Thursday, December 4, 2008

Green River field work

For this month's Accretionary Wedge: favorite places to do field work:
I will be the first to admit I don't do real field work. I usually even leave my Brunton at home (but I usually have my GPS) I have been involved in K-12 education as well as introductory college level teaching for almost 25 years. I love the teaching...I can do with out the administrivia. My favorite class I have been teaching is the Geology of the Green River by Canoe through the Colorado School of Mines. Its nothing more than a "teacher enhancement" course meaning that the credit is only good for re-certification of the state teacher license. That said...we do some fun science on the river. The first image shows the river coming around BowKnot Bend. This entrenched meander takes 7 river miles to go less than 1/2 mile of a straight line. For Earth Science teachers who have taught river meanders, oxbow lakes and simple river mechanics in a classroom, the real thing helps them immensely in the next school year.

This image is Anvil or Inkwell or Dellenbaugh Butte. The natives called it the first two names but Major Powell changed all that. What a fantastic example of advance and retreat of seas through out the Summerville Formation. It is an especially great teaching tool when you can see how silty the river is and then examine the grain size of the easily climbed strata. last year I had a student climb to the top for a sample. he was disappointed when I explained the top most sandstone cap is actually a member of the Morrison. Oh well, you can't fault his effort.

As anyone who has read any of my posts knows that my favorite Canyonlands formation is the Wingate with it's cap, the Kayenta. It is a great example of windblown to marine-ish environments. The desert varnish is awesome and the cross bedding is plain to see. Again, many classroom teachers have taught the principle, but this gets it in their face.

This view come near the end of the class. You can clearly see how the Wingate creates pillars when the cap rock is taken away. Underneath the Wingate is the Chinle formation and we have fun exploring some of the Uranium mines in the area. The BLM has just recently closed most of them so we really just loiter outside looking for petrified wood and seeing how the miners did their thing back in the 1950's.

This is the entrance to the Hey Joe Uranium mine. The entrance is closed now, but a few years ago it was open for all river rats to explore a cool (literally) mine with walls littered with petrified wood.

It is a great experience to be able to take teachers down through this stretch of the Green River and explore the walls of the canyons as we float along in the August heat!


Unknown said...

Fantastic that you can mix your profession with your interest!

KAIbo said...

Where can I find information on your class? Sounds like an adventure worth taking!