Mountain Star

Don’t Take Geology For Granite

VALLEY VIEW: Taggart Lake in Grand Teton National Park sits at the mouth of Avalanche Canyon, a U-shaped canyon formed by glaciers.

VALLEY VIEW: Taggart Lake in Grand Teton National Park sits at the mouth of Avalanche Canyon, a U-shaped canyon formed by glaciers.

Olivia Muir, staff writer

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When you hear the word geology, what comes to mind? Perhaps rocks and land formations is what geology is mostly known for.

The study of the earth, commonly known as geology is a very “Gniess” thing to learn about. A handful of students get to enjoy the amounts of “schist” the teachers, Mr. Nethercot and Mr. Taylor,  throw at them. Geology is the place to learn about tectonic plates, minerals, and earthquakes and volcanos. If this doesn’t sound interesting, nothing does.

The geology class has taken two field trips this year. The first trip was just a tour around the valley to see all of the geological features. The educational trip took the whole school day. The class toured the valley identifying the Star Valley Fault line and the different formations that exist in our valley. The class jumped all the way  from Swift Creek to the Simplot road in the West Hills. “It was a rough field trip, but we learned so much, and it was nice to get out of school for the day,” senior Jamie England said. “We were all floored to learn about how the fault was created.”

The Star Valley fault runs the whole length of the valley. The Star Valley fault system is the third active fault system in Lincoln County. “It was quite dull learning about tectonic plates and how things were created, but its no one’s “Fault” that it’s boring,” senior Martha Piper said.  For those of you who don’t know, the Star Valley Fault is a normal fault which means the footwall goes up relative to the hanging wall. The fault can be visible on the eastern part of the valley near Swift Creek. The part that can be viewed is called the fault scrap.

FINDING FAULT: A fault line like this one runs the length of Star Valley. Geology students took note of this on a field trip around the valley.

The next field trip focused on glaciers and the formations they create. The class took a trip to Taggart Lake in Teton Park to view the Gross Ventre Slide. Nethercott narrated a hike toward the lake pointing out remnants of glaciers. “A glacier is a river of ice. Ice flows and erodes and carves the surface of the earth,” he said.  There is an abundance of U-shaped valleys in the park. Taggart Lake is located at the base of Avalanche Canyon. Students hiked and witnessed many geologic formations such as Moraines and Outwash planes. Moraines are unconsolidated glacial debris. When the class finally got to the lake they explored around until Nethercot gathered them all up to take notes and to head back out. The next stop was the Gross Ventre Slide. The nearby Gros Ventre slide is one of the largest mass land movements on Earth. “The geology was just right for a slide to happen here,”said Nethercott, explaining how the layers of earth dipped in one direction. The slide was a debris slide which means that it consisted of saturated debris and had the constancy of wet concrete. Imagine that!

SLIPPERY SLIDE: Geology students learned about the conditions that resulted in the Gros Ventre Slide, one of the largest mass movements on Earth.

Besides field trips,  geology contains many useful secrets that only students who took the class would know. For example, the majority of the mountain ranges in Wyoming are reverse fault block mountains. Which means these mountains were formed when block crust moves together at a fault line.

Being in an area surrounded by as many geologic structures as Star Valley is very interesting and useful to learn about. If chemistry isn’t your thing, geology may be just the class you need to get your inner-science nerd going.

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