Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day 3-heading home

April 18 (day three of our field studies trip)

Heading home from Kanab we made a ton of geology stops that were absolutely amazing. The first stop we made on our way was at the Coral Pink Dunes. They were so neat to see. It was reworked sand from the Navajo sandstone that are from the Jurassic period. We jumped down the sand dune and messed up the angle of repose. It was a lot of fun. The wind blowing this very fine, soft sand around filled every pocket and our shoes full of sand. The sand was very cold too. We got back from in the car and headed for Ephraim.  Along the road we got to see the fault that is responsible for the sand that has created the sand dunes -the Sevier Fault.  Our next stop was just north of Mount Carmel junction by the state road shed. We went and fossil hunting in the limestone of the Carmel formation from the middle Jurassic. We found crinoids  - small echinoderms... the cutest small little sea stars. This picture located on the right is of the echinoderms that I found. The other fragments are pieces of shells. We were right near Zion National Park and because some of us hadn't been to Zion, we decided to take a little side trip. (I [KayeLinda Heineer] was one of those who hadn't been through the park.) So we went through the park and stopped to looked at the large scale cross beds. They looked like huge sand dunes. The only thing is that it was sandstone not sand. We also smelled a vanilla tree. It smelled incredible. This picture just below on the left is of us sniffing the tree. It smelled a lot better than Jake's sage that he had been sniffing during the trip. We also tried to look at a slot canyon by the entrance to the tunnel but we got in trouble with one of the park workers, so we missed out on that. We then went through the longest tunnel I have ever been through. Around the corner from the tunnel we stopped and look at a channel deposit in the Kayenta formation. We also found a rock with trace fossils called worm tubes. Then along the way we looked at a giant arch forming that is in the alcove stage right now. Springs are eroding the rock to form the alcove. Then outside the market by the other entrance we stopped and climbed up the land slide that was caused by and earthquake in 1992. We looked across the landscape to the other side and saw slumping in the Moenave formation. This slump could become a landslide as well. In the picture on the right, you can see that line braking the hill side this is the slump we looked at standing on the landslide on the opposite side of the valley. Our next stop was near a hill side were we collected pieces of petrified wood. We then got back in the car to finish our tip as we are driving we drove past several cinder cones. We then stopped to look at a huge disconformity. The disconformity was between the Moenkopi and Pleistocene which is several million years of time missing. We also found piece of basalt with olivine crystals in it. Our next stop was near Hurricane. We pulled off the road and got to touch and see slickensides, and we even found fault breccia. This fault is responsible for the earthquake that caused the land slide in Zions. The picture on the left is of us looking at the fault breccia. The slickensides are the smooth rock face right above our heads. They were beautiful! Many different colores purple, pink, and some orange. Then it was on the road again and we stopped to look at the Virgin Anticline that is plunging. This anticline has vertical beds of gypsum. The gypsum was what caused the erosion to erode out the center. It also caused the dam that was built in the middle to fail. The picture on the right shows the dam in the distance and the ridges on the right and left are the sides of the anticline. That was the last geology stop. We then drove the the rest of the way to Ephraim and saw a few geology things a long the way. The trip was completely amazing.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 1: Don't put it in your pocket!

Kanab, Utah (Jake)
The Grand staircase National Monument Offices/Lab

We were in the waiting room at 9:00 a.m. waiting for the Paleontologist Dr. Alan Titus. I was under the impression it would be this old, tired man with a very dry if not in drought sense of humor. Suddenly we heard someone running down the hall and a young (relatively) man in DNR clothes came running past, looked at us as he passed the hall we were in and skidded to a stop, introduced himself as Alan Titus, and said he would be right back, and ran on.

Sitting down for the presentation/lecture before going out into the field we learned a lot of things. First was the "Paleo-resource Protection Act" Which is no picking up vertebrate fossils. (No more sharks teeth!) It is legal to pick up petrified wood and invertebrate fossils such as snails and clams and things, as long as you are not on the actual Monument itself, or in a National Park.
Alosaurus is the State Fossil. And the Mesozoic Era of time is the greatest fossil record we have. They have a lot of fossils from the Morrison formation and have been more excited about the Cedar Mountain Formation which is the new "hot spot" for dino fossils.
We learned some of the geology of the Kaparowits Basin where we would be digging with Alan. The area would have been tropical to sub-tropical so there are a lot of plants like ferns and palms trees, as well as turtles, crocodiles, fish, and more. The next day we actually found some fish vertebrae and also some turtle shell pieces.

After the presentation we headed out towards Big Water where we stopped at the Dino Museum and looked at the fossils and books and pictures of trucks that got hit by flash floods in a wash. (we later followed Alan right up a wash in the trucks to get to the dig site, I thought that was ironic.)
After we got to the campsite and set up camp we all sat around and told stories and ate Renee's amazing Chile! (thanks Renee) Gathered firewood and sat around the fire. Great Day!!!