Sunday, October 21, 2007

Two Things

This photo is very appropriate for Flagstaff, because it features two things this city has in abundance.....aspen and cinders. As I've mentioned before on this blog, the two predominant species of tree around Flagstaff are the quaking aspen and the ponderosa pine. For the most part, aspen leaves turn yellow in the fall. However, from time to time, you are able to see a cluster or two of branches who's leaves have turned red instead of yellow. From what I read in a recent article in Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine, this has to do with the content of sugar in the leaf, which in turn is due to various climatic conditions in the area (e.g. more vs less sun, cold vs warm days and nights, etc.) You can see the article here.

Now, as for the cinders, Flagstaff is located right in the middle of an extinct volcanic field. Over the last several hundred thousand years, various eruptions have created hundreds of small volcanoes called Cinder Cones. When they erupted and spewed millions of tons of heated rock into the air which spread out over the surrounding land. This layer of airborne rock is composed of millions of small, gravel-sized stones called cinders, which is what the leaf is laying on in the photo above. These cinders are so plentiful that, instead of spreading sand on the roads in the winter like most of the country, Flagstaff uses cinders to provided drivers with traction on the ice.


Anonymous said...

That is really beautiful. I miss Flagstaff so much! (trapped in Iowa at the moment.)

Annie said...

Hi Dustin, This is a beautiful photo and interesting facts about Flagstaff's geological and botanical stories.