Parents looking to occupy their children during spring break with an educational excursion can tap the wealth of destinations detailed in a new edition of a guide to Utah’s diverse rock formations – some of which are practically in their own backyards.
BYU geology professors Lehi Hintze and Bart Kowallis make Utah’s geology accessible with the third edition of “Geologic History of Utah.” The book serves as a field guide to Utah’s rocks that can be used by both professionals and your average tourist alike.
“We have made the geology of Utah more accessible to the public than any other state,” said Hintze, now retired. “This is an extremely detailed compilation and it has been prepared by consulting everyone that we can think of and then some.”
The book serves as a geologic encyclopedia of seismic proportion. It divides Utah into 116 regions, detailing the types of rocks found in the region along with the time period when the rocks were created. It has the rocks of Utah dated all the way back to the Archean Period, roughly 2.5 billion years ago.
Most visitor centers and bookstores in Utah’s national and state parks sell the book. Since its first edition in 1972, more than 25,000 copies have been sold.
Hiking through Zion National Park, one can be mystified by the mazes of slot canyons while also using “Geologic History of Utah” to estimate how old the rocks that make up the walls of the natural tunnels are. Gazing off the top of Mount Timpanogos, one can use this book to analyze the jutting geologic features all around.
While the red rocks of Southern Utah are the most famous geologic aspect of Utah, even the area surrounding Salt Lake City provides a choice experience for the informed observer.
“The Salt Lake area has more variety of geology than any other place that I can think of on earth,” Hintze said. “You can look at one side of the valley and it’s got one type of geology in the Wasatch Range; the other side the mountains have a completely different geology. The geology of the Wasatch Range is much more complicated than the geology of the Grand Canyon.”
Utah geologic gems as recommended by Professor Bart Kowallis:
· Observe unique features formed by a long geologic history and the relatively recent Wasatch Fault in Provo’s Rock Canyon
· See traces of the only glacier to extend into Lake Bonneville in Little Cottonwood Canyon at the south end of Salt Lake Valley
· Find ancient marine invertebrates called trilobites at Antelope Springs, near the city of Delta
· Hunt for crystals at Topaz Mountain, also near Delta
No matter what plans may be for this spring break, “Geologic History of Utah” can be a useful guide to make any geologic adventure in Utah a little less rocky.
Writer: Patrick Perkins