10-Oct-2018 -- Once again we made the trip to the USA to attend the 2018 ASA annual meeting in San Francisco where we were to present results of our team.
This time I had a week of vacation before the meeting and we decided to visit Texas and especially the Big Bend and Carlsbad National Parks and White sands National Monument. After the meeting we spend 3 more days of vacation in Santa Cruz and the bay area.
We successively visited 32N 104W, 33N 106W, 37N 122W, and 38N 123W during that trip as there were points easy to reach from a road.
All these visits were made with a poor precision because the screen of my GPS receiver was broken during the flight and the device was completely useless at arrival. I decided to keep the visits on our schedule but I used my cell phone compass which of course wouldn’t offer the precision to zero in the points.
Comparing the previous visits to each of these points and the Google earth pictures along with the coordinate read on my phone and the actual pictures I shot, I am pretty sure that all 4 visits were made within the 100 meters limit to allow validation of the visit. Nevertheless, as I was unable to zero any of the points, I submitted the 4 visits with a 99 meters precision.
32N 104W is located in the Chihuahuan desert almost on the NM – TX state line. One can reach the point Driving on a dust road (Catfish Road) heading north east from I-285. By visiting this point we were exactly in the same situation than Ross Finlayson back in 2009: we were driving from Big Bend to Carlsbad National Parks. We can witness that huge changes are under progress on the point. It looks like if the whole Chihuahua desert is turning into a gigantic oil field. The landscape is only made of pipes, water tanks, and huge water reservoirs (see West view picture) along with dispatching stations powered by solar panels. To get there you also have to make your way through heavy traffic on I-285 and it is certainly unsafe to drive there at night.
How long will it take for these lands to return to the wild desert once that the oil slicks will be dried ? I fear that the area will never recover from those changes.