Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Man who Mapped California

Thomas Wilson Dibblee, Jr. (1911-2004)

Tom Dibblee was born in 1911 in Santa Barbara, California. He first became interested in geology in 1929, when his father hired a geologist to investigate the oil potential on the family property. After Tom graduated from Stanford University, he spent 16 years working for oil companies and then 25 years working for the U.S. Geological Survey. Much of this time was spent alone in the field making geologic maps of California. Tom retired in 1977 and became a Research Associate with the University of California Santa Barbara, and, at the request of the U.S. Forest Service, he began mapping the 1.2 million acres of the Los Padres National Forest. During his career, he mapped over 40,000 square miles of  California (about a quarter of the state), a feat that probably will never be equaled. Tom was the first man to map the entire San Andreas Fault. In fact, his early work  on the fault indicated that it had moved more than  300 miles, and this became a critical piece to  understanding plate tectonics.

The nonprofit Thomas Wilson Dibblee Jr. Geological Foundation was created to publish and distribute his maps.

Tom received the U.S. Geological Survey Distinguished Service Award in 1967, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ Human Needs Award in 1981, and the Presidential Volunteer Action Award from President Reagan in 1983.

Tom passed away on November 24, 2004.

source – USGS

The San Andreas Fault

A Promising Outcropping

Ask Mr. Know it All !!!411-outcropping-j472830

Q. Where do I find gold in the desert?

A. Gold is where you find it! Good luck with that. One tip I do have for you is you should look for a “promising outcropping.” Many of the stories I read have somewhere in there where it say the prospector came upon a “promising outcropping.” Cut to the chase and look for these first before anywhere else.

Q. Have you ever done any prospecting?

A. Hell no.

*** GOLD MINES ***

Desert Wife – Desert Life

Check out how I made this into a story relevant to the desert:

Walter Feller photography truck in desert

My Chevy — camouflage white. I can blend in alongside a big pile of salt or in a desert snowstorm.

My desert wife went to the desert store today, then comes back to our desert home and tells me she finds $25 in cash on the floor of the desert store. Wo0T-w0ot-WOot!!! My thoughts start racing and I begin calculating all the numbers involved. How cool–I could use her money to buy me gas to drive about 150 miles out into the desert! Then she tells me that she gave it to the clerk at the store. Now I can’t use her money that she found to drive about 150 miles out into the desert. Then she tells me the clerk told her that if the money isn’t claimed by the end of the day, the store would call her and they would give it to her.  I have hope. If it is unclaimed and they give it back her and I could drive out into the desert about 150 miles with gas I bought with her money. Then we get a phone call from a little girl who lost the money that my wife found thanking her for finding the money she lost. Now for sure I can’t use my wife’s money to buy the gas to drive about 150 miles into the desert.

I suppose they way everything went is for the better. $25 can be a lot to lose, especially for a kid. Reluctantly, I admit, my wife, who by the way, is always right, did the right thing. Thinking about it, if I would have used the money to buy enough gas to drive 150 miles out into the desert, well, how would I have been able to buy the gas to drive back?


Atlatl:  An atlatl is a throwing stick that essentially extends arm length to assist in throwing a dart harder and farther than one normally would in hunting and warfare with a spear.  This tool was used for thousands of years prior to the bow and arrow which was in use for only the last 900 years or so. I’ve had the opportunity to try using one 3 or 4 times in target practice–sort of I say “sort of” because the very first time I used one I went after live game.

I was on an archaeology field trip and we broke for lunch.  Food was provided and substantial consisting of bologna sandwiches, chips, a piece of fruit and some soda pop. The site archaeologist was running a little late, so our guide decided to let us try throwing with the atlatl he had made.  One after another the members of our group took turns. I watched carefully and when it came to be my turn I was ready.  All of a sudden, a pickup drove up and the archaeologist started to get out.  He was about 50 yards away.  He started to get out of the truck and as the door opened I hurled the dart hard and smoothly.  I was aiming for the meaty part of the archaeologist’s thigh.

All I’ve heard about hunting man was true. It was exhilarating and exciting.  He was considerably larger than me and bagging him would have been a rush.  Unfortunately, a kill would not be the case on that day.  The dart landed short of him and went point first into the ground then fell over flat.  Now the predator had turned into the prey.  For me it was either fight or flight.  My back was against a rock wall. As I mentioned, he was larger than I, so I tried the only defensive move I could think of.  I yelled, “Oops!”

Archaeology field trip

A substantial and satisfying lunch break

I’ve never heard a professional laugh so hard.  I didn’t know they could.  Usually I’ve found them to be quite stolid and impassive to my attempts at humor. Apparently he did not feel threatened.  Good thing he didn’t realize my intention. I could have killed him, or at least bruised his foot.

It all turned out well considering the circumstances.  Rather than be banned or shunned from the group he paid special attention to me the rest of the day making sure all of my questions were properly answered. He kept watching my hands though. He turned out to be a pretty nice guy.  Very sorry I tried to kill him.