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GRC Fieldtrips


Thursday September 28 - Sunday October 1   

Yellowstone
4 nights in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Wednesday & Thursday October 4-5  

Southern Utah Geology & Geothermal Power Plants


Yellowstone

Half the world’s geysers! 10,000 thermal features! Bubbling mud pots! A restless caldera!

4 nights in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Thursday September 28 - Sunday October 1         Cost: $TBA
Trip Guides: Duncan Foley and Roy Mink

A GRC Fieldtrip visited the Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone in 2015 - Duncan Foley (pictured at center) will again lead the tour.

Thursday, September 28

  • We leave Salt Lake City mid-morning on Thursday, to start our drive to West Yellowstone, Montana. As we drive north along highway I-15, we will point out important geologic and geothermal features along the Wasatch Fault, the Wasatch Mountain Range, and the Great Salt Lake.
  • Our first geologic stop will be south of Idaho Falls. Here we will discuss the geology of the Snake River Plain, the sequence of buried calderas that marks the plain, and have the chance to walk along improved trails through a several thousand-year-old basalt flow. We leave the interstate at Idaho Falls, and drive toward West Yellowstone.
  • We plan to stop at Mesa Falls, a scenic waterfall along the Henry’s Fork River. We will continue our discussion of calderas while we are at the waterfall, as the rocks here mark the second of three major super-volcano eruptions that compose the Yellowstone volcanic field.
  • After the falls, we will head to West Yellowstone to settle into our motel for the next two nights, and to explore restaurants in the area.

Friday and Saturday, September 29 and 30

We will spend most of Friday and Saturday exploring geothermal and geologic features of Yellowstone. Our travels will emphasize the geology and hydrothermal features that are within or immediately adjacent to the Yellowstone Caldera. At each stop, we will review the local geological and geophysical environments and introduce trip participants to important hydrothermal features. We also will discuss geochemical data and interpretations that help infer what might be happening in the subsurface. We will incorporate results from recently-published research, as well as older data, such as the results of drilling that occurred in the 1929, 1930 and the 1960s. Where appropriate, we will weave in links among geological, biological and cultural (human history) factors as part of our conversations.

Among the sites that we plan to see are:

  • Norris Geyser Basin – This geyser basin features highly dynamic thermal systems, which tap some of the deepest and hottest source waters in the park. Two major fault zones intersect at Norris, which is also where an active seismic zone intersects the caldera. We will hope to see an eruption of Steamboat Geyser, but may not, since its quiet periods in the past have been up to 50 years long between eruptions! This area also has unusual acidic waters in some of its geysers and thermal features.
  • Midway Geyser Basin – This is the site of Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, which is the largest in the park, and among the most colorful. We will travel along the boardwalk to see both Grand Prismatic and the crater left by Excelsior Geyser.
  • Upper Geyser Basin – This area is home to many of the Park’s most famous geysers. We plan to see Old Faithful, where we will discuss what is currently inferred about the subterranean plumbing of geysers, and look at potential interactions between thermal systems and human activities. We will select the exact route of our walks based on short-term forecasts for other major geysers, such as Grand, Riverside and Daisy. There will be options for short walks, as well as an option for a walk of several miles.
  • Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – The Grand Canyon provides a three-dimensional crosscut through highly altered rocks, which host hydrothermal systems. We will look at the intricate fracture networks that occur in the rocks as analogues for water circulation beneath geyser basins.
  • Mud Volcano area – This is a large zone of vapor-dominated features, such as mud pots, fumaroles and vapor-driven churning pools. We will discuss the geologic history of this area, as well as caldera unrest, while we walk the boardwalks here.
  • Mary Bay, along the north shore of Yellowstone Lake – Hydrothermal explosion craters are one of the manifestations of a highly active volcano. Mary Bay is one of the largest such craters in the world, and we will walk along its hot shoreline. We will discuss the origins of hydrothermal explosions, and what risks such explosions currently present to visitors.
  • West Thumb Geyser Basin – Home to Fishing Cone and other thermal features that protrude through the lake, West Thumb will be our last look at geysers before we head south.
  • Saturday afternoon we will conclude our day by driving to Jackson, Wyoming, where we will stay Saturday night. Our drive will take us past the Teton Range. We will stop at least once on our drive to stretch our legs and view the spectacular mountains.

Sunday, October 1

For those who are interested, we plan to offer a sunrise trip for photographing the Tetons. After returning to town for breakfast and joining with those who didn’t want to rise well before the sun, we will drive to Salt Lake City. We plan to travel back via a different route than we took northbound, which will take us through the overthrust belt. We will discuss the geology and thermal features of this fascinating, complex geological environment.

Limited seating, please register early!


Southern Utah Geology & Geothermal Power Plants

2-Day tour of the fascinating geology and geothermal sites in the south of Utah

Wednesday & Thursday October 4-5               Cost: $TBA
Trip Guide: Rick Allis

Depart 1pm on Wednesday, returning to Salt Lake City by 5:30pm on Thursday

Limited seating, please register early!


Check back for more information in the following months.......