Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Field Trip Photos

I finally had a chance to organize and post some selected photos from the field trip.

Also, if you have photos you would like to share as well, please send me a link, and I'll add it to the list of trip photo albums on the right.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Blog Stats

A big "You're welcome!" to those who commented on the blog or contacted me directly about it.  I'm glad you enjoyed following your family/friends on the trip!

Over the course of the field trip, 379 individuals viewed the blog 3,904 times, and the average visitor viewed the blog more than three-times-a-day. Visitors to the blog came dominantly from the United States, however, given the breadth of nationalities represented on the trip (and friends and family and alumni from abroad), we also saw a significant number of visits, from Spain (Emma and Pablo?), Ireland (Adrian?), Lebanon (Emile?), United Kingdom (Peter?), Canada (Ted?), Japan (?), Germany (Miak?), and a small number of hits from eight additional countries.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Home Again

We're back! It was a great trip, and it's sad to see the group dispersing, but it's time to go home, unpack wet tents and sleeping bags, and take a nap... and start getting ready for next year, maybe Ann Arbor to the Florida Keys?

Thanks everyone for helping ensure this was a safe, fun, and educational trip!  See you next year!

Day 16 - Return

We've landed at Detroit Metro Airport. We'll claim our luggage, then
meet the U-M bus for the ride back to CC Little.

Return Flight

After enjoying Las Vegas for several hours, we're now waiting to board
Delta 2216 and ready to head home. After two weeks of camping and
keeping close company in the vans, no one should have trouble catching
up on their sleep on this red-eye flight ;)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Las Vegas

We've arrived in Las Vegas and reunited with those left from the early
van. After cleaning the vehicles out and repacking, everyone is off to
explore the city for a few hours before we all meet back up again to
head to the airport.

San Andreas Fault

Were back in the sunshine and desert now. It was too fogged in and
rainy to make the stop to view the San Andreas Fault east of the LA
area. So now it's on to Barstow for a late lunch.

Topping Up

After breakfast at Esau's Cafe for some and gas for all the vans,
we're full-up rolling toward Vegas.

Day 15 - Last Day

Our last night was full of drizzle, which has carried on and off into
morning. So, unfortunately, we'll be packing up wet gear for the trip
home. Folks are slowly rising, as we're sleeping in a bit later than
usual today though, and planning on a 9am departure. That will give us
tome for a geology stop or two on the way nack to the Las Vegas Airport.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Santa Barbara

After a dry trip so far, the rain finally caught up with us. It wasn't
raining around Santa Barbara so we pitched camp first at Carpinteria,
and then headed into town for dinner. We've taken in the view from the
pier, now we need to choose a restaurant. Meanwhile, the group that
had to go back early has arrived safely in Las Vegas. We also will be
looking to see if the grunion are running at the beach at camp later.


We meet up with Nathan's friend, Jeff Grover, from Cuesta Community
College, at Morro Rock. He brought us a few miles north of Coyucos for
a regional overview and a short hike to look at a nice ophiolite
section. Good ribbon cherts and pillow basalt examples here, as well
as a small shear zone and more recent channel and fill on top of the
Franciscan here. Also discussed soil on top of terraces that are very
expansive; an important consideration in building areas like this.

Morro Rock

Lunch at Morro Rock with the sea otters.

Point Piedras Blancas

A quick stop for some marine biology; the elephant seal colony at
Point Piedras Blancas.

Ragged Point

North of Cambria we've stop again along the coast at Ragged Point.
Here we're looking at uplifted, altered oceanic crust in the Coast
Range Oophiolite. Specifically we see serpentinzed gabbro.

Moonstone Beach

Next stop, Moonstone Beach, near Cambria, CA. Here we see shales,
sanstones, igneous clasts and others in the shales, surface burrows,
vertical burrows, load structures, soft sediment deformation, etc. We
interpret this sequence as marine fans, getting more proximal compared
to last stop, and some good examples of grain flows. The beach
derives it's name from the variety of colourful, well-rounded chert
pebbles found on the beach. They are eroding out of the chert layers
in the Franciscan; ancient marine siliceous sediment.


The first stop today, in Montana de Oro State Park, is to view
turbidites in the Monterrey Formation. We also see old wave-cut
terraces that are being progressively uplifted.

Day 14 - Rise and Shine

Our next to last day started off with a brief morning drizzle, though
no one got very damp, as it quickly disapated before we got up. Now
we're emptying out vans, rearranging things to put together the group
who's heading back a day early.

Last Supper

It was a long, slow drive to get to the coast, but now we've touched
the Pacific. Our last group cookout, at Morro Bay State Park, was a
shrimp boil.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Crystal Cave

Our first geology stop today is a one-hour caving trip thru Crystal
Cave. It has formed in marble and is bounded by schists; in the
Junction Room you can see this contact. In the Organ room there are
glittering growths of bacteria (not gold), in addition to the
beautiful cave formations. In the Dome Room we talked about
phosphourescent formations (but didn't have a good enough light to
activate them.) In Marble Hall we talked about the vast number of
endemic cave species in this park. A very informative -- and
welcomingly chilly -- deviation from surface geology.


Before heading underground, we pause for a moment in the parking lot
to review the regional geology and cave formation processes. We also
discussed how the caves here were used to understand and constrain
timing on events in this area.

Day 13 -

We're off to an earlier start today, 6:00 instead of 6:30, so we can
make our appointment at Crystal Cave at Noon. It was nice camping on
dirt, in trees, and with humidity for a change. The glowing bugs
(millipedes? glow worms?) crawling on the ground last night were an
interesting addition too.


After a final stretch of very winding, but very beautiful driving, we
pitched camp at Wishon Campground in Giant Sequia National Monument.
Tonight we're taking a break from cooking though, and we're driving a
short haul back to Pierpoint Springs Resort for dinner, where Chrissie
is taking great care of us!

Saturday, May 15, 2010


We stopped near Wulford Heights to look at schist. There are several
variations here that we can exlore and discuss in terms of their
protoliths. The schist is here as a result of a Cretaceous shear-zone,
and runs roughly N-S along the pre-existing heyerogeniety associated
with the continent-ocean boundary.

Tonalite Outcrop

Along the lower Kern River we stop to look at tonalite. We compare and
contrast this with what we saw in the granodiorite at Whitney Portal.
We've crossded the "706 line", and are now in oceanic-crust-influenced
batholith rocks.

Hagan Canyon

Our next stop is Hagan Canyon in Red Rock State Park. Along the 1-mile
loop trail we explored a 16ma Miocene record in mostly lacusterine

Fossil Falls

Out first stop today is at Fossil Falls, where a 10-12kyr lava flow
dammed the paleo Owen River. There was a lot more water here at the
time as the last ice age was ending. Good examples of tool marks and
potholes in the fliw's rocks around the currently-dry waterfall area.

Day 12 - Morning Fueling

Our twelth day in the field began with another beautiful sunrise on
Mount Whitney. Because The northern routes have not been cleared of
snow yet, we'll be passing the Sierras on the southern end. So Nathan
has his coffee, guidebook, and iPhone at hand to do some final
tweaking to today's itinerary.

Campfire Stories

After a great day of geology and a fantastic burrito dinner, it's time
to relax around the campfire. Tommorow we head south around the
Sierras; our attempts to pentrate them or cross further north foiled
by snow.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bishop Tuff

Along the road down to the "middle" hydro plant we stop to take a
closeup look at the Bishop Tuff. It's full of sanadine and pumice
clasts here in the uppermost portion (which have been flattened.)

Sherwin Till

A classic stop to see clastic dikes and the relationship between the
Bishop Tuff and Sherwin Till.

Hot Creek Springs

After running into impenetrable snow on the roads to Obsidian Dome and
Lookout Mountain, we managed to make it to Hot Creek. Along the gorge
for a short stretch hot springs erupt under and next to the creek. The
geothermal activity here and in the vicinity are evidence of a still
active area. Recent earthquakes are further evidence as well.

(I have great memories of floating down the creek here, enjoying the
hot springs, with Eric Essene in 2003 on the California field trip. No
swimmg today though, it's all blocked off.)

Panum Crater

Next we stopped at Panum Crater next to Mono Lake. This is a classic
example of a rhyolitic plug-dome volcano, like Mt.Saint Helens, though
much smaller in scale.

Mono Lake

After a few hours drive north we've reached Mono Lake. From here we'll
make a number of stops heading back to Lone Pine campground, for our
second night there.

At this first stop we're looking at the tufa mounds exposed along the
south shore of Mono Lake. These are calcium carbonate mounds that
formed around underwater springs in Mono Lake, and are now exposed by
lowered lake levels. Lake levels are so low now because of the
diversion of water to Los Angeles.

Day 11 - Sunrise

The sun is up on the Sierras and it is already getting warm out.
After a long day yesterday, however, folks are sleeping in a bit this
morning. The waters on to boil though, so well have the aroma of
coffee drifting through camp soon.

Whitney Portal

A quick stop at Whitney Portal to view the waterfall and discuss
camping etiquette in bear country.

Whitney Portal

The geology is just so good we had to do one more stop on the way to
camp. (Were staying near Lone Pine, rather than in the planned Nelson
camground further north.) We examined granodiorite and xenoliths on
the road up to Whitney Portal. (Laura)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Owen's Valkey Fault

Final geology stop of the day was to view the scarp left by the 1872
earthquake near Lone Pine, CA. It's estimated the offset here is the
result of an ~7 magnitude event.

The Los Angeles aquifer is also visible below, and we discussed the
limitations it has put on local water use. One result being that this
area, though spectacularly beautiful, has remained largely undeveloped
and unpopulated, though it is comparable to Colorado's front range,
which has been built-up.

Alabama Hills

Lunch stop and discussion of the Alabama Hills granodiorite.


At the top of the pass out of Panamint Valley we stopped for an
overview of the day's activities.

Day 10 - Warmth

After some chilly nights, last night was quite warm camping at
Panamint Springs. We arrived early in camp last night, so we got to
enjoy the weather with a campfire after dinner, and rehash the highs
and lows of the trip so far. At 7am it was already 80-degrees, so now
it's time for breakfast and on to some cooler weather.

Mesquite Dunes

After seeing a lot of examples of Mesozoic eolian dune systems, here
we visit an active dune field in Death Valley.

Alluvial Fans

We're out of Titus Canyon and on the floor of Death Valley. From here
we can see good examples of alluvial fans filling into the valley.

Is it a fold?

No! It's topography and apparent dip.


Lunch stop. The sign says it all!

Red Pass

We stopped at the pass for a view of the Grapevine Mountains and the
Fall Creek Fault, and to describe the formations exposed in the area.

Titus Canyon Conglomerate

Our first stop on the torturous Titus Canyon Road is to view the
Oligocene Titus Canyon formation in Titanothere Canyonsdh . What
kind of clasts do we see? Are they mature? Is it well-sorted? What
are possible provenances?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


We stopped at a GPS station that is part of a network of such stations
for monitoring motion across Western North America. From it's
location we have a panoramic view of much of the area and units we'll
be seeing today. Yucca mountian is visible in the distance from here
as well, and we discussed it's history as a proposed nuclear waste
storage facility.

Day 9 - Cloud Covered Peaks

After dinner and a supply trip to Walmart, we pitched out tents at
Mahagony Grove Group Camground in Humboldt-Yoiyabe National Forest.
The camground is at 8300ft so it was on the cool side last night
again; good fodder for discussion of El Nino and it's impact on
Western US weather. The peaks above us are dusted in snow and covered
clouds. On to Death Valley...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Red Rock Canyon

We're all fresh and clean after the laundromat, so now we can get back
to geology. Nathan provided an overview of the latter half of the
trip at Red Rock Canyon. In the canyon itself we looked at and
discussed the ~90ma Keystone fault, which places Cambrian over
Triassic rocks.


We're at about the halfway point in the trip. We've picked up Nathan
Niemi to help lead the second half of the trip, said goodbye to Ken,
who had a previous commiment and was able to make first half. Now it's
time to get cleaned up and restocked.

Day 8 - Winter Makes an Appearence

We are on our way west now, back to Las Vegas. Today we awoke to high
winds and light flurries in camp. Folks are moving a bit slow today,
after yesterday's big hike, but after some coffee and tea (and cold
chili for some) everyones perked back up. When we get to Las Vegas,
we'll pick up Nathan Niemi, say goodbye to Ken, find a laundromat,
restock our supplies, and then camp just west of town.

Back to the Rim

While we went down as one group to explore and discuss the geology, we
returned in many small groups to allow folks to return to the rim at
their own pace. Jen, Julia, Emma, Pablo, Ken, Ted, and Ellie returned
to the top after about nine-and-a-half hours of hiking and geology.
Most of the group celebrated their return with a stop at the lodge for
a beer, others went straight to the showers. It was a very strenuous
hike, however, everyone felt it was well worth it. Next was dinner, a
quick one-pot (very large pot) batch of chili to warm everyone up; it
was in the 80's down in the canyon, but down in the 40's back at camp.
(We made sure to have someone other than Kacey tasting the chili as it
was prepared to ensure it didn't end up too adventurous :) Now it's
time for some well-deserved sleep...


For those that persevered down to the Zoeraster granite, they were
rewarded with an opportunity to cool off before heading back up.

Plateau Point

After many stops to inspect various formations on the way down, we
took in the panoramic views at Plateau Point. From here about half the
group headed back. The rest, on down...