Monday, August 04, 2014

August Marks the 50 Year Anniversary of the "Symposiumon on Cenozoic Geology of the Colorado Plateau in Arizona"

Cover of MNA Bulletin 44
This work summarized the state of knowledge regarding the origin of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River  in 1964

Is it really 50 years since the most famous symposium related to the origin of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon took place? Amazingly, it is true and August of this year marks that milestone. I was just a lad when this famous gathering took place, but many geologists who would become mentors to me were in attendance. And when I arrived for the first time to live and work at the Grand Canyon, this symposium was only 11 years in the past. Time is a funny character and the more we try to grasp it, the more it seems to wiggle out of our grasp

On Sunday our local newspaper, the Arizona Daily Sun, published an article I wrote to commemorate the symposium. You can access and read it here. Ivo Lucchitta features prominently in the article and I can say that it was his popular writing on the subject that drew me deeply into it.

Here is a list of the twenty geologists who participated in the 1964 Symposium. I am or was acquainted with at least ten of them.

Ivo Lucchitta, Geologist, Friend, and Mentor

This diagram displays what is perhaps the most famous result of the '64 symposium, that the Colorado River was likely cobbled together from two distinct ancestors. Headward erosion from the west and stream capture at the junction with the Little Colorado River was proposed then. 

I honor all of those geologists who participated in this symposium, as well as the Museum of Northern Arizona, where research is still a vibrant part of the northern Arizona science scene. This results from this momentous event were the first things I learned about the geology of the Grand Canyon and the intrigue and mystery that still surrounds the development of the canyon keeps me here.

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