ZZYZX, CA – This past weekend, Dr. Burmeister’s structural geology course travelled to the Mojave Desert. After a quick stop at Rainbow Basin to learn how to use topographic maps, air photos, and LiDAR datasets, we spent the rest of the weekend mapping the bedrock geology of the southern Salt Spring Hills. Not only does the Salt Spring Hills have a lot to offer in terms of structural relationships, but it was also the site of a series of (ultimately unsuccessful) gold mines during the mid to late 1800′s – the field area is packed with mineralized zones and abandoned mine workings.
This year we were fortunate to be joined by field trip co-leader Juan Contreras (Univ of Illinois, ’10). Juan is a geologist with Newmont Mining Corporation and is an expert in Carlin-type gold deposits. With Juan’s help, Dr. Burmeister re-tooled the existing Salt Spring Hills mapping exercise into a very realistic gold prospect evaluation. Within the scope of a mock contract from Newmont Mining Corp, Pacific students used their knowledge to collect the very same data that an economic geologist would collect on the job. Students were asked to map geologic structures and zones of potentially gold-bearing mineralization. They were given a budget of “12 million dollars” and asked to identify the targets for surface and subsurface (via RC drilling) assays that would be needed to begin a production phase at the Salt Spring Hills site. The results of their site assessments will be compiled into professional reports and presented to “bosses” from “Newmont Mining Corp” in the coming weeks… maybe we’ll all get rich!!!
While in the desert, the crew stayed at the Desert Studies Center (DSC) at Zzyzx, CA. The DSC is a research station maintained by the California State University system and is designed to support research and teaching in remote parts of the Mojave. The site has a long history – it was mineral bath retreat in the early to mid 1900′s before it was purchased by the CSU system. It offers wonderful cabins and dorm-style rooms, hot showers, and classroom spaces.
Students work on locating themselves in Rainbow Basin on topographic maps, air photos, and LiDAR datasets.
Group shot at sunset in Rainbow Basin. From L-R: Juan Contreras (Newmont Gold Corp), Christina Colburn (’13), Kat Rawhouser (’13), Dai Wilson (’14), Alicia Valenzuela (’13), Kaitlyn Blagg (’13), Brittany Klemm (’14), and Nikki Mainwaring (’13)
Brittany Klemm (’14) and Kaitlyn Blagg (’13) work on rock descriptions
Kat Rawhouser (’13) examines jointing in an exposure of granodiorite
Juan Contreras (Newmont Gold Corp) examines a rock for evidence of hydrothermal alteration
Garnet skarn (likely disseminated gold-bearing) from the Salt Spring Hills study area
A thick sequence of dark brown turbidite deposits in the Cambrian Wood Canyon Formation.
The Desert Studies Center at night
Nikki Mainwaring (’13, left) and Alicia Valenzuela (’13, right) work with Juan Contreras (Newmont Mining Corp) on geologic sketches
Kat Rawhouser (’13) and Brittany Klemm (’14) work together on a geologic sketch
Abandoned stone house at the Salt Spring Hills study area
Juan Contreras (Newmont Mining Corp) helps Nikki Mainwaring (’13) with her geologic mapping
Group photo at the Desert Studies Center, Zzyzx, CA
CHARLOTTE, NC – The Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences had a truly amazing week at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America! The entire faculty (Drs. Rademacher, Burmeister, Fox, & Pearson) and three majors (Nikki Mainwaring ’13, Kat Rawhouser 13′, & Brittany Klemm ’14) were lucky enough to be able to join the ~6,000 other academics, professionals, and students in attendance. During the week, we had our choice of hundreds of research presentations, where we could learn the latest and greatest developments in every conceivable sub-discipline within the Earth sciences. At the meeting, the students had unparalleled opportunities to network with potential employers, graduate school advisors, and peers from around the world. We were also able to present the following results of our research and curriculum development efforts (Pacific authors in bold):
In addition to the research-related activities above, Brittany Klemm (’14) and Dr. Burmeister also attended the 42nd Biennial Convention of the Sigma Gamma Epsilon National Honor Society. During the SGE Convention, Klemm and Dr. Burmeister participated in society governance and contributed to discussions regarding chapter membership, insignias, and rituals. While in Charlotte, Dr. Burmeister was invited to become a Member of the Management Board and Committee Chair in the Structural Geology & Tectonics Division of the Geological Society of America.
The moon setting at sunrise in Charlotte
Welcoming geologists to Charlotte!
FOX news taking a stab at reporting REAL science.
The calm before the storm — setting up research posters at the start of the day
Dr. Rademacher presents the results of her recent work with Dr. Burmeister and the faculty of the Sly Park School.
Brittany explains her research to an interested meeting attendee.
Brittany Klemm (’14) poses with Mellissa Gundersen (’13) and Dr. Fred Vollmer from SUNY New Paltz
Brittany Klemm (’14) and Dr. Burmeister pose in front of Brittany’s research poster at GSA
Dr. Burmeister presents the results of his recent work in western Ireland
Nikki Mainwaring (’13), Kat Rawhouser (’13), and Brittany Klemm (’14) relax after a long day at the meeting