Dunes 2016


May 16-19, 2017
Fifth International Planetary Dunes Workshop, Dixie State University, St. George, Utah

Fifth International Dunes Workshop

Field Trips

The workshop will include a full-day field trip to Zion National Park and Coral Pink Sand Dunes on Wednesday, May 17. This field trip will include multiple roadside stops in Zion National Park, followed by a moderate hike into the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Articles providing scientific context for the stops made on this trip are available at the bottom of this page.

Stops in Zion will focus on the process implications of extensive cross-sectional exposures of ancient eolian dune deposits. The first stop will provide a panoramic view of the transition between fluvial deposits of the Kayenta Formation and eolian deposits of the Navajo Sandstone, and will include a cross-sectional perspective on slump structures from an ancient dune collapse. Two additional stops, in the vicinity of Checkerboard Mesa, will focus on depositional cycles within the sedimentary architecture.

The final destination, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, will provide the opportunity to explore an active dunefield developed within topographic constraints and shaped by seasonally reversing winds. Net sand transport is to the NE. The area of active accumulation extends some 13 km to the SW-NE as a 1 km swath of sand sheets and bedforms, some of which are stabilized by vegetation. Dunes of various types and sizes occur within this field, including parabolic and climbing dunes at the margins of a succession of transverse and barchan dunes that are aligned with the dominant transport wind direction. The focal point of the park overlook, a 30-m star dune, will be the primary destination of the hike.

This trip is expected to last about 10 hours, which includes at least 4 hours of travel (roundtrip). Charter buses will depart at 7:30 a.m. from the Holland Building. A box breakfast with juice and a box lunch with bottled water will be provided to each pre-registered participant.

Additional guided field trips will be available to those interested in further exploring the ancient dune deposits of the scenic, Navajo Sandstone. There are two options for local hikes on Thursday evening, after the talks are finished. 

On Friday afternoon, after the presentations, there will be an excursion back to Zion National Park, and points beyond. This trip will include a hike along the Canyon Overlook Trail (~1 mile), amidst the details of the ancient slump deposit viewed from a distance on Wednesday’s field trip. From there, we will continue on to Kanab Canyon, where a different type of soft-sediment deformation complex in the Navajo Sandstone is displayed in extraordinary detail. Brief stops along the way will highlight various aspects of the architecture of the Navajo Sandstone, including abundant interdune deposits, which are absent in the Snow Canyon section and rare in Zion. A group dinner will be organized in Kanab that evening.

Participants in all field trips should bring hiking gear, including a small backpack (day pack), personal first aid kit, a sun hat, sunscreen/chap-stick, canteen or CamelBak bladder, bandanas (2), gloves (if desired), and shoes appropriate for hiking on sand.

If you have not already indicated your interest in one of the side trips, please do so at:

NOTE:  Attendees who go on the field trip must sign the waiver of liability form and turn it in on the morning of the field trip.  Copies of the form will also be available at onsite registration.

Supplementary Field Trip Articles

Multiple journal articles providing background information on various stops on the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday field trips associated with IPDW 5 are available through links provided here. The primary link opens a folder in Google Docs, “IPDW Field Trip Supplements,” where most of the articles are organized into three sub-folders:  “Coral Pink Sand Dunes” (CPSD), “Navajo Sandstone” (NS), and “Other Articles” (OA). The other articles include information useful for self-guided tours of local geology as well as sedimentology of general interest, not specifically related to field trip itineraries.  (If the link does not open successfully, copy and paste it into your browser’s address bar.)

Wednesday:  Zion National Park; Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

The ancient slump complex visible in cross-section at the first stop in Zion is described in NS:  “Architectural Evidence . . . “ The second stop in Zion is the primary study site for the 1983 Hunter and Rubin article (NS) interpreting cyclicity in cross-bed successions in the Navajo Sandstone, and the 1983 Rubin and Hunter article provides an excellent primer on cross-bed interpretation, which will prove particularly useful at the Checkerboard Mesa stop. The CPSD sub-folder contains a wealth of information provided by David Wilkins, from Boise State University, and Rick Ford, from Weber State University, who are collaborating in research on Coral Pink Sand Dunes. They characterize the material as follows:

Dave:  “We helped lead a Friends of the Pleistocene stop out in the Corals this past fall - I’m attaching a copy of the field trip guide here, and it has a number of references to posters, Rick’s UGA 2012 Geologic Road guide, and a link [pdf included in CPSD] to the thesis our last grad student completed in Spring 2015. I’ve also attached a copy of our 2007 geomorph paper. The thesis took work that Rick and I had done over the past (nearly) two decades down there and gives some new understanding of the dune field’s underlying structural controls.  The field trip guide has some imagery from the thesis, but there are a number of other great graphics in that volume.  Rick and I have another grad student [Kerri Spuller] currently working on developing a better OSL geochronology of Holocene dune activity and comparing those dates with the OSL chronologies of arroyo cut and fill cycles.” 
Rick:  “The workshop sounds great, and a trip to Zion NP and CPSD SP will be very inspirational and thought-provoking for the participants. In addition to the materials David passed on, I recommend the paper by Jewell and Nicoll (2011) on modern wind regimes in the Great Basin, including the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. A pdf is attached. I'm assuming you have seen our chapter in the UGA parks and monuments volume [also included in CPSD].”

Thursday:  Snow Canyon and the Vortex

In addition to Janice Hayden’s UGA field guide to Snow Canyon, Rubin and Hunter’s 1987 field guide, with a section on Snow Canyon (see also Figures 5, 6C, and 6D in NS:  1983 Rubin and Hunter), is provided in the NS sub-folder, along with the Chan and Perry booklet on Navajo Sandstone coloration, written for a general audience. This booklet also addresses the occurrence of iron concretions (Moki Marbles/Martian “blueberries”). The 2006 Rubin and Carter cross-bedding book is an essential reference for the interpretation of ancient dune deposits and provides support for all field trip stops in the Navajo Sandstone.  Bryant and Miall’s 2010 publication (NS: BRE.483) gives a brief introduction to the Navajo Sandstone and outlines the scope of soft-sediment deformation (SSD) research in the formation. Large-scale SSD is apparent in the Vortex outcrops and will constitute one topic of discussion on that hike. The recent identification of fluid-escape pipes in Gale Crater indicates the likelihood of a full suite of impact-triggered SSD dynamics in the Martian sub-surface. The Navajo Sandstone may provide the most useful analogues of these processes. See:

Friday:  Zion and Kanab Canyons

The NS:  “Architectural Evidence . . . “ article details the features we will explore on the first stop in Zion, Friday afternoon. NS: BRE.483 provides particularly useful background for the main stop in Kanab Canyon.

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