A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Florida Keys geology’

Key West, Florida

Posted by graywacke on March 9, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2330; A Landing A Day blog post number 761.

boxDan:  Today’s lat/long 24o 34.958’N, 81o 48.695’W) puts me what looks like is out in the ocean:


Of course, based on the title of this post, well all know we’re not out in the middle of the ocean.  We obviously need a closer look:


And yet a closer look:


As all regular readers know, it is routine for me to “throw away” landings that are in water (or in Mexico and Canada).  This happens all of the time, because the program that I use for coming up with random lat/longs has me define a large rectangle that is bounded:

  • on the north by the latitude that defines the Canadian Border (49o)
  • on the south by the latitude that marks the southern edge of (you guessed it), Key West (24.5o)
  • on the west by the longitude that just touches the western-most point of the state of Washington (124.5o)
  • and on the east by the longitude that just touches the eastern-most point in the State of Maine (67o)

Geez.  After I wrote the above words (all 67 of them), I came up with this picture.  As they say, a picture is worth 67 words:


Reminder:  Lines of longitude are not parallel; they get closer together the further north one is.

Because I keep track of all things landing, I can tell you that out of 2330 landings, I have missed the “lower 48” 1657 times, as follows:

  • Atlantic Ocean – 566
  • Pacific Ocean – 295
  • Mexico – 258
  • Canada – 224
  • Gulf of Mexico – 206
  • Misc – 118 (includes the Gulf of California, Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay)

So, by the book, I should throw out today’s landing.  But it’s the exception that makes the rule, and today’s landing (along with one in Barnegat Bay NJ that I decided to keep) will be that rarest of all rare landings:  in tidal salt water.

For the record, here’s the NJ landing I mentioned (landing 503, well before I began blogging):


And zooming back:


We’re looking at Long Beach Island, well known to the Jersey Shore crowd.  My wife Jody’s parents owned a placed in Harvey Cedars, so I am well familiar with the scene.

I think it’s time to head back to Key West, via my Google Earth (GE) Yellow Push Pin spaceflight.  Click HERE.

When I switched on the GE photos around my landing, I noted several 360s – these are photos taken with a special camera that allow you to zoom in and take a look around.  Well, I noted one fairly close to my landing (exactly 1.50 miles away, as you can see):


Here’s a screen shot video showing what happens when you click on the 360. You’ll see that I was scanning left to right across Tank Island and then Wisteria Island.  When you see the yellow circle (my cursor) going up and down, I’m showing you my approximate landing location.  Click HERE.

Zooming way back, here’s a GE shot of the entire Keys:


You can see, physiographically speaking, that I landed in the Keys (i.e., there’s a large area of shallow water surrounding the Keys proper that are part of the same geologic structure). 

Here’s a shot of Key West:


And, zooming much further in, here’s a shot of the immediate (watery) vicinity of my landing:


Maybe it’s deceptive, but it sure looks extra shallow just west of my landing.  Notice the boats apparently anchored to the south in deeper water.  Probably fisherman, eh?  I think the white trails to the east are jet skis.

I had to find a nautical chart so I could determine water depth.  Well, here ‘tis, showing my landing location:


As you can see, the apparently shallow area shown on GE is actually shallow, shown on the chart as  typically 1 foot deep at mean low tide.  I just checked a tide chart, and it doesn’t look like the tide goes low enough to turn the shallows into an island.  Although, the chart does show that green area NW of my landing, labeled “uncovers 2 feet,” which I assume means it’s actually a low tide island.

And the chart gives me a basis for my “watershed” analysis.  A drop of rain that falls on my landing immediately becomes one with “Man of War Harbor.”

One other thing.  Notice a couple of symbols near my landing?  Here’s what they are:


That shallow water can be tough on boats (especially during a storm).

I found a cool map, courtesy of TopoZone.com:


So I landed right on the edge of Pearl Bank.

I Googled Pearl Bank, and found this (which obviously has absolutetly nothing with Key West).  In a what-the-heck moment, I decided to run with it:


So, this is a photograph that can be yours for a mere $2,800.  But before you’d spend that kind of money, you probably want to know something about the artist/photographer:


Just to finish up, the photo is of the Pearl Bank Apartment building in Singapore, so named because the building is in the Pearl’s Hill section of the city.  Here’s a picture, from ArchiTravel.com:


Let me get back on the main road after that little Singaporian detour.  So, what about Key West?  Well, since I didn’t land on Key West proper, I’ve decided not to feature the island per se (at least not much).  As I’m sure my readers know, it’s quite the tourist destination, with a reputation for life a little on the uhh . . .loose side.

A very quick look at Key West:

  • It’s about 160 miles by car from Miami
  • First European to visit was Ponce de Leon in 1521
  • Name comes from the Spanish Cayo Hueso
  • The island was more-or-less under Spanish control until 1822, when it was formally claimed by the U.S.
  • By 1889, Key West was the largest and wealthiest city in all of Florida
  • It was first connected to the mainland by rail in 1912. The railroad was destroyed by a 1935 hurricane.
  • A highway replaced the rail, and was completed in 1938.

And this, from Wiki, about “Conchs:”

Many of the residents of Key West were immigrants from the Bahamas, known as Conchs (pronounced “conks”‘), who arrived in increasing numbers after 1830.

In the 20th century many residents of Key West started referring to themselves as Conchs, and the term is now generally applied to all residents of Key West. Some residents use the term “Conch” (or, alternatively, “Saltwater Conch”) to refer to a person born in Key West, while the term “Freshwater Conch” refers to a resident not born in Key West but who has lived in Key West for seven years or more.

[I suspect that new arrivals throw a “Conch Party” to mark their new status after seven years in Key West.]

In 1982 the city of Key West briefly declared its “independence” as the Conch Republic in a protest over a United States Border Patrol blockade. This blockade was set up on U.S. 1, where it meets the mainland at Florida City.

The blockade was in response to the steady stream of Cubans who made it to Key West to escape to the U.S.  A traffic jam of 17 miles ensued while the Border Patrol stopped every car leaving the Keys, supposedly searching for illegal immigrants attempting to enter the mainland United States.

This paralyzed the Florida Keys, which rely heavily on the tourism industry. Because of the protests, the blockade was lifted.

Flags, T-shirts and other merchandise representing the Conch Republic are still popular souvenirs for visitors to Key West, and the Conch Republic Independence Celebration—including parades and parties—is celebrated every April 23.

People (alive and dead) associated with Key West include:  John Jay Audubon, Jimmy Buffett (of course), Ernest Hemingway, Calvin Klein, Harry Truman and Tennessee Williams.

It’s time to move on to some overall Florida Keys geology. I found an article posted on WordPress blog called EverybodyLovesRocks (posted by eheesche).  Some excerpts:

The Florida Keys are a chain of limestone islands that extend from the southern tip of the Florida mainland southwest to the Dry Tortugas, a distance of approximately 220 miles. They are island remnants of ancient coral reefs (Upper Keys) and sand bars (Lower Keys) that flourished during a period of higher sea levels approximately 125,000 years ago (an “interglacial” period, when there was much less glacial ice than today, and sea levels were significantly higher).

During the last ice age (beginning 100,000 years ago) sea level dropped, exposing the ancient coral reefs and sand bars which became fossilized over time to form the rock that makes up the island chain today. The two dominate rock formations in the Keys are Key Largo Limestone (ancient coral reefs) and Miami Oolite (ancient sand bars turned to rock).

During this time of lower sea levels, the Florida land mass was much larger than it is today and the area now referred to as Florida Bay was forested.

Here’s a map showing the Keys and the erstwhile-forested Florida Bay:


Time for some GE Pano shots. As you might expect, there are literally thousands of shots posted for Key West.  So, since I landed in the water, I stayed with water shots near my landing, northwest of the island.  I’ll start with a snorkeling shot by Syzygy2992:


As you might also expect, there are a plethora of sunset shots.  I like sailboats, so you’ll notice a theme here.  First this one, by Blue Cap:


And this, by Demi Pita


I’ll close with this wildly-different shot by TBourne125:


That’ll do it . . .




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