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2011 Earth Science Week: “Life’s a Beach,” free field trip Oct. 15 or 16



Nearly 200 people participated in the Earth Sciences Week field trip hosted by the University of Nevada, Reno’s Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology (NBMG) last year in the dry lakebed at Winnemucca Lake and the Nightingale Mountains east of Reno. This year’s trip is headlined “Life’s a Beach” – In Search of Ancient Shorelines and Volcanoes in the Grimes Point and Lahontan Mountains Area.” The tour includes many stops along the way with explanations of the geology and volcanism of the area by NBMG experts. Photo by Mike Wolterbeek, University of Nevada, Reno.

Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology to lead, “In Search of Shorelines and Volcanoes in the Grimes Point and Lahontan Mountains Area”

The Nevada Bureau of Mine and Geology at the University of Nevada, Reno plans its 14th annual Earth Science Week free field trip for the public on Oct. 15 and again on Oct. 16.

In keeping up with the National Earth Science Week theme, the focus of the 2011 trip is the Cenozoic geology of the region around Grimes Point and the Lahontan Mountains east of Fallon. The tours will include exploration of evidences of a large Pleistocene lake in the area and volcanism in the Basin and Range province of the western United States.

The one-day, all-day field trips will be led by University of Nevada, Reno geologist Jon Price, director of the Bureau of Mines and Geology, and D.D. LaPointe, a research geologist. There will be several other University geologists on the trip to help answer questions and identify a variety of rocks.

“National Earth Science Week encourages people everywhere to explore the natural world and learn about the geosciences,” Price said. “The field trip will be a great opportunity for people to learn about the geology of Nevada, including some of our history of large lakes, ancient people who lived in the area, old and relatively young volcanoes, and how hot water altered rocks to produce some unusual and beautiful rocks.  Rockhounds will be able to collect several different rocks and minerals.”

Participants will travel in their personal vehicles to the west side of Sehoo Mountain, where beach deposits from the shore of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan will be examined, then to Eagles House where unaltered Miocene rhyolite, the rock commonly called “Nevada Wonderstone,” and breccia will be explored and collected.

From Eagles House, the tour will head to Grimes Point, where petroglyphs carved by prehistoric humans will be examined. Just down the road, participants can collect unique pebbles along the old shoreline of Lake Lahontan.

“These are not only historically and scientifically important areas, they have a serene beauty that’s unique to Nevada,” Price said.

The final stops on the tour will be the hills between Salt Wells Mountain and Rainbow Mountain. An optional stop on the return to Reno will include Soda Lake, the youngest volcano within the borders of Nevada. Several other sites will be visited and participants will be given a chance to examine and collect a wide variety of rocks that help Earth scientists unravel the geologic history of the area surrounding Grimes Point and the Lahontan Mountains.

Participants will also have the opportunity to learn more about GeoCaching and EarthCaching – a high-tech, treasure-hunting game using GPS devices. Those with a hand-held GPS unit are encouraged to bring it in order to find the GeoCaches and EarthCaches located near some of the trip’s stops.

The field trip is open to all ages. Interested parties can sign up to attend either on Saturday, Oct. 15 or Sunday, Oct 16. Participants must sign up online prior to the trip and sign a waiver form to be submitted prior to the field trip or bring to the field trip meeting place. The complete road log for the trip can be found here.

This year’s field trip participants will meet at 7:15 a.m. and depart at 7:45 a.m. from the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology‘s new Great Basin Science Sample and Records Library, 2175 Raggio Pkwy on the Desert Research Institute campus in Reno. Click here for directions and maps.

For more information about the field trip, go to 2011 Earth Science Week Fieldtrip or call Monique Smith at 775-784-6694 or D.D. LaPointe at 775-682-8772.

Nevada’s land-grant university founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno has an enrollment of 18,000 students. The University is home to one the country’s largest study-abroad programs and the state’s medical school, and offers outreach and education programs in all Nevada counties. For more information, visit www.unr.edu

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