Thursday, February 9, 2012

Spring Meeting of the Far Western Section-NAGT in the Mojave Desert at Zzyzx, CA on March 2-4: Updated Information

The spring meeting of the Far Western Section of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers will take place on March 2-4, 2012 at the Desert Studies Center in Zzyzx, California. We appreciate the work that El Camino College is doing to organize the meeting. Field trips will explore the mining history, geologic history, and volcanism of the Mojave Desert, the Quaternary landscape and distribution of biota, and the lava tubes of Pisgah Crater. More information and registration forms can be found on the Far Western Section website at

Updated information on the field trips and field trip leaders can be found below the fold:

NAGT Far Western Section

Spring 2012 Conference

Desert Studies Center at Zzyzx, California

March 2 – 4, 2012

Field Trip Information


Geology and Mining History in the Standard Mining District, Mojave National Preserve, San Bernardino, County, California Field Trip
Trip Leader Ted R. Weasma, Registered Project Geologist

Mineral interest in the Mojave Desert region by Americans goes back to at least the 1860's with the stablishment of the Bullion Mining District just to the east of the Standard District. That interest continues today even though the area encompassed by the park was withdrawn from mineral entry in 1994. Over 19,500 mining claims have been filed on lands within the park boundary since the 1860's. The field trip will concentrate on the history of the Standard District but will also include a stop at Rosalie and a discussion of the Copper World Mine and mining in the Clark Mountain District. The trip will go to the same localities as those visited in 2005 but will include new information and a discussion of the on-the-ground changes that have occurred since the last field trip.

Ted R. Weasma, RPG
Geologist/ Mining Law Specialist
Mojave National Preserve
Renewable Energy Coordinator
2701 Barstow Road
Barstow, CA 92311
760-252-6106 (Voice)
760-252-6174 (FAX)

Landscape Evolution and Climate Change in the Eastern Mojave Desert: Pleistocene to Present – an Exploration
Trip Leader Robert Fulton


Starting along the western edge of Soda (dry) Lake (Pleistocene Lake Mojave), the group will look at evidence for this latest Ice Age lake, and the development of hill slopes and alluvial fans during the Holocene. The effects of drying and wind in the region will be emphasized. Next, the group will travel hence to the youngest basaltic lava’s of the Cima Volcanic Field, and emphasize how Pliocene/Pleistocene/Holocene changes have occurred. Time permitting; there will be a visit to the only known lava tube in the Mojave National Preserve.

After a stop at the Mojave National Preserve’s Visitor’s Center at the historic Kelso Depot, the field day will end at the expansive Kelso Dunes. Terminus of the huge sand transport system that is the Mojave River and it’s tributaries, this is the second highest sand deposit in California.

Volcanism and the Eastern Mojave Field Trip

Trip Leaders Brandon Browne (California State University, Fullerton) and Eric Hovanitz (Santiago Canyon College)

Volcanic activity plays a central role in the geologic history of the Mojave National Preserve, from voluminous Miocene ash flow tuffs like the Peach Springs Tuff and Wild Horse Mesa Tuff to basaltic volcanic fields of Quaternary age like the Cima Volcanic Field. Because these volcanic units are so well exposed and preserved, they offer an exceptional opportunity to examine a wide variety of different types of volcanic deposits, interpret how these deposits formed, and speculate on the future threat of volcanic activity in this region. This field trip will take participants to some of the most well-studied deposits, as well as localities where more study is greatly needed. Our route will at times require driving on poorly maintained and sandy roads as well as hiking through an ecosystem characterized by extreme weather, steep/uneven surfaces, and potentially dangerous reptiles. Therefore, participants are expected to be prepared in terms of their vehicles (high clearance and 4-wheel drive vehicles recommended), clothing (sturdy boots and hiking attire), and personal items (backpack, first-aid kit, medications, SPF, food, and water).

The four main goals of this trip are for participants to learn to:

· 1. Identify and classify the main types of deposits produced during basaltic volcanic eruptions in the field, including pahoehoe lava flows, a’a lava flows, lava tubes, basaltic bombs/projectiles, and scoria cones.

· 2. Recognize and classify the main types of deposits produced during rhyolitic volcanic eruptions in the field, including welded and/or non-welded pyroclastic flow deposits, pumice fall deposits, and lava flows and domes.

· 3. Explain and contrast how basaltic and rhyolitic volcanic eruptions occur in terms of magma generation, ascent, crystallization/differentiation, degassing, fragmentation, and emplacement.

· 4. Relate xenolith mineralogies and textures found within volcanic rocks to the petrogenesis and crystallization history of the erupting magma.

A sign of the Time: Miocene Extension

Bob Reynolds - Cancelled

Anyone registered for this trip will be moved to their second choice. Bob found that he did not have time to develop the field trip to his standards and did not want to cancel at the last minute.


Pisgah Lava Tubes Field Trip

Explore the lava tubes of the Eastern Mojave. A helmet with a light, gloves, boots, and rugged clothing is recommended to properly visit the lava tubes.


Teaching teachers how they can better convey geology to their students

Worshop Leader Chuck Herzig (El Camino College)

One challenge in education today is to connect the real world to students' lives in a timely manner. Geology is a subject that particularly lends itself to their lives because of the natural disasters and climate change issues that students read about almost every day. This Workshop presents a method employed in some sections of the Geology 1 lecture classes at El Camino College during the past five years to address three issues;

(a) make geology relevant to student's lives in a timely manner,
(b) increase student involvement, investment and ownership in their Geology class,
(c) reduce textbook costs.

The Workbook and Lecture Notes packet used in the Geology sections will be analyzed and discussed. Participants will complete activities from within the Workbook and additional exercises that demonstrate how to engage students in their Geology class. The pedagogical principles of the Workbook are to provide more time to student-involved activities in the classroom with minimal sacrifice of lecture materials, to create "ownership" of the lecture materials by the students, and to provide more opportunities for students to write.

El Camino College will be hosting the spring 2012 National Association of Geoscience Teachers Conference at the Desert Studies Center in Zzyzx, California on March 2 – 4, 2012. Field trips will focus on various aspects of the Mojave Desert and are currently being planned. Zzyzx (which is pronounced zy – zicks with emphasis on the “zy”), California has a colorful history of its own and once was a resort which featured mineral springs and mud baths, and was renowned as a health resort. Some of these facilities are partially preserved and make for wonderful photographic opportunities with the background of Soda Dry Lake. Today, the California State University system has established a consortium which administers the Desert Studies Center, facilitates research in a variety of disciplines, and aids the preservation of the endangered Mohave tui chub.
Baker, California is located 11 miles to the north east from the Desert Studies Center and has a variety of motels, restaurants, gas stations, and other facilities, some of which are quite unique. “Home of the World's Tallest Thermometer” is Baker's claim to fame and the height of the thermometer at 134 feet or 41 meters was selected when the community recorded the highest temperature ever recorded in the United States (in Death Valley) at 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913. However, it is also a gateway to Death Valley and other scenic areas of the Mohave Desert. Many travelers come to know Baker as they fill their gas tanks during their excursions to and from Las Vegas, Nevada to Los Angeles, California. Baker, California is approximately 177 miles or 285 kilometers north east of Los Angeles, California. Las Vegas, Nevada is located about 88 miles or 142 kilometers to the north east of Baker, California.
The Desert Studies Center has a meeting room, an area for social gatherings and poster sessions, audio visual capabilities with wireless internet, dormitory facilities (advanced registration required and individuals bring their own bedding or sleeping bag), shower facilities, a chef who will prepare the hot breakfasts, dinners and packaged lunches, a store which features items related to Zzyzx, wonderful star gazing opportunities (clear skies permitting), and a wonderful view of Soda Dry Lake, the California Fan Palms and the Chub Pond. All of the field trips will leave from the Desert Studies Center.
In addition to the field trips, workshops, the banquet, and the NAGT Far Western Section business meeting, student posters are strongly encouraged. It is hoped that each school with faculty in attendance will have at least one student poster. The best posters will receive special recognition. Please plan to attend!
Please contact Lynn Fielding at with any questions about the spring 2012 NAGT Meeting.

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