Field Trip Chairs
Lisa Morgan

Steve Quane
General Info
Pre-Meeting Trips
Trips During the Meeting
Post-Meeting Trips

Field Trips


418. Historic Dinosaur Quarries within a Newly Interpreted Paleoenvironmental Context
Thurs., 4 Nov., US$118 (L, R).
Cosponsors: Colorado Scientific Society, Morrison Natural History Museum, Colorado Geological Survey, GSA History of Geology Division, GSA Sedimentary Geology Division, Escalante Mines, Inc.
Leaders: Thomas R. Fisher & Lisa R. Fisher, Escalante Mines, Inc., ; Matt Mossbrucker; Libby Prueher; Erin Fair.
This trip also runs before the meeting (see trip 413), and is presented in conjunction with Topical Session T94.
Participants will examine the geology and paleontology of the area around Morrison, Colorado, where we will focus on past and present paleontological discoveries in the Jurassic Morrison, and explore historic 1870s dinosaur quarries of Arthur Lakes. New interpretations of the paleoecology and environments of the Morrison will be applied to understanding the evolution of the landscape through time. The trip will be lead by researchers from the Morrison Natural History Museum (MNHM), an active research and education facility staffed by experts in paleontology, geology, ecology, and education, and will include a museum tour. We will also explore some of the colorful history of Lakes’ quarries, and how they helped fuel the famous “Bone Wars” between Edward Cope and O.C. Marsh. The Paleozoic-Mesozoic section of the area will be examined, and we will visit and explore some of Lake’s quarries and dig sites, including Yale Quarries 5, 10, and “XYZ” where holotypes of Stegosaurus armatus and Apatosaurus ajax were excavated in 1877. The MNHM relocated and reopened Lakes’ 1877 Yale Quarry 10 beginning in 2002. This quarry yielded the world’s first specimen of Stegosaurus, Yale No. 1850, which is now in residence at MNHM. MNHM researchers are conducting a reexamination of previously excavated fossils and examining the significance of exciting new finds, such as recently discovered lungfish fragments associated with Stegosaurus No. 1850. These discoveries are providing new insights into the paleoecology of the type section of the Morrison, and forcing re-evaluation of certain well-known dinosaur species.
419. Old and New Geologic Studies along the Front Range between Golden and Morrison, Including Structural, Volcanic, and Economic Geology and Paleontology
Thurs., 4 Nov., US$114 (L, R).
Cosponsor: GSA Sedimentary Geology Division.
Leaders: Tim Connors, Geologic Resources Division, National Park Service, ; Norm Cygan; Harald Drewes; Chris Carroll.
This field trip also runs as a family trip during the meeting (see trip 415).
We will travel 20 miles west on 6th Avenue to Golden, Colorado, where we will hike along the Golden Fault to see Laramide-uplifted late Paleozoic to early Cenozoic rocks exposed near the Colorado School of Mines campus. We’ll also view the dinosaur footprints and fossil impressions of the Denver, Arapahoe, and Laramie Formations, along with trace fossil assemblages in the Fox Hills Sandstone. At the Triceratops Trail, we’ll take a short hike to view the hadrosaur pit as well as a controversial T-rex footprint impression. Next, we’ll head to North Table Mountain in Golden to see and discuss two-stage volcanism associated with the Laramide Orogeny. Time permitting, we will venture to South Table Mountain to view the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. Lunch will be at the Visitor’s Center for the Friends of Dinosaur Ridge near Morrison. After lunch, we’ll head up to Dinosaur Ridge to view Mesozoic dinosaur tracks and bones of the Dakota Sandstone and Morrison Formation and then head down-section to the nearby Red Rocks Amphitheater and Park to view the 1.4-billion-year hiatus contact between the Precambrian and the Penn-Perm Fountain Formation. Our final destination is Turkey Creek Canyon south of Morrison, where we will observe economic deposits, past and present, including a uranium roll front, oil seeps, and operating gravel quarries near Morrison. We’ll head back to Denver via C-470 and 6th Ave., arriving in Denver by 5 p.m.
420. A Two-Hour Walking Tour of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Quality Laboratory
Thurs., 4 Nov.
Sorry, this trip has been canceled.
click to enlarge
421. Rapid Environmental/Climate Change in the Cretaceous Greenhouse World
Thurs.–Fri., 4–5 Nov. US$235 (B, L, D, R, 1ON).
Cosponsor: GSA Sedimentary Geology Division.
Leaders: Bradley B. Sageman, Northwestern University, ; Robert Scott; Kirk Johnson.
Cretaceous deposits of the Western Interior region of North America preserve some of the best exposed and most extensively studied examples of rapid environmental and climate change in the deep time geological record. At a series of localities along the Colorado Front Range one can visit outcrops displaying the full range of depositional environments that characterized the Western Interior seaway, from coastal plain fluvial and deltaic facies to rhythmically bedded hemipelagic carbonates. The extensive epeiric sea that flooded the North American continent from Texas to Arctic Canada, and from Kansas to western Utah, is characterized by one of the richest stratigraphic, paleontologic, and biogeochemical data sets in the geologic record. Upon a foundation of detailed macro- and microfossil biostratigraphy, the correlation and radioisotope dating of widespread altered volcanic ash beds, and the quantitative analysis of rhythmically bedded hemipelagic strata interpreted to reflect Milankovitch cycles, has produced a chronostratigraphic framework that is among the best in the world. The Western Interior provides an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast stratigraphic, paleontologic, and geochemical records with those of the Songliao Basin, where an unprecedented record of terrestrial Cretaceous sedimentation is preserved.
click to view more photos
422. Geologic History of the Gold Belt Byway and Western Pikes Peak Country
Thurs.–Fri., 4–5 Nov. US$264 (L, R, 1ON).
Cosponsor: Paleontological Society.
Leaders: Herb Meyer, National Park Service–Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, ; R.A. Wobus; T.W. (Woody) Henry.
This field trip will provide an overview of the geology and regional stratigraphy of central Colorado by examining Proterozoic through Cenozoic plutonic, volcanic, and sedimentary rocks and fossils. Featured sites will include Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, the Garden Park dinosaur quarries, volcanic rocks of the Thirtynine Mile volcanic field, the Cripple Creek mining district, Proterozoic crystalline rocks of the Pikes Peak region, Paleozoic sedimentary rocks and fossils along the Shelf Road and Skyline Drive, and the Royal Gorge. Topics of emphasis will include (1) the stratigraphy, fossil flora and fauna, and paleoclimate of the Eocene Florissant Formation; (2) the impact of Eocene volcanism on the region; (3) Proterozoic plutons of three generations that record the change from plate accretion to continental extension over 700 Ma; and (4) the stratigraphy and depositional environments of Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks. The geologic values underlying the possible proposal to designate this area as one of the first UNESCO GeoParks in the U.S. will be highlighted. Overnight lodging will be in Cripple Creek.
click to view more photos
423. Chalk Creek Valley: Colorado’s Natural Debris Flow Laboratory
Thurs.–Fri., 4–5 Nov. US$255 (B, L, D, R, 1ON).
Cosponsor: GSA Engineering Geology Division.
Leaders: Jeffrey A. Coe, USGS, ; Jason W. Kean; Scott W. McCoy; Dennis Staley; Thad Wasklewicz.
    This field trip will visit the Chalk Creek valley, a formerly glaciated valley in the Sawatch Range in central Colorado. Debris flows along the flanks of the valley originate from surface water runoff in small, steep basins within a highly fractured and hydrothermally altered quartz monzonite that is part of the Eocene-Oligocene Mount Princeton batholith. The trip will make stops within the valley to examine recent debris-flow initiation areas, transport zones, deposits, and the impact of large pulses of debris-flow sediment on the morphology of Chalk Creek. Participants will hike ~1 km into a particularly active basin at Chalk Cliffs near the mouth of the valley. Debris flows within this basin are being monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Colorado, and East Carolina University. Monitoring instrumentation is designed to capture flow stage, pore-fluid pressure, bed-normal stress, soil moisture, rainfall, and video and still photography during debris-flow events. Terrestrial laser scanning is used to monitor topographic changes caused by debris flows. Monitoring during the summers of 2008 and 2009 captured data from five debris-flow events in the basin. Field trip participants will spend a night at a lodge or in cabins within the valley and visit the Mount Princeton Hot Springs.
    GSA’s Engineering Geology Division (EGD) is sponsoring this trip. Student members of EGD who sign up for this trip will be reimbursed $100; regular EGD members will be reimbursed $30. To join EGD, contact GSA Sales and Service at +1-888-443-4472 or +1-303-357-1000.
click to enlarge
424. Estimating Natural Background Groundwater Chemistry, Questa Molybdenum Mine, New Mexico
Thurs.–Sat., 4–6 Nov. US$307 (L, R, 2ON).
Cosponsors: U.S. Geological Survey; Chevron Mining.
Leaders: Philip L. Verplanck, USGS, ; Geoffrey S. Plumlee; D. Kirk Nordstrom; Bruce M. Walker.
This two-and-a-half day field trip is an overview of a USGS project that estimated pre-mining groundwater chemistry at the Questa Molybdenum mine. The deposit is one of a series of Climax-type porphyry molybdenum systems occurring along the Red River, New Mexico. Natural acid weathering of the sulfide-mineralized rocks produced a series of erosional scars and associated debris fans feeding these mineralized rocks, their weathering products, and acidic waters into the Red River. New Mexico State regulations require that groundwater-quality standards be met at mine closure unless it can be shown that pre-mining contaminant concentrations exceeded them. Because of intense debate among stakeholders regarding pre-mining standards, the New Mexico Environment Department and Chevron Mining Inc. agreed that the USGS should determine pre-mining groundwater quality at the Questa mine. The USGS investigation utilized detailed knowledge of a proximal natural analog site and applied an interdisciplinary approach to infer pre-mining conditions. Characterization included environmental geology, AVIRIS remote sensing, mineralogy, groundwater–surface water interactions with mass balances, and chemical evolution in a debris-fan aquifer. This trip will include a surface tour of the Questa mine and key locations in the erosion scar areas and along the Red River. The trip will provide participants with a detailed understanding of processes that influence pre-mining environmental baselines in mineralized areas and estimation techniques for determining pre-mining baseline conditions using an interdisciplinary approach linking geology, geophysics, geochemistry, remote sensing, geomorphology, and hydrology. The trip will include several slightly to moderately strenuous hikes. Overnight lodging will be in Taos.
click to view more photos
425. Alternative Sequence Stratigraphic Model for Channel-Shallow Marine Sandstones, Desert Member to Castlegate Sandstone Interval, Book Cliffs, Eastern Utah
Thurs.–Sat., 4–6 Nov. US$307 (L, R, 2ON). Begins and ends in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Cosponsors: GSA Sedimentary Geology Division; Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM).
Leader: Simon A.J. Pattison, Brandon University, .
The 300-km-long Book Cliffs of eastern Utah and western Colorado are dissected by numerous side canyons and reentrants providing exceptional three-dimensional outcrop control of Campanian strata, both along depositional-dip and depositional-strike. This, combined with the near-horizontal structural configuration, makes the Book Cliffs a world-class field laboratory for studying clastic sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy. It is truly one of the few areas in the world where you can walk and drive-out time equivalent depositional units from their proximal fluvial-coastal plain environments through to the shallow marine shoreface-deltaic and shelf environments. These famous rocks have been used to develop, test, and refine sedimentological and stratigraphic ideas and models over the years, including the principles and concepts of sequence stratigraphy, and are regularly used as outcrop analogs for fluvial, deltaic, and shoreface-to-shelf hydrocarbon reservoirs worldwide. This field trip will focus on the following themes: (a) sedimentology and three-dimensional sedimentary architecture of fluvio-deltaic and shallow marine depositional systems; (b) relationship between relative sea level, shoreline position, and stratigraphic architecture in a low accommodation setting; and (c) an alternative sequence stratigraphic model for channel-shallow marine sandstones. The field trip should be of wide interest to sedimentologists, stratigraphers, oceanographers and paleontologists in a variety of academic, government, and industry positions. The Books Cliffs arguably represent the best exposed deltaic rocks in the world.


Libby Prueher Ph.D. - Trip Co-Leader - is experienced in conducting professional development programs for teachers and outreach events for the students of all ages as well as the general public. Prueher is a lecturer in earth science at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, an adjunct geology faculty member at Colorado Community Colleges Online, and an adjunct geology and geography faculty member at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton. Prueher also teaches science for pre-service elementary teachers and works to improve teaching methods for the college classroom. In addition, Prueher is the curator of geology at the Morrison Natural History Museum and a board member of the Morrison Natural History Museum Foundation. She has degrees in geology from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, University of Oregon, and the University of Michigan. Her research includes the paleoclimate and paleoenvironment of the Morrison Formation, the impact of volcanism on climate, and informal science education.

Simon A.J. Pattison, P.Geo., is professor and chair of geology at Brandon University, where he specializes in marginal- to shallow-marine clastic sedimentology, sedimentary architecture, sequence stratigraphy, and reservoir modeling. His 20+ years of experience encompasses both outcrop- and subsurface-based projects, including the Cretaceous Book Cliffs of Utah and Colorado, Cretaceous Cardium and Viking Formations of Canada, and the Tertiary Niger Delta. In addition, Pattison has over six years of direct petroleum industry experience with Esso Canada, Shell International Holland, and Shell Nigeria, where he worked as an exploration, production, and reservoir geologist. Pattison continues to actively research the Cretaceous strata in Utah, as demonstrated by recently published peer-reviewed journal articles and numerous oral/poster presentations at international conferences. He has led 28 geological field seminars to the Book Cliffs region since the early 1990s (including GSA field trips in 2005 and 2007), and has successfully trained over 500 professionals. These rocks are important outcrop analogs for fluvial, deltaic, and shoreface-to-shelf hydrocarbon reservoirs worldwide.

The co-leaders have extensive experience in the geology of porphyry Mo systems, weathering of mineralized areas, and determination of natural background in mining-affected areas. The three USGS scientists (Philip L. Verplanck, D. Kirk Nordstrom, and Geoffrey S. Plumlee) were the project leads for the USGS pre-mining study at Questa. Bruce Walker is the senior mine geologist at the Questa mine and represented Chevron Mining Inc. throughout the study.

Thad Wasklewicz is an associate professor in the Department of Geography at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. He holds a B.A. from Department of Geography at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University. His research interests have emphasized the importance of debris flow processes in the formation of arid and humid alluvial fans of California and Japan. Recent work has focused on the importance of debris flows events to coupled stream systems in alpine environments in Japan and Colorado. The coupled stream systems have provided theoretical and field-based knowledge Wasklewicz is currently using to assist the USGS in monitoring debris flows after wildfires in southern California. His work in recently burned watersheds specifically addresses the issue of connectivity within the drainage basin and its role in debris flow initiation. Wasklewicz is employing high-resolution geomorphic mapping techniques to capture topographic changes and changing boundary conditions to carry out the aforementioned research. At present, this mapping approach involves analyses of centimeter-scale digital terrain models gathered with the aid of terrestrial laser scanning techniques. The high-resolution geomorphic mapping approach has been evolving over the past nine years of research involving the terrestrial laser scanning techniques.

Dennis Staley is a research geologist for the USGS Landslide Hazard Program. His primary research is dedicated to understanding of the relationship between geomorphic processes and surface form. Topics within this research umbrella include analyses of the basin characteristics, meteorological conditions and physical processes that generate runoff-induced debris flows in Chalk Cliffs, and in recently burned watersheds in southern California. Through a combination of terrestrial laser scanning and airborne LiDAR, high-resolution models of topography are generated that allow for the development of physically based and empirical models of runoff generation and transition to debris flow. In addition, recent advances in terrestrial laser scanning methodologies have allowed Staley to document hillslope and channel changes at unprecedented spatial scales following storm events. Staley is also researching relationships between rainstorm characteristics and the hydrologic and geomorphic response of recently burned watersheds in southern California to refine the joint USGS/NWS Flash Flood and Debris Flow Early Warning System.

Scott McCoy is a graduate student in the geological sciences department at the University of Colorado–Boulder. McCoy’s research ranges from computational modeling of discrete granular interactions, to investigation of debris-flow mechanics at the event scale, to understanding the role debris flows play in sculpting steep landscapes over long time scales. In collaboration with scientists from the USGS and East Carolina University, McCoy has designed and maintained key components of the debris-flow monitoring program at Chalk Cliffs. McCoy received his B.S. in geology from the University of Washington.

Jason Kean is a research hydrologist with a background in civil engineering at the USGS Geologic Hazards Center in Golden. Prior to joining the group in 2006, Kean worked for ten years in the Geomorphology and Sediment Transport group of the USGS in Boulder. Kean’s current research focus is on understanding surface-water generated debris-flow processes through a combination of field monitoring and modeling. Monitoring work is seasonally split between summer-time debris-flow monitoring in the “backyard” at Chalk Cliffs and winter-time debris-flow monitoring in recently burned areas in Southern California. Kean is using the data collected from these efforts to help develop and test predictive models for debris-flow initiation by flow and sediment transport in steep channels.

Jeff Coe is a research geologist with the USGS Geologic Hazards Team in Golden. He has a B.S. in Geology from Kent State University and an M.S. in geology from the Colorado School of Mines. Coe began his career at the USGS in 1988 by working on the Yucca Mountain project. His work on the project included quantifying modern and Quaternary hillslope erosion, conducting paleoseismic investigations, and mapping and analyzing geologic structures in tunnels. In 1996, Coe joined the Landslide Hazards group in Golden. His research in the group has covered a wide variety of landslide topics in the western U.S., with an interlude of a few years to map and analyze landslides following Hurricane Mitch in Guatemala. Coe’s current research focus is on understanding initiation and growth of debris flows through field investigations and instrumental monitoring, and on the development and application of methods to quantify landslide hazards using long-term field observations and historical records. Coe began studying debris flows at Chalk Cliffs in 2004.

T.W. (Woody) Henry is a paleontologist retired from the U.S. Geological Survey and Front Range Community College, and was the Secretary of the Paleontological Society from 1994 to 1999. He received his Ph.D. from the School of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Oklahoma. Henry is co-author of Geologic Guidebook to the Goldbelt Byway, Colorado, and has led previous field trips along this route. His interests are in Paleozoic marine invertebrates and stratigraphy.

Reinhard A. (Bud) Wobus is professor of geosciences at Williams College. Wobus received his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1966 and has been studying the Proterozoic basement and Tertiary volcanic rocks of the southern Rocky Mountains for more than 40 years. He has published dozens of geologic maps and reports on the Pikes Peak region, where he has led three GSA Annual Meeting field trips and directed more than 20 week-long field seminars for college and museum groups.

Herb Meyer is the paleontologist for Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, an adjunct curator at the University of Colorado, and a research associate at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He is the author of The Fossils of Florissant, an editor of a GSA Special Paper on Florissant, and a co-author of Geologic Guidebook to the Goldbelt Byway, Colorado. Meyer received his doctorate in paleontology from the University of California at Berkeley. His research interests are in Tertiary paleobotany, climate change, and paleoelevation, and he has led three previous GSA field trips to this area.

Lisa R. Fisher Ph.D. (ABD) is 2010 President-Elect of the Colorado Scientific Society (CSS) and chair of this CSS-sponsored field trip and related topical session at the 2010 GSA Annual Meeting. She is Executive Vice President and Director of Geoscience and Engineering for Escalante Mines Inc., a Denver-based junior mining firm focusing on exploration and development of precious and rare metals. She also serves as a volunteer research associate at the Morrison Natural History Museum, contributing in the areas of petrology, geochemistry, and education. Fisher is an internationally experienced metamorphic/igneous petrologist and an accomplished researcher specializing in Precambrian geology, Colorado Front Range geology, accretionary terranes, microscopy, economic geology, and related topics. Fisher is a seasoned science instructor and educator with experience with gifted children, university and K–12 students, the lay public, and educators, and served as visiting professor in petrology at the University of Colorado–Boulder, and career advisor/counselor at the Colorado School of Mines. She carries degrees in geology from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor and the Colorado School of Mines, where she is currently a Ph.D. Candidate. Fisher has authored or co-authored a number of guidebooks on continental accretion, Proterozoic metasedimentary and metavolcanic accretionary sequences, and Laramide and Precambrian geology and tectonics of the Central Colorado Front Range. Her current research focuses on Proterozoic migmatites and constraints on regional melting processes in upper amphibolite grade terranes, and on complex porphyry-epithermal ore systems.

Thomas R. Fisher Ph.D. (ABD) is an internationally experienced clastic sedimentologist and stratigrapher, and has been a volunteer research associate with the Morrison Natural History Museum since 2005. He serves in the capacity of CEO and chair of Escalante Mines Inc., a Denver-based junior mining firm focused on exploration and development of precious and rare metals. Fisher’s research focuses on interpretation of paleo- and depositional environments, especially those of alluvial fans and braided stream deposits. He specializes in application of traditional and advanced statistical and geostatistical methods to interpretation of sedimentary processes in the search for stratabound mineral deposits and energy resources. He was educated in geology at the University of New Mexico and the Colorado School of Mines. Fisher’s research has covered interpretation of clastic sedimentary deposits from the Precambrian through the Quaternary on a worldwide basis, and has made significant contributions to multidisciplinary geoscience studies. Most recently, Fisher has concentrated on analysis of gold-bearing Paleoproterozoic quartz pebble conglomerates in paleo-fans and braided streams of West Africa, and interpretation of depositional environments of the Jurassic Morrison Formation and the Precambrian meta-sedimentary package in the Colorado Front Range. As a recognized pioneer in the development of 3- and 4-dimensional computer-based geologic modeling methods, Fisher has published numerous professional papers on this, as well as topics relating to interpretation of depositional sedimentary environments and paleontology.

Matthew Mossbrucker is a paleontologist specializing in Mesozoic vertebrates, particularly dinosaurs of the Jurassic Morrison Formation. He joined the Morrison Natural History Museum in 1996 and became Director and Chief Curator in 2006. Mossbrucker trained under famed vertebrate paleontologist Robert T. Bakker, curator of paleontology at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences. He is an expert in paleontological field surveys, cryptic vertebrate ichnology, and Dinosauria, especially their osteology and taxonomy, and the history of early Dinosauria finds in the American West. Mossbrucker specializes in the dinosaur genus Stegosaurus, and has published numerous papers on this and similar topics. He was recently recognized for his work in this area as an invited guest speaker at the “Symposium on Stegosauria” sponsored by the Sauriermuseum Aathal, Aathal-Seegräben, Switzerland. He has been instrumental, along with Bakker and colleagues, in reopening of Arthur Lakes' ca. 1870's fossil quarries 5, 10, and “xyz” in the Morrison Formation near Morrison, Colorado, which supplied Yale's O. C. Marsh with numerous genotypes of Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus. With the reopening of the quarries, Mossbrucker has concentrated on interpretation of the paleogeography and paleoecology of the intervals bearing these Dinosauria genera. In addition to his training as a paleontologist, Mossbrucker is skilled in museum programming, collections and curation, exhibit creation, and field and laboratory research. He also directs and conducts public education programs for the Morrison Museum and maintains an interest in herpetology, especially as it pertains to Colorado.

Meeting Home page GSA Home Page