Sunday, April 26, 2015

Association of Applied Geochemists Rafting Trip Grand Canyon - April 9 to 16, 2015

I was fortunate to lead a group attending a professional conference in Tucson Arizona down the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. It was wonderful to share the magic of the Grand Canyon with such an appreciative audience. In addition to the professionals attending the International Applied Geochemistry Symposium were six folks from my personal mailing list for trips, who couldn't resist traveling down the river with a bevy of helpful and enthusiastic geoscientists. It was an unqualified success - the weather was great, the wildflowers were an added bonus and everyone got along great. (Of course, these photos are just a snapshot of the more than 600 I took on the trip and they cannot convey every stop we made or every place visited).

A reptile trackway in the Coconino Sandstone near Badger Rapid that I had not seen before

Moon setting behind the cliff wall

Near South Canyon (river mile 31)

Vasey's Paradise was nearly dry last summer from the lack of rain but winter snow has brought it partially back

Redwall Cavern

Stromatoporid sponge fossil

Note the conical Nautiloid fossil  below the lens cap and trailing up to the right

Chert layers within the Redwall Limestone

Preparing to break camp at Buck Farm Canyon

Look for the "smiley face" channel of Temple Butte Limestone in this photo from near Buck Farm Canyon

This "fresh" rockfall is about 5 or 6 years old and reveals the true color of the Redwall Limestone

The wedding of the waters where the green Colorado meets the turquoise-blue Little Colorado River

For a group of geologists, the loop hike up Carbon Creek Canyon to the Butte fault and down Lava Canyon is a must. This four mile loop is quite rewarding.

This is Grand Canyon hiking, always interesting and never simple

Walker Mackay was our head boatman and here he admires the Tapeats Sandstone upthrown along the Butte fault. This fault reveals three periods of movement.

Beavertail prickly pear cactus flower
These ancient mud cracks in the Neo-Proterozoic Galleros Formation got a lot of attention from the group

River scene back at the boats after completing the Carbon Creek/ Lava Chuar hike

The Palisades of the Desert loom above Tanner Rapid with Comanche Point left of the cloud

Upturned Supergroup rocks. The whitish layer and red cliffs belong to the Bass Limestone with darker cliffs of a diabase sill that intruded into it. Serpentine asbestos formed along the contact and John Hance developed a mine along this contact to mine the asbestos (tailings visible on slope).

Below the Supergroup rocks is the Meso-Proterozoic Vishnu Schist and Zoroaster Granite in the Inner Gorge

Beautiful brittle bush (Encelia farinosa) blooming against silvery muscovite schist near the mouth of Shinumo Creek

Cross-cutting dikes within the Elves Chasm Gneiss, the oldest rock identified in Grand Canyon at 1.84 billion years

Early morning on the river

Close up of the brittle bush

Inspecting details in the Great Unconformity in Blacktail Canyon

View of Conquistador Aisle from the delta of Blacktail Canyon

Hillside of brittle bush

Start of the all-day, "big hike" on April 14, up Tapeats Creek over Surprise Valley to Deer Creek

Asbestos formed along the contact of the Bass Limestone and diabase sill in Tapeats Creek

After climbing out of the lower diabase gorge, we got a great view of Tapeats Creek below

The hike involves small climbs like this up through the Hakatai Shale

This one is for Helen, who was not along for this trip but never far away

Cactus scene in Tapeats Canyon

Crimson monkey flower (Mimulus candinalis) was everywhere in Tapeats Creek and Thunder River

Globe mallow (Sphaeralcea grossulariifolia

Approaching Thunder River

Hikers below the detachment plane of the giant Surprise Valley landslide. Note the sharp contact above the greenish Bright Angel Shale. The rocks above were mobilized perhaps a million years ago, slipping away from the cliff for more than half a mile.

Close-up of the landslide material. In this outcrop, the material is 100% Redwall Limestone but other sections of the slide are Supai Group rocks. This means that although the material was deformed greatly as it moved, it did retain some semblance of the stratigraphic succession.

Thunder River spring

On the way up into Surprise Valley, we could look back into upper Tapeats Creek and Thunder River

It was much different visually once we left Thunder River - the water was gone! This is Surprise Valley where the large block of rock in the distance (Cogswell Butte) slipped away from the cliff on the right. The gap between the two is Surprise Valley.

On the other side of Surprise Valley is Dutton Spring, another watery oasis in the drainage of Deer Creek

View of the Grand Canyon from above the mouth of Deer Creek

Fame-tipped occotillo flowers (Fouqueria splendens)

Travertine encrusted moss pseudo-fossils in Havasu Creek

Monkey flower in Havasu Creek

Walking back to the boats along Havasu Creek

Trip's end on Day 8 and the last bag line

Helicopter arrival for the flight back to Flagstaff

On the way home, out flight went over the lava fields inside Grand Canyon. It was an excellent trip!


  1. Wayne,

    Excellent photos and thanks again for an outstanding expedition down the canyon - your depth of knowledge is inspiring.


  2. Wayne, Your photos and narrative are fantastic! It's almost like being there. It's truly empowering to read the post while reflecting on the cumulative forces and processes that concocted this incredible masterpiece of nature.

  3. great photos really so beautiful, that's the beauty of geology. i tried to show the beauty of mining and mines too @ Atlas of Mines and Geological notes


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