Friday, April 19, 2013

Field Course Opportunity: Geology of the Colorado Plateau, June 15-29

(cross-posted from Geotripper, by Garry Hayes)
North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park (yes, Gaelyn, we'll be on the North Rim, hope to see you there!)
There is no place on this planet like the Colorado Plateau. It's hard to find anyplace else on Earth where the crust remained relatively stable for upwards of a billion years, accumulating several miles of horizontal sediments, only to be lifted up rapidly in the last few million. The Colorado River and her tributaries then stripped away much of the sedimentary cover, and cut deep into the underlying metamorphic rocks, which record a violent geologic history of colliding landmasses and mountain-building. The resulting landscape is one of the most beautiful places imaginable.
Angels Landing Trail in Zion National Park, Utah
The plateau country is a training ground for geologists and earth scientists, and has been since the days of John Wesley Powell and Joseph Ives, who were the first to lead research parties into the region (they didn't "discover" the plateau, of course; Native Americans have known the region for thousands of years). If you are curious about learning geology in this incredible region, you might consider joining us as a student (of any age) on our geology field studies course Geology 174, offered under the auspices of Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California.
Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah
Our field course will be a grand loop through the plateau country, with investigations of the Mojave National Scenic Preserve, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mesa Verde and Great Basin National Parks, as well as many monuments, including Natural Bridges, Navajo, Hovenweap, Colorado, and state parks like Kodachrome Basin, Goblin Valley, and Berlin-Ichthyosaur. It will be an unforgettable two week trip from June 15-29, beginning and ending in Modesto. Information can be found at my school website at
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado
It's not a comfortable trip...we travel in school vans (which of course are known for their luxuriousness!), we camp every night, and the days can be hot, windy, cold, stormy, and we are out in the middle of anything that happens. But we are staying in beautiful places each night, and there are even showers and laundry available every third day or so! Extensive hiking is not required, but there will be many chances to explore the parks and monuments that we are visiting.
Double Arch in Arches National Park in Utah
Geology 174 is a 3 semester unit course. By end of the course, you will be able to see the landscape the way geologists do: by identifying rocks, minerals and fossils, and interpreting the geological history of an area by working out the sequence of events as exposed in outcrops. If you are a science teacher, you will come home with a collection of photographs that illustrate most of the important principles of geology, and a selection of rocks, minerals and fossils that will make a great classroom teaching tool (legally collected, of course; there are many localities outside of protected parks from which to collect samples).
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
The cost of the trip is $650.00 plus the cost of tuition (Currently $46 per unit for California residents, and $222 per unit for out-of-state residents). The cost includes transportation, food, camp fees, and entrance fees. Participants would want to bring a few dollars along for showers, laundry, and souvenirs.  The food is tasty and plentiful (everyone helps cook and clean!), and the school vans...are vans.

For those of you who live in the Modesto region, we are having an organizational meeting on Monday, April 22 at 7PM in Science 132 of the East Campus at Modesto Junior College. Attendance is not mandatory (and not binding, either), but will be a chance to learn more about the trip and the class. If you can't make it to the meeting, I will send the class materials to you.
Antelope Canyon, Navajo Nation Tribal Park
If you are not in the area, we will be glad to arrange for transportation from nearby airports and train stations (we actually have an Amtrak station in town). Enrollment can be completed online once you are registered with the college ( Please contact me through the class website if you have any questions.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Hope to see you out there, back of beyond!

1 comment:

  1. Would love to do this trip again someday... So wonderful!