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Geology of the Grand Canyon

GLG 266

Geology of the Grand Canyon

GLG 266

Course Description

Prerequisites: Prerequisites: READING LEVEL 2 and WRITING LEVEL 2 and MATH LEVEL 2, and permission of Instructor.

A study of the origin and distribution of the geologic features of the Grand Canyon of Arizona. Major topics include rock types, origin of landscape features, geologic history of the Grand Canyon, and human impact of the environment. Field work in the Grand Canyon is required. Students must pay own expenses. (30-0)

Outcomes and Objectives

Demonstrate an understanding of Earth materials, processes and geologic principles that formed the Grand Canyon.

Objectives:

  • Define minerals and rocks.
  • Discuss the geologic view of time, including relative and absolute time.
  • Describe the processes that deposit flat-lying rocks.
  • Compare and contrast physical vs. chemical weathering.
  • Discuss the formation of landscapes from rivers, mass wasting, and erosion.
  • Define uniformitarianism and its significance to geology.
  • Describe how sedimentary rocks are classified.
  • Discuss the major geologic principles at work in the Grand Canyon, including original horizontality, faunal succession, lateral continuity, superposition, and cross-cutting relations.
  • Identify and describe selected hand-specimens from Grand Canyon National Park.

Describe and identify various Precambrian rocks within the Grand Canyon, and their relationship to the history of the Canyon.

Objectives:

  • Define and distinguish between igneous and metamorphic rocks.
  • Identify and classify selected igneous and metamorphic rocks.
  • Describe the plate tectonic setting of the Grand Canyon during Precambrian time.
  • Discuss the significance of the Grand Canyon Supergroup and other Precambrian sedimentary rocks in the Grand Canyon.
  • Describe the fossils and geologic structures within the Precambrian rocks of the Canyon.

Demonstrate an understanding of the Phanerozoic history of the Grand Canyon, from Cambrian to Recent.

Objectives:

  • Describe the plate tectonic setting of the Grand Canyon throughout the Phanerozoic E
  • List the time periods represented in the sedimentary rocks of the Grand Canyon.
  • Identify and interpret the various sedimentary structures found in the sedimentary section (such as: ripple marks, cross bedding, and mud cracks).
  • Describe the typical geologic structures that have affected the Phanerozoic rocks in the Grand Canyon region.
  • Discuss the concept of unconformities, including nonconformities and disconformities.
  • Discuss the use of index fossils to date the sedimentary rocks in the Grand Canyon.
  • Describe the development of Cenozoic volcanism in the Grand Canyon region.
  • List and draw volcanic landforms typical to the region.
  • Discuss how volcanic rocks assist in dating the adjacent sedimentary rocks.
  • Discuss age estimates for the development and erosion of the Grand Canyon.

Demonstrate an understanding of hydraulics and surfacial processes affecting the Colorado River.

Objectives:

  • Describe typical methods to determine stream discharge and water velocity.
  • Define rapids, eddies, backwaters, and pools.
  • Describe the development of beaches along the Colorado River.
  • Discuss the relationship of water velocity to erosion within the Canyon.
  • Describe ways to test surface water quality.
  • Discuss why the water quality of the Colorado River changes.
  • Explain the role of dams as flood control mechanisms.
  • Discuss the negative affects of damming the Colorado River.
  • Discuss the positive affects of damming the Colorado River.

Demonstrate how to recognize geologic features within the Grand Canyon and interpret their origin.

Objectives:

  • Recognize selected geologic features within the Grand Canyon, including evidence of volcanic activity and erosion.
  • Observe and record in a field notebook visited geologic features and their significance and origin.
  • Interpret observations from various locations within the Grand Canyon to synthesize their regional significance.
  • Work in a collaborative manner with others in observing and interpreting geologic features.
  • Describe how the scenic beauty of the Grand Canyon is related to the geology.
  • Describe how the scenic beauty of the Grand Canyon is changing due to the influence of humans.