News from the Field: Day 13--Geothermal Plant and Bodie

Today the group explored two aspects of exploitation of resources in the Eastern Sierra: a morning tour of the Casa Diablo geothermal power plant, followed by an afternoon at Bodie, a preserved mining town from the late 19th century. Our tour guide was Rod, a prospector, and 7-year veteran ranger at Bodie State Park, who shared his knowledge of the natural history of the Bodie Hills, the story of gold mining in the Sierra Nevada, and the unusual society that inhabited this mining village. We returned to SNARL for dinner and an evening meeting with Dave Hill, the U.S. Geological Survey scientist in charge of the Long Valley Volcano Hazards program, along with two post-doctoral scientists, Greg and Carola. After dinner, Dave led an informal discussion on science and public policy at Long Valley (interesting story!), after which we introduced our visitors to the exciting game of 'Maui'.

    June 3rd
We start the day with a tour of the Casa Diablo geothermal power plant, which uses superheated steam from the Long Valley magma body to generate 45 Megawatts of electricity. 
Rob Ellis, an operator for the plant, explains the geothermal technology.
The group looks on as Jim explains the background on geothermal development at Casa Diablo. A fumarole (steam vent) is visible in the background. 
Rob starts with an explanation of the unusual binary heat exchange process at Mammoth.
The group examines a turbine, which converts the thermal energy into mechanical rotation--and in turn, into electricity.

Right behind the Casa Diablo plant, active fumaroles are visible.
Emily records some notes--in front of the most active fumarole on the property.

A zone of hydrothermal alteration caused by the emission of steam and hydrothermal fluids along a fault zone
Some other unusual hydrothermal features--here's a 'mudpot', where boiling spring water mixes with clays to produce a bubbling cauldron of mud.
Rob shows the group the compressor system that transports the heat from the boiling groundwater to the pressurized isobutane.
Our last stop is the control room, where the operators show us the state-of-the-art control equipment.
While Rob is preoccupied with the computer, Lily tries out the emergency shutdown system!
En route to Bodie, we stop at the Conway Summit, for a remarkable view of Mono Lake and the Sierra Crest. 
Ruben strikes a pose on one of the big granite boulders. 
Not to be outdone, Sam and Mia find their new look.
On to Bodie--an incredibly well preserved mining town of the late 19th century--at a remote site high in the mountains of eastern California.
State Park Ranger Rod Duff is our leader for a tour of the 'Stamp Mill', where ore-bearing rocks are crushed and gold is separated from the rock matrix
Rod starts with a general history of Bodie and the Gold Rush of the mid-19th century.

Rod shows the stamp mortar--where all the rocks got crushed
Outside the stamp mill, Rod shows the massive mechanical equipment that ran the stamp mill.
Inside the stamp mill, Rod shows off the revolutionary electrical equipment--the site of America's first long-distance electrical transmission--that was first used at Bodie.
Rod shows Lily a shoe that was found in one of the mortar boxes....
With bones rattling inside it!!! 
After our tour, a chance to explore around the abandoned downtown streets on our own.  Michael checks out the old school house.

Lily, Kat, and Emily squeeze in to check out the insides of one of the Bodie residences...
Josh discovers an old model T...

And takes John and Lily for a drive.  Watch out, Josh!!!
The coffee dispenser from the dry goods store--perfectly preserved from 70 years ago. And can you see the light bulb--burning continuously since 1940!
The apothecary's cabinet, including... some 100 year old condoms!
Debby, Josh, Ryan, and Lily gather round to look at the goods...
John, Renee, Emily, and Michael get ready for a trip down into one of the mines.
After our dinner and discussion with our visitors from the USGS, we get together for a grand game of Maui!