2022 - National Treasures in Our Natural Wonders: The Colorado Plateau
The Vagabond adventurers, Sandi Phillips & Rocky Romero, research and present the first semester of a new trilogy to discover our "National Treasures" - National Parks, Monuments, and other treasures - in different areas of our country. This first semester highlights the ancient geologic wonder that is the Colorado Plateau with its Native American archaeological sites and its many extraordinary National Parks. Grab your walking stick & sun screen, you'll feel like you're already hiking the trails!
Note: Files indicated as PowerPoint (ppt extension) require Microsoft PowerPoint or the free Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer, which is available at PowerPoint Viewer 2007
Session 1: Plateau Orientation:An introduction to the people and geology of the Colorado Plateau. We examine the influence of individuals -- from a native American Piaute guide leading an early European exploration in the 1870s, to a research physicist in laser technology doing art restoration in the 2000s. And we study the geologic processes -- plate tectonics, geologic time, the rock cycle, weathering and erosion that created the Plateau and continue to modify the places we visit. (104MB)
UT Geophysics Dept Plate Tectonic movement demonstration file is at: https://www.vagabondgeology.com/plate-tectonics.html
Session 2 - The Navajo Physiographic Section:We examine the geology of scarped plateaus in the Navajo Physiographic Section of the Colorado Plateau and find that these geologic features have an impact on the people we meet -- from the earliest Ancestral Pueblos to the settlers of the San Juan Basin. We see the ruins of the Ancestral Pueblo Great Houses in Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Aztec Ruins National Monument, and Canyon of the Ancients Monument and we tour the uninhabited wilderness of Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument. (178.8MB)
Session 3 - Canyonlands Physiographic Section: We start this week's review of some new geologic terms & processes, namely, supercontinents, exotic terrane accretion, folds & faulting, as these terms will be vital to understanding the wonderful geology of Arches & Canyonlands National Parks. A review of the elevation profile & physical layout of each park is given. Technical discussions of the unique surface geology in each park, namely, the exposed salt anticline of Arches NP and the "layer cake architecture" & "Upheaval Dome" of Canyonlands is made highlighting how some of this geology is still being debated. Lastly we include discussion of Native American petroglyphs and fauna & flora contained within each park and show some selected photos of each park. (97MB)
Session 4 - High Plateau Physiographic Section: This week we introduce three Principles of Stratigraphy: Superposition, Original Horizontality, and Lateral Continuity. Then we use these concepts to describe the geology of the High Plateau section of the Colorado Plateau and look at real-life examples in two national parks in the section: Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park. We'll follow the human history of the people who traveled through, explored, and lived in the High Plateau with a focus on two families -- the Bryces, whose name was first connected to the park area, and the Behunins, a Morman family whose faith defined many of the place names even today. Finally we'll tour the parks in photos with adventures at Angels Landing and the Narrows. (164MB)
The Bryce Canyon Flyover can be played within powerpoint as we have it linked in the file above but the movie file below needs to be in the same directory as the above powerpoint file on your computer. Or you can play the flyover movie directly by downloading the file below and clicking on it, but it won't be full screen. (The file below is 119mb)
Session 5 - Grand Canyon Physiographic Province: Overview of the Grand Canyon National Park: it’s size & history, early visitors, John Wesley Powell, mining, weather & air quality, fauna/flora, waterfalls & rapids, historical deaths, historical architecture & elevation profile of the river & rim to rim. We learn that the geological history of the park is more uncertain than expected and look at stratigraphic charts to learn about the depositional environments over the park’s geologic history and see where in that history that there is a billion years of missing information. Included is a short video on how the Colorado Plateau was uplifted 7,000 feet. We learn about how it was determined when the Colorado River started flowing & down-cutting the canyon. Lastly, we review one of the current theories about how the canyon was formed and compare that formation theory to how the Glacial Lake Missoula Mega-flood scoured & carved the channeled scablands of eastern Washington State. See the note below about how to see the video segments and listen to audio within the master PowerPoint file. (73MB)
To see our powerpoint file with music & video segments, download the following files and put them in the same directory as the master powerpoint file shown above. Do not open the master powerpoint file until all files are together in one place. If the master file is opened without the other files in the same directory, hyperlinks within the master file will be broken and seeing the video segments or listening to the audio files will have to be done manually.
Session 6 - Review & the Future of the Colorado Plateau: We review some of geology taught over the last 6 weeks: earth's makeup, tectonic plates, mantle convection, plate movement over geologic time, and the stratigraphic makeup of the Colorado Plateau. Then we review the specific people that contributed to the history of the Colorado Plateau and lastly, archeological sites of Native American's of the Plateau & their petroglyphs. Next we review the Plateau's historic temperature, precipitation, river waterflow, population increases, wildfires and drought situation and project how climate change might impact the croplands, grasslands, ranching , and fauna/flora of the National Parks on the Plateau. Lastly we review how water on the Plateau is tied to California, Arizona and other states through the 1922 Colorado River Compact (96MB)