The Utah Department of Transportation will take to the air to assess damage to State Road 14 east of Cedar City after a massive landslide last weekend.



Rush Valley 30′ x 60′ Quadrangle, Tooele, Utah, and Salt Lake Counties, Utah

led by Donald L. Clark and Stefan M. Kirby
Tuesday-Wednesday, October 18-19, 2011

Meet at Salt Lake City Department of Natural Resources building (1594 W. North Temple, south side of building); gather at 7:30 am, and depart at 7:45 am sharp from DNR on both days.

You are invited to attend a field review highlighting new geologic mapping of the area extending from near Dugway (west) to Cedar Fort (east), and Stockton (north) to Vernon (south). The purpose of the mapping is to accurately describe the stratigraphy, geologic structure, geologic resources, and geologic hazards of the area. These maps are used for geologic hazard evaluation, land management planning, resource assessment and development, and education, as well as by the weekend hobbyist. The trip will be geared to cover a broad audience including geologists, government officials, and the general public.


lizabeth Cochran was sitting in her office when her computer suddenly sounded an alarm.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

A map of California on her screen lit up with a red dot, signaling an earthquake had struck. A clock next to the map counted down the seconds until shock waves fanning out from the epicenter north of Los Angeles reached her location in Pasadena: 5-4-3-2-1.

Right on cue, Cochran felt her chair quiver ever so slightly from a magnitude-4.2 that rumbled through Southern California on Sept. 1.

“If I hadn’t known it was an earthquake, I would have thought it was a truck going by,” she said.

After years of lagging behind Japan, Mexico and other quake-prone countries, the U.S. government has been quietly testing an earthquake early warning system in California since February. Cochran belongs to an exclusive club of scientists who receive a heads up every time the state shakes.

The alert system is still crude and messages are not yet broadcast to residents or businesses.

With more testing and funding, researchers hope to build a public warning system similar to the Japanese that has been credited with saving lives during the March 11 magnitude-9 disaster.



Police are trying to track down a man suspected of stealing an estimated $3,000 worth of minerals, meteorites and mammoth teeth from the geology department at Utah State University.

Department head David Liddell said the thief smashed through a basement window of the Geology Building last Saturday night and stole items from several glass cases — leaving behind some blood. Among the items lost — 10 fossils, 25 minerals and an iMac computer and printer.

“These are rocks and minerals which are pretty heavy,” said Liddell. “They would be hard to carry off. But we did lose somewhere between $1,500 and $3,000 worth of specimens.”

Police were able to get a description of the suspect. According to Liddell, a doctorate student saw a thin man about 6 feet 3 inches tall with dark eyes enter the building Saturday night. Police say he was wearing a green and white beanie and had cuts on his face — possibly from breaking through glass.

Liddell says the person responsible likely doesn’t have much expertise in the field of geology. Most of the items stolen were common minerals that could be found along the side of the road, while several valuable items — such as a large mammoth tusk believed to be from the Ice Age — were left behind.


Geologic Information: The Devil seems to have inspired many geographic place names. According to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, 34 geographic features bear the name Devils Kitchen, and three of them are found in Utah. The Devils Kitchen that is the subject of this “GeoSights” article is a relatively small (about 700 feet across) south-facing amphitheater exposing redrock hoodoos at the head of Red Creek in the Wasatch Range, about 14 road miles northeast of the town of Nephi in Juab County.

About 60 to 70 million years ago the rock at Devils Kitchen was gravel, sand, and mud deposited by streams flowing out of a now-long-gone mountain range. Continuing deposition resulted in deep burial which, coupled with deep time, compressed and cemented the sediment, transforming it into rock.

With its red hoodoos, Devils Kitchen looks a bit like a miniature Bryce Canyon. The mineral hematite (iron oxide) creates the red color.

Beginning roughly 17 million years ago, movement of the Wasatch fault slowly uplifted the Wasatch Range, with Devils Kitchen along for the ride. The rise of the Wasatch Range empowered erosion to excavate and expose the rock we see today.


Residents in south-central Utah awoke to an earthquake Wednesday morning.

The University of Utah seismograph center has downgraded the magnitude of the quake to 3.8. It hit at 6:51 a.m. about nine miles southwest of Cedar City, at a depth of about four miles.

The magnitude of the quake was originally said to be 4.1.

Emergency dispatchers say there have been no reports of damage or injury.



A recent exploratory bike ride near St. George reminded me that there are always new jaw- dropping views and intriguing adventures to discover close to home if you’re willing to spend some time studying maps and Google Earth’s virtual globe.

Looking south from popular trails near Green Valley, a massive tilted plateau can be seen rising steadily southward until breaking away to, well, I never could place what exactly lies beyond that horizon.

Maps reveal that this hulking mass does have a name-Blake’s Lambing Grounds-and what lies beyond is an impressive vertical drop of nearly 2,500 feet straight down to the floor of the winding Virgin River Gorge.

I imagined the view from this precipitous brink and plotted out a 13-mile long route of dirt roads that would lead me and my trusty two-wheeled steed there. Turns out, my imagination didn’t give the view justice.

Start the ride in Bloomington, where the western extension of Navajo Drive crosses a cattle guard and turns to dirt. Plenty of space near the flood-control pond allows you to park and unload your bike.

The colorful rocks enveloping the route, including the striped badlands of the Triassic-age Moenkopi Formation, tell a fascinating story of what southwestern Utah was like more than 200 million years ago. Instead of the majestic mountains, iconic plateaus and deep canyons seen today, southwestern Utah was a flat-as-a-pancake coastal plain positioned near the equator on the western edge of the supercontinent Pangea. Sea level would alternately rise, inundating much of Utah with shallow tropical waters, and then fall, placing the shoreline far off to the west.

From the parking area, pedal west on the main graded dirt road, ignoring numerous sidetracks, and wind across a couple of low drainages before dropping into the larger Curly Hollow.

Light-gray Moenkopi siltstone adjacent to the road was deposited by shallow mineral-laden sea water that also left behind an abundance of the mineral gypsum that gives the rock its chalky appearance.


Carole McCalla and Sandy Eldredge

Fossils – remains, traces, or imprints of past plant and animal life – are widely found throughout Utah. Depending on land ownership, some fossils can be collected for personal non-commercial use.

However, vertebrate fossils (see description below) may not be collected on any federal or state lands.

Whether you can keep a fossil or not depends on
1. the type of fossil, and
2. who owns or manages the land where the fossil was found.