Wooster’s Team Utah completes its presentations at the 2013 GSA meeting in Denver

October 29th, 2013

Tricia102913DENVER, COLORADO–Tricia Hall (’14) stands before her 2013 Geological Society of America poster: “Petrologic and kinematic analysis of deformation bands in the Late Cretaceous Sixmile Canyon Formation, central Utah“. She worked hard this summer with Dr. Shelley Judge pounding away at deformation bands to use them as keys to sorting through complex structural events. Kyle Burden (’14) is below with his collaborative poster: “Reconstruction of eruption conditions based on crater rim stratigraphy at Miter Crater, Ice Springs Volcanic Field, Black Rock Desert, Utah“. Michael Williams (’16), Candy Thornton (’14) and Cam Matesich (’14) are also co-authors on this presentation of summer work in the Black Rock Desert with Dr. Judge and Dr. Pollock, along with students and faculty from Albion College.

Kyle102913Team Utah closed out the 2013 Wooster student presentations at the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Denver. The faculty is very pleased … and not a little exhausted!

Team Utah’s first presentation at GSA 2013

October 28th, 2013

Michael102813DENVER, COLORADO–Michael Williams (who chose a particularly impressive shirt and tie today) and Dr. Shelley Judge presented a poster at the Geological Society of America meeting entitled: “Evidence for inflation and deflation in lavas flows west of Miter Crater, Ice Springs Volcanic Field, Black Rock Desert, Utah.” This was the first offering from this year’s Team Utah. Michael proved to be an effective and animated communicator — and possibly the only sophomore presenting at the meeting!

Home Sweet Home…(after 2 months of research and teaching in Utah!!)

August 9th, 2013

WOOSTER, OH — Two months in the field is great for my geologic soul, but I admit that there is an excitement on campus as I prepare for classes to begin in the next few weeks.  I last blogged about my time in Utah weeks ago, when Tricia Hall (’14) and I collected data in central Utah for her I.S. project on deformation bands.  It was difficult for me to blog while teaching field camp in June and July (32 students; 24/7 questions), but I wanted to catch everyone up on some of the sights from this summer.

During our last days in the field together, Tricia and I were both geologists and naturalists, witnessing “survival of the fittest” first-hand.  Check out these action shots:

Snake and Bat 1This snake has caught a bat, which was hiding in one of the fractures in the rock.  Oh…by the way…we just so happened to be taking measurements in this very area!!  As I was taking measurements, my head came within inches of the snake’s rear end.  But, lucky for me, he didn’t see me, as he had shoved his head inside one of the fractures to grab the bat.  Needless to say, when I saw our friend, I broke the world record for the 100 m dash (well, it was more like the steeplechase as I bounded across the rocks).

Snake and Bat 2Our friend ate several bats that afternoon; you can see here that he is busy swallowing one of the bats completely.  But, we still had to grab data, so I sent Tricia back in to get some of the measurements!!  As the diligent advisor, I decided to be “on the look-out” while she took the measurements (placing Tricia between the snake and me).

After my time with deformation bands, I spent time in Ice Springs Volcanic Field with ‘Team Utah 2.0′ (Meagen Pollock, 6 Wooster geology students,  and a group from Albion College led by Thom Wilch).  Meagen did a great job blogging our exploits of our field season, which was definitely enjoyable!!

Then, for the rest of the summer, I taught at Ohio State’s field camp based in Ephraim, Utah, and field camp this year had a record number of students.  While I cannot show you pictures of our mapping areas and tell you about all of the really outstanding geology there (after all, I don’t want to spoil the fun and give away all of the answers for next year’s students), I will say that central Utah has some amazing geology.  The field camp is located in the Sevier fold-thrust belt, and so wonderful foreland basin deposits are the basis of many of our mapping areas.  However, the area has been overprinted by more recent extension, making it a very complex transition between the Basin and Range and the Colorado Plateau.

I would like to share with you some of the really awesome field trips that we took the students on…

Waterpocket MonoclineEarly on, we traveled to Capitol Reef National Park, where the view of the Waterpocket Monocline is phenomenal.  The structure is one of the classic monoclinal folds formed during the Laramide Orogeny.  But, even though I absolutely LOVE monoclines, there was more to see at Capitol Reef…

Capital Reef - Jn Cross-beddingHere is a picture of the Navajo Sandstone and its amazing cross-bedding in all of its glory.  Can you just imagine yourself standing in this large desert environment during the Jurassic?  Picture yourself as a sand grain, saltating along a dune surface…

Capital Reef - GoosenecksBut, I cannot forget to show you a picture from the Goosenecks Overlook in Capitol Reef.  Seeing the stratigraphy in this portion of the part was very helpful to all of the students, as they began to mentally correlate units from southern Utah toward central Utah.

After days of mapping back in central Utah, we took another field trip to Great Basin National Park and the Northern Snake Range (eastern Nevada); this trip with the field camp students is always a highlight for me each summer.

Lehman CavesAt Great Basin National Park, you can take a guided tour of Lehman Caves.  Some of the views inside of the caves are incredible.  The delicate and fragile cave morphologies are spectacular and include stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, shields, and popcorn!!  The added plus to the Lehman Caves tour is that the temperature is always in the 50s, which is such a contrast to the desert heat that I am in all summer.

From Great Basin National Park, we traveled to the Northern Snake Range…

Northern Snake RangeThe Northern Snake Range, seen above, reveals a remarkable metamorphic core complex (MCC).   A MCC is a result of extreme crustal extension, and so you can see highly metamorphosed basement rocks that have been exhumed.

NSRD ScenicAbove is a scenic view of the Northern Snake Range detachment surface (NSRD; note the white rock unit in the picture).  The detachment surface is really a low-angle fault, which reveals metamorphosed rock in the footwall and normal faulted units in the hanging wall.

NSRD FoldingHere is a look at the highly folded metamorphosed rocks of the NSRD.  It literally takes the field camp class hours to walk a transect through all of the rock units leading up to the NSRD, but once they get there, the view is well worth the hike.  This year, we were able to have an amazing view of a forest fire in the Great Basin National Park (Lexington Arch Road wildfire, July 2013).

After a day looking at the NSRD, it was time to examine some other extensional characteristics of this region…

Hendrys CreekTake a look at all of these conjugate, normal faults near the mouth of Hendrys Creek!!  Aren’t they absolutely beautiful?  We were able to take the class up close and personal to these faults, getting accurate measurements for a computer-based exercise for later in the summer.  Students were able to take joint and fault measurements at this locality and foliations and lineations at several other localities within Hendrys Creek.  Then, using Stereonet, they could analyze and interpret the tectonic significance of the area!!  I get to visit Hendrys Creek each summer, and one of my former I.S. students (Joe Wilch ’13) worked in Hendrys as part of his I.S. project with the summer 2012 Keck Geology Consortium.

At the end of the summer, it was back to mapping in central Utah, and this — mapping and teaching mapping — makes me very happy.  I just love to be out in the field.  Each and every day, I get to look at the magnificent Wasatch Monocline with its fantastic Mesozoic-Cenozoic stratigraphy and antithetic normal faults (shown below in a view up Manti Canyon).

Monocline - MCP

IT IS GREAT TO BE A FIELD GEOLOGIST!!

 

 

Congratulations Team Utah!

June 20th, 2013

UTAH – Congratulations to Team Utah on completing a successful field season!

Team Utah 2013 at the end of their last day in the field. From left to right: (front) Dr. Thom Wilch (Albion), Michael Williams ('16, COW), Ellen Redner ('14, Albion), Cam Matesich ('14, COW), Adam Silverstein ('16, COW); (back) Kyle Burden ('14, COW), Dr. Meagen Pollock (COW), Ben Hinks ('14, Albion), Candy Thornton ('14, COW), Tricia Hall ('14, COW), and Dr. Shelley Judge (COW).

Team Utah 2013 at the end of their last day in the field. From left to right: (front) Dr. Thom Wilch (Albion), Michael Williams (’16, COW), Ellen Redner (’14, Albion), Cam Matesich (’14, COW), Adam Silverstein (’16, COW); (back) Kyle Burden (’14, COW), Dr. Meagen Pollock (COW), Ben Hinks (’14, Albion), Candy Thornton (’14, COW), Tricia Hall (’14, COW), and Dr. Shelley Judge (COW). Credit: T. Wilch

Although we’re parting ways, the students will be working on the research. They have plenty of data to analyze and lab work to do, so continue following the blog to stay updated on their progress.

Sandstone Appreciation Day

June 16th, 2013

Zion National Park, Utah – Team Utah took a break from the volcanic field to explore some of Utah’s (more famous) sedimentary rocks. We visited Zion, Utah’s first National Park.

Zion is a geological wonderland, featuring striking sheer cliffs and narrow slot canyons.

Zion is a geological wonderland, featuring striking sheer cliffs and narrow slot canyons.

The students took the Kayenta trail to the Emerald Pools.

The students hiked the Kayenta trail to the Emerald Pools. Credit: T. Hall

This is the Court of the Patriarch, so named for figures from the Old Testament by Frederick Vining Fisher in 1916. Abraham Peak is on the far left. Isaac Peak is in the center. Jacob Peak is the white peak that can be viewed just beyond Mount Moroni.

This is the Court of the Patriarchs, so named for figures from the Old Testament by Frederick Vining Fisher in 1916. Abraham Peak is on the far left. Isaac Peak is in the center. Jacob Peak is the white peak that can be viewed just beyond Mount Moroni on the right.

View of The Narrows, a trail that winds through the slot canyons carved by water through the Navajo Sandstone.

View of The Narrows, a trail that winds through slot canyons in the famously cross-bedded Navajo Sandstone.

The Wooster crew cools off in the Virgin River at the end of an awesome day in Zion. Credit: T. Wilch

The Wooster crew cools off in the Virgin River at the end of an awesome day in Zion. Credit: T. Wilch

Serious Geologizing in Utah

June 13th, 2013

UTAH – Team Utah has been seriously geologizing in the Ice Springs Volcanic Field over the past two days. Here’s a photo-journal of the crew at work.

Ben Hinks ('14, Albion) examines a stack of thin pahoehoe flows in his field area. Credit: M. Pollock

Ben Hinks (’14, Albion) examines a stack of thin pahoehoe flows in his field area. Credit: M. Pollock

Cam Matesich ('14, Wooster), Ben Hinks ('14, Albion, and Tricia Hall ('14, Wooster) looking for samples in an 'a'a lava flow in Cam's field area. Credit: T. Wilch

Cam Matesich (’14, Wooster), Ben, and Tricia Hall (’14, Wooster) look for samples in an ‘a’a lava flow in Cam’s field area. Credit: T. Wilch

Synchronized hammering was the only way we could get samples of the tough lava. From left to right: Cam Matesich, Ellen Redner ('14, Albion), Kyle Burden ('14, Wooster), and Ben Hinks. Credit: M. Pollock

Synchronized hammering was the only way we could get samples of the tough lava. From left to right: Cam, Ellen Redner (’14, Albion), Kyle Burden (’14, Wooster), and Ben. Credit: M. Pollock

Ellen hands Ben the fruits of her labor. Credit: T. Wilch

Ellen hands Ben the fruits of her labor. Kyle is ready to bag it. Credit: T. Wilch

Candy Thornton ('14, Wooster) directs the data collection at her field site. Credit: T. Wilch

Candy Thornton (’14, Wooster) directs the data collection at her field site. Credit: T. Wilch

Kyle, Ben, and Candy document the stratigraphy of an isolated lava pillar in the middle of a depression. Credit: T. Wilch

Kyle, Ben, and Candy document the stratigraphy of an isolated lava pillar in the middle of a depression. Credit: T. Wilch

Adam Silverstein ('16, Wooster) makes an excellent scale. Credit: M. Pollock

Adam Silverstein (’16, Wooster) makes an excellent scale. Credit: M. Pollock

 

Michael Williams ('16, Wooster) and Cam use the GPS to map the location of features in Candy's field site. Credit: A. Silverstein

Michael Williams (’16, Wooster) and Cam use the GPS to map the location of features in Candy’s field site. Credit: A. Silverstein

Tricia measures the orientation of volcanic striae. Credit: M. Pollock

Tricia measures the orientation of volcanic striae. Credit: M. Pollock

Team Utah Version 2.0

June 11th, 2013

UTAH – Field work has officially begun for Team Utah, Version 2.0. The team consists of three Wooster seniors (Kyle Burden ’14, Cam Matesich ’14, Candy Thornton, ’14) and two Wooster sophomores (Adam Silverstein ’16, Michael Williams ’16). Tricia Hall (’14) is a returning member who has graciously agreed to stay in Utah after her IS field work to help us with our data collection. This year, we’re also joined by Dr. Thom Wilch and two senior geologists (Ellen Redner ’14 and Ben Hinks ’14) from the Albion College Department of Geological Sciences. Needless to say, we’re a small army, and we’re ready to find the answers to questions raised during last year’s reconnaissance investigations of Ice Springs Volcanic Field in the Black Rock Desert.

Dr. Shelley Judge gives a brief overview of the local and regional geology before heading out to the field.

Dr. Shelley Judge gives a brief overview of the local and regional geology before heading out to the field.

We began the morning at the top of the cinder cone and found a new exposure that was uncovered in the last year.

We began the morning at the top of the cinder cone and found a new exposure that was uncovered in the last year.

I know what you’re thinking…it looks like a wall of pillow lavas. (By the way, Team Iceland’s work on pillow lavas continues.)

It's actually a wall of welded bombs and spatter.

It’s actually a wall of welded bombs and spatter. These blobs of lava were ejected explosively during an eruption and fused to one another on the rim of the cone.

Kyle Burden ('14), shown here taking careful notes, will be working on the welded bomb wall using an approach similar to the one Team Iceland used on pillow lavas. He'll be collecting high-resolution images with a GigaPan and making careful measurements of bombs across the exposure.

Kyle Burden (’14), shown here taking careful notes, will be working on the welded bomb wall using an approach similar to the one Team Iceland used on pillow lavas. He’ll be collecting high-resolution images with a GigaPan and making careful measurements of bombs across the exposure.

After a morning on the cinder cones, we descended into the lava fields.

Candy Thornton ('14) contemplates her field area. She'll be documenting features in the lava flows to determine whether they inflated as they were emplaced.

Candy Thornton (’14) contemplates her field area. She’ll be documenting features in the lava flows to determine whether they inflated as they were emplaced.

One of the features that Candy will be studying are these striae, which are grooves that formed on the sides of a mound called a tumulus. The striae indicate that the interior of the mound moved up relative to the outer crust while the lava was partially molten.

One of the features that Candy will be studying are these striae, which are grooves that formed on the sides of a mound called a tumulus. The striae indicate that the interior of the mound moved up relative to the outer crust while the lava was partially molten.

 

 

George Davis (’64), meet Tricia Hall (’14)

June 8th, 2013

EPHRAIM, UTAH — Generations of Wooster geologists were united today over a common interest:  deformation bands of Utah!!

George Davis (Regents Professor Emeritus and Provost Emeritus, University of Arizona) researched the deformation bands of the Colorado Plateau region of Utah and wrote several very detailed manuscripts.  As we work on a structural analysis of the Sixmile Canyon Formation, we have been using two of his publications rather extensively this past week:  “Structural Geology of the Colorado Plateau Region of Southern Utah, with Special Emphasis of Deformation Bands”…and…”Conjugate Riedel Deformation Band Shear Zones”.

I actually thought that it was a unique twist of fate that Tricia and I were pouring over two of George’s publications last night…and putting our knowledge into use today in the field.

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Above is a view of the Sixmile Canyon Formation, the focus of Tricia’s study.  It contains wonderful deformation bands and joints, and it just happens to be located next to two characteristic antithetic normal faults that cut the Wasatch Plateau.

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Tricia and I stumbled upon these deformation bands early in the morning…

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…and these later in the afternoon.  With all of the deformation bands in the area, we felt like “measuring machines”.  Indeed, we could have used help in the field today from fellow Brunton-lovers!!

In addition to looking for conjugate deformation bands that George describes from his work in southern Utah, we were also trying to identify characteristic “ladder structures” that he identified in the Sheets Gulch area.  Tricia is sampling the deformation bands for further thin section analyses to determine if they show any sign of cataclasis.  Ultimately, she would like to classify the deformation bands, using one of the kinematic classification schemes proposed in the literature.

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Here’s Tricia gathering what she considers to be a “small” sample from a prominent deformation band.  You can tell how excited she is about her I.S.!!

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One characteristic of this part of the Sixmile is the interesting iron “concretions” that are everywhere.  The photo above shows how abundant that they can be within the unit.

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Aren’t these awesome??!!  These iron “chimneys” rise right out of the rock.  Tricia and I will be further investigating the abundance of morphologies of these concretions tomorrow, as we try to tackle some interesting paleo-fluid fronts within the Sixmile.  The past two days have been rather safe in the field, because we saw few mountain lion prints at our localities.  But, tomorrow is another day, and we are hiking back up to the areas where we saw extensive mountain lion ”trace fossils”.

Mountain lions and deformation bands: just another day in Utah

June 6th, 2013

Guest Blogger:  Tricia Hall

SIXMILE CANYON, UTAH — After a couple of days seeing a good number of mountain lion footprints, Shelley and I have decided that it is best to turn the attention of my I.S. toward using our new Trimble GPS to track mountain lion movements. We have heard from the local residents that the lions are low in the mountains, and have even ran across a potential “lion den”. Along the way, just in case this project does not pan out, I have measured a few deformation band orientations so that I don’t fail I.S. Just kidding! Here’s what we’ve really been up to the past couple of days….

Yesterday, we tackled the faulting and joint sets within the Flagstaff Limestone to the west of the Sixmile Canyon Formation exposure. The Flagstaff unconformably overlies the Sixmile, and the faulting and jointing relationships will be key in interpreting the deformation bands within the Sixmile Canyon Formation. We made good use of the Trimble to map the Formation and the fault (to the best of our ability). The resulting map, even without postprocessing, shows normal faulting within the Flagstaff complete with drag folds.

Above is the jointed Flagstaff Limestone looking to the north. We measured several units of this formation to determine the offset of the faults. In addition to the Trimble, we used the brand new Laser range finder! It was either the range finder or eye heighting up the mountain...I was all for the former.

Above is the jointed Flagstaff Limestone looking to the north. We measured several units of this formation to determine the offset of the faults. In addition to the Trimble, we used the brand new Laser range finder! It was either the range finder or eye heighting up the mountain…I was all for the former.

After a long day yesterday, we made it out to Sixmile Canyon this morning with the intention of measuring the major joint sets in the morning followed by deformation band measurements in the afternoon. The joint sets were harder to find than we thought, but hopefully after we go through today’s data after I’m done blogging we’ll find that we’re okay on joint sets. The afternoon was pretty warm, but there was work to be done. It was finally deformation band time! We began measuring orientations, collecting samples, and yes, we broke out the Schmidt Hammer. Schmidty proved most effective and will be put back to work tomorrow. We’re well on our way to our self-imposed 300 Schmidty hits!

Schmidty was phenomenal on the deformation band shown above.

Schmidty was phenomenal on the deformation band shown above.

We’ll check in later, back to Sixmile Canyon tomorrow!

A visit to the Natural History Museum of Utah

May 29th, 2013

NHMU052913SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH–On the last full day of our Utah trip, we toured the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City. It is in a spectacular place against the red rocks of the Wasatch Mountains and looking over the Salt Lake Valley. This museum has only been open since November 2011. Its exhibits are very up-to-date and modern.  (My test for recent accuracy is whether birds are acknowledged as dinosaurs and if Australopithecus sediba is in the human evolution section.) I’d like to just share some images from the museum and encourage anyone in Salt Lake City to visit it.

EoceneLake052913Dr. Judge will be impressed with the attention paid to exhibits on the Green River Formation (Eocene). This tableau is designed to show animals in the water (below) and on the beach (above). Note the stromatolites on the shoreline representing some of the features she and her students have worked on in the Green River Formation.

585_Deinosuchus_hatcheri_052913Utah is extremely rich in Mesozoic vertebrate fossils. Here is an impressive skeleton of Deinosuchus hatcheri from the Cretaceous.

CeratopsianWall052913The dinosaur exhibit is world-class. Here is a wall of ceratopsian dinosaur skulls showing evolutionary relationships.

DinoPelvis1_052913My History of Life students are well trained in sorting out major dinosaur groups by their pelvic bones. They could tell you, for example, if this is an ornithischian or a saurischian dinosaur.

DinoPelvis2_052913And this set is of the other group. Can you see the differences?

dinohead052913It appears this dinosaur had barnacles for eyes!

PaleontologistsBehindGlass052913Here is the classic paleontologists-behind-glass exhibit of a working laboratory. (I wonder why they never put working petrologists on display?)

NHMUview052913The architects knew exactly what they were doing when it came to designing the building to take full advantage of the setting. The Salt Lake Valley is fully visible from every floor.

What a great place to end our little Utah excursion this year. The real Team Utah of Wooster Geology will be back in the state next month.

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