Guest Blogger: Michael Williams (’16), member of Team Utah 2014
EPHRAIM, UTAH –Team Utah 2014 is now approaching the one-week mark of being in the field. For the past four days we’ve been working on one of Dr. Judge’s pet projects: deformation bands and fluid flow in the Sixmile Canyon Formation. This Cretaceous sandstone underwent some serious deformation during the building of the Rocky Mountains, and this strain reveals itself in several remarkable features, including jointing, deformation bands, and bizarre outcroppings of iron. Team Utah has been working hard to measure, categorize, date, and record these features, all while enduring non-stop, brain-melting heat.
We agreed early on that work would begin every morning at 8:00am, so naturally we don’t actually make it out in the field until 9:00am or later. It’s a short drive followed by an even shorter hike to our field site, so it’s typically still mid-morning as we begin the day’s work. Each day has had us focusing on different features in our area. Our most productive days involve measuring the orientations of joints. Other days we hike for hours, looking for the perfect outcrop of deformation bands. No matter our mission, the charge is led by Measurement Machine Shelley Judge, Brunton in hand and field notebook at the ready.
Some nice sets of joints in a nearly horizontal wall of sandstone. On our first day alone we managed to measure just over 200 individual joints. Brunton Compass for scale.
Kelli examines some bizarre iron fins protruding from the rock face. We suspect that these were caused by fluid flow through the porous rock.
A beautiful example of deformation bands forming Riedel ladders. Unfortunately, this particular rock had fallen off the outcrop, and so it couldn’t be included in our data.
Michael down below (bottom center), measuring orientations of deformation bands, while Kelli records from above (top right).
Sometimes, when the heat starts getting to us, we decompress by falling off of cliffs.
You can’t help but occasionally stop to admire the postcard-like beauty of the Sanpete Valley.
Even temperatures upward of 100 degrees can’t stop the Scott spirit.