Introduction to Geology Rock Canyon Field Trips

Rock Canyon in Utah County is a fantastic natural geology laboratory. In a small area, one can see evidence for past earthquakes on the Wasatch fault, young debris flow sediments, Lake Bonneville shoreline features, 500 million year old sedimentary rocks formed by a shallow sea, and intense folding of the older rocks. Extra credit field trips to see some of these geologic features are a regular part of GEOL 1010 classes at UVSC.

Follow this link for a map to the meeting location for this field trip, the parking lot at the mouth of Rock Canyon.

Below are some photographs taken on field trips to Rock Canyon


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Walking down the creek to see the Wasatch fault in the creek bank.

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In this photo of the south bank of the creek, a dark brown soil layer offset about 1 meter by the most recent large earthquake on the Wasatch fault in Utah County is visible. The earthquake occurred about 300 years ago.

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The fault is marked by the dashed red line and the soil layer by the black line.

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A group of students looks at the Wasatch fault in the creek bank.

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These students are studying deformed rocks in the footwall of the Wasatch fault


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This large fold is about 200 yards up Rock Canyon from the parking lot. The brown rock is sandstone (Tintic formation) and the gray rock in the background is limestone (Maxfield formation). Both were deposited about 550 million years ago in a shallow sea. The sandstone formed near or at the beach of the sea, and the limestone formed later in slightly deeper water. The rocks were folded about 120 million years ago.

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Examples of cross-bedding, such as those shown here, can be seen in the Tintic formation. Two sets of layering can be seen in the rock. One set is about horizontal; it is the division between the lighter and darker layers. A finer set is at an angle - it runs from the lower left to upper right in the darker layer. The two sets of layers cross each other - hence the name 'cross bedding.' Sediment deposited in ripples or dunes contains cross-bedding of the type seen here.