May 2016

School is out one more time! As the (majority of the) extension seminar class, we traveled to Las Vegas, NV to start our mostly road trip to Grand Canyon and Death Valley. The Trip was led by our own Dr Gray and Dr Sawyer with guidance from Dr John from U Wyoming.

A happy Nur in Grand Canyon only to soon realize it gets fairly cold there quickly once the sun sets.

A happy Nur in Grand Canyon only to soon realize it gets fairly cold there quickly once the sun sets.

We managed to see: The Hoover Dam (considering that this was built in 1931, it was a jaw dropping sight), South Rim of Grand Canyon, Chemehuevi and Whipples Core Complexes, Las Vegas Fracture Zone, Death Valley's Salt Flats and Racetrack Playa.

Our first long stop during day 1 came with a fantastic view of Hoover Dam.

Our first long stop during day 1 came with a fantastic view of Hoover Dam.

Dr. Gray pointing out what we will see that day in Parker, AZ. Most days would start this way.

Dr. Gray pointing out what we will see that day in Parker, AZ. Most days would start this way.

Standing on the fault surface in the Whipples. That grayish/greenish segment is chlorited breccia. It reminded us of the S-reflector from Galicia.

Standing on the fault surface in the Whipples. That grayish/greenish segment is chlorited breccia. It reminded us of the S-reflector from Galicia.

We made it to the south rim of the Grand Canyon about 20 minutes before the sunset. After trying to identify the strata until dark, we left for our first inn of the trip. Needless to say, the scenery was amazing.

We made it to the south rim of the Grand Canyon about 20 minutes before the sunset. After trying to identify the strata until dark, we left for our first inn of the trip. Needless to say, the scenery was amazing.

Salt flats in Death Valley. We must have gained a lot of elevation here, I remember seeing 79 deg F just before we left the car for this stop, as opposed to the usual 100+ deg F.

Salt flats in Death Valley. We must have gained a lot of elevation here, I remember seeing 79 deg F just before we left the car for this stop, as opposed to the usual 100+ deg F.

Ubehebe Crater, DV. I believe we all just walk around the rim, but Dr Gray was the only brave one to hike down and back up this thing. Unrelatedly... It baffles me how there are huge age uncertainties for this structure.

Ubehebe Crater, DV. I believe we all just walk around the rim, but Dr Gray was the only brave one to hike down and back up this thing. Unrelatedly... It baffles me how there are huge age uncertainties for this structure.

Last day in Death Valley. After making *ahem* insightful observations in the Racetrack Playa, there may have been some shenanigans involving imaginary fireballs. Photo by Xiayu Wang.

Last day in Death Valley. After making *ahem* insightful observations in the Racetrack Playa, there may have been some shenanigans involving imaginary fireballs. Photo by Xiayu Wang.

Not as famous but not forgotten: Thick brecciated normal fault gouges in the Whipples, long hike to the Colorado River with surprise ventifacts and desert pavement, trilobite hunt within Death Valley, numerous copper mine shafts with malachites and azurites... and that afternoon heat.

It was a wonderful trip. I haven't been to any of these destinations and I have never driven for a field trip before. I enjoyed this whole experience. Aside from all the geology, I also learned a valuable lesson: If the recommended packing list has chapstick, you better bring chapstick. Death Valley was probably the driest place I have been...

When going to DV, you should follow the "items to bring" list religiously, otherwise you might end up in Death Valley Health Center, which is a real place apparently. Photo by Xiayu Wang.

When going to DV, you should follow the "items to bring" list religiously, otherwise you might end up in Death Valley Health Center, which is a real place apparently. Photo by Xiayu Wang.

PS: As it is the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service and we were traveling to two national parks in this trip... I sort of began the national parks passport stamp collection scheme. It's another reason to look forward to traveling. This is not so unlike my strange addiction to Steam achievements. Oh well. It can't be too bad.