6 Days & 1045 miles

Spring Break 2019 – 6 days, 1045 miles & 24 images.

I had the opportunity to go along with Dr. John Whitmore and six Cedarville University geology students on a spring break petrology class trip out west to Anza Borrego Desert & Death Valley National Park.

On our flight out west, Dr. Whitmore prepares for our week out west.
Lake Havasu
Ramsey Mine, outside of Quartzsite, Arizona
Sunday morning devotions at Canyon Sin Nombre outcrops
Canyon Sin Nombre
Anza Borrego, Fish Creek Wash
Taking sand grain samples at the barchan dunes near the Salton Sea.
some sand dune jumping …
Dr. Roberto Biaggi from Argentina, showing the student a variety of stromatolites.
CU alum Sarah Maithel, showing students one of the geology labs at Loma Linda University.
Dr. Whitmore giving a short geology class at Dante’s View in Death Valley.
Zabriskie Point, Badlands viewpoint in Death Valley.
Badwater Basin, 282ft below sea level. Dr. Whitmore looks on as the
students check to see if it’s really salty.
Dr. Whitmore and students discuss Devils Golf Course in Death Valley.
Storm clouds followed us to the Stovepipe Wells campground in Death Valley.
We found a little friend at our Stovepipe Wells campsite.
We woke up to nearly an inch of rain
Before leaving Death Valley National Park, we went to Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
Can’t leave Death Valley without one last group photo. It was a good week.

Day 4 – Grand Canyon / Hermit’s Trail

Tuesday was another great day for hiking in the Grand Canyon.
I asked Sean O’Donnell to give his perspective & thoughts of day 4.


“The fourth day of our trip began a little later than some of the previous days.  Since we were staying near the Grand Canyon, we were able to sleep in a little bit.  Once we got to the canyon, we went to Mather Point along the rim.  There, Dr. Whitmore gave a lecture on the geology of the Grand Canyon.  He spoke on the Bright Angel Fault, which we could see clearly from the overlook. We could also see the Great Unconformity, the Greatest Unconformity, and where both come together between the Vishnu Schist and the Tapeats Sandstone.”

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Dr. Whitmore holds a short lecture at Mathers Point.

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Dr. Whitmore gave a short devotion and read Psalm 18 to the class.

“Dr. Whitmore then proceeded to read and speak on Psalm 18, about God’s glory and righteousness.”

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A view from the top of Bright Angel Trail.

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A nice sunny hike down Hermit’s Trail.

“Afterward we went to a Grand Canyon visitor center and bookstore. From there we drove to Grand Canyon Village, walked a little down Bright Angel Trail to view some Coconino injectites, and then boarded a bus which took us to Hermit’s Rest.”

“We hiked down Hermit’s Trail all the way to the base of the Coconino Sandstone (several went farther down the trail). Those of us in the Sed/Strat class then began to measure the Coconino Sandstone again from the base up. When we arrived back at the top of the canyon, we were able to enjoy a nice cup of coffee and the view from Hermit’s Rest.”

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The students some formations in the layors before starting to measure the Coconino Sandstone.

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Calvin enjoys the view after walking further down the trail.

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Dr. Whitmore, Calvin & Nolan look at more lizard tracks in the Coconino Standstone.

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“After getting back to the hotel from dinner, some of us made use of the hot tubs, and then went to get ice cream at McDonalds. We stayed in McDonalds for a few hours talking about everything from theology to politics. When it was closing time, we left and went back to the hotel lobby and continued our conversation. About a half hour later, a Coconino County Sheriffs Deputy came into the hotel and began to talk with us because he was bored. It was midnight before he left and the rest of us went to bed.”

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.”

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

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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.”

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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.”

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Rachel & Michael take notes as they take measurements.

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A rain storm in the distance in the canyon.

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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.

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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.

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Starting the hike with a group photo.

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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.”

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

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

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“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.”

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Dr. Whitmore takes time to answer students questions.

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

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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!

Geology Sed Strat Spring Break DAY 4

After spending two days studying and taking measurements in the Skull Creek area in Colorado, We left Rangely, Colorado and went back to Dinosaur National Monument in Utah.

Dr. Whitmore points out a dinosaur bone in the rock formation on a short hike in the Dinosaur National Monument.

Dr. Whitmore points out a dinosaur bone in the rock formation on a short hike in the Dinosaur National Monument.

Here is large dinosaur bone along the hike.

Here is large dinosaur bone along the hike.

Dr. Snelling & Dr. Whitmore lead the students on a hike looking at rock formations and comparing what they recorded at the Skull Creek area the two days before.

Dr. Snelling & Dr. Whitmore lead the students on a hike looking at rock formations and comparing what they recorded at the Skull Creek area the two days before.

Students looking and taking notes at the boundary of the dinosaur bone bearing formation.

Students looking and taking notes at the boundary of the dinosaur bone bearing formation.

We drove further into the Dinosaur National Monument. After eating lunch, we took a hike into the Box Canyon.

We drove further into the Dinosaur National Monument. After eating lunch, we took a hike into the Box Canyon.

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Dr. Whitmore wanted the students to see the great cross bedding & sediment deformation in the Bow Canyon and how that's important to what they've been studying this week.

Dr. Whitmore wanted the students to see the great cross bedding & sediment deformation in the Box Canyon and how that’s important to what they’ve been studying this week.

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We stopped to look at a few of the many petroglyphs in the monument.

We stopped to look at a few of the many petroglyphs in the monument.

After leaving the Dinosaur National Monument, we took a drive up into the Uynta Mountains. We stopped at the Red Canyon Overlook to view the Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

After leaving the Dinosaur National Monument, we took a drive up into the Uynta Mountains. We stopped at the Red Canyon Overlook to view the Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

On our drive back to Vernal, we stopped at Aspen Overlook on US 191.

On our drive back to Vernal, we stopped at Aspen Overlook on US 191.

Geology Sed Strat Spring Break DAY 3

Dr. Whitmore met with the class just before we headed out into the field for the day. Dr. Whitmore reviewed formation names of the layers that the class was going to measure.

Dr. Whitmore met with the class just before we headed out into the field for the day. Dr. Whitmore reviewed formation names of the layers that the class was going to measure.

After arriving at the Skull Creek area, the students immediately got to work measuring layers while Dr. Whitmore & Dr. Snelling went off on their own making observations and taking notes on layer formations in the area. I followed along for awhile and found myself on top of a small ridge. I came across two Juniper Cedar trees, one alive & the other dead. I found this image very intriguing.

After arriving at the Skull Creek area, the students immediately got to work measuring layers while Dr. Whitmore & Dr. Snelling went off on their own making observations and taking notes on layer formations in the area. I followed along for awhile and found myself on top of a small ridge. I came across two Juniper Cedar trees, one alive & the other dead. I found this image very intriguing.

Dr. Whitmore brought the students back together to review the mornings layer measurements.

Dr. Whitmore brought the students back together to review the mornings layer measurements.

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There's always time for a group photo.

There’s always time for a group photo.

You can see the students & Dr. Whitmore off in the distance taking measurements. The students worked hard throughout the day measuring the downward slope as well as the side they were standing on.

You can see the students & Dr. Whitmore off in the distance taking measurements. The students worked hard throughout the day measuring the downward slope as well as the side they were standing on.

After lunch back at the van, I took a walk up another ridge.  From the top, you can barely see the students working in the distance. (circled)

After lunch back at the van, I took a walk up another ridge. From the top, you can barely see the students working in the distance. (circled)

While taking measurements, students find and examine dinosaur bones trapped in siltstone layer.

While taking measurements, students find and examine dinosaur bones trapped in siltstone layer.

At the end of the day standing by the van, you can see the ridge I climbed to the top.

At the end of the day standing by the van, you can see the ridge I climbed to the top.