Spring, 1999

"We walked through the grabens on a horst with no name."

Grabens, grabens, grabens, there seem to be grabens on almost all of the terrestrial bodies that we have gotten a good look at in the solar system, and as such, we felt that we should get a close-up view of some of the nearby terrestrial grabens in southeastern Utah. Of course, there's a lot more than just grabens in Canyonlands National Park, and there's also a lot of interesting real estate on the way there: we passed through Monument Valley, and Natural Bridges National Monument on our way.

This field trip began bright and early at the LPL loading dock, and we motored through most of the day without stopping. We saw the volcanic necks in Monument Valley and the Goosenecks of the San Juan before finding a campsite just past the Valley of the Gods. Where we got hailed and rained on. The second day dawned cold and we did a little hike down to one of the bridges in National Bridges National Monument. We talked about faults and folds and learned about laccoliths. We made it all the way to the northern end of Canyonlands park and got to see Upheaval Dome. We camped just outside of the northern park boundary and managed to only get rained on that night. On day three we drove towards the southern end of the park, saw Newspaper Rock, and began our assault on Elephant Hill. All of our vehicles arrived in the Devil's kitchen campground a little scratched up, but still in good shape that night. We were treated to a beautifully clear night and heard about the geologic history of the area and the history of the parks in southeast Utah. Day four saw us making gratuitous crossings of the Silver Stairs, but we saw the Confluence of the Colorado and the Green rivers, we hiked through the grabens, and after lunch went over Elephant Hill a second time to exit the park (fortunately LPL grad students are quick learners, and it took us much less time to make the crossing than it had the day before) and begin our long journey home. Day five was a driving day, and we made it back to the Lab in DAYLIGHT, a triumph to be sure.

Table of Contents from the Field Trip Booklett | Editor's Note

Photos courtesy of Jason Barnes.