Workshop Field Trip
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The Colorado Plateau is the textbook example of layered sedimentary rocks in North America, representing the depositional history of the western Cordillera during much of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic. Although visually striking in the walls of canyons and mesas (e.g., Grand Canyon, ), the strata are difficult to access for continuous descriptions, appropriate sampling density, and logs of environmentally significant proxies necessary to understand their history, despite more than two centuries of geologic, paleontologic, and resource exploration. This is especially true for Early Triassic to Early Jurassic age strata, which are part of a vast (~2.5 million km2) mostly non-marine depositional basin in the western part of Pangea that record regional and global tectonic and biotic evolution events including controversial crustal block rotations related to Pangea rifting and younger events, and one of the five largest extinctions of the Phanerozoic. A relatively modest scientific coring project, concentrated on this time-stratigraphic interval on the Colorado Plateau, coupled with less extensive coring over the lower part this target interval off the Plateau, would provide quintessential continuous reference sections to place the regional and global events of more than 60 million years of Earth History, as well as the 200 years of previous geoscience study, in a more precise chronostratigraphic and paleogeographic context.
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