As part of the year-long commemoration events for the 100th anniversary of Grand Canyon National Park, the first ever Geology and Geoscience Education Symposium was held a the Shrine of the Ages auditorium on April 19 and 20. Nearly 90 people were in attendance. Organizers Karl Karlstrom and Laura Crossey, professors of geology at the University of New Mexico and originators of Grand Canyon’s Trail of Time say that this may be an every second-year or every third-year event.
Dr. Karl Karlstrom delivers the opening talk on “Grand Canyon Geology Debates and Their Global Reverberations”
I was particularly gratified to be part of this event. For decades I have been lamenting the fact that other disciplines routinely held symposiums in which non-specialists could attend and understand something far outside their expertise. Not so with geology it always seemed. There was always too much jargon to wade through, too many sub-specialties, not enough interest on the part of geoscientists to relate to non-specialists. No more! This event was publicized as open to non-specialists and about half of the talks were given such that a general audience could follow along.
The first day of the symposium was devoted to specialists speaking to some aspect of the canyon’s geology. The talks were chronological beginning with the basement rocks and finishing with talks about springs and spring water. Here is a list of the Day 1 speakers and their topics:
Day 1: Friday, April 19
8:15: Welcome by Grand Canyon National Park Division of Science and Resource Management- Jeanne Calhoun
8:30: Grand Canyon Geology Debates and Their Global Reverberations – Dr. Karl Karlstrom, University of New Mexico
9:00: The Vishnu basement rocks: Formation of continental crust and its relationship to the supercontinent cycle – Dr. Mark Holland, University of New Mexico
9:30: Snapshots from the Great Unconformity found in the Grand Canyon Supergroup: The Unkar Group – Dr. Michael Timmons, New Mexico Bureau of Geology
10:30: The Neoproterozoic Chuar Group of Grand Canyon: A gem of unique scientific discoveries – Dr. Carol Dehler, Utah State University
11:00: Tonto Group: What can really old layers of sand, mud, and lime tell us? – Dr. James Hagadorn, Denver Museum of Nature and Science
11:30: The oldest vertebrate trackway in Grand Canyon and the dawn of reptiles – Dr. Steven Rowland, University of Nevada Las Vegas 12:00-1:30: lunch on your own
1:30: Source regions for Paleozoic sedimentary rocks: Dr. George Gehrels, University of Arizona.
2:00: Uplift and age of Grand Canyon and Grand Staircase – Carmen Winn, University of New Mexico
2:30: Where was the downstream end of the pre-Pliocene Colorado River – Dr. James W. Sears, University of Montana
3:15: What a conflict of fire and water! – Lava Dams in Grand Canyon – Dr. Ryan Crow, United States Geological Survey
3:45: The Bouse connection and controversies – Dr. Phil Pearthree, Arizona Geological Survey
4:15: The shape of water – Dr. Laurie Crossey, University of New Mexico
4:45: The Coconino and Redwall-Muav aquifers of the Grand Canyon region and their importance for people and ecosystems – Dr. Abe Springer, Northern Arizona University
The second day of the Symposium was devoted to geoscience education. Talks were given to elucidate how geologists can better connect with the public. Dr. Steve Semken of Arizona State University is one of the leaders in this field and led off the session with his talk on place-based learning and ethnogeology. Dr. Semken taught geology on the Navajo Indian Reservation for many years. I gave a talk on how the history of ideas for Grand Canyon’s origin can draw people into geologic thinking. The idea is that geology can be more easily approached by non-specialists if some human references are included. Here is a full list of the Day 2 speakers and events:
Day 2: Saturday, April 20
8:15: Welcome by the Park Division of Interpretation – Todd Stoeberl
8:30: Place-based geoscience education, interpretation, and ethnogeology at Grand Canyon – Dr. Steven Semken, Arizona State University
9:00: Engaging the Public in Geology and Geoscience: Techniques Learned Using the History of Ideas on the Origin of Grand Canyon, Wayne Ranney
9:30: Implications of Learning Outcomes of In-Person and Virtual Field-Based Geoscience Instruction at Grand Canyon National Park – Tom Ruberto, Arizona State University
10:00: The Old Red of John Wesley Powell: Using Geology to Solve the Historical Question of Powell’s 1869 Grand Canyon Camps – Richard Quartaroli
10:30: The Trail of Time Exhibit: – Karl Karlstrom and Laura Crossey
11:00: Brainstorming a next century of informal science education – panel
11:30: Recap and organize the Trail of Time walk- Karl Karlstrom and Laura Crossey
12:00 -1:30: lunch on your own
2:00-5:00: Walk the Trail of Time with geologists
And here are a few pictures from the Trail of Time walk many of the visiting public in attendance.
Dr. Karl Karlstrom giving the opening talk at the west portal to there Trail of Time. Note the two little boys, Connor and Sawyer, who were visiting from Louisiana.
Carl Bowman, longtime National Park Service ranger at Grand Canyon contributed ideas related to paleontology on our walk.
What beautiful day for walk on the rim discussing geology and geologic time!
Kids love to touch the rocks. In fact, the pedestals on which the rocks rest say, “Touch me!”
Carl Bowman using a styrofoam ball to illustrate a period in Earth history known as Snowball Earth, which occurred in two pulses around 710 and 640 Ma, each lasting about 10 million years.
Here I am pointing out features within the canyon. The three of us who led this trip worked very well together and each of us was able to add some other aspect to the canyon’s geology to visitors. Photo credit to Justin Wilgus.
One group started at Yavapai Geology Museum and the other at Verkamp’s Store Visitor Center. Near the 740 million year mark, the two groups passed one another.
Group shot of the two groups who walked the Trail of Time with professional geologists on April 20, 2019. Photo courtesy of Michael Quinn, National Park Service.
I will be sure to get the word out when the next Geology and Geoscience Symposium will be held at Grand Canyon National Park.