A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Clearlake California’

Clear Lake, California

Posted by graywacke on September 20, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2053; A Landing A Day blog post number 471.

Dan –  How about that.  Not only back-to-back USers, but back-to-back landings in . . . CA; 96/110; 3/10; 10; 151.6.

 This was my 51st double (landing in the same state twice in a row), and the 6th time for CA (only TX has more doubles, with 7).  Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

 Here’s my closer-in landing map:

 landing 2

A brief digression concerning my wife Jody is appropriate at this point.  Not only is this my second CA landing in a row, but it’s the second time I’ve landed in places that Jody knows (or at least knew) well.  Back in the 70s, she lived in San Francisco and Eureka.  A couple of her California friends moved to Weed (and Jody went there frequently), a town very close to Mt. Shasta and my previous landing.

 Two other of her friends (Boone & Sully) live in Cobb (see above landing map).  In fact, they were the owners of “Cobb Mountain Spring Water.”  They actually bottled and sold water from a spring that bubbled forth from the side of Cobb Mountain (which I personally visited).  These guys were early pioneers in the bottled spring water business, and did quite well. 

 I remember Jody and I were on a business / ski trip to Colorado in the early 1990s.  We stopped at a convenience store along I-70, and they sold Cobb Mountain Spring Water.  Jody was so excited, she immediately called Boone.

 Unfortunately, Boone and Sully ended up being forced out of business by strong-armed tactics of big corporate bottled water interests (“Big Water”) . . . 

 Moving right along . . . here’s my Google Earth shot, showing a semi-arid wilderness with a dirt road:

ge 1

 Backing up and looking north, here’s another look:

ge 2 lookingnorth 

You can see that drainage from my landing ends up in the southward-flowing valley east of my landing.  It contains Hunting Ck, which flows to Putah Ck, which flows to the Sacramento R (27th hit, and second Sacramento R basin landing in a row).

 You can see some peculiar-looking obviously-disturbed land and water off to the right (east) of my landing.  I’ll zoom in a little for a better look:

 ge 3 homestake mclaughlin mine

It turns out that this is a now-closed gold mine – the Homestake Mining Company’s McLaughlin gold mine.  By the way, the mine is mostly in Napa County.  Obviously, wine isn’t the county’s only product.

 Here are some excerpts from an article about the mine from the Napa Valley Register, by Kevin Courtney:

The history books have it all wrong.  For Napa County, the Gold Rush wasn’t in 1849. It happened less than 30 years ago in a remote corner of the county ruled by jackrabbits.

From 1985 to 2002, Homestake Mining Co. extracted $1 billion worth of gold from the desolate landscape above Lake Berryessa.  For a time, the McLaughlin Mine was the biggest producer in California and one of the largest in the world.

Fired by visions of wealth, prospectors roamed this rocky terrain in the mid-19th century. They found mercury and some silver, but the gold was hidden from view.

There were no nuggets or glittery veins. This gold existed in microscopic and submicroscopic particles [deposited by hotsprings].  Without Homestake’s sleuthing and modern extraction technologies, the billion-dollar Napa Mother Lode wouldn’t have happened.

To get to the gold, McLaughlin removed 115 million tons of waste rock. Thirty-eight million tons of ore were turned into powder, mixed with water and sent as a slurry through five miles of pipe to a processing plant in Lake County.

The McLaughlin mine is now a 7,000-acre natural preserve operated by the University of California. The area’s rare serpentine rock and associated ecological habitat offer research opportunities.

Homestake continues to revegetate the landscape and turn a slurry dump into wetlands. The pit lake is permanent. The company has won awards for its environmental program.

While essentially all of the McLaughlin Mine gold is invisible or nearly invisible to the naked eye, there are a few obvious gold specimens.  Here’s a picture of one from UC-Davis:

 ucdavis gold

Let me see –  this post is entitled Clear Lake, and I haven’t even mentioned it yet.  Well, here goes.  First, let me mention that the town is Clearlake, and the lake is Clear Lake.  I decided to name the post after the lake because there’s some very cool geology going on here.

 It turns out that Clear Lake (which covers 68 square miles) is the second largest natural lake in CA (Lake Tahoe is bigger, but shouldn’t really count because it’s shared with NV).

 As my regular readers know, lakes are inherently interesting geological features, because natural drainage system development does not result in lakes.  Lakes are formed when something (generally fairly recent events like glaciers) disrupts normal drainage patterns, creating lakes.  Lakes don’t usually last too long (geologically speaking), because they fill up with sediment, dumped by in-flowing streams and rivers.

 A fairly recent post (Lake City CO) featured Lake San Cristobal, the second-largest natural lake in CO.  The story of the lake is fascinating (it was formed by a landslide).  If you didn’t read the post, I highly recommend it (of course).  Click HERE.

 So, what’s going on with California’s Clear Lake?  From Wiki:

Clear Lake is one of the oldest lakes in North America, due to a geological fluke.

 [I love geological flukes.]

The lake sits on a huge block of bedrock which is slowly subsiding at about the same rate as the lake fills in with sediment, thus keeping the water at roughly the same depth.

 [According to the Lake County website, the rate is a mere 1/25 of an inch per year.  The subsidence is associated with the overall geological instability associated with the San Andreas fault system.]

Core samples of the lake’s sediments, taken by U.S. Geological Survey geologists in 1973 and 1980, indicate that the lake is at least 480,000 years old.

 This is remarkable, when you think about it.  And by the way, 1/25 of an inch per year doesn’t sound like much.  But in 2012, a University of Berkeley research team began collecting cores, and they retrieved a 150-meter sediment core representing a continuous record of sediment laid down over 130,000 years.  I did the math, and son of a gun, it works out to about 1/25th of an inch per year.

 Of course, these days, there is much interest in climate change, and much research on past climate changes.  The Berkeley research team is studying the heck out of the cores to figure out what has been going on in California climate over the past 130,000 years.  There’s an UC-Berkeley article with a very cool video about the Clear Lake drilling & research.  Click HERE to check it out.  And the video is definately worth your time . . .

 Gee whiz.  I guess it’s time to close with a couple of Panoramio shots.  First this shot (by Clintasaurus), of Knoxville Road, which runs right by the McLaughlin Mine.

 knoxville road by clintasaurus

Oh yea.  I stumbled on a funky You Tube video of a trip on the very same Knoxville Road.  The video is labeled as “Video 1181 of a reality travel show with your host David Rush.”  David feels like he’s kind of lost, and can’t get over how isolated the road is (while still being paved).  It’s shot out of the front window of his car.  I actually enjoyed it (for a while).  One of his quotes:  “This is just trippy, man.”  Click HERE to check it out.

 I’ll close with this Panoramio shot (by House Hunter Rick) of Clear Lake with Mt. Konocti (a remnant volcano) in the background.

 househunterrick mt konocti

 That’ll do it.





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