Deep Dreams of Geology

Once one of my non-geologist friends uttered the words “trippy” while staring at a geologic map of North America that was up in the hallway. I agree. To the uninitiated a geologic map probably looks like a fairly random assortment of off-colors, blobs, blebs, sharp lines, and generally strange shapes. As geologists we are trained to take the seemingly random slapping together of colors and lines, and pull from it a history, a piece of the story of our planet. Some engineers at Google challenged a deep learning network with a series of images which produced some “trippy” results. Wouldn’t it be fun to apply their code to some geologic maps?

Basically the program takes an image and attempts to match a some known object (birds, dogs, etc.) in it. Do this for a few iterations and the object becomes more pronounced. For instance they fed it a picture of clouds:

Clouds or … from Google’s Research Blog

Within lies madness:

Matt Hall over at Agile Geoscience already went ahead and fed the deep dream code some seismic sections:

Deep Dream Seismic Monsters

Pretty cool, but let’s give it some geologic maps.

Hurricane Deck, Miocene Sediments Northeast of Santa Barbara, California. And Tripified.
Hurricane Deck, Miocene Sediments Northeast of Santa Barbara, California. And Trippified.
Geology of the Crooked River area, near Bend, OR
Geology of the Crooked River area, near Bend, OR and Inceptionist Dream
Telescope Peak area, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California
Telescope Peak area, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California and Inceptionist Dream.

When the Trippy filter is applied to the Crooked River map there’s some interesting results. The corners are largely untouched by the dream. Perhaps the machine needs something to ground it to reality?



If your interested, someone turned the deep dream code into a webapp so you can easily upload and make your own dream paintings. If you want to do a bit more digging, the source code is available on GitHub. All of the geologic maps were downloaded or captured from USGS MapView.



Finger locks and toe jams
Ryan Cerf crushing Crime of the Century (5.11c)

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to check the notifications on my instagram and have the American Alpine Club feature my photo of Ryan Cerf cranking on Crime of the Century (5.11c) in Squamish.


Regram from @tsherrygeo of "Ryan Cerf cranking and crushing his first 5.11." Crime of the Century in Squamish. #aacgram

A photo posted by American Alpine Club (@americanalpine) on Feb 18, 2015 at 5:50am PST


Taking this photo was a lot of fun. Matt Macatee and I climbed up Penny Lane and then made our way over to where we could rap to the Crime of the Century Anchors. He continued down to the ground and I stayed on the ledge, set an anchor and safetyed in. I pulled up and coiled my rope so that it would be out of the photo. Ryan led up the pitch, cranking away while I fired off tons of photos. I was using my Nikon D-7000 and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens. Settings: 16mm, f/13, 1/2000 sec. exposure, ISO 1600. It was a bright day.

Matt Macatee working through Crime of the Century.
Matt Macatee working through Crime of the Century.

Matt Macatee attempted the route after Ryan and didn’t make it in one go. He got to the top with one fall and a nemesis to return to. I rappelled down and Sabrina and I both tried Crime of the Century on toprope. It’s thin, and pumpy, and we weren’t placing gear!

Sabrina on Crime of the Century
Sabrina on Crime of the Century
Me getting worked on Crime of the Century
Me getting worked on Crime of the Century

Friday Rocks #42: Mylolisthenite

Charlevoix mylolistelite
Charlevoix mylolistelite

The injecting mylolisthenite (pale-green rock filling fracture) was created during a meteor impact. It can be found near Charlevoix, Quebec (19T 407510.00 m E, 5260539.00 m N). Find out more about the Charlevoix impact crater in an old upsection post.  Mylolisthenite is a fine grained breccia which contains various clasts in a non-melt matrix (differentiating it from pseudotachylite).

Handcarved Dog Collars

collaroffe copy

This weekend only I’m offering handcarved leather dog collars at a discount for the holidays. Get your best friend something they’ll love for christmas. All collars are treated with neatsfoot oil or mink oil to protect against water. I have a limited number of materials so first come first serve.

Send me your dog’s neck size (remember two fingers should be able to comfortably fit under the collar), dog’s name, and color preference. Email me at for more details.

Feel free to leave questions in the comments section. I’ll answer them here.


Where did all the science journalism go?

Check out this great two part episode of Star Talk Radio where Neil deGrasse Tyson interviews science journalist Miles O’Brien (PBS News Hour) about CNN firing its science reporting staff and the future of science reporting. Also featured on the episode is Bill Nye the Science Guy and Elise Andrew (I F***ing Love Science) weighing in on points made by Miles.

It’s an eye opening interview on the business of network news and how science doesn’t fit into the picture.

Find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.