Photos from Anthropology Club / Geology Club fieldtrip to the Four Corners region (Colorado/New Mexico) - August 2009

Kurt Friehauf

Great Sand Dunes National MonumentI'm the advisor for the Geology Club (and Outdoors Club, too!).  Over the years, we've grown good at planning and executing big field trips.  This year, we worked with the Anthropology Club to plan a joint fieldtrip to the Four Corners region (Colorado and New Mexico) to see geological and anthropological sites in the area.

Our first stop was the Great Sand Dunes National Monument in southern Colorado.

Great Sand Dunes National MonumentThe Great Sand Dunes are a great example of sediment recycling as sands worn by weathering from the San Juan Volcanic Field are blown across the San Luis Valley to the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  As sediment is blown up onto the Sangre de Cristos, rivers running off the mountains wash it back down into the valley to be blown onto the dunes again.

Great Sand DunesAnna climbed to the top of this dune.  She is the tiny spec where the peak meets the sky.

Great Sand DunesWe camped at San Luis Lakes State Park.  It's very near the dunes and very reasonably priced!

Mesa VerdeMesa Verde National Park is an archeological wonderland.  Ancient Puebloan (Anasazi) villages built in alcoves in the cliffs are very well preserved.  The builders took advantage of the geology of the strata.  The alcoves provide shade during the hot part of the day and allow warming sun in during cooler times.  The alcoves themselves formed by groundwater infiltrating the overlying sandstone and percolating down until the water reached an impermeable shale horizon.  Since groundwater cannot flow down through the shale, the water flows laterally to escape the rock as springs in the backs of the alcoves, providing the Anasazi with fresh, flowing water!

Mesa VerdeWe climbed ladders on cliffs to access some of the ruins.  The Park Service gives some great tours!

San JuansThe San Juan Mountains are a scenic range of young volcanic rocks.  This photo is taken near Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado.

Chaco Canyon, New MexicoChaco Canyon is another truly extraordinary site of Anasazi ruins.  The Archeaology Club really enjoyed this stop!

Chaco CanyonThe sandstone formations at Chaco Canyon had some great differential weathering features.

Anasazi petroglyphsThe Anasazi left petroglyphs in some of the sandstone cliff faces.

Chaco CanyonThe group takes a rest after hiking up a steep trail to some nice petroglyphs. 

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