2024 - National Treasures of our National Wonders - Yr 2 - Western Exotic Terranes
In this second year of their ‘National Treasures’ trilogy, the Vagabond adventurers, Sandi Phillips & Rocky Romero, research and present the National Parks & Monunents that lie on the geologic wonder called the ‘exotic terranes’ of the West Coast. Get ready to explore the National Parks & Monuments that are on the seashores, the coastal mountains, and the volcanic chains of California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.
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CLASS FILES We teach at both NOVA & SAGE. Since NOVA started their classes 1 week earlier than Sage, to be fair to all class members, the Powerpoint file for any class will be available 1 week after NOVA classes and 1 day after SAGE classes.
Session 1: Exotic Terrane Orientation:Review the core geologic concepts that interpret and contextualize the magnificent geologic landforms in later classes. Review attributes of the Pacific Geologic Provinces in parts of CA, OR, and WA and Alaska. Look at UT Institute of Geophysics' plate tectonic model showing exotic terranes accreting to the west coast of North America inc;uding the exotic terranes that underlie Alaska. Discuss historic glaciation and its impact on sea levels and the development of Beringia, the land-bridge between Russia and Alaska. Introduce people that play important roles in creating our west-coast National Parks and Monuments; the First Arrivals, Native Americans, Early Explorers, New World Settlers, and American Visionaries.
Session 2: Coastal Range Geological Province: This week we learn about the geologic 'Natural Wonder' of plate tectonics and its impact on the North American west coast. We'll see the impact this geologic process has made to our 'National Treasures' of Channel Islands National Park, Redwood National Park, Olympic National Park, and San Juan Island National Historical Park. From the rocky offshore islands near Los Angeles in the south to a tiny island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the Canadian border, we'll learn about the two different types of geologic plate boundaries that created and still impact these parks: Transform and Convergent Plate Boundaries. A photo tour of the parks will leave us yearning to head west to view the monument to Juan Cabrillo, drive through the towering California redwoods, see the massive sea stacks of Washington, and meet the bronze statue of 'Kaiser Wil-ham' ...the pig.
Due to uploading restrictions, this week's class file has to be broken into two parts. Be sure to download both parts.
Session 3 - Pacific Geologic Province-Cascade Sierra: This week we learn about North Cascades Nat'l Park, Ross Lake Nat'l Recreation Area (NRA), Chelan NRA, Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Sequoia National Park, details of the parks, their geological history, and their human history. Meet key individuals whose lives are intertwined in each park. Exotic Terranes are key to the story of the Northern Cascades Province and plutonic accumulation underground that leads to a massive batholith we call the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is the story for Yosemite & Kings Canyon/Sequoia. Learn about the differences between Red Wood & Sequoia trees, how influential John Muir was and what West Point graduate had a major influence on King's Canyon/Sequoia NPs.
Session 4 - Pacific Geologic Province-Volcanoes: This week we study the volcanoes of the American west coast. From Mount Rainier National Park near the Canadian border to Lassen Volcanic National Park in California, we see the impact that plate tectonics has had on creating the mountain range called the Cascades - how oceanic plate subduction has built the volcanic mountains that we visit today. We'll study the three types of volcanoes, the composition of magna, and the properties of lava. In one of the photo tours of the five volcanic parks we'll travel into a mile-long 'lava tube' using only a lantern. Get ready for adventure!
Session 5 - Alaska Geologic Province: This week we start off understanding the "lay of the land" of Alaska. We review its remoteness, its size (2.5 times the size of Texas), the main regions and towns of the state, its highway system and its regional geology including the major fault boundaries. Then we watch an excellent short video clip explaining the tremendous geologic forces acting on the southern portion of the state due to an exotic terrane (Yukatat) that is currently being accreted to the North American continent just above the Alaskan Panhandle area. We discuss Alaska's 1964 earthquake & 1958 Mega-Tsunami as well as the frequency of its earthquakes (24,000 per year). We then look at the Denali Mountain, its origin, its name, why it's so tall, and why it's still rising. Then we expand our view of that by looking at Denali National Park & Preserve - layout, size, roads, geology, and sights. Lastly, we review Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve - its layout, size, roads, geology, and sights. A quick overview of what a glacier is, how it forms, and the various types is given. We then "connect the dots" of the beauty of nature with a brief look at John Muir's visits to Alaska in the late 1800's and finish off by hearing his wise thoughts about our relationship with nature and the need for us to visit our National Parks. Videos shown in class can not be linked directly to the PowerPoint presentation provided (due to size) but the video URLs are noted below. Just click on the "here" and that will take you to the video.
Session 6 - National Parks Challenges & Future Geology: We start off this Session by reviewing the people that have been instrumental in establishing the National Parks. Their roles are placed in a chronological context starting with the Native Americans, then the 14 people from the "Early Explorers", "New World Settlers", and lastly the "American Visionaries." Then a last look at the scenery of the Parks presented over the last 6 weeks. National Park visitation statistics is reviewed in detail to try and determine why some parks have considerably more visitors than other parks. This review is contrasted with changing demographics, changing expectations, and changing National Park focus over the years. Some possible solutions to underutilized parks are reviewed and well as the opposite, possible solutions for overcrowded parks. Then a switch to reviewing the geology of the National Parks given over the last 6 weeks, how that geology will continue, and a thought experiment is reviewed that results in the Sierra Nevada batholith being "peeled" off the North American continent by the Pacific Plate. Could this be a possible explanation for the Basin & Range Province geology in Nevada? Finally, we wrap up this semester by reviewing the critical role that John Muir played in establishing National Parks and we ask the question "Who will lead the charge to protect America's wildlife and National Parks in the future?" (198MB)
To see our powerpoint file with functioning video segments listed below, 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 will have to be done manually.
The John Muir video segment is too large to upload and save here. However, the segment was taken from this National Park Service video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGOolPB8yO8&ab_channel=aprilhareau
If you are interested in learning more about John Muir, check out the Sierra Club's John Muir website located at: https://vault.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/