Wooster’s Team Utah 2020: Final Day in the Field (Alas)

Hurricane, Utah — Last night we made the sad decision to leave for home as soon as possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The College has mandated no more in-person teaching, and we don’t want our flight plans to be complicated by cancellations and other mass-transit issues. This is thus our last day in the field.

We started at our treasured oyster-ball locality in Manganese Wash just north of the Gunlock Reservoir (C/W-157; field code MW). This was a key site for Team Utah 2018, but we could not access it last year because the bridge over the Santa Clara River had washed out. The bridge is back so over it we went. This is now Juda’s second site for trace fossils in the upper part of the Co-op Creek Limestone Member of the Carmel Formation. As you can see in the image above with Dr. Judge, there is more brush and weathering at this location than at Eagle Mountain Ranch. This made the trace fossils less crisp in their preservation.

This diffuse set of traces is new to us. It seems to be a deposit-feeding swirl.

Herringbone cross-stratification in this location as well. The paleoenvironment is still shallow and normal marine.

While Juda, Dr. Judge and I worked in the upper Co-op Creek, Will and Nick climbed up a ridge and then down towards the Gunlock Reservoir to visit the lower Co-op Creek and its stromatolites. They again measured, described and collected the unit.

And that was it for our fieldwork! We shipped three heavy boxes of samples back to our Wooster lab. We met our field goals, despite the truncated schedule.

To celebrate, we had another round of Veyo pies and then visited Snow Canyon State Park north of St. George. The Jurassic Navajo Sandstone is weathered in three dimensions here, enabling us to scramble about on its “petrified dunes”. Such a beautiful mix of orange white and black rocks with the green plants and blue skies.

Needless to say, Juda and Will liked the place.

The Jurassic dunes here have deeply eroded foresets at sometimes surprisingly steep angles.

Team Utah 2020! Plus Nick, who took this image. Such a fine crew in skills and enthusiasm.

(Links to the First Day, Second Day, and Third Day.)

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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