Field Trip to the Western Grand Canyon/Uinkaret Volcanic Field

In October 2013 Terry Plank, Adam Soule, and I mounted a mini-expedition to the spectacular young basaltic volcanoes of the Uinkaret volcanic field on the north rim of the western Grand Canyon. Although the Federal government closure prevented us from reaching the edge of lip of the Canyon itself and our primary target, Vulcan's Throne, we still collected a lot of samples in the many voluminous and very fresh lavas and mantle xenoliths just north of the Canyon. Here are some pics.


Autumn in the western Grand Canyon. Low late afternoon sun through the pinyon, ponderosa and oaks on one thousand year old basalt with epsilon Nd of +8. Very autumnal, if you ask me. Though my colleagues kept denying that there was any kind of fall like aesthetic due to lack of sugar maples or something like that. But it sure reminded me of the season of decorative gourds.

Terry relaxing after a hard day of basalt hunting, in our charming and pastoral campsite ringed by ponderosas likely about as old as the lava flow about a 300 meters away.

One of a couple nice rattlesnakes we saw out there. This one gave us a good look and although the range maps that I've seen don't show the Hopi Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis nuntius) this far west, I can't believe that this isn't one of them. Anyone out there know if Hopi Rattlesnakes can get to the northwest rim?

Terry collecting beautiful glomerocrysts of pyroxene from an ankaramite lava flow on Craig's Knoll.

Adam preparing the high-precision GPS for one of several traverses across lava flows so we can later make decent erupted-volume estimates.

Does this scoria beard make me look more distinguished? How about the hat from the Maverick Truck Stop in Hurricane, Utah.

Looking south from Little Springs lava flow towards Toroweap valley in the distance, beyond which is the Grand Canyon.

Another shot of nothing but beautiful sky, trees, lava, and some sedimentary rocks in the distance, and not a sign of human activity for hundreds of miles. This place is really out there.

Just more pinyony autumnal basaltic melancholia.

Up on one cone, miles from any trail, we cam upon a stunning lava escarptment of hundreds (at least) of petroglyphs extending at least several hundred meters down a valley. We didn't even get to the end of the escarpment and the art showed no sign of ending. There was a huge diversity of designs here, and no sign of any recent markings or disturbance. For all we knew, we were the first to see these in a thousand years.

Another panel of rock art. Near here there are also quite abundant pot sherds and jillions of fragments of worked chert debitage. There was so much of it I started to think it had to be naturally broken that way. Then Terry found one of the most beautiful arrowheads I've ever seen, made from a gorgeous blue chert.

More cool petroglyphs. I wish we had a translation book. It probably explains the mystery of t-V-X relationships in primitive monogenetic basalt eruptions.