White Sands and Black Caverns: Southern New Mexico

April 10-13, 1997

This field trip offered a little of many things--both geologically and weather-wise. New Mexico has had a complex geologic history, ranging from being underwater to having volcanoes dot its landscape. The Guadalupe Reef carbonate complex, near the Texas-NM border, is home to a huge system of caverns. We toured a lesser-known cave called Slaughter Canyon Cave with only ourselves and a park ranger. We also took a whirlwind tour through the famous Carlsbad Caverns Big Room. We examined the Carrizozo lava flow, which is the longest well-preserved flow on earth--over 25 km long! We studied dunes and dune formation at White Sands. We had a geology professor from UT El Paso guide us through a maar volcanic field on the NM-Mexico border, where upwelling lava carried mantle nodules to the surface. Finally, we explored the Chiricahuas in Arizona, looking at welded tuffs and hoodoo formation. Weather was just as varied--from high winds near Carlsbad to snow in Carrizozo to a perfect night in Pancho Villa State Park.

Thanks to David Trilling, Joe Spitale, Eric Wegryn, Cynthia Phillips, and Barb Cohen for pictures!