A one-day mid-conference field trip on November 6 is planned as part of the conference. The field trip will start and end from the Stevens Inn in Carlsbad. Field trip plans are still being finalized, but the current concept is to divide participants into two groups for the morning. We may have an opportunity to send a small group (fewer than 10) to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) for a morning tour — this is still being confirmed with the site operator. The rest of the group will spend the morning at Carlsbad Caverns. For the purpose of going underground in the Caverns, we are tentatively planning to divide into about six smaller groups, each with a leader, and send them down the trail approximately 10 minutes apart.
The Carlsbad group will return to the surface by means of the elevator and will end at the visitor center by lunch time. When the WIPP group is finished, they will drive to the Carlsbad Caverns visitor center and rejoin the rest of the group for lunch.
In the afternoon, we will divide again into two groups to look at some of the relevant outcrops in the area. One group will visit Dark Canyon, north of Carlsbad Caverns and generally on the way back to the Stevens Inn. Dark Canyon contains multiple areas of geobiological interest including fossil exposures, desert varnish, and possibly travertine deposits. The second group will visit the Chosa Draw area and the Castilles. These areas are south/west of the caverns, which is in the opposite direction from returning to the town of Carlsbad. Participants interested in this option should be in the first groups to enter the caves at Carlsbad Caverns, in order to have extra time to visit these sites. Chosa Draw includes going down into gypsum caves. The Castilles show deposits of gypsum being biologically reduced to carbonate at depth.
A more detailed field trip plan, including a list of items to pack, will be sent to conference registrants closer to the conference dates.