Course Description:Become acquainted with the vastness of geologic time and the power of geologic processes through the study of rocks and physical features along one of the highest and most spectacular roads in North America. Look at the ancient metamorphic rocks and granites, and learn how they formed. Examine geologically recent volcanic rocks along the road and picture the volcanoes that produced them. Learn to recognize features formed by glaciers that flowed through the Park as recently as a few thousand years ago. Join the instructor for panoramic views and discussions of the geology along Trail Ridge Road in RockyMountainNational Park.
Course Level: II
Short-distance walks through the day on primarily level terrain
Significant course time spent at elevations exceeding 11,000 feet
Brief Instructor Biography (additional information available at www.rmna.org):
David Lindsey earned a Ph.D. degree in geology at Johns Hopkins University in 1967 and served as research geologist and administrator at the U.S. Geological Survey for more than 30 years. He is currently scientist emeritus at the U.S.G.S. in Lakewood, Colorado, where he volunteers his time on research projects. He has written two pamphlets for the public: “Precambrian Time—The Story of the Early Earth” and “The Geologic Story of Colorado’s Sangre de Cristo Range,” both published by the U.S. Geological Survey, and is working on a third, on the geology along the Mosca Pass Trail, Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. He enjoys speaking to groups, leading or going on field trips, and travelling to places near and far.
Expectations:Professional conduct will be expected from participants at all times.Individual ideas will be respected.Except during course breaks, cellular phones, pagers, and personal entertainment devices are strictly prohibited in the classroom and during field sessions.
Car-pooling:Rocky Mountain Field Seminars courses utilize car-pooling to limit vehicles traveling into the Park.Car-pooling makes it easier to keep the group together, reduces transit time, and allows courses greater access because fewer parking spaces are required at destinations.In addition, it provides an opportunity for participants to discuss course material in small groups during transit.Typically, a few participants from each course volunteer the use of their vehicles for car-pooling to course locations.
Tentative Course Schedule:After a brief introduction to the geology of the Park, geologic time, and the principal kinds of rocks, participants drive to SheepLakes and HorseshoePark overlook for an introduction to the world of the last Ice Age.The instructor will identify terminal moraines that reveal the extent of the ice and lateral moraines that show the height of the ice on the valley walls. We will view kettle lakes where stranded icebergs melted and then ponder a glacial erratic that came to rest on an outcrop and begin the study of igneous and metamorphic rocks.Moving on to the Iron Dike, study will shift from mafic dikes to crustal extension, plate tectonics, and the opening and closing of oceans.Continuing on Trail Ridge Road, at ManyParks and Rainbow Curves, participants will stop to get another perspective of the valleys carved by the rivers of ice and then examine Silver Plume quartz monzonite and discuss large igneous intrusions, the way joints weather this rock, and spheroidal weathering and exfoliation domes. At Rock Cut, we will identify faults and slickensides and learn about permafrost features. At the Lava Cliffs, discussion will focus on glowing avalanches which erupted from the NeverSummerMountains and on the cirque wall that is seen as part of a paleovalley filled with tuff.The course continues with discussion of Precambrian rocks, glacial erosion and igneous processes.By the end of the course, all participants will have an in-depth understanding of the processes that shaped the Park and a sense of geologic time.
What to Bring:
Sack lunch, snacks, energy bars, Water
NotebookPens, pencilsBook by Raup (see Reading)
Binoculars may be useful.Hand lens may be useful.Comfortable shoes (sneakers fine)
Weatherproof jacketHat or cap
Remember to Bring the 10 Essentials:
RockyMountainNational Park recommends that hikers always carry the 10 essentials in their daypacks.
RaingearMap and compassFlashlight or headlamp
Sunglasses and sunscreenCandlesMatches or other fire starter
PocketknifeFirst-aid kitExtra layers of clothing
Sack lunch, snacks, water
Note:Rocky Mountain Field Seminars recommends that participants for all courses dress in layers and wear comfortable, sturdy hiking boots/shoes.Participants should be prepared for sudden changes in temperature and weather conditions.
Raup, O.B., 2005, Geology along Trail Ridge Road: A Self-guided Tour for Motorists (2nd ed.): Estes Park, Colo., Rocky Mountain Nature Association, 78 p. (highly recommended)
Braddock, W.A., and Cole, J.C., 1990, Geologic Map of Rocky MountainNational Park and Vicinity, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Investigations Series Map I-1973. (optional)
Madole, R.F., VanSistine, D.P., and Michael, J.A., 1998, Pleistocene Glaciation in the UpperPlatteRiverDrainage Basin, Colorado, U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Investigations Series I-2644. (optional)
Teacher Recertification Credit:
Most seminars are eligible for teacher recertification credit through the Centennial Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES).The fee is $25.00 per seminar (.5 unit) or $25.00 per series of threaded seminars (1.0 - 3.0 units).A list of threaded seminars can be found online at www.rmna.org.Participants must enroll in all seminars of a threaded series in order to qualify for the $25.00 multi-unit fee. Please be prepared to pay for this credit with a check, made payable to BOCES, on the first day of a seminar or on the final day of a threaded series of seminars.
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