Fire and Ice: The White Mountains

April 26-28 1996

The White Mountains are a small range located in East-Central Arizona, on the border with New Mexico. The geology of the region is highly varied and gave us the chance to discuss multiple planetary processes, including volcanology and glaciology (hence the name).

The White Mountains themselves are a volcanic complex formed by tertiary volcanism associated with the uplift of the Colorado Plateau. Recently (geologically speaking), alpine glaciers formed at the peaks of the ranges, flowing downward on four separate occasions. We drove around the area and saw an extensive cinder cone field near the White Mountains as well as a nice view from the Rim of the Colorado Plateau. We also hiked a bit through the mountains, where we convinced ourselves we saw glacial and rockslide features. Topics included rockslides, glacial erosion and deposition, periglacial processes, history of glaciers in the area and the world, and global climate change, both cyclical and not.

Along the way, we went through some other interesting terrains, like metamorphic core complex mountain ranges, the Salt River Canyon, and the Morenci open-pit copper mines. We also got some great views of spheroidal weathering: in progress at a road cut and the final product in Texas Canyon. Our campfire stories were the history of the Apache Nation and a long, drawn-out argument about the scientific value of UFO research.

Photos courtesy of Eric Wegryn. Please bring contributions to room 326!!