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Meeting Planning Services

Conference Field Trips


Mid-Conference Field Trip:  Wednesday, October 4

Due to logistical issues, we have decided to run both the Grand Canyon and Meteor Crater field trips concurrently on Wednesday. Participants will have a choice of going on either of these, but not both. One group will go to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, then travel to Sunset Crater and the San Francisco Volcanic Field, before returning to the hotel, The other group will go to Meteor Crater, the Petrified Forest, and then back to the hotel. Participation will be limited to one busload (approximately 50 people) for each field trip, so early enrollment is encouraged.

General information for all field trip participants:  Participants should bring the following:  a small backpack (day pack), hiking boots are preferred but closed toe shoes suitable for hiking on rock are required, light jacket or other rain proof windbreaker or poncho, hat (with chin strap preferred), sunglasses, canteen and/or water bottles, personal first aid kit, an emergency blanket (suitable protection from sun), and a camera. You might also want to bring a pair of binoculars, if you have them (Note:  water is not sold in the Grand Canyon Park, but there are springs and potable water is dispensed from a couple of filling stations near the Visitor's Center). 

What NOT to bring: Rock hammer; it’s a National Park and collecting samples is forbidden.  A hand lens is ok for looking at rocks in situ, but not for collecting samples.

Box lunches will be provided.

Field trip #1:  South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Sunset Crater and San Francisco Volcanic Field
This all-day field trip will be led by Jack Farmer (Arizona State University) and will include a geologically diverse series of stops relevant to Mars geology and habitability, including interpretation of the stratigraphic record, fluvial outcrops (red beds), and volcanic landforms. The tour bus will leave the hotel in Flagstaff and make its first stop at the Grand Canyon Visitor’s Center, where we’ll see an orientation film and exhibits, and then walk the Rim Trail (with excellent views of the Canyon) to the Geology Museum, with its excellent indoor exhibits. A field guide, based on a set of themes relevant to Mars, is being generated to guide discussions, starting with the basic concepts of habitability, the evolution of habitability over geologic timescales, and how these concepts have shaped Mars exploration, using the Canyon sequences as an example — particularly what the major unconformities exposed in the Canyon stratigraphy tell us about the nature of the geologic record (mostly missing due to erosion or a lack of deposition) and how Mars differs from a tectonically active, hydrologic-cycle-driven planet like Earth.

After visiting the south rim of the Grand Canyon, we will head east on Hwy 64 to Cameron and then take Hwy 89 south through the eastern part of the San Francisco volcanic field and on to Sunset Crater. Along our route, we will see many examples of the Triassic Moenkopi outcrops (red beds) which were formed by extensive coastal plain fluvial sedimentation during the early Triassic (some of which are good analogs for Gale Crater). Arriving at Sunset Crater, we will have an opportunity to take a 1.5 km trail hike through recent basaltic flows and pyroclastics erupted from along the western edge of Sunset Crater, almost 1100 yrs. ago. Following our hike at Sunset Crater, we will return to Flagstaff.

Field Trip #2:  Barringer Meteorite Crater and Petrified Forest National Park
This field trip will explore geological processes of relevance to early Mars, including biosignature preservation and impact cratering, in two spectacular type localities on Earth. The insights from these analogs should provide useful input to Mars exploration and sample selection strategies. David Kring (Lunar and Planetary Institute) and William Parker (Petrified Forest National Park) will lead geological excursions at Barringer Meteorite Crater (aka Meteor Crater) and the Petrified Forest, respectively. At Meteor Crater, we will examine one of the freshest examples of an impact feature on Earth for evidence of post-impact processes that produced lake sediments, crater wall gullies, and potential niches for life. We will also explore the roles that impact breccias, impact ejecta, and overturned strata could play in the preservation of biosignatures on early Mars. Attendees may choose between a rare but physically challenging descent to the crater floor, or a less-strenuous traverse along the rim perimeter (to be led by Nadine Barlow of Northern Arizona University). The Petrified Forest will offer us a chance to observe/discuss the unique biosignature preservation attributes of the Upper Triassic Chinle Formation. We will visit the Painted Desert, jarosite-bearing organic horizons, Triassic fossils, petrified wood accumulations, and, of course, the giant logs.

Field Trip Guide

Field Trip Waivers

All attendees participating in one of the field trips must review, sign, and return a waiver prior to leaving for the field trip.  You may download the field trip waiver here and return it to [email protected] prior to September 30.

South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Sunset Crater and San Francisco Volcanic Field
Barringer Meteorite Crater and Petrified Forest National Park


In order to ensure each attendee receives a boxed lunch for the field trip you must submit your lunch order via the survey link below.  This must be done no later than Tuesday, September 26

Lunch order

Note: All electronic submission forms are part of the Meeting Portal, which requires users to set up a personal profile to access our electronic forms (setting up a profile is quick and easy, requiring only a few minutes of your time).