This is a warning to people who want to explore these mud caves. While they are a nice break from the desert heat, and are fantastic to see, they are HIGHLY unstable, and are prone to flash flooding, collapses due to the seismicity in the area, and are extremely brittle, unlike most limestone caves. This fate could easily have befallen me on the day of the Easter Quake in 2010, when I was actually exploring the caves myself. I left about one hour before the 7.4 quake hit the area, and a subsequent visit to the same cave revealed it did collapse.

So with these pictures, remember this... the desert is a very beautiful place, but it can easily become a nightmare, especially for those who take risks in a wilderness that has a very hard time forgiving mistakes. My thoughts go out to the family of this man, and I hope that this serves as a warning for people to stay out of the mud caves and not to take any unnecessary risks.

1 comment:

  1. exc photos, wtih the sun is awesome, conrats I love Trips like that!


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