World-class training for the modern energy industry

Canyonlands, Arches and even a Dead Horse . . . Utah Rocks!

calendar May 21, 2024
Dead Horse Point Utah

This year GeoLogica will be running a number of field courses in Utah, in particular to the region around Moab and incorporating classic areas in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, as well as Dead Horse State Park and well known localities such as Onion Creek, Bartlett Wash and Delicate Arch. Field course participants will have the opportunity to study a variety of geological disciplines, including stratigraphy, sedimentology and structural geology. But why is this area so attractive to geological field groups and what makes us return year after year to explore the geology of the region?

For those of us who are lucky enough to have visited southeast Utah, it’s difficult not to be inspired by the natural beauty of the area, even if you aren’t a geologist. The rocky and dry terrain displays a palette of colours, shapes, shadows and vistas that are hard to rival. The dry air, deep blue sky and often snow-capped summits of the La Sal mountains are guaranteed to impress. For the geologists among us, the Paradox Basin preserves some classic, text-book geological features that appeal to the academic as well as the applied geologist, whether exploring for mineral resources or hydrocarbons. Field excursions should always include the spectacular view from Dead Horse Point, where the Colorado River has cut down into the bedrock of the Colorado Plateau. Cliffs of over 1500 feet preserve a wonderous collage of sedimentary rocks, including shallow marine deposits of the Honaker Trail Formation, through mixed marine and terrestrial sequences of the Cutler Formation, up into aeolian and fluvial sequences of the Wingate and Kayenta Formations, to name but a few.

Dead Horse Point in Canyonlands Utah
Panorama of Dead Horse Point, Canyonlands National Park

Salt tectonics and salt-sediment interactions are one of the top outcrop phenomena preserved in the landscape and they offer a window into analogous salt basins worldwide and the effects of salt diapirism. Of equal importance are the outstanding exposures of faults and structural geology features, like the classic Moab Fault and relay ramps of Canyonlands National Park. These offer an additional opportunity to focus on specialist topics, such as fault seal, fault rocks and smaller scale features such as deformation bands.

Panorama of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park Utah
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

Utah really has something to offer every type of geologist, which is key to the geo-seduction and continued allure of the region. If you want to walk up a relay ramp, examine a salt wall, map a series of deformation bands or dissect the sedimentology of a Jurassic dune field, then southeast Utah has it all.

If you’d like to be seduced by the geology of Utah, why not join us:

Structural Styles and Fault Characterization in Exploration and Production, Moab, Utah with Russell Davies, 6-12 Oct.

Women in Energy Field Experience: The role of Salt in Hydrocarbon Exploration, Energy Storage and Carbon-Reduction Mechanisms, Paradox Basin, Utah and Colorado with Kate Giles and Cindy Yielding, 30 Sept-4 Oct.