Last day in the Mojave Desert for Wooster Geologists … this year

RedRocks031513LAS VEGAS, NEVADA–We left the fine people at the Desert Studies Center in Zzyzx in the morning and drove in an all-too-irregular way through Las Vegas (sorry about that, other drivers!) to the spectacular Red Rocks National Conservation Area northwest of the city. Here we see a Paleozoic section thrust from the west over the white and red rocks of the Aztec Sandstone (Lower Jurassic). The view above is looking directly west from the visitor center. I don’t know all the names of these peaks, but I do recognize Mount Wilson on the left. (I did my dissertation in the Carboniferous rocks exposed in the background, but I don’t think they named the mountain after me.)

Our students, faculty and staff scattered for a couple of hours in this park on yet again a very pleasant day. Many of them climbed the sandstone cliffs, no doubt impressed by the large foresets showing that these sediments were deposited in massive dunes blown in from the east.

RedRocksVisitorCenter031513The redesigned visitor center at Red Rocks is excellent. Above is a view of part of the outside portion that takes advantage of the sun’s angle and cooling breezes. It includes a desert tortoise enclosure where we saw three of these endangered animals. This complex is so attractive and efficient that Yoav Avni took many photographs so that he could show Israeli planners some new ideas for their public displays.

At noon we drove back into Las Vegas and the open jaws of the McCarran Airport Complex. We turned in all four vans with no problems, got our boarding passes for our various destinations, and now are simply waiting in the airport for our flights out. An excellent and enjoyable trip in all respects. Here’s to Jason and Rob at the Desert Studies Center for their friendly and efficient management, to the rangers of the National Park Service for their helpful advice, to the faculty and staff leaders and drivers (so many miles!), and finally to the students who could not have been better ambassadors for Wooster Geology. Their enthusiasm and good humor is what makes these trips so special. We will return!

About Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a Professor of Geology at The College of Wooster. He specializes in invertebrate paleontology, carbonate sedimentology, and stratigraphy. He also is an expert on pseudoscience, especially creationism.
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2 Responses to Last day in the Mojave Desert for Wooster Geologists … this year

  1. Tim says:

    You know, those words ‘Jurassic sandstones’ always make me sad. Seems like such a great palaeontological opportunity missed when they could have been Jurassic limestones…

  2. Mark Wilson says:

    I hear you, Brother Tim. The compensation here is the magnificent Carboniferous limestone above.

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