End of an era …

On Tuesday, many missed out on the last Symphonic Band and Brass Choir concert for Professors Pagnard and DiCuirci at Cedarville as they presented their end of the semester concert.  It was a great concert & fun to document an end of an era.


Day 5 – Grand Canyon / Petrified Forest

Wednesday, day 5 we left the Grand Canyon and made several roadside stops. It was a long day of driving.  I asked Sarah Maithel to give her thoughts & perspective of the day.  Sarah is a 2012 CU geology graduate & current PhD student at Loma Linda University. She has been a part of this trip this week and has been an encouragement to the students.

“Our first stop in the morning was Lipan Point, which provided an awesome view of the Colorado River and geologic formations in the Grand Canyon.  Here, we could clearly see formations at the base of the Canyon that were less visible from other overlooks.  We identified various features, including the basement rock (at the bottom of the Canyon) and erosional surfaces/contacts between rock layers.  Dr. Whitmore explained that while many of the layers in the Canyon were probably deposited during the Flood, some may have been formed or deposited during the creation week or in pre-Flood time.”


Dr. Whitmore talks to the students at Lipan Point.


A beautiful view of the Grand Canyon from Lipan Point.

“Before leaving Grand Canyon, we stopped at Lipan Point and then Desert View Overlook and Watchtower.  This gave us a great view of the Colorado River and allowed us to take a few last photos of the canyon before leaving the area.”


A beautiful view of the Grand Canyon from Desert View Overlook.


Desert View Watchtower designer by Mary Colter in 1932..


“We then left Grand Canyon and drove several hours to Holbrook, AZ, where we climbed into a wash to look at the Coconino Sandstone.  I spoke to the class about my current PhD research on the sandstone.  The students documented textures and measured the orientation of the cross-bedding (“strike and dip”).  We then discussed how some of these cross-bed characteristics may allow us to interpret how the beds were deposited.”


A group picture in the Coconino Sandstone Outcrops in Holbrook, AZ.


Mark Tucker gets some great drone footage as Sarah explains the cross-bedding.



“For our last stop of the day, we visited Petrified Forest National Park, where we saw many petrified (fossilized) trees scattered across the surface.  We discussed what processes might have preserved and deposited the trees.  The exceptional preservation of the trees probably suggests that they did not have a significant amount of time to decay before they were fossilized.”


The students stand the length of a large tree in the Petrified Forest.

On Thursday, day 6, we will drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix, to catch an afternoon flight back to Cedarville.

Day 3 – Grand Canyon / Grandview Trail

It’s nice to have students write about the day, and it is a little easier to have them explain what they did. I asked Emily Jackson to give her perspective & thoughts of what they did on Monday.
“Today after an earlier start at the Super 8 Motel in Sedona, we loaded up our vans again and departed for the Grand Canyon.  We were fortunate enough to have Guy Forsythe, a friend of Dr. Whitmore) join us again today, and he explained the local geology as we drove from Sedona to the Grand Canyon.  We arrived at the canyon around 10:30am.  It was a beautiful sight, and the first view of the canyon for some of the students. Truly the canyon is a geologist’s playground, and we hit the Grandview Trail after meeting with a friend of both Guy and Dr. Whitmore: John Albert. He is part of an organization called Canyon Ministries, and he gave us a unique perspective on geology and theology. But I will get to that more later.  We started hiking down the trail, led by John, but the hiking was slow in parts due to the snow from the night before. Going down may seem easier, but let me say, with there is a fairly steep drop on one side of the trail and slippery snow beneath your hiking shoes, you tend not to rush too much.”


The first part of the hike down was difficult with snow & ice on the trail.



Dr. Whitmore shows an example of lizard tracks in the Coconino Sandstone, found nearby where we stopped for lunch.

“Eventually we all made it down past the Kaibab, Toroweap, and the Coconino, and we stopped at the base of the Coconino and ate our lunches while looking out into the canyon. Once lunch was over, we listened to John tell about how he came to be a part of Canyon Ministries, and belief in Jesus and geology go together. It is such a blessing to be able to hear from other people who love God and geology and who try to understand geology in light of God’s Word.”


John Albert shares his story & a brief devotional with the students.

“Soon after, Dr. Whitmore wanted us to find a possible sand injectite, which we did, and then began the real work: measuring the thickness of the Coconino Sandstone. Using an instrument called a Jacob’s staff, which is a meter and a half wooden staff with a level and a metal piece on top, we began at the bottom of the Coconino and worked our way up. One person would level the staff, sight along the top of the level, and pick a reference point that we moved to as our next point. Another person in the group would keep track of how many times we measured, and where the major surfaces of the sandstone were. Finally, we made it to the top of the Coconino, measuring about 154 meters. To determine that we had really reached the top, we tested the rock with HCl and then I bit into a piece of both the Coconino and the Toroweap to see if the textures of the two were different. They were.”


Rachel & Michael take notes as they take measurements.



A rain storm in the distance in the canyon.



We ended the hike with another group picture at the top of Grandview Trail.

“So we all made it to the top of the canyon again, got into the vans, stopped along the way out of the park to take some pictures of elk in the forest near the road, and made it to the Holiday Inn Express in Tusayan. We ate a delicious dinner at a Mexican restaurant, then walked back to the hotel. Some of us swam in the pool and enjoyed the hot tub, and later walked around town and got ice cream at McDonald’s. Perfect way to end a day visiting the Grand Canyon.”

Tuesday’s schedule is to hike down a portion of Hermit’s Trail.


Day 2 – Sedona, AZ / Brins Ridge

After breakfast at Super 8, we had a devotional lead by Josh Perez and he shared his thoughts on Job 37:14 (ESV) “Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God.” Josh encouraged us to just “stop” in our daily activities & just life “and consider the wondrous works of God” around us. It was encouraging & yet challenging even out in this beautiful area of the country.


Josh sharing a morning devotional.

We headed out to Brins Ridge just outside of Sedona. I missed getting a group picture yesterday so I could not pass up taking one at the start of our hike. Dr. Whitmore had the students take measurements as part of mapping out Brins Ridge. It took a good part of the day for the students to take their measurements to the top of the ridge.


Starting the hike with a group photo.


Josh, Erica & Rachel preparing to take measurements.

I asked Josh to give an explanation of what he & the other students did throughout their day on the hike. I figured one of the students could do a better job explaining what they did better than I!
“What a day! Today proved itself a memorable one as the predicted rain held off and the sun shined beautifully on Brins Ridge in Sedona. As a group, it was an eventful day full of hiking and learning new techniques in order to characterize the rock strata in which we were both climbing and studying. Brins Ridge stands above Brins Mesa, the ridge peak standing approximately 800 feet above Sedona, which has an approximate elevation of 4,500 ft. Today we learned two new techniques by studying two of the main rock strata in Brins ridge; the Schnebly Hill Formation, and the overlying Coconino Sandstone. Our first task was to measure vertical thickness of the various beds we passed by, using Jacobs’ staffs, a wooden staff tool which measures height in 1.5 meter increments. In doing this, we identified various thicknesses, some of which were covered in loose, unconsolidated material and vegetation, while others were composed of thin, angled layers known as cross beds. The cross beds of the Coconino Sandstone provided a place for us to learn our second technique (composed of two individual techniques) called strike and dip. Since cross beds plunge in a general direction, we can measure that direction and the angle in which it plunges. This is known as dip. Perpendicular to the dip direction is the strike, or the general trend in which the rock layer points. The Cedarville Geology department has purchased Brunton compasses which allow us to measure both strike and dip, in order to better understand the rocks and the probable way they formed. At this point, it may be wondered, “whats the point of all this?” Well, I’m glad you asked! In addition to learning important techniques that we will use often as geologists, the studies particularly of the Coconino Sandstone prove fascinating for the large controversy regarding the way it formed. We study the Coconino in order to better understand the rock units set in place by the Catastrophic flood written of in Genesis. As we hiked today and studied the Coconino sandstone composing the top of Brins Ridge, we were not only able to learn important geological techniques, but also able to get a greater glimpse of the shear beauty of God’s creation.”


At the top of Brins Ridge, you can see others in the distance on the ridge.


Emily & Calvin take a few minutes to take notes of things they have observed & learned.


“Perhaps the most interesting part of the Coconino Sandstone is the folding which occurs throughout.  The type of fold in particular which is most note worthy is called a Parabolic Recumbent Fold, in which the sandstone layers make a sort of sideways “u” shape. These folds are thought to occur from stream velocities changing. It can be thought of as sand on the bottom of a particular bed of water (with current) forming underwater waves, in which grains fall in the far side of the wave. As velocity changes, the waves do some interesting things and can form this spectacular type of folding. Dr. Whitmore has devoted much of his life studying the Coconino and has enriched us with knowledge on its probable origins, something most geology students are not fortunate enough to experience.”


Dr. Whitmore takes time to answer students questions.


Even though these Manzanita trees are dead, I can’t get over how beautiful they are against the backdrop of the mountains.


Dr. Whitmore discusses the Parabolic Recumbent Folds with Josh & Connor.

We finished our time on top of Brins with another group photo to document our time up there. We had a nice walk back down.


A group photo before heading down off of Brins Ridge.

Tomorrow morning we head out to the Grand Canon. We plan to hike the Grandview Trail. The weather looks perfect for a nice hike.

Day 1 – Sedona, AZ

It was a long day! Started out at 4am meeting the group on campus & heading to the Dayton Airport for a 6:30am flight to Denver and then on to Phoenix, AZ. Big airports on busy days mean lots of lines everywhere you go. We finally got our 2 large vans from Budget and headed to Sedona, AZ. After getting out of Phoenix, we stopped at In & Out Burgers. It seems to be tradition when heading out west on geology trips.

We pretty much headed straight to Lizard Head & got our day packs together. It was about an hour walk up to the top with several stops along the way to look at the view and catch our breath.

We wondered around the top for about an hour and then Dr. John Whitmore had a few minutes together at the top before heading back down. The walk back down was quicker but not all that easier.


We headed to the hotel, checked in, found a Thai restaurant next door to the hotel & all headed for nice well deserved night of sleep!

Day 4 at Shell Ecomarathon

The final day started at 8am with a Shell sponsored group shot of all the vehicles & participants.

Sunday was a long day with having the vehicles out on the downtown Detroit track several times, each time trying to improve on their last run.

Soon after the end of competition, the team took the traditional team shot with all 3 vehicles. Everyone packed up and headed back to campus after the awards ceremony. A five hour drive was much better than the last several years having to drive 20+ hours back to Cedarville from Houston.

Final Results:
GLII – 4th Prototype, Gasoline Category
Sting – 5th Prototype, Battery Electric Category
Ernie – did not place

Day 3 at Shell Ecomarathon

Saturday brought a flurry of activity with trying to get Sting & Urbie through inspections. Long before the inspection site was open, both vehicles were in line. After passing all their inspections, the vehicles took a few test runs around the indoor track before the outdoor track was open.

Since all of Fridays outdoor practice sessions were canceled, none of the teams were able to drive the course until competition started. Because of being unfamiliar with the course, teams & spectators saw many early crashes on the course.
Both Sting & GLII made several successful runs on the outdoor track.

Urbie continued having mechanical problems which kept the team from performing as they had hoped on Saturday.