Journey two has so far been my favorite journey because it was more about the environment and its physical attributes. It is a bit more up my alley on topics of interests because of all the biology and geology. Although I am not the best at biology, it is interesting to observe all the creatures to which we share this planet with. Along with the animals, one thing I learned how to do was be more observant about the ground we stand on today. One of our assignments, given by Dr. Levin, was to collect sediments from every location we visited. The track to which Journey two was based on was to start in the Appellation Mountains of West Virginia and work our way down to the sandy beaches of Ocean City. This assignment was given so that we students could be more observant about the differences in the geology starting in the mountains and moving to the coast line and this assignment, for sure, impacted my journey through Journey Two.
Our first stop was in West Virginia where we attended a Water Shed Forum. It was a conference center in the Appellation Mountains on the edge of a river. I, however, never knew that the conference center was by a river due to all the tall trees and thick green environment. That being said, our first two sediment collection began here. One was picked up on the side of the walk ways right next to the forest line. The other was taken right from the side of the building we stayed in. When we had the chance to look at the sediments, we noticed that they were rather fine sediment. Not the kinds of sediment you would find in the mountains. That sediment would be not well sorted and bladed edges. After observing our sediment samples, we realized that possibly picking it up along the edges of paths and building meant that that sediment was probably brought there for construction. With that huge disappointment, a thought came across me. How much of the surface soils we find today, are the original soils and if what in time, none of the surface soils will be original. I think about the top soils in gardens, the additional soils added to crop lands and all the pavements for roads and such. What is that going to looking like in 1,000 years? Is there even going to be humans here? All these questions had popped into my head and I wish I were able to experience what the future will bring us, and also see how much humans have impacted the environment.
Moving away from the mountains to the great Susquehanna River, we had collected three different sediment samples. Two of which were only 20 feet away from each other, one being close to the edge of the river and the other from the bottom of rapids, and the third a good mile or two down the river where the SAVs thrived. When we had the chance to observe the sediments, we all noticed old clam shells, which means that these waters are an important essential for sustaining a life. This brings up a very important question of any substance that we humans were to put in the water; how large of an impact would it have on the animals that live in the river? Also, if we impacted the river which supplies 50% of the freshwater into the Chesapeake Bay, what does this mean for the health of the estuary? We know this answer already. It would impact it tremendously. Every action that we humans do upstream, impacts the river which than impacts the Bay. Any little action could be lawn fertilizers, cleaning products for showers, and wastes along road side. All I know is that I will do as much as I possibly can to not put any toxic substance into our water system, that way these animals that live in the rivers are not harmed as well as everything down stream. I hope that others will do the same because in the future, I hope to see these animals in the river.
After passing through the Chesapeake Bay and heading even further east, we come to the coast line where land meats the Atlantic Ocean. Here, we took some more sediment samples on the beaches. This sand was well sorted, rounded, and light in color. We had reached the mature stage of sediments that once came from tops of mountains and worked its way through the rivers into the oceans. Because of its long journey, it had the chance to lose its minerals due to the lighter colors, and become very fine sediment. An issue, however, with this fine sediment is that it is capable of being eroded away quickly due to wave actions. This opposes an issue with development along these beaches. Ocean City, MD is a huge tourist attraction built directly on the beach. This, in the future, will be an issue once the beaches erode. One action that we humans tried to stop the sand from leave the beaches was to build jetties and groins. With this attempt, the north side of the Ocean City inlet along the jetty is built up with sand. What happens when there is a storm that takes all that sand built up along the jetty and is taken away by the surf? The city and board walk will no longer exist. These industrialized beaches will impact that future because one day, we humans will figure out how to stop beaches from eroding and this will stop the earth from its natural cycle. Beaches no longer will feed sand to the oceans and the sand will not have a chance to move elsewhere along different coastline to create more beaches much like the Delmarva. This brings me to think about what coast lines will look like in the future. Will further south beaches completely erode away due to the advancement in technology? What does this mean these “beaches” will look like?
Throughout the journey, these sediments acted as guideline on how to view earth and to take the time to appreciate nature in a way that humans do not think to. That every little thing can reshape the earth and or impact that smallest things which in reality, can turn into large issues. We need to learn about this impacts we are having on the environment only to better ourselves for what the future will bring to us. Something simple as picking up a dock and asking yourself, where did this rock come from? Was it brought by humans, how is it naturally where it is supposed to be as it makes its journey down to the beaches?