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11: Roadside faults, folds, fossils, crystals, and diamond pipes—Sampling the geologic diversity of northern Colorado

By
Barbara EchoHawk
Barbara EchoHawk
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Campus Box 22, P.O. Box 173362, Denver, Colorado 80217-3362, USA
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Uwe Kackstaetter
Uwe Kackstaetter
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Campus Box 22, P.O. Box 173362, Denver, Colorado 80217-3362, USA
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Published:
January 01, 2016

Abstract

Enjoying geology does not necessarily mean strenuous hikes. This day-long, easygoing field trip is literally out of a car with various stops along the northern Colorado Front Range from north of Boulder to the Wyoming state line, with the longest hike being ~1.6 km (1 mi) round trip. We will examine and discuss stratigraphic units and geologic features from the Precambrian to the Quaternary, including the Great Unconformity. Participants will see inclined strata and differential weathering; gravel-topped mesas and inverted topography; vegetation that relies on ancient volcanic ash; evidence of the Cretaceous Seaway; a fracking simulation in the Niobrara Formation; a fault-interrupted S-shaped plunging fold trace; quarried slabs from ancient sand dunes; and impacts of the September 2013 Front Range flood. We will explore pegmatite emplacement and mineralization in the crystalline interior of the Rocky Mountains and in the Colorado Mineral Belt. Continuing north, we will see dinosaur bones in the Jurassic Morrison Formation; a mysterious snaggle-toothed rock wall; evidence of the 1976 Big Thompson flash flood; and Paleozoic strata with calcite spar, and microfossils. In conclusion, we will observe: block faulting of the northern Colorado terrain; the Virginia Dale ring dike and its famous magma mixing outcrop; and a deeply weathered, freely accessible diamond pipe recently discovered by Metropolitan State University of Denver students and faculty. This trip is excellent for anyone who would like to sample the amazing diversity of northern Colorado’s geology, including scientists, students, educators, and rock hounds with opportunities to collect some nice specimens for teaching or personal enjoyment.

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Contents

GSA Field Guide

Unfolding the Geology of the West

Stephen M. Keller
Stephen M. Keller
Colorado Geological Survey Colorado School of Mines 1801 19th Street Golden, Colorado 80401, USA
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Matthew L. Morgan
Matthew L. Morgan
Colorado Geological Survey Colorado School of Mines 1801 19th Street Golden, Colorado 80401, USA
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Geological Society of America
Volume
44
ISBN print:
9780813756448
Publication date:
January 01, 2016

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