Earth Science 35 - Field Geology
Geology of the Sonora Pass Region, Summer, 2013
Jeff Tolhurst, Ph.D., Instructor
(209) 588-5235
Email: tolhurstj@yosemite.edu
Earth Science Home Page:
http://tolhurstj.faculty.gocolumbia.edu/


Suggested Readings:
1. Geologic Trips: Sierra Nevada by Ted Konigsmark, published by GeoPress, P.O. Box 964, Gualala, CA 95455.  This book is also available through Mountain Bookstore or from Bored Feet Press, P.O. Box 1832, Mendocino, CA 95460; (888) 336-6199, www.boredfeet.com.
2. Geology of the Sierra Nevada by Mary Hill, published by the University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 94704, www.ucpress.edu.
3. Geology by Frank H. T. Rhodes, published by St. Martin's Press 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY, 10010, www.stmartins.com.


Facebook Earth Sciences Program Page
 

Virtual Tour of the Class

Note:  The pre-trip meeting on Monday, July 15th is MANDATORY.  You must provide your own food and camping gear for the four day trip.  You can either camp at Baker Station or at one of the other campgrounds nearby (i.e. the Dardanelles, Kennedy Meadows, or USFS campgrounds nearby (i.e. Deadman, Brighton, etc.)). 
Objectives: Given information on the geological history and processes occurring near the Sonora Pass area, you will be able to explain/describe: 1) the main earth system processes that have formed and continue to shape the mountains; 2) describe the geologic history of the region; 3) explain the main geological processes observed in the area; and 4) relate the underlying geological controls to the ecology and biology of the area from biogeochemical cycling to tectonic and evolutionary processes.

Procedures: The class will meet two times: 1) in class on campus (Monday, July 15th from 6-9 pm in Sugar Pine 107); for the trip (Friday-Sunday, July 19-21st). The pre-trip meeting will cover information on what to bring, what to expect, and what to turn in for credit. We will also cover some information on the geological and biological/ecological background of the Sonora Pass area to prepare us for the trip. A trip itinerary will be given.

Tentative Itinerary: Geologic features, geologic history, natural hazards, geologic resources, etc. of the Sonora Pass area will be covered.  Daily field excursions will likely (weather and other conditions dependent) be made to Columns of the Giants via Eureka Valley, Sword Lake debris flow, Sonora Pass to Mono Lake, and the Bennett Juniper-Juniper Uranium Mine area near Long Valley.  The three days will involve three to six mile, moderately strenuous hikes at elevations above 7,000 feet.  Camping/lodging/travel logistics and course requirements will be discussed at the mandatory pre-meeting, but, in general, our plan is to camp at Baker Station (elevation ~6,200 ft.), near Kennedy Meadows, for two nights and base ourselves there.  Baker Station is owned by the U.S. Forest Service and has been renovated for use as a field station for educational purposes.  We will have potable water, restroom facilities, sleeping/camping accommodations, and kitchen facilities.
Pre-trip Meeting: Monday, July 15th from 6-9 pm to get oriented with what to bring, where we'll stay, food, logistics, etc. We'll meet on campus in Sugar Pine 107.
Tentative Itinerary (may change due to weather, fire, road/trail closures, etc.):
Day 1:  8 am: Meet at Baker Station.  Day will be spent with a short orientation at Baker Station, then hiking to examine geology of Columns of the Giants area.  We will see the former world record Jeffrey Pine.  The day involves some moderate hiking.  Finish day at Baker Station at 5:30 pm.
Day 2:  8 am: Meet at Baker Station.  Day will be spent examining geology of Sonora Peak, Sonora Pass, and the Little Walker Volcanic Center.  Most of the day we will be driving and hiking to different locations.  Finish day at 5:30 pm.
Day 3:  8 am: Meet at Baker Station.  Day will be spent hiking in to the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness to examine the geology of the debris flow below the Dardanelles, near Sword Lake.  Moderate to strenuous hiking for parts of the day (strenuous leg of hike is optional). Finish day at Sword Lake trailhead by 5:30 pm.

What to Bring:
-- Checklist
-- clothing for both warm and cold/wet weather
-- camping gear - tent, sleeping bag, pad, etc.
-- food – lunch and snacks for each day as well as dinner for the first day only (click here for more detail)
-- sturdy hiking/walking shoes
-- sunscreen/chapstick
-- mosquito repellent
-- sunglasses
-- a hat
-- money for miscellaneous items
-- a learning log (to be examined for credit)
-- any medications you might need*
-- a camera
-- other

What to Expect:
Expect hot/warm days down at lower elevations and cool/possibly wet (thunderstorms) up at higher elevations. The weather is usually nice this time of year, but who knows what will happen! The region is prone to afternoon thunderstorms and it will be difficult to say what the weather will be like. Be prepared for a range of weather.

What to turn in for credit:
In order to assess your learning, I'll ask you to keep a field log for the trip. You will be expected to turn this in to me at the end of the class. This log should document the things you would like to learn before the trip as well as why you are taking the class (to be completed between the pre-meeting and the first day’s trip). You should also enter into your log the things you learned about: 1) the Sierra Nevada Mountains; 2) tectonics/faulting; 3) volcanism; 4) glaciers; and 5) geology/history of the region. You will be asked to make an entry at each stop on the trip as well as add an additional entry at the end of each day, reflecting on what happened during the day. There will be a final summary due at the end of the trip of your knowledge of concepts learned. Your final grade will be based on:

  1. A field log entry at each stop along the trip of observations and new material learned;
  2. An entry in your field log at the end of each day reflecting on what your overall impressions of the day were;
  3. Your final summary of what you learned at the end of the class.

Grading Scheme:
A = satisfactory completion of 1-3 above with strong demonstration of understanding of geological/hydrological concepts encountered on the trip as evidenced by your final summary. Also, appropriate conduct and behavior expected of a college-level geology student will be factored into your grade.  (Click here to read the Student Code of Conduct from the Columbia College Catalog)
B = some portions of field log incomplete; lack of comprehension of geological concepts observed as evidenced by  your final summary. Also, appropriate conduct and behavior expected of a college-level geology student will be factored into your grade.
C = incomplete field log; poor comprehension of concepts observed as evidenced by  your final summary. Also, appropriate conduct and behavior expected of a college-level geology student will be factored into your grade.
D = attendance on field trip only; no field log turned in; final summary weak or non-existent. Also, appropriate conduct and behavior expected of a college-level geology student will be factored into your grade.
F = no attendance or left trip early and did not turn any work in; no final summary. Also, appropriate conduct and behavior expected of a college-level geology student will be factored into your grade.
Note: I have had to add these statements based on past student behaviors: 
1) We ask that you respect the sleeping habits of others in the group by quieting down after 10pm. (Most campgrounds ask that the noise be reduced after 9pm). If you have to be asked to maintain quiet more than once, your grade could be affected. If the behavior persists, you may be asked to drop the course;
2) NO SMOKING during field lectures and activities.  If you cannot adhere to this requirement you should not sign up for the course. Fire is a very serious threat in the field area we'll be visiting. Additionally some students have complained in the past that their allergies are triggered by second hand smoke. Please take these issues seriously - safety is the big issue. If you have to be reminded of this policy, your grade could be affected and you may be asked to drop the course.
The High Sierra Institute at Baker Station is a wonderful place to learn more about the ecology and geology of the Sierra. I hope we all have a good trip! Feel free to contact either of us at the phone numbers or email addresses above if you have any questions before or after we leave.

*Please notify me at the pre-meeting of any medical conditions that could bear on the trip.

“For students with disabilities, (i.e. physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational, financial, etc., in nature), who believe that they may need special accommodations in this class, I encourage you to discuss options with me at the pre-meeting.”