Roadside Geology

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In this ongoing course I provide itineraries on Google Maps and deliver slide and video presentations on the field geology along the route.  In the first installment, we set out from Las Vegas on a road trip through the greater Death Valley region.  Time and gasoline or solar-electric car permitting, I plan to add sections on the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce National Parks, as well as road trips in other states where I have lived.  The geology is explained in the context of the known geologic history of the area, including the plate tectonic setting of the features that formed as well as the “rock record” available in outcrop.  Background concepts are presented using available literature and Google Earth maps.  We look at the human history of the areas as well, including ghost towns from the boom and crash economy of mining, the role of the environment on human land use, particularly with respects to water availability, and the popular culture that often used these landmarks.  Geology is a science you can verify with your own eyes, and some of the most inspiring, intriguing, and awesome locations are right before your eyes, on the roadside, if you know what you’re looking for.  The course will definitely reinforce concepts you may have already learned in Geology 101, if you had one.  If not, don’t worry, I will provide the concepts and explanations from the geologic literature.