EXAMINING A FAULT SCARP
These goats appear to be geologic enthusiasts. They seem to be examining, at eyeball distance, the details of a fault scarp.
Now – anytime a geologist observes a slope in nature that is in excess of about 33 degrees, he/she really has to pay attention to it. This angle is, for geological material, what is called the angle of repose: the angle of repose is the maximum slope along which loose material will remain in place without sliding down. While the angle of repose varies with the material, its degree of solidification, and how wet it might be, a geologist should become tectonically wary of any slope steeper than 30 degrees. In short, how did it become so steep as to be unstable?
Fault scarps, particularly active fault scarps, are prime suspects for being the cause of really steep surfaces. However, steep surfaces could also be caused by the failure of a mass by cracking off along a joint surface, or an immense flood, or some non-natural cause (like a bulldozer or dynamite). Come to think of it, you’d really need to examine the rock surface, like these goats are doing, to figure it out.
Gee. Note also that the angle of repose for a geologist, rather than for a rock climber, is a lot less than 33 degrees. Otherwise any old goat could do it.
This photo is floating all over the net, and I’ve not been able to locate its source. So, thank you to the unknown photographer: if anyone knows who took this photo, please let us know! We’d love to credit them!