Castle Valley Comments – Oct. 3, 2019

Hollan Moore of Castle Valley shipped out this week for a six-month deployment to the Middle East. As an Air Force reservist with the 67th Aerial Port Squadron, which is attached to the 419 Fighter Wing of Hill Air Force Base, this is his second deployment.

His job with the Air Force will be in air transportation dealing with cargo movement for troops downrange. During the next six months the squadron of 30 to 40 airmen will be activated, but Moore is among the first wave to be deployed this week.

In his civilian life, Moore is employed with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. He said his employers are supportive of his deployment but they will undoubtedly have to find a replacement for him during his absence. Moore’s wife Adrienne and children Holden and Kaiya were with him in Salt Lake City over the weekend to send him off Tuesday in support of the troops and military action in the Middle East.

I believe the last Castle Valley reservist to be deployed was MSGT Tony Martineau. He left on New Year’s Day to report for active duty in support of Operation Desert Shield in 1991 for seven months. Before retirement he was a member of the 40th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron from McChord Air Force Base in Washington State. At that time, his marching orders didn’t specify his ultimate destination but he was told to pack for warm weather.

Our September weather was “pretty usual” except for lots of wind during and at the end of the month, according to our official weather observer, Bob Russell. He said our average high temperature was 86.7 and average low was 59.1 degrees and precipitation was almost a half inch. Compared to the 1981 to 2000 average temperatures, we were about four degrees warmer.

“As for October. What can we expect? 2017 and 2018 average temperatures dropped about 20 degrees for the month. As for precipitation, our history is about one inch, but 2018 we had 4.67 so take your pick,” he said. He said we get our first freeze in October. “From our records, possibilities for the 32.5 degree low are: 20 percent by about Sept 6, 50 percent by Sept 19 and 80 percent by Sept 30. Enjoy the cool weather.”

A recent news article in The New York Times, “Taking the Pulse of a Sandstone Tower in Utah,” which was written by JoAnna Klein, states that “Castleton Tower (Castle Rock), near Moab, pulsates at about the rate of a human heartbeat as it taps into the earth’s natural vibrations.”

We here in Castle Valley look at our sandstone spire every day and it is in the background of many of the pictures we take. In fact, the recent assignment for our photo group was to take a photo of Castle Rock that has not been previously seen. I’ve often wondered if we will see Castle Rock collapse during our lifetime, like the twin tower that used to be next to it sometime in its history over tens of thousands of years ago.

A study of Castle Rock, however, indicates that our spire is here to stay well past my lifetime. Castle Rock and other rock formations around the area has been the subject of a study by Jeff Moore, a geologist, and his team from the University of Utah, who have been monitoring it with audio recordings.

“Like a doctor listening to the beatings of a human heart, they hope to learn about the structural health of these arches, bridges and towers and how their environments affect them,” Klein wrote. A man-and-wife team of Kat Vollinger and Nathan Richman placed a seismometer at the base of the rock then scaled to the top and placed another one there.

They helped the scientists to measure, for the first time, how Castle Rock taps into the earth’s natural vibrations, finding that it pulsates at about the same rate as a human heartbeat. They found that the vibrations at the top were 70 times stronger than those at the base. Dr. Moore said that it was interesting to learn that they move like that but he couldn’t say that it was a revelation to learn that mountains and hills breathe. “If you spend enough time there, you can see they are moving things.”

The author states: “In their study, published last month in “The Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America,” Dr. Moore’s team found that Castleton Tower can withstand quite a bit. They predicted that such a large structure would vibrate at a lower frequency than a smaller one, much as a thicker guitar string has a lower pitch than a thinner one. Their research suggests that smaller formations that vibrate at a higher frequency may not be as resilient as Castleton Tower appears to be.”