Lone Peak Wilderness, Wasatch Range, Salt Lake and Utah Counties, Utah
Photographer: J. Lucy Jordan

Wildflowers on Lone Peak bloom among quartz monzonite (granitic) boulders of the Oligocene-aged Little Cottonwood stock. Near-vertical cliffs on the skyline form part of the glacier-carved cirque near the summit of the 11,253-foot-high peak.

Last Thursday the Utah Geological Survey participated in the More Kids in the Woods outdoor program, an education initiative designed to bring underserved, urban, and diverse children and adolescents to the forests to spark curiosity, exercise, and connect the next generation with nature.  The week-long event is chock-full of activities set up by scientists from many fields in the Earth sciences, emphasizing conservation, stewardship, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.  On our trip with middle school students we traveled to Big Cottonwood Canyon and Silver Lake to explore geology, forestry, and aquatic biology.

More Kids in the Woods is a new nation-wide program spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture/U.S. Forest Service and in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, partnered with some dozen other organizations including The University of Utah, Cottonwood Canyons Foundation, and Bad Dog Art.


Students examine rainbow trout from Silver Lake.

Students study air photo interpretion by using photos of the Silver Lake area to identify vegetation types followed by ground truthing on a hike.

A cartographer from the U.S. Forest Service reviews with students and instructors. 

Snow Canyon State Park, Washington County, Utah
Photographer: J. Buck Ehler

Iron  concretions lie on top of the Navajo Sandstone in Snow Canyon State Park, Washington County. Utah’s red sandstone contains an iron-oxide mineral called hematite. When hematite is bleached from the sandstone, the stone appears almost white. When hematite is concentrated in concretions, they can appear almost black.


The Jones Hole Trail at Dinosaur National Monument reopened last week after being closed due to a massive rock slide in June. Superintendent Mary Risser said a portion of Jones Hole Creek will remain closed from the National Park Service/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fish hatchery boundary to downstream of the rock slide zone. Anglers will be able to access the creek either on USFWS property or starting downstream of the slide area to the confluence with the Green River.





Snow Canyon State Park, Washington County, Utah
Photographer: Lance Weaver

Red- and white-stained Navajo Sandstone in Snow Canyon State Park, Washington County.

Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, Garfield County, Utah
Photographer: Michael Vanden Berg

Sausageleaf talinum finds suitable habitat in sand and spherical concretions eroded from the lower part of the Jurassic-aged Navajo Sandstone. The concretions (about half an inch in diameter) formed when iron-oxide minerals precipitated out of ground water that flowed through the sandstone.


The gash in the hillside recedes from a dusty road in 20-foot steps, revealing a towering bounty of hydrocarbons embedded in stone deposited 50 million years ago when algae-filled Lake Uinta covered northeastern Utah.



This photo was submitted to us by Mike McCandless of Emery County. The San Rafael Swell is an eroded anticline approximately 600,000 acres in size inside the Colorado Plateau contained entirely in Emery County. The Swell exposes many different types of colorful sedimentary rocks that have been eroded into beautiful valleys, canyons, gorges, mesas and buttes. Great photo Mike!

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Great Salt Lake is a modern hypersaline lake and a remnant of freshwater Pleistocene Lake Bonneville.  It serves as a modern analogue to the Uinta Basin’s lacustrine Green River Formation and lacustrine microbial formations worldwide, including several recent very large oil discoveries in the deepwater offshore Brazil (pre-salt Santos Basin and others).  Actively forming microbial stromatolites, pustular thrombolites, and tufa deposits are found within the lake and along its shores.  Beaches and nearby dunes consist of abundant associated hypersaline ooids, coated grains, peloids, and rip-up clasts.

Recently, a few geologists from the UGS traveled to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake to investigate the modern microbial carbonates (i.e., bioherms) first hand.  The most convenient place to see the bioherms is in Bridger Bay on the northwest side of the island.  The bioherms live in roughly 1 to 3 feet of water, of course this will depend on overall lake level elevation.  Now is a good time to see these unique structures as the lake level is quite low.

Geologists from around the world have traveled to Utah to see these modern bioherms and relate their depositional environment back to ancient examples that now serve as excellent oil reservoirs.




Wall Arch, Arches National Park, Grand County, Utah

Photographers: Grant Willis (top)
and Rich Giraud (bottom)

Now you see it, now you don’t. Formerly located along the Devils Garden Trail in Arches National Park, Wall Arch collapsed sometime during the night of August 4th, 2008.