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Accretionary Wedge 55: Geo Injuries

Accretionary Wedge 55: Geo Injuries post image

It’s February 2013, which means it’s my turn to host the Accretionary Wedge!

The Accretionary Wedge is a geology blog carnival that was started in August 2007. Editions will be monthly (roughly) and hosted on a different geoscience blog each time.

The accident-prone person that I am, I chose the topic of Geo Injuries. Look at the four pictures above, and these are not counting my wounds from non-geology-related incidents. Who better to host?

Clockwise from top left and in chronological order:

1) 1979: While playing on a Bay Of Kuwait beach at low tide, my right ankle hit exposed limestone and that left a big gouge. This rather low-information geologic map of Kuwait shows that its urban areas (on the east side of the country along the water) are underlain by cemented coastal deposits. As I recall, the limestone I cut my leg on is oolitic and the literature indicates that it belongs to “Pleistocene and Holocene coastal ridges that [are] composed of calcareous sandstone and oolitic limestone, which formed during the flood flow from south to north.”

Pleistocene and Holocene?! Great, so the first rock I cut my teeth on, so to speak, couldn’t even be Miocene or older. Talk about adding insult to injury. (If you’re new to this blog, you may or may not get used to the puns and mixed metaphors after a while.)

Here is a 1960s-era photograph of my mother standing on the aforementioned Dibdibba Formation of the Kuwait Group. See how light and ethereal and Not Falling On The Rocks And Ripping Her Skin Open she is even in a sari and no-grip sandals? The woman is like that to this day. As you will see, I definitely do not take after her in this department.


A couple of interesting historic notes before we move on: a) In the mid-1980s, Kuwait began to pour billions of dinars into waterfront beautification, which essentially meant pulverizing a substantial portion of these coastal deposits into sand or importing sand from other locales to pour over the bedrock (think Waikiki Beach). In 1990, Saddam Hussein’s forces trashed all of these beaches to dig trenches and plant mines and other explosives as a defense against amphibious attacks by their enemies. Starting in 1991, Kuwait “rebuilt” all the beaches to the point where they now have a paint ball park on the grounds of the famous Kuwait Towers, a Hard Rock Cafe and – wait for it – an Applebee’s along the beachfront. Check out Kuwait City and Salmiyah along the water on Google Maps and see what tax-free oil trillions can do for you. b) Sinkholes. Sinkholes that swallowed expensive shore-front homes. Limestone + groundwater decline due to rapid urbanization = bad things. See what tax-free oil trillions cannot do for you.

2) Fast forward to 1993 when I took up geology in earnest: A knee wound that looks nothing like it felt at the time, this is the result of rappelling down the side of a cliff made of Mississippian Ste. Genevieve Limestone at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, and not sticking my feet out to meet the cliff when my friend Brian told me to. In shorts. With no kneepads and helmet on. Body armor is overrated.

3) 1997: Ever hear of that really slow rock? It moved a mylonite. (Badum-dish!) Ever hear of a geologist who lost her balance and slammed her left arm into a rather striking outcrop of mylonitized quartzite and marble in Arizona’s Buckskin-Rawhide metamorphic core complex? Well, you did now!

And it bled like a son-of-a-cuss. Poor Steve Marshak; he had to deal with so many injuries on that spring break field trip, including the re-opening of my lacerated cornea right after the hike up the Grand Canyon. (I’m a medical mess, I know.) On the bright side, the weather was perfect and I got some beautiful pictures and hand samples out of the deal. Photographs forthcoming.

4) 2000: This injury is so spectacular not just because of how dumb I was being while receiving it, but also as it is an example of polyphase deformation! I even took a picture of it from another angle and color-coded it from oldest (blue) to newest (red) so you can follow along at home. Callan Bentley would be so proud.

GeoInjuries 2

Deformation event 1: Road rash from bike accident in 1993. (The pedestrian who stopped while crossing the bike path to take a smoke break got it a lot worse.)

Lineation 1: Structural geology masters field work in the Sierra Gigantes above Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico in 2000 – On the discovery of a gorgeous vertical Pliocene dike intruding a Miocene-aged volcaniclastic sandstone, I decided I had to climb it to get to a plateau above the ravine in which my field assistant (Scott G., a fellow undergraduate of Callan, in fact) and I were taking measurements. A jointed section of dike gave way and I slid down the dike with a piece of the broken volcanic material embedded in my leg, and with little shards of volcanic material raining down on me.

Duct tape over gauze is awesome, if not the most hygienic. I could have shredded my face or chest coming down the dike and we were many hours away from even small-town Mexican medical attention, so I was pretty lucky to get away with the above. But, what I really feel bad about to this day is that I wrecked an outcrop for no good reason. Don’t be dumb like me.

Lineation 2: Fell off bicycle in 2002. Edge of railroad track peeled my skin off in a nice layer. (I’ve asked Rachael Acks to go on a bike ride with me. She may not want to now.)

Deformation event 2: Gouged by furniture while helping a friend move in 2007.


Show me your injuries! Leave a comment or link to your post below. You don’t have to be a geologist to play; simply having been injured by a rock or while doing something geological is sufficient. I will put the entries together and post them here as well as at the AW site at the beginning of March. The winner (one with the most spectacular wound or story) gets their choice of two bandage tins from this website mailed to them.

Who wants to be a winner? Fine print: Don’t go around hurting yourself to do this. Also, if your battle scar is NSFW, please say so or don’t share.

9 comments… add one
  • Cannibal Panda February 6, 2013, 7:50 PM

    I wish I wasn’t so crunched for time- as I could totally do an awesome write up on this topic, being accident prone that I am. However the worst that ever happened to me during geological field work was when I was doing an undergraduate study on the dead sea in Jordan. My eye kept watering and I was getting a massive headache, but I attributed the headache to digging trenches in the 125F heat.

    One of my eyes started becoming sensitive to light, so I assumed I had damaged my retinas when I had forgotten my sunglasses one day. Eventually over a few weeks I started to lose sight, and by the time we were headed home I was almost totally blind. (Going through a Jordanian airport is tricky when you can’t see, let me tell you!)

    You may be asking yourself why I didn’t freak out in the latter days of the trip. Well, I was too busy enjoying my time in the off hours. You know- riding camels through the Siq in Petra to discovering bones in ancient tea fires that my fellow team members were too squeamish to deal with (something about them being greasy….yeah, I didn’t get it either). Despite getting stranded in Chicago, and cutting my research short to head home to Dallas, I never panicked or really worried about it. Strange when you consider the fact being able to see is crucial for a geologist. Once home I went to a doctor and discovered I had some weird medical condition and medication relieved the pressure on my ocular nerves. Luckily there was no permanent damage and all was well.

    Another thing that comes to mind was during field camp when we had all broke for lunch near a ranch that some wild horses had wandered on to. One of the horses took a liking to me and kept nibbling on my hair as I was eating my lunch under a tree. I finally gave in and started petting him, and from then on he was my best friend. After some time he let out a massive sneeze that sprayed quite a lot of snot all over me. This wasn’t anything bad in itself, other than being taken aback by it.

    Fast forward to having to work on a project from that day through the evening into early morning. At the latter part of that project I started getting a runny nose and it just went downhill from there. I ended up with the worst cold of my life. I had boogers coming out through the inner corners of my eyes! I haven’t had that occur before, nor since. I missed a few days out in the field (not good at field camp). We weren’t really where going to a doctor was convenient, so my friends pooled together some antibiotics to get me through (thankfully) and I was saved from having to repeat field camp! Gah- that in and of itself would have been the absolute worst thing to ever happen to me! Who wants to repeat field camp when you’re only 2 weeks away from finishing. Whew- dodged the bullet there, if I say so myself!

    So there you have it- 2 of my worst geology disasters. :)

  • Jessica Ball February 14, 2013, 8:35 AM

    Here’s my contribution! I have no stories of geologic love to relate for Valentines Day, so I’ll talk about bloody injuries instead :)

  • MTB February 17, 2013, 10:42 AM

    Pretty mild I think, but you said it counts, and it could have turned out pretty horrific I suppose….


  • Hollis February 25, 2013, 8:00 AM

    Mine is ready — perhaps a bit of a stretch from the topic, since I don’t yet have any bodily injuries to write about. But it was traumatic :)


    thanks for hosting!

  • Garry Hayes February 25, 2013, 3:57 PM

    Here is my entry to the wedge: http://geotripper.blogspot.com/2013/02/accretionary-wedge-55-blood-on-rocks.html . Thanks for hosting!

  • Pete Rowley February 26, 2013, 3:31 AM

    That’s a pretty impressive cluster of scars. I wonder if that leg feels victimised? :D

    Here’s my contribution: http://lithics.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/accretionary-wedge-55-geological-injuries/

  • Life-Long scholar February 27, 2013, 11:13 AM
  • Lockwood February 27, 2013, 3:33 PM

    Here’s mine. Being a contrarian, I had to write “Avoiding Geo Injuries.” outsidetheinterzone.blogspot.com/2013/02/accretionary-wedge-55-avoiding-geo.html

  • Short Geologist February 28, 2013, 7:31 PM

    I don’t have any impressive scars to speak of – my poison oak scar is probably only visible to me. But it represents the geological/field hazard that’s caused me to seek medical care the most often.


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