30 Dec

Local Geologist Unburies the Truth About New River’s Unique Formation

first_imgWe can’t help but feel calm beside a riverbank, as the water courses by with vigor and purpose, making its way to a distant destination.The sleepy mountain town of Blacksburg is perched in the New River Valley, surrounded by mountains in all directions. As the Virginia Tech students embark on their mass exodus in May, the leftover locals emerge with kayaks tied tightly to the tops of cars, making their way to the water. Still, many fear this great adventure, resolving themselves to an inner tube and a trip or two down the Junction. But to use the jargon of our day, the New River is surprisingly “user-friendly,” and its ease of access makes it the perfect place to enter the world of river sports.Adventure at any ageizzyPhoto by Anne Pagano of daughter Addison.In the words of local river enthusiast Luke Hopkins, owner of Stride Stand-up Paddleboards (SUPs), the New River Valley is one of the best places to get into river sports. People may have questioned his choice of setting up shop here in the NRV, but with its low-key vibe and untapped potential he’s certain he picked the perfect spot.“Blacksburg is a particularly great place to get your feet wet, pardon the expression,” he laughs. “It is so much more accessible than say, Great Falls. You can walk right into the river with ease, making it enjoyable at any age.” Nevertheless, here in the NRV we are also just a stone’s throw from some of the most impressive whitewater this side of the Rockies. Luke explains that with a short car ride you can go head on to get the full effect of the Class IV rapids, whether you are kayaking or rafting.Luke shares his thirst for adventure with his long time love, Anne, and their two young daughters. Together they travel all over the United States, charting new river courses and helping others find their way into the world of SUP. Luke recently won the Grand Canyon River Trip lottery, receiving a permit to enjoy a ten-day, 220-mile expedition rafting the Colorado River, inarguably the best river experience on earth. But still, Luke feels there is something truly unique about the New. “You just get that feeling of being one with the mountains, instead of carving around the base of them.”Hailing from Summersville, West Virginia, Anne completely agrees. She was 16 years old the first time she ever put a paddle in the river and says, “I immediately realized how much I’d been missing, and how much my friends were missing, by never going rafting or kayaking in high school.” She knew right away that she had been called to a life on the river, and would later become a river guide and lifelong lover of all things New. Plus, living in Blacksburg means she is able to share this pleasure with her kids and enjoy family float trips with the little ones without worry.Unburying the River’s history with a trip to the Virginia Tech Geology DepartmentAt the ripe old age of ~450 million years, the Appalachian Mountains are some of the oldest mountains in the entire world. Maybe you’ve also heard that the New River is one of the oldest rivers in the world. Then why the misnomer? When Google failed to help me find the answer, I found myself wandering the halls of the Virginia Tech Geology Department in search of one Dr. Philip Prince. Prince is as unique as the river itself, and just so happens to be a world-class paddler.His family boasts 250 years of history in the Appalachians of North Carolina and Georgia and his southern roots run deep. He spoke deliberately and in a relaxing nasally tone, “I’m about as Appalachian as one can get,” he laughed. A colonel-esque moustache adorned his upper lip and his deep drawl poured slowly from his thin wire frame. His neck was befittingly bowtied and his feet were tucked snuggly inside a pair of homemade leather shoes. I couldn’t stop myself from staring at them.shoes“The left one looks bigger because it is,” Philip laughed. “Years of rugby and running around on a damaged right leg lead to such asymmetries,” he expounded. Just as the earth’s terrain shifts under environmental duress, so does our human frame. Maybe that’s why he took up river sports, so he could sit down!We met in the Geology Museum on campus, and if you haven’t been yet I highly suggest making a visit. A fully assembled teenaged Allosaurus skeleton perched to the left of us, and a giant glowing orb of “Pangea” spun slowly behind us. The continents on the orb stretched and shifted over the course of billions of years, a fitting backdrop to our conversation.I asked him what came first, whether the mountains grew up around the river or if the river found its way between the mountains. Listening to Philip talk about the river was like watching thick syrup dredge itself into a stack of pancakes.Prepositions, play dough, and a pressure box“We’ve gotta get out of the preposition jungle,” Philip insisted. “Above, around, under, through, between…we need to get past all of that.”Apparently, if we really want to uncover the truth about the New we have to know a bit about the earth itself. And how erosion works. And what better way to learn a school lesson than with good old-fashioned play-dough. Philip brought out three tubs of the stuff in an effort to help me understand the ways of the world, literally.Our lesson was interrupted when a student came in clutching a red colored rock in his hand. Philip knew in a glance that the rock was at least 400 million years old, and was a product of the Ellet Valley. “You start to see local landmarks as part of one of four folds. Likewise, if you see a rock you can connect it part of the folded sequence,” he explained.Back to the chicken or the egg debate.“It’s not about whether the mountains came before the river or if the river was there before the mountains. Some type of mountain topography has been here much, much longer than the New River course we see today,” Philip stated. In the course of so many years, huge folded sequences of rock were buried and subsequently unburied to produce a constantly changing topography.The mountains we see today have been exposed by the removal of about three miles of overlying rock. Geologists use a device called a “pressure box” to model the folding and faulting of rock layers, which are represented by a variety of materials. This model uses flour and cornmeal to represent the four massive wrinkles of rock into which the New River Valley has been carved.This slow process has allowed the 320-mile New River to gradually find the best way across the ridges on its way from the high Appalachians to the Ohio River, ultimately leading to the Gulf of Mexico. That’s right, it flows westward.Contrary to expectations, the river doesn’t empty itself eastward in to the much closer Atlantic Ocean. When early pioneers discovered the river they followed it all the way to Ohio and realized it was in fact, the gateway to the West, the New Frontier. Perhaps that explains the “New” name?And someday, many, many years from now, it will eventually connect with the Roanoke River and flow eastward after all.So maybe that’s a better answer to the question of why it’s called the New River. It is always changing, making itself new again.Up, up and awayIn addition to this odd East to West flow, our river is also unique in that it flows South to North. These peculiar directional habits, coupled with the fact that the river cuts right through Appalachian rocks that are proven to be erosion-resistant, lead people to believe that the river’s formation preceded the uplift of the Appalachian Mountains themselves.When you first arrive at McCoy Falls you’ll notice that the mountains look as though they sprang up around the river. Part of that illusion is due to the deception of elevation. Even though the town of Blacksburg technically sits in a valley, we sit relatively high up. By the time you make it down to the river you have descended quite a ways, thus the jagged cliffs and mountains around you look enormous.“As a geologist, I think the most unique characteristic of the New River basin is that despite its large size, it sits at higher elevation than surrounding river systems. Neighboring river systems have developed courses which move water out of the high country to the modern coastline as quickly as possible; the New does not do this,” Philip explains.This mighty grandfather within the family of East Coast Rivers remains “perched” within the mountains.Beginner’s luckAt age of 32 years old I finally carved out some time to explore this geological treasure. I took the 7 mile beginner’s kayaking trip offered through Tangent Outfitters and it just so happens that trip is the home to the most beautiful section of the river in the entire area.As I rounded the river bend, my breath was taken away by the magnificent Palisades stretching upwards to the blue sky. And there, at the base of these craggy grey and white cliffs was a pair of white swans floating beak to beak, forming the shape of a heart. Not even resident river buff Luke Hopkins has seen swans on the New River, so I felt extraordinarily lucky. And for that brief moment on the ever-changing river, time stood still.—Emily Kathleen Alberts is a science writer, storyteller and lover of local lore. She received her master’s degree in professional writing from Virginia Tech and her stories appear in Virginia Tech Magazine, the Roanoke Times and other local news outlets.last_img read more

27 Sep

UN resolves to combat poaching in light of Cecil the Lion

first_imgSouth Africa pulling all stops to combat poaching Cecil the Lion was illegally killed in Zimbabwe Cecil the Lion was illegally killed in ZimbabweThe United Nations called on its member states Thursday to work harder in combating poaching of endangered species such as elephants and rhinoceroses.The General Assembly resolution was the first of its kind but not legally binding. Still, it reflects worldwide opposition to illegal hunting.The assembly expressed concern over what it called a steady rise in the level of rhino poaching and alarmingly high levels of killings of elephants in Africa.It said such killings “threaten those species with local extinction and, in some cases, with global extinction.”There are now an estimated 470,000 African elephants living in the wild, compared to 550,000 in 2006, said the NGO Elephants Without Borders.And since 2007, famed Kruger National Park in South Africa has lost hundreds of rhinoceroses to poachers eager to sell their severed and powdered horns in Asia, where they are sought for their alleged aphrodisiac effect.Mozambique has lost half of its elephants in five years, and it is believed rhinoceroses became extinct in 2013.The vote also coincided with global outrage over the killing of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe that was allegedly lured from a national reserve outside regular hours and killed by an American hunter.UNPRECEDENTED RESOLUTIONThis was the first time the United Nations dedicated a resolution specifically to the fight against poaching.Previous resolutions from the Security Council simply made references to how rebel groups poached animals to finance wars.Gabon and Germany sponsored the resolution, which was also supported by more than 70 countries. It also called on consumer nations to take measures to combat sales of products from poached animals.China accounts for 70 percent of world demand for ivory, NGOs say. They say China’s zeal for ivory is responsible for the death of 30,000 African elephants each year.The three countries or territories most heavily involved in smuggling of ivory are Kenya, Tanzania and Hong Kong.“This is a historic step made by the international community,” said Gabonese Foreign Minister Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet.“This phenomenon hampers investment, especially in areas where illicit activities are undertaken,” he said.“It represents a real threat to the stability of our state.”The resolution encourages member states to “adopt effective measures to prevent and counter” wildlife trafficking.CECIL THE LIONIt concerns both regions where wildlife and poachers roam such as in some African countries and consumer countries such as those in Asia.The resolution also calls for bolstered legislation at the national level to prevent, investigate and prosecute the illegal trade, and make such trafficking a “serious crime.”Issoze-Ngondet, addressing another recent case of high-profile poaching, called the killing in Zimbabwe of Cecil the lion “a matter of deep concern” for African countries.“Like most people in the world, we are outraged at what happened to this poor lion,” Germany’s UN envoy Harald Braun added.Conservation groups like the WWF and TRAFFIC welcomed the UN vote.“This is an historic day,” said TRAFFIC executive director Steven Broad.“The world has sent an unequivocal and collective signal at the highest-level that ending wildlife crime is a top priority.”The WWF hailed what it called a “new phase” in the fight against wildlife crime.“This landmark resolution proves that ending wildlife crime is no longer just an ‘environmental’ issue and not just limited to a few countries: it has become a priority for every nation,” said WWF International director general Marco Lambertini.Related 2 Zimbabweans Face Charges over Death of Cecil the Lioncenter_img Zimbabwe buys drones to combat elephant poachinglast_img read more

24 Sep

Ruth Ann Hull

first_imgAt the age of two, Ruth Ann Hull and her family moved to Holton, Indiana. She would live there the rest of her life. Early Wednesday morning, October 10, 2018 at the age of 78, with family at her side, she quietly passed away. She was born April 25, 1940 in Manchester, Kentucky as the daughter to the late Craft and Susie Britton Sizemore. She married the love of her life, Delmar W. Hull and to this marriage they were blessed with four children.She was a loving mother who worked very hard for 37 years and 7 months as a care giver at the Muscatatuck State Hospital near Madison, Indiana. Ruth was very artistic, she painted beautiful pictures along with doing stained glass work and was also a good seamstress! She attended the Holton UN Methodist Church. She was very proud to support the Disabled American Veterans.Survivors include her three daughters; Pamela S. (David) Bilton of Butlerville, Paula J. Compton also of Butlerville and Patricia L. Hull of Holton. Ruth was preceded in death by her parents and son Mark E. Hull.Services will be all in one day at the Holton UN Methodist Church, October 12, 2018 starting at 10:00 am and funeral at 12:00 noon. Burial will be in the church cemetery. Memorials may go to the donor’s choice. Neal’s Funeral Home is entrusted with the arrangements. www.nealsfuneralhome.netlast_img read more

19 Jan

Last-ditch stand by PBA underdogs

first_imgView comments With Mike DiGregorio firing 26 points and center Poy Erram outscoring tower of power June Mar Fajardo, 24-12, the Elite easily surpassed the 100-96 decision Barangay Ginebra San Miguel pulled off last Jan. 28 over the defending champion Beermen, who are seeking an unprecedented fourth straight all-Filipino crown.The win boosted Blackwater’s record to 3-5 and revived its hopes of joining the top eight teams that will advance to the quarterfinals because of a relatively light schedule in its last three games. The Elite face tailender Kia on Feb. 16, NLEX on Feb. 18 and Phoenix on Feb. 21.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crownSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkNLEX and Phoenix also toppled favored rivals last week and improved to 4-4 like Ginebra and TNT, which are playing each other at press time last night. The Road Warriors, with rookie Kiefer Ravena capping a team-high 21 points with two clutch baskets in the dying seconds, downed the injury-riddled Meralco Bolts, 87-85, while the Fuel Masters nipped the Katropa, 74-72, behind Matthew Wright, who fired a triple before issuing the game-winning basket to Doug Kramer.Rain or Shine was another revelation in its 101-95 demolition of Magnolia that lifted the Elasto Painters to solo fourth at 5-3 behind the now third-running 6-3 slate of the Hotshots. Despite the loss, Magnolia remained in the running for a top two finish after the eliminations that will enjoy a twice-to-beat bonus in the quarterfinals. But the Hotshots have to win their last two games against GlobalPort (Feb. 16) and Meralco (Feb. 24).The SMB-Alaska duel on Feb. 17 in Dumaguete City will likely decide the elimination topnotcher. Alaska, scheduled against NLEX also at press time yesterday, winds up its campaign against Rain or Shine on Feb. 23. SMB, on the other hand, meets Kia also on Feb. 23 before ending its schedule against Rain or Shine on Feb. 28.Except for Kia, GlobalPort (3-4), Blackwater and Meralco (2-6) are still in contention to make it to the quarterfinals although the last two qualifiers will be facing the tough job of needing to win twice over the two top elimination teams to reach the semifinals. The other four quarterfinalists will collide in a best-of-three series to advance with No. 3 taking on No. 6 and No. 4 facing No. 5.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Castro says TNT in ‘make or break’ situation after loss to Ginebra Steam emission over Taal’s main crater ‘steady’ for past 24 hours MOST READ Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Newsome sets focus on helping Bolts open new PBA season on right track LATEST STORIES Almazan vows to comeback stronger after finals heartbreak Nonito Donaire vs Naoya Inoue is BWAA 2019 Fight of the Year OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ’a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Michael Porter Jr. stays patient as playing time increases Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew PBA IMAGESBlackwater highlighted a sudden show of power by underdogs going into the homestretch of the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations with its 106-96 conquest of San Miguel Beer last week.But the defending champion Beermen managed to cling to the lead at 6-2 with the resurgent Alaska Aces, who remained unbeaten in six games in 2018 after dropping their first two games of the season to Magnolia and TNT Katropa.ADVERTISEMENT Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ’a duplicitous move’ – Lacsonlast_img read more