Walking through the woods in a graupel shower this afternoon prompted me to do a little more research on the phenomenon. Just what is graupel, anyway, and how does it differ from other forms of frozen precipitation?
On a walk though the Pig Farm State Trust Lands (see Locations) on December 4, we noticed a phenomenon that made us wonder what was happening with the rocks and soil along the trails. Here’s hoping someone out there can shed some light on the process(es) that were going on.
by Dr. Lex Blood, Community Activist, Conservationist, Professor Emeritus/Flathead Valley Community College
The West Valley Naturalists sponsored a geology field trip in May 2014. Dr. Lex Blood led this field trip; for more than 40 years Lex Blood has served as Flathead Valley geologist, geographer, educator, conservationist. After a brief introduction we car-pooled and explained the “story behind the landscape” as we traveled through the West Valley area. For background information on the geology of the Flathead Valley please visit: http://www.flatheadwatershed.org/natural_history/geology.shtml
Mike Koopal, Executive Director of the Whitefish Lake Institute, pointed us to some exceptional resources for learning more about the Flathead Valley watershed and the numerous lakes and streams that make up some of the most beautiful areas of the west valley area and the rest of Montana.
You see it everywhere in the valley–lining the bottom of creek beds, along hiking trails, layered throughout road cuts, on the shores surrounding Tally Lake, in the cliffs around Flathead Lake, piled at the corners of plowed fields, covering fireplace hearths and floors, in the pavement of many area roads and parking lots, and often in your yard when you are trying to dig a new garden bed (especially if you live on a glacial drumlin, as I do). It’s the predominant rock in Glacier National Park a few miles to our east.
It’s argillite, the colorful rocks and tiered strata that were formed during the Precambrian period over 500 million years ago–and western Montana is one of the best places in the world to see it.