Triple Twist Pine, Craters of the Moon, ID

Moderators: edfrank, dbhguru

Post Reply
User avatar
edfrank
Posts: 4217
Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:46 pm

Triple Twist Pine, Craters of the Moon, ID

Post by edfrank » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:31 pm

Triple Twist Pine, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho
image001.jpg
Photo of the Triple Twist Pine (Pinus flexus) along the North Crater Flow Trail in Craters of the Moon National Monument and preserve by Edward Frank (2005).

I had been corresponding with Ted Stoudt, Chief of Interpretation and Education, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve concerning another tree at the park. He suggested, “One thought that occurs to me is that you might have better luck focusing your article on what is known as the "Triple Twist" tree located on the North Crater Flow Trail. There are several historic photos of this particular tree and we have some pretty good age estimates for it as well. I have attached a photo from 1956 when it still had a sprig of green. It is also a very popular tree for photography.”

The Triple Twist Pine tree was cored in 1967 and found to have 1350 rings. This helped to determine the age of the lava flow upon which it grows. The lava must be older than the trees growing upon it. The tree died around 1968.
image003.jpg
This photo from the NPS Archives shows the same tree in 1956 when there was still green foliage on the pine tree. The tree is located along the North Crater Flow Trail

The Monument website http://www.nps.gov/crmo/naturescience/g ... tivity.htm and http://www.nps.gov/crmo/forteachers/site-tour-1.htm provides an overview of the geology of the area and the North Crater Flow Areas: “Between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago, the Craters of the Moon Lava Field formed during eight major eruptive periods. During this time the Craters of the Moon lava field grew to cover 618 square miles. The Wapi and Kings Bowl lava fields formed contemporaneously about 2,200 years ago.”

“Each period lasted from a few years to a few hundred years. The quiet time between periods of volcanic activity could be as short as several hundred years or as long as 3,000 years. The average time between periods of volcanic activity has been about 2,000 years. North Crater and the North Crater Lava Flow formed during the most recent eruptive period that ended approximately 2,000 years ago. Big Craters, the Spatter Cones, and the Blue Dragon Flow (Indian Tunnel, Boy Scout Cave, and the other lava tubes in the Caves Area) all formed during this same eruptive period. The following stops describe features that are encountered when following the trail in a clockwise direction.”
image005.jpg
View of the North Crater Flow Trail by Edward Frank (2005)
image007.jpg
Section from Hiking Trails Guide http://www.nps.gov/crmo/planyourvisit/hiking-trails.htm


NORTH CRATER FLOW TRAIL, 0.3 mi/.5 km, easy

This loop trail takes you onto the North Crater Flow, a pahoehoe flow that spilled from the North Crater vent about 2,200 years ago. Signs along the trail introduce other typical features: pressure ridges, squeeze ups, aa lava, and rafted blocks.

“The North Crater Flow Trail is one of most heavily visited trails in the park. The trail is fairly narrow making it difficult for a large group to gather in any one spot. It is important that you stay on the paved trail at all times. Walking on the lava in this area can easily break its fragile surface. Evidence of this damage can be seen along the trail as exposed red colored lava. Because of the wide range of volcanic features found on the North Crater Flow Trail, it is an excellent first stop.” http://www.nps.gov/crmo/planyourvisit/hiking-trails.htm

About the Triple Twist Pine: http://www.nps.gov/crmo/forteachers/site-tour-1.htm “If you were to look at a cross section of a tree or the top of a stump, you would see the tree trunk is made up of a series of concentric rings. Since a living tree adds one growth ring each year, you can determine the age of the tree by counting the number of growth rings. A core sample taken from the triple twist tree, showed it to be at least 1,350 years old.
image008.jpg

A molten lava flow destroys all plant life in its path. After the flow cools, new plant life slowly begins to return. This returning plant life provides scientists with one way to date lava flows. By comparing the amount of vegetation on one flow with the amount of vegetation on an adjoining flow, geologists can determine which of the two flows is older. To get an actual date on a lava flow, geologists can date a tree growing on the flow. In the case of the triple twist tree we know that the tree began growing after the last eruption, so the lava flow must be at least 1,350 years old.

Geologists can also use a method known as "radio-carbon dating." Samples of charred vegetation such as sagebrush, limber pine, or even pine cones can be dated using this method. Another method scientists can use to obtain dates far older than living vegetation can provide is called "paleomagnetic measurements." As the lava cools, tiny magnetic crystals align themselves in the direction of the earth's current magnetic field. Each lava flow at Craters of the Moon reflects the direction of the magnetic field when the lava erupted and cooled. Scientists can correlate this information to the earth's changing pattern of magnetism and arrive at a date when the lava was deposited.”
image010.jpg
From Owen (2008)

A more detailed account of the geology of the region is found in this document: “Geology of Craters of the Moon,” compiled by Douglass E. Owen, Park Geologist, revised January 2008 http://www.nps.gov/crmo/naturescience/u ... o-Long.pdf

Another document worth reading if you want a broader geology overview is: “Interpreting a Weird and Scenic Landscape to Park Visitors: Tectonic and Volcanic Processes of Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho” by Kimberly E. Truitt and Robert J. Lillie, Oregon State University. http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui ... /1957/2586
image011.jpg

Young Limber Pine growing among the lava blocks at Craters of the Moon – photo by Edward Frank (2005)

The triple twist pine is a limber pine (Pinus flexus). Limber pine (Pinus flexilis) is the dominant tree on lava flows in the northern third of the Monument. Limber pines are long-lived, slow-growing trees of small to medium size. They grow at elevations between 3,000 ft. and 12,500 ft., but do not typically occur at elevations below 6,000 ft. except where barren rocky conditions exist (Steele 1990). Limber pines grow best on certain types of soils and in the central Idaho mountains they are found largely on rocky ground with soils derived from sedimentary rocks (Steele 1990). However, at Craters of the Moon limber pines can be found growing with roots deep in the cracks on the lava and alongside windswept cinder cones. Within portions of the Monument, such as the north side of Inferno Cone, limber pines are well adapted and almost grow dense enough to form a closed canopy forest. In most areas, however, they grow in open stands or just as scattered solitary trees.

Young limber pines are often found growing in places where as a sapling they were protected somewhat from high winds; as adults they can survive and grow in these harsh elements with a well established root system. Limber pines account for a large percentage of the tree cover within the Monument. Interpreting Biological Diversity at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Natural Resource Report NPS/UCBN/NRR—2007/019 http://www.nps.gov/crmo/forteachers/upl ... 080115.pdf

The age of this particular pine, with a ring count of 1350 years, is exceptional but there are other examples from the species that are even older. The Gymnosperm Database http://www.conifers.org/pi/Pinus_flexilis.php lists the oldest specimen of the species as one from Arizona but one nearly as old was found elsewhere at Craters of the Moon NM:
“Crossdated ages of 1,670 years from site ERE in New Mexico, collected by Swetnam and Harlan; and 1659 years for specimen KET3996 from Ketchum, Idaho collected by Schulman in 1956 (Brown 1996). Given the fact that crossdated tree ages are always underestimates because of the near-impossibility of sampling the tree's seedling growth years, either of these trees could have been the older, particularly since KET3996 was sampled about 30 years before the ERE tree. During a 1994 visit to Craters of the Moon National Monument, I believe I located KET3996; it was dead, and had been for many years. (page edited by Christopher J. Earle)

Brown, Peter M. 1996. OLDLIST: A database of maximum tree ages. P. 727-731 in Dean, J.S., D.M. Meko and T.W. Swetnam, eds., "Tree rings, environment, and humanity." Radiocarbon 1996, Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, Tucson.”


Here is a final photograph of the pine from the National Park Service:
image013.png
NPS photo http://www.nps.gov/crmo//images/20070517132007.jpg

Rest in Peace, Triple Twist Pine.

Edward Frank

.
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

User avatar
Chris
Posts: 289
Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:52 pm

Re: Triple Twist Pine, Craters of the Moon, ID

Post by Chris » Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:03 pm

The stories that tree could tell!

User avatar
Larry Tucei
Posts: 2017
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 10:44 am

Re: Triple Twist Pine, Craters of the Moon, ID

Post by Larry Tucei » Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:58 pm

Ed, A really cool post! Its amazing how trees can adapt to this harsh enviorment and find a way to survive. Good photos! Larry

Joe

Re: Triple Twist Pine, Craters of the Moon, ID

Post by Joe » Mon Mar 26, 2012 6:20 am

"The Triple Twist Pine tree was cored in 1967 and found to have 1350 rings. This helped to determine the age of the lava flow upon which it grows. The lava must be older than the trees growing upon it. The tree died around 1968."

Gee, I'd hate to think that coring the tree pushed it over the edge.
Joe

User avatar
edfrank
Posts: 4217
Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:46 pm

Re: Triple Twist Pine, Craters of the Moon, ID

Post by edfrank » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:25 am

Joe,

That has been claimed as the cause of the trees demise by some people. Others have said it was already dead when cored in 1967.

Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

Joe

Re: Triple Twist Pine, Craters of the Moon, ID

Post by Joe » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:34 am

edfrank wrote:Joe,

That has been claimed as the cause of the trees demise by some people. Others have said it was already dead when cored in 1967.

Ed
Just curious, but do the coring pros have a policy regarding such fragile look specimens?
Joe

User avatar
Rand
Posts: 1217
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:25 pm

Re: Triple Twist Pine, Craters of the Moon, ID

Post by Rand » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:24 pm

I saw some similar dwarfed trees growing on the Big Obsidian flow in Newberry National Monument. First a couple of dwarfed trees:
IMG_2635.jpg
IMG_2638.jpg
The lava flow is interesting in its own right. Apparently when the cooling rate and silica content is just right you get obsidian. It tended to form in layers of varying thickness. So you get regular lava blocks shot through with glass. The thickest were ~2' thick:
IMG_2615.jpg
IMG_2626.jpg
IMG_2630.jpg

User avatar
edfrank
Posts: 4217
Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:46 pm

Re: Triple Twist Pine, Craters of the Moon, ID

Post by edfrank » Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:16 pm

Rand,

Very cool. I have other photos from Craters of the Moon of other trees. I don't have as many as I like because the wind blew my tripod over atop inferno cone and broke my camera. I would have liked to photographed more trees, and volcanic features, alas.


Ed
"I love science and it pains me to think that so many are terrified of the subject or feel that choosing science means you cannot also choose compassion, or the arts, or be awe by nature. Science is not meant to cure us of mystery, but to reinvent and revigorate it." by Robert M. Sapolsky

Post Reply

Return to “Idaho”