Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Top of the Gob Pile

I was inspecting an area with an acid mine drainage problem last Wednesday for work and we found the source pretty easily: a massive gob pile. What's a gob pile? It's the pile of stuff left over from coal mining. There's a lot of different materials in it, including a lot of shale, giving it a black color. It's an ugly thing that causes lots of problems, but regulation in the US has stopped companies from abandoning them since 1977.

Interestingly enough, there were a few plants growing on the top of the pile, and a few old stumps, which held some biology after all.

This tiny grasshopper blended in with the fall colors, until it jumped onto a patch of moss.

Pixie Cup Lichen, Cladonia pyxidata, grew in a couple patches.

British Soldier Lichen, Cladonia cristatella, made itself known with its bright red caps. Those red caps on the stalks hold its spores.

And since I can never resist turning over a decaying log, I was rewarded with this scarab beetle grub. Not sure what it is, but it's kind of pretty. If you squint a lot, it almost resembles a delicious dumpling.

"Life will find a way."

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