I took part in a central California tectonics field trip a few weeks ago that the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) sponsored. Tanya Atwater and Art Sylvester, professors emeriti at the University of California Santa Barbara, Department of Earth Sciences, led the field trip. During the field trip, we made numerous stops between Los Angeles and Hollister at areas where the San Andreas Fault bounds the North American/Pacific plates. Interspersed with fault-specific localities, we explored associated geology such as turbidites around Point Lobos, marine terraces in the Morro Bay area, and pillow/flow basalt at Port San Luis. The final stop on the field trip was an overlook on Santa Barbara geology at La Cumbre Peak with Tanya’s explanation on the tectonic evolution of the Transverse Ranges. If you are not familiar with the tectonic history of this general area, go to Tanya’s web site (http://emvc.geol.ucsb.edu/) and download her visualizations on global/regional tectonics. There are also visualization downloads on ice-age earth and sea level changes, so treat yourself to some very worthwhile earth science information by downloading these visualizations, too.
The following photos are from what I think are field trip highlights, including a brief caption regarding the geology shown in each photo. More information on many of the photo localities can be found in “Roadside Geology of Southern California“, 2016, by Art Sylvester and Elizabeth Gans.
If you’ve ever thought about Cuban geology, now may be the time to get serious about actually going to Cuba and looking at it. As a U.S. citizen, it’s been extremely difficult to legally go to Cuba. I went there in March of 2013 as part of an Association for Women Geoscientists’s geological field trip that we did through the travel company Insight Cuba. It was a very good trip. Our geological guide was Manuel Iturralde, a retired curator from the National Museum of Natural History in Havana and current President of the Cuban Geological Society. Manuel’s knowledge of Cuba’s geology is immense and consequently the geology part of the trip was amazing. But – because I am a U.S. citizen, my travel at that time was done under the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, initially imposed in 1960. That meant to be fully legal I had to travel to Cuba via a licensed “people-to-people” travel agency. The people-to-people visits involve booking a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities for each traveler that will bring about a “meaningful interaction” between the travelers and Cubans – and hence the time for geology is limited. Additionally, the places one can go in Cuba were also limited. For example, U.S. citizens could not visit “tourist” areas, and thus areas of geological interest such as most beach geology was off limits during my tour.
President Obama’s 12/17/2014 announcement on easing of Cuba travel restrictions may well help out those interested in seeing Cuban geology. According to the White House Fact Sheet – Charting A New Course on Cuba -, “general licenses will be made available for all authorized travelers in 12 existing categories”, two of which – professional research and professional meetings and educational activities – will help for improving the quality of travel for earth scientists. However, I talked with a person from Insight Cuba today about the new travel requirements, and they said, “a traveler still needs to get a license from OFAC (U.S. Office of Foreign Assests Control), and it still might take about 2 months to get the license”. Unfortunately, in the Insight Cuba rep’s opinion, not much has yet changed for travel to Cuba. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see on what transpires with this in the near future.
But – as I said earlier in this blog, it still may be a good time to think about geology-based travel to Cuba. Manuel Iturralde recently emailed me an announcement for The Cuban Society of Geology’s VI Cuban Convention on Earth Sciences and Exhibition of Products, Services and New Technologies – GEOEXPO 2015 – May 4 – 8, 2015, in Havana. This should be a excellent convention and good way to be introduced to Cuba’s geology.
Just to mention a couple other earth science resources for potential travelers:
This version of the Cuban Digital Library of Geosciences brings together some 3700 references, 2091 in digital format, most of the published contributions, unpublished lesser extent, the existence of which the authors are aware. The topics cover the various branches of Earth Sciences, with emphasis on geology, geophysics and mining Cuba, or in any way relevant to the best knowledge of Cuban territory, although centrally relate to other geographies. These contributions include books, monographs and scientific articles, a few summaries and maps dating from 1535. Some very important unpublished documents are referenced as are available at the National Bureau of Mineral Resources (ONRM), the Centre National Geological Information ( CNIG ), the map library and collection of science in the National Library José Martí; and library (1989), Institute for Geophysics, University of Texas at Austin. In the year 2012 was published a list of Information Centers Geosciences across the country and how to access them.
Journeying Through Cuba’s Geology and Culture: This is a brief article that I wrote for the “Travels in Geology” section of Earth magazine (published July/August 2013) about my trip through western and central Cuba with the Association for Women Geoscientists in March 2013.
The AWG 2014 Canadian Rockies Field Trip took place from August 28 to September 7, 2014, with a Calgary-area geology pre-trip for early arrivals on August 27. The main part of the field trip commenced with a mid-morning departure on the 28th from Calgary, and we all headed west along Canada Highway 1 to Lake Louise. After spending two days in the Lake Louise area, we drove north to the Columbia Icefields. A few of us continued further north the next day, on an side trip to Jasper. From the Icefields we toured south to Field, British Columbia, over to Revelstoke, and ended our British Columbia time in Fernie. We then drove east, back into Alberta, and spent time at Dinosaur Provincial Park near Brooks and at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller. The trip ended with our group once more back in Calgary, Alberta.
There were 22 people as full-time field-trippers and two more people on the trip during the Icefields to Field, B.C. part of the trip. Two of the full-time trip participants were students and one of the additional, part-time trip participants, was a student. All of the students on the field trip are from Mount Royal University in Calgary and are students of our field trip leader, Katherine Boggs. Paul Hoffman and Mindy Brugman also helped out for a day or so during the trip. Marcia Knadle and Debra Hanneman did the trip budget and logistics. We had a great field trip guidebook, thanks largely to Katherine Boggs’ efforts. The field trip guidebook, “Tectonics, Climate Change, and Evolution: Southern Canadian Cordillera” will be on sale at the AWG online store soon.
Finally we had a mostly sunny day! We began the day with a tour of the Revelstoke Dam. This dam was one of the last Canadian dams built within the Columbia River watershed. The dam area is really interesting because just across the highway from the dam is the Columbia River Fault zone – a Early to Middle Eocene crustal-scale, east-dipping, extensional fault zone that follows the Columbia River Valley near Revelstoke. Now that was a bit disconcerting for me as I looked at the zone while standing on the top of the dam structure. Our group split up after the dam tour, and I went with the group to the Okanagan Valley. Among our stops were: 1. Three Valley Lake for a look at the hanging wall of the Monashee decollment, Craigellachie, where the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was set in 1885, and the Okanagan-Eagle River Fault zone. Below are some of the day’s photos….
After more rain and no wifi, we’re finally in Revelstoke, British Columbia where we still have rain, but finally have some wifi. We had a great trip from Lake Louise (I will post a few photos of scenes from Lake Louise later as my camera flash card for that part of the trip is still in my truck) up the Icefields Parkway to the Athabaska Glacier. Most of us ended up staying at Hostel International’s Rampart Creek Hostel for the night. If ever traveling up the Parkway, I do recommend staying at Rampart – Ken is a wonderful host and the setting is marvelous. Anyways, here are a few of the spectacular scenes that we saw…..
The first full day of the AWG Canadian Rockies Field Trip opened to pouring rain by the time we reached the Canmore, Alberta area – about 66 miles west of Calgary. So no grand views of the impending Front Ranges or sights of Triangle Zone structure. Once in a while during lunch we could vaguely see the break in slope that marks the McConnell Thrust at Mount Yamnuska. But even in the downpour, our intrepid leader Katherine Boggs got us out of the vehicles to look at and talk about the Kananaskis Dam and its geology.
The Upper Cretaceous Cardium Formation is the bedrock at the dam. Extensional faulting – late Cretaceous/Paleocene in age and expressed as a series of grabens and horsts – cuts the Cardium at the dam site. I took a long look at those structures knowing that that’s probably the last I’ll see of extensional faulting for awhile.
The downpour started to break a few miles east of Lake Louise. It was really spectacular to see the clouds begin to part around Castle Mountain. The Castle Mountain Thrust is at the base of the mountain and it delineates the boundary between the Front Ranges and the Eastern Main Ranges. Flat-lying Cambrian carbonates comprise Castle Mountain as opposed to generally west-dipping Devonian/Mississippian carbonates of the Front Ranges The weather forecast sounds better for tomorrow… we’ll see. Tomorrow brings hikes around the Lake Louise-Moraine Lake areas, so some clear skies would be welcome.
Registration is now open for the Association for Women (AWG) Geoscientists 2014 Canadian Rockies Geology Field Trip. All registration information and associated forms are posted on the AWG website at: AWG 2014 Field Trip.
The AWG 2014 Canadian Rockies field trip is scheduled for August 28 to September 7, 2014, and will be the field trip of a lifetime! The field trip begins and ends in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
There are two trip options available:
The 9-day main trip itinerary includes a classic geological transect through the Canadian Foothills to Main Ranges of the Foreland Fold and Thrust Belt, the geology of the Columbia Icefields Parkway, the Rocky Mountain Trench, and Crowsnest Pass areas, and a hike to the Burgess Shale.
An optional 2-day trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park and to the Royal Tyrrell Museum can be added on to the end of the main field trip.
The trip itinerary includes:
A classic geological transect through the Canadian Foothills to the Main Ranges of Foreland Fold and Thrust Belt via the Trans Canada Highway from Calgary, Alberta to the Icefields Parkway, Alberta
Columbia Icefields Parkway Geology
Burgess Shale Hike or less strenuous geotourism options such as Takkakaw Falls, Natural Bridge, and Emerald Lake in the Field, B.C. area
Columbia, Athabasca, and Saskatchewan rivers’ headwaters and Revelstoke Dam visits
Rocky Mountain Trench Geology: Omineca Crystalline Belt, Windermere Supergroup, Illecillewaet Glacier in the Field, Revelstoke, Golden, & Fernie, B.C. areas
Crowsnest Pass Geology: Duplexes & Lewis Thrust, Crowsnest Volcanics, Frank Slide (Crowsnest Pass, B.C./Alberta area)
Dinosaur Provincial Park and Royal Tyrell Museum explorations in the Brooks and Drumheller, Alberta areas. This part of the field trip is an optional 2-day addition to the end of the main trip
The field trip leaders are:
Katherine Boggs, Department of Geology, Mount Royal College, Calgary, Alberta Canada
Mindy Brugman, PhD, Geological and Planetary Sciences – Cal Tech
Field trip costs and payment information:
The field trip base fee is US$1700/person for the full 11-day field trip and US$1400/person for the 9-day field trip without the Dinosaur Provincial Park/Tyrrell Museum option. A deposit of US$200 for AWG members/US$300 for non-members to AWG will be due by April 1, 2014, and is non-refundable after April 1. The remaining balance of the field trip fee is due by June 30, 2014, and is non-refundable after June 30.
It’s not every day that you get the chance to go to Cuba, so when I found out that the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) was offering an organized trip there in March 2013, I jumped at the opportunity. The excursion — nearly two weeks of exploration of our southern neighbor’s geology and culture — did not disappoint.
Cuba is truly an extraordinary place – both geologically and culturally – and as I said at the end of the article:
I look forward to returning and seeing even more of Cuba’s geology.
As noted above in this post, AWG puts together some great geological field trips. The next one will be in September 2014, and it will be a geological field trip through the Canadian Rockies. More details on that will be uploaded to Geopostings as they become available.