What's with the dirt

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habaceeba
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What's with the dirt

Post by habaceeba » Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:08 am

Question for the geologists out there - I've walked all over the Colorado mountains and almost everywhere above treeline in grassy/soily areas I come across small piles of soft, loamy dirt like fire ant hills (if you've ever seen them in the South), but there are no ants. What causes this? The internet is no help.
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Re: What's with the dirt

Post by BillMiddlebrook » Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:14 am

Think Caddy Shack
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Re: What's with the dirt

Post by BillMiddlebrook » Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:18 am

Those gophers are active making tunnels before the sun comes up.
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Re: What's with the dirt

Post by Ptglhs » Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:28 am

There's also an effect that comes from freeze-thaw with undergroundwater that can push up bits of soil. It doesn't look like a mound but it does look like small speed bumps criss-crossing a mountain slope.
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Re: What's with the dirt

Post by Christian Nunes » Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:40 am

As Bill implies, you're seeing the mounds of Northern Pocket Gophers (Thomomys talpoides). There are several other species that can be found at lower elevations, but Northern is the only species that occurs in the alpine tundra of CO. https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/44066- ... -talpoides
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Re: What's with the dirt

Post by Bill G » Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:51 am

Carl Spackler: Correct me if I'm wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers they'll lock me up and throw away the key. Sandy: Not golfers, you great fool. Gophers. :lol:
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Re: What's with the dirt

Post by cougar » Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:58 am

In Alaska, these are created by burrowing whales. I postholed in some of these bigger soft patches and mounds this past weekend.
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Re: What's with the dirt

Post by greenonion » Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:00 am

Bill G wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:51 am
Carl Spackler: Correct me if I'm wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers they'll lock me up and throw away the key. Sandy: Not golfers, you great fool. Gophers. :lol:
What am I missing here?
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Re: What's with the dirt

Post by Conor » Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:05 am

greenonion wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:00 am
Bill G wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:51 am
Carl Spackler: Correct me if I'm wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers they'll lock me up and throw away the key. Sandy: Not golfers, you great fool. Gophers. :lol:
What am I missing here?
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Re: What's with the dirt

Post by jibler » Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:09 am

I'm not sure if this is all gopher related.


i have developed my own theory on some of these - especially where you see bands of loose dirt.


that's the retreating edge of the previous winter's snowpack!
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Re: What's with the dirt

Post by mtree » Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:19 am

Think "Tremors".
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Re: What's with the dirt

Post by Conor » Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:19 am

mtree wrote:
Tue Oct 13, 2020 10:19 am
Think "Tremors".
mmm....bacon
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