July 24, 2014

Geology Students Head West

Geology Students Head West
Photo by Colin Treworgy
August 1, 2013

Principia students had the opportunity to think and observe like geologists during a two-week field program in the Southern Rocky Mountain and Colorado Plateau Regions at the end of May.

Led by Dr. Janis Treworgy, Principia College geology professor, the group traveled to Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, studying the classic geological features in the region. Hiking and camping throughout the trip, they visited five national parks—Great Sand Dunes, Arches, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon, and Petrified Forest—along with Garden of the Gods, Monument Valley, and the Florissant Fossil Beds and Canyon de Chelly National Monuments.

“We experienced firsthand what we’ve been learning in textbooks,” says Jessyca MacMullin, a junior. “One of my favorite locations was Delicate Arch at Arches National Park. We hiked all around it, and now I understand the many steps that formed this beautiful arch over a long period of time.”

Among the many geological features the group studied in Colorado were upturned beds, surface and underground hard-rock mines, remnants of recent volcanic activity, modern and ancient sand dunes, and glacial features. Continuing to Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, the group saw thick sandstone deposits some 200 million years old and a landscape full of prominent buttes. They also puzzled over the formation of Upheaval Dome in Canyonlands National Park. Was it caused by a salt dome or meteor impact?

“The main highlight of this part of the trip was backpacking in the Grand Canyon, where we hiked to the bottom of the canyon to view all the sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rock units and their relationship to one another beautifully exposed,” Treworgy explains. “Another special part of the experience was our Wednesday night testimony meeting in the canyon. Students prepared the readings, and the expressions of gratitude for God’s guidance and protection were from the heart.”

Throughout the trip at various campsites, the group became quite practiced with their culinary skills, producing savory meals after active days of exploring. “The group really bonded as a team during the trip,” Jessyca notes. “We worked so well together, helping each other through the hikes while we laughed a lot and had a wonderful time.”