Saturday, May 25, 2013

We're Back!

Unloading in the CC Little parking lot, and ready to get home...  It's been a great trip. Thanks everyone!

New Cut

Following a tip from a local who visited with us at the last stop, we are checking out a newer road cut nearby along Kentucky route 92. 

Pennsylvanian Stop

Along I-75 heading north we've stopped to look at an outcrop of Pennsylvanian sandstones and shakes. An interesting feature of these deposits here is a layer exhibiting significant soft-sediment deformation. 

Last Morning

One final rise and shine for the last leg of the trip. It seems a lot easier to find our way between the walk-in campsites and the car park now that it is light out. We definitely started out by taking the long way around last night.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Long Drive

After a long drive today, we've arrived in Cloudland Canyon State Park. We didn't find any good exposures around Birmingham, Alabama, our rock stop target for today, so we drove on. Fortunately the beginning of Memorial Day weekend didn't bring too much traffic with it, and we're hoping that trend continues for our final push home tomorrow. We'll likely skip our regular stops along the interstate if there is heavy traffic, but we've got a few things to see on side roads too. For now, we've hiked into our campsites and are enjoying one last campfire. 

Today's First Stop

Our first rock stop today is an outcrop along I-10 west of Van Horn, TX. We examined a variety of Eocene intrusive rocks in a mixed assemblage of Cretaceous clastic and carbonate sedimentary rocks. 

Lake Fausee Pointe State Park

After we finished off the crawfish last night we were serenaded by a cacophony of bayou fauna (listen). Most of us spent the night in tents for the first time too to avoid the bugs, and fortunately we didn't get anymore rain, just some nice lightning shows.

Crawfish Boil

It has become a tradition on our Texas field trips to have a crawfish boil one of our last nights, as we pass through Louisiana. And, this year's version was as good as any.  Much crawfish, shrimp, potatoes, andouille sausage, mushrooms, and corn on the cob was prepared by our host, Chad Hebert, and consumed by one and all. (Thanks to alumnus Carmen Nezat and her family for helping arrange the event!)

What is this stuff?

After a whole trip with nary a drop of rain, we drove into a downpour shortly after entered Louisiana

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Granites of the World

If you cannot travel the world over examining granites and other igneous and metamorphic rocks in outcrop, then the next best thing is the wall of slabs at the Cold Springs quarry just west of Marble Falls.  

Cap Mountain Sandstone

A highlight of any geology field trip in this area is this glauconite-rich, fossiliferous sandstone. Some of the fossils here, some trilobites and inarticulate brachiopods, made their shells out of calcium phosphate, rather than calcium carbonate. Great examples of a variety of sedimentary bed forms in this outcrop as well. 

Ladybird Johnson

Our drive to breakfast today in Marble Falls took us along some very picturesque roads in the Texas Hill Country. We are told the wildflowers we enjoyed are the result of a seeding program started by Ladybird Johnson back in the 60's. 

Enchanted Rock

We awoke to a cloudy morning today. We have a few rock stops early, and then a long drive to Louisiana. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


We finished up with a few free hours to explore Fredericksburg, TX after our last rock stop today. Of course we started with a visit to the world-famous Opa's Smokehkuse, and the. Folks spread out it explore town in smaller groups. Now we're getting settled in for the night at Enchanted Rock State Park. 

Collapse Breccia

At this stop we're exploring collapse breccia on the Edwards. 


This stop is in early Cretaceous dolomite along I-10  

Fredericksburg Limestone

Our first stop today is in fossiliferous Cretaceous limestone. Some great exposure surfaces here too. 


After dealing with the flat yesterday, we had to cut a few stops, but still managed to put together a great burrito/taco dinner. We also got a chance to swap stories with the field course folks camped next to us from a Texas university. First order of business this morning, a new tire for Van 4 from Oasis Tire and breakfast whole we wait at Penny's Diner in Alpine

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Haymond Formation

Notice opposing directions of hill creep displayed at either end of this beautiful outcrop of clastics. 


A spectacular exposure of unusually large Riebeckite crystals, a type of amphibole, in a dike. 


West of Marathon we stop for an overview. 

Tire Change

Walt's past experience changing tires at field camp saves us time trying to figure out where they hid the spare. Who came up with this design, and why can't yet get full-size spares anymore? More delays to come...

What is it?

We saw an interesting outcrop we hadn't been to before, just raft of Kent along I-10, so we stopped to check it out... Limestone... Lots of marine fossils...

Speed Limits

We always endeavor to drive a safe, reasonable speed. If you're watching the real-time map, you may notice that in this part of desolate west Texas they believe that is 80-mph.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Brats and Dogs

A great day of rocks, followed by the cooking challenge of no water and fire restrictions. The sunset view from our campsite in Franklin Mountain State Park over El Paso and Juarez was amazing. 


In this outcrop we're looking at garnets in the Castner Marble. Not gem quality, but quite a few and some large. 

Franklin Mountains

Our first stop in the Franklin Mountains is near the eastern end of the Transmountain Road. There is a lot of very interesting geology here, including this columnar basalt intruded by granite. 

Lake Lucero

Our final escorted stop in White Sands is Lake Lucero, the source of the gypsum sands. Here we find the piles of selenite crystals that are being eroded. Some great examples of twinning in some of tithe crystals. 


We began our rock stops today with an escorted drive across the White Sands Missle Range to a disused observation platform. From there we had an excellent overview of the dunes. 

Wagon Roads

While crossing the White Sands Missile Range to and from the observation platform we crossed a 1800's era wagon road. The vegetation is slowly growing back, however the wheel scares will remain visible for centuries likely. 

Need More iPads!

The wealth of digital geologic information one can have at there finger-tips these days is quite amazing. Now we need to solve the multiscreen/multi-view problem.
We're already using layers and transparency, but that's not quite enough for Maribel who needs an iPhone and two iPads. 

Up and At It

Another day, another campground, another wonderful sunrise, though this sunrise is behind the Sacramento Mountains. As soon as we're packed up, it's into Alamogordo for breakfast and then back to White Sands for more time exploring dune formation and transport.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

White Sands National Monument

Last stop if the day. Perfect lighting and wind conditions to watch ripples migrate and other dune transport processes!

Laundry Time...

Halfway through the trip, so it's time to do some laundry!

The Leaders

Kacey, Maribel, and Peter in front of El Capitan, at the end of our Permian Reef Tour.

Dry Canyon

The Dry Canyon road-cut along US-82, just east of Alamogordo, NM, is an excellent stop for students to learn to do cross-sections. They spend a couple hours observing and interpreting a number of different rock types and depositional environments.




Possibly part of an alluvial fan environment, but deft intently a terrestrial system here. There is a fair amount of red chert or jasper in the conglomerate layers. 

Folding and Faulting


Our Geology stops begin today with an overview along US-82 west of Cloudcroft, NM, just west of the tunnel. From here we can see a series of Permian and Pennsylvanian rocks, and White Sands in the valley below in the distance.

Driver Training

After a minor brush with a deer shortly before our pitstop in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, we remain friends with the local wildlife. Everyone is okay -- including the deer -- and just a couple small cracks in the plastic. (Renee was not driving, but was willing to serve as our ambassador to mend fences with the critters.)

Goodbye Brantley

After three great nights camping in the Limestone Campground at Brantley Lake it's time to move on. The geology of the Permian reef complex in this area could easily keep us busy for longer, however, there is still plenty else to see on this trip!  So it's time to head north and west over the mountains...