2010 Western Trip - Day 1
The 2010 SUNY New Paltz Western Trip to the Death Valley region took place over 10 days during the March Spring Break. Dr. Rutstein planned the trip, and ran it along with Drs. Bartholomew and Vollmer. This offered a unique opportunity for 20 students to interact on a daily basis doing field science with faculty members, who each bring their own unique perspectives to field studies.
The day began at 5:30 am in New Paltz with the trip to Newark Airport. Upon landing in Las Vegas the group retrieved their luggage, were picked up by the bus driver, and, without delay, headed to the first outcrop in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The beautiful red sandstones exposed there form the Jurassic Aztec Formation, which represents one of the largest ergs (sand seas) in Earth's history.
Exposed above the Aztec are limestones of the much older Cambrian Bonanza King Formation. The juxtaposition of older rocks above younger rocks defies stratigraphic laws, and requires the presence of a thrust fault. This spectacular fault, commonly referred to as the Keystone Thrust, is one of the world's most well known thrust faults, and represents the displacement of many cubic kilometers of rock during the Sevier orogeny (mountain building event). All photographs by F. Vollmer.