Friends of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Conservancy

Over-estimating your experience or under-estimating the terrain in a place like Big Bend can result in serious injury or death. Use the information and advice found here wisely. Climb/Hike/Camp/Drive at your own risk.

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Read This.

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Offline badknees

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Read This.
« on: February 19, 2010, 06:27:28 PM »
Not all those who wander are lost.
J.R.R. Tolkien

Through the Mirror
http://mirrormagic.com

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Offline MilesOfTexas

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Re: Read This.
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2010, 08:03:06 PM »
Thanks BK!
"I have an excellent profession, but I don't enjoy it near as much as I do when I am in the heart of the wilderness, surrounded by marvelous creations, and efforting to capture what I see and feel so I may share it with others."

-Me 09/12/2011

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BigBendHiker

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Re: Read This.
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2010, 10:05:07 PM »
Thanks, BK, for posting. Very comprehensive and informative.



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Offline catz

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Re: Read This.
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2010, 11:39:17 AM »
I like the "Cow Heaven Anticline" myself.
Wake me when it's time to go.

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Offline Lorax

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Re: Read This.
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2010, 05:45:02 PM »
Thanks, this will be a big help in my further studies.
Ted

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Offline Quatro

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Re: Read This.
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2010, 10:14:33 PM »
No doubt lots of info in this report.  Wish I had the background to understand it all.

Two things did catch my attention though:

*  leftover radiation from nuclear testing?  Is this drift from A-bomb testing at Los Alamos?  That seems like a long drift.  Or was there testing in or much nearer BIBE?  I can't recall if the levels were consistent throught the park or hotter in one area.

*  that the Mariscal mine was tiny in comparison to the mines in Study Butte/ Terlingua.  Is there remaining mercury contamination from those mines and does it impact groundwater from Terlingua?  I'm not sure the depth of groundwater in the Terlingua area, but I'm thinking that it is around 700 or so feet.  Maybe that is too deep for runoff from tailings.
When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline Al

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Re: Read This.
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2010, 10:34:50 PM »
No doubt lots of info in this report.  Wish I had the background to understand it all.

Two things did catch my attention though:

*  leftover radiation from nuclear testing?  Is this drift from A-bomb testing at Los Alamos?  That seems like a long drift.  Or was there testing in or much nearer BIBE?  I can't recall if the levels were consistent throught the park or hotter in one area.

*  that the Mariscal mine was tiny in comparison to the mines in Study Butte/ Terlingua.  Is there remaining mercury contamination from those mines and does it impact groundwater from Terlingua?  I'm not sure the depth of groundwater in the Terlingua area, but I'm thinking that it is around 700 or so feet.  Maybe that is too deep for runoff from tailings.

Here's a fall out map from Wikipedia which appears consistent with other maps I've seen.  Actually it's White Sands and then the Nevada Test Site where we tested nuclear bombs above ground within the continental US.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_fallout_exposure .png

Big Bend is a good place to be relatively speaking. 

Al

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Offline Quatro

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Re: Read This.
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2010, 11:20:10 PM »
Thanks, Al. They've got some hot spots up in Idaho and Montana.  Actually, I thought initially this might be a political map, except that Texas is blue.  :icon_lol:

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro - HST

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Offline presidio

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Re: Read This.
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2010, 04:28:05 PM »
*  leftover radiation from nuclear testing?  Is this drift from A-bomb testing at Los Alamos?  That seems like a long drift.  Or was there testing in or much nearer BIBE?  I can't recall if the levels were consistent throught the park or hotter in one area.

While it's radiation from surface nuclear testing, it's not fallout in the sense you may be thinking. Big Bend was never in the plume path of any test, but isotopes from every surface blast were injected high into the atmosphere and they eventually precipitated out...worldwide. It's why there is trace Strontium 90, Cesium 137 and Iodine 131 in all cows' milk among other things. The Big Bend radiation is in the meteoric waters, not scattered about the surface.

As to specifics, there never was any device testing at Los Alamos. That is where the bomb was designed, but it was tested deep in the White Sands Missile Range at the Trinity Site in southern NM. That site is open to the public twice a year. Fascinating tour...and free since the NPS isn't in charge. You can stand right where the detonation occurred and listen to the Geiger counter still tick (while levels are extremely low otherwise you wouldn't be able to visit, they still restrict time inside the inner perimeter to 90 minutes). There is a fairly interesting TV movie about this project, Fat Man and Little Boy starring Paul Newman (reason enough to watch).

I just happen at the moment to be reading 109 East Palace, a book about Los Alamos examining the establishment of the lab and the social issues more than the technical. The above address was an innocuous office front in Santa Fe where all the project participants passed through an extreme security portal and basically disappeared into complete obscurity for the duration of the effort. A sort of Stargate.

The only surface nuclear test ever to occur in NM was that WWII shot at Trinity. However, there were two subsurface shots done for non-defense purposes in the 1960s under the Plowshare Program (basically an abject failure).

In 1961, a nuclear device was used in Project Gnome on BLM land east of Carlsbad. This occurred not far from the present-day Waste Isolation Project Plant, which stores low level radioactive waste 2250' deep in salt beds. The WIPP site has no relation to the Gnome test other than proximity, but the salt beds were the reason the Gnome test used the area. The test was about 1200' below the surface and there was an accidental small release of radiation when steam vented from the shot hole. While radiation was released, there was no fallout (which is contaminated blast debris of surface materials) generated.

Not very informative other than for history, but you can see pretest video here


and posttest video here
.

These are mostly remarkable for the extremely crude filming technology and the similarly crude protection of researchers who entered the cavity some months later. It's safe to say they still had a lot to learn about radiation hazards. The nature of the Gnome test was to study the possibility of converting the heat produced by a nuclear explosion into steam for the production of electric power and explore the feasibility of recovering radioisotopes for the scientific and industrial applications. Nothing came of the project.

The second subsurface NM test was in 1967 in the Carson National Forest in NW NM, east of Navajo Lake. This was the Gasbuggy Project which was designed to test the viability of creating large cavities in natural gas strata to open tight formations and enable economical gas production. This test occurred at -4300'. El Paso Natural Gas was involved in this project, which was a success except for one small detail....the resulting natural gas was too radioactive for use....DUH!....what did they think was going happen?

The Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs in Los Alamos and Albuquerque, respectively both contain a number of nuclear reactors (more than a couple each) that the public is largely oblivious to, primarily since they are research units and do not have the footprints or visibility of public utility reactors, plus they are in highly secure areas so they aren't even seen nor much talked about. Additionally, Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque is rumored (neither confirmed nor denied) to be the largest repository of nuclear weapons in the country. Los Alamos still has one of the greatest (maybe the top) collections of Ph.D.s on the planet. Not far from the lab it also still is possible to see what amounts to a third-world of villages relatively unchanged from the days of Coronado. Pretty abrupt juxtaposition of old and cutting edge.

The opening of the WIPP site east of Carlsbad in 1999 for the first shipment (the facility started construction in 1981, inevitable delays due to lawsuits) resulted in the usual anti-nuclear protests. The most incongruous was one on an Interstate 40 overpass in Albuquerque as the first waste truck rolled through. Protesters had hung bed sheets as protest signs...'no nukes', etc. This of course was occurring a mere 5 miles from the aforementioned Sandia reactors and 10 miles from the largest stockpile of weapons in the country. Kinda funny.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2010, 04:31:50 PM by presidio »
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Read This.
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2010, 08:37:15 PM »
Thanks for posting the links and history, Presidio...  very informative.  I too was amazed at how little in protection the workers who explored the area just a few months after the blast.

Who knows, people in 50 years might say the same things about everyday events in our lives that we didn't consider dangerous.

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Offline presidio

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Re: Read This.
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2010, 09:20:58 PM »
Thanks for posting the links and history, Presidio...&nbsp; very informative.&nbsp; I too was amazed at how little in protection the workers who explored the area just a few months after the blast.

Who knows, people in 50 years might say the same things about everyday events in our lives that we didn't consider dangerous.

Yup. One of the challenges of creating the WIPP site (still the only permanent waste repository) was how to mark the site as hazardous for at least 10,000 years. After all, you really wouldn't want to inadvertently dig into it 200 years down the road. They came up with a scheme that will supposedly have the desired warning effect for posterity. Of course, since language and symbology, and interpretation of same, changes with time, this 'solution' may ultimately (likely?, certainly?) be as comprehensible as rock art is today.

This link discusses rock art symbology specifically studied for the WIPP site project.
http://www.wipp.energy.gov/PICsProg/documents/monument%20survey.pdf

This link discusses 'passive institutional controls' (markers) and the above link is contained on this page.
http://www.wipp.energy.gov/PICsProg/PICs_general.htm

This link discusses the actual monumenting of the WIPP site.
http://www.wipp.energy.gov/fctshts/PICs.pdf

BTW, back in the late 90s, when the site was under development (it was actually complete and ready for shipments that were held up by litigation), DOE offered site tours to the public. I found out about it and made a trip to see it. Completely fascinating installation with gigantic tunnels and rooms, heavy diesel equipment, and small buildings and other structures gave a moderate appearance of an underground city.

The galleries were forcefully ventilated by an enormous exhaust system so diesel fumes weren't even noticed and at various transition points the airflow was probably 60 mph. We were shown the central ventilation shaft which had an expanded metal shield. It was all you could do to open the door to go in it and any paper that was dropped anywhere in the system eventually was found plastered to the screen along with other things like Bic pens and other lightweight stuff.

The tunnels were excavated with continuous miners such as are used in the nearby potash mines. They are so huge they were cut apart and reassembled in the 'mine'. The only way in or out of the storage area was to ride the 2250' hoist. It was a 3-level, approx 30' in diameter elevator and moved at the ponderous speed of about 500 fpm...actually pretty fast for such a huge device. They had a smaller waste hoist for removing the excavated salt and it moved at 2,000 fpm. No one rode that thing though it would have be one hell of an experience.

When shipments began the tours were significantly curtailed and public access dwindled in lieu of 'officials' of one entity or another. 9|11 sealed the fate for the public to see the site as the instant and continuing mantle of national fear got laid over sealed drums of radioactive medical waste, tools and clothing, which is the predominant nature of the waste. The high level stuff that is most troublesome is still stored locally at most reactor sites as no solution or location has ever been decided upon (some technical issues but a lot of NIMBY and BANANA at work as well).
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<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Read This.
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2010, 10:56:40 PM »
Wow!  That would have been a tour, indeed!  Would have been worth the trip out there.

 


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