Southwest USA field trip 1997

Sunday, May 24, 1998

Earth sciences students take part in a major field trip at the beginning of their final year. They have a choice of a field trip to Quebec or some more exotic location. Last year, 14 students opted for a two week tour of Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. Students planned each day's itinerary, contacting local experts to assist with interpretation, they were also responsible for a guidebook and an after trip presentation.

The area chosen contains huge slices of Earth history. Hikes in Zion, Bryce Canyon, Dinosaur National Monument, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands and the Grand Canyon traversed hundreds of millions of years and climate zones from Canadian to the Sonoran Desert.

On a similar trip a few years ago we visited Springdale at the southern entrance to Zion National Park after a recent earthquake had modified the landscape, causing a huge slice of land to fall away. Houses on the slide were destroyed. Nearby, new houses are being built on similar unstable ground!

We visited Bingham Canyon Copper Mine near Salt Lake City to view geology, mining activity and environmental remediation efforts at the Worlds' first and largest open pit mine. The Rangely oilfield in Colorado, has been active since the 1940's and continues to produce in abundance. Chevron Oil's Geologist and Environmental engineer at the oilfield described the geology and environmental, legislation and problems encountered. The oilfield is a sanctuary for antelope because no hunting is allowed among the oil wells and pipelines. The Hoover and Glen Canyon Dams were also visited.

At Moab we rested for a day, some students opted for a day mountain biking from Canyonlands to Moab, an exciting 15 mile downhill ride. Others enjoyed the tourist boat ride on the Colorado River at night. The rocks are illuminated by aircraft landing lights and the "big dipper" framed by the canyon walls.

Near Las Vegas in the Valley of Fire State Park, red and yellow sandstones provide a spectacular backdrop for shooting of vehicle advertising, we saw one of these shoots in progress.

Our last day was spent soaking up the "culture" and human excesses of Las Vegas - "did you see the erupting volcano, at the Mirage Casino?"

If you would be interested in participating in a similar shorter trip, possibly during March Break 1999 please send a note to Peter Russell. - Editors