Wednesday, February 27, 2013

luckily, my geo-injuries have been minor


When I first saw the call for Accretionary Wedge 55 I couldn't think of any injuries I had gotten in the field, and closed the tab on my browser and thought nothing more of it. However, today, reading some other reports of minor injuries, I suddenly remember a rock-related owie.

I was an undergraduate geology student, living in southern Oregon. My boyfriend at the time decided that since I liked rocks and was new to that part of the country he should take me on an adventure to the Lava Beds National Monument to do some caving in the lava tubes there.  As far as dates to take geologists go, this was a very good idea.

So there we were, wandering through a lava cave, the only light coming from my headlamp and his flashlight. He scampered up a small pile of lose rocks, each perhaps 10 to 20 cm in diameter, and I started to follow. However, in so doing I discovered that the density of vesicular chunks of lava is very different from the more solid rocks I had encountered elsewhere, and as a result they rocks shifted under my feet in a very unexpected manner.  I lost my balance and fell forward, catching myself on my hands.

In the process the little finger of my left hand got caught between two rocks. When I called out, more in surprise than pain at that point, my boyfriend returned to my side, asked to look at my hand to see if it was ok, and, seeing that my little fingernail had split lengthwise, and that the outer portion was pointing off at a wrong angle, decided that the time to fix it was before I noticed that it hurt, so he grabbed my hand and pushed the nail back where it was meant to be. That got me to exclaim in pain!

That pretty much cut short the adventure part of the day—instead of exploring further we went back to the visitor center, cleaned the wound and got it bandaged up.  Thanks to his prompt re-alignment of my finger nail the wound healed cleanly, and I never lost any nail, though it had a bit of a seam running the length of it for a few weeks.

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