Volcanoes of the Eastern Sierra Nevada: Geology and Natural History of the Long Valley Caldera
This two-week field course introduces you to the geology and natural history of the eastern Sierra Nevada mountain chain of eastern California. The course will focus on the geological processes and natural history of one of the most geologically and biologically dynamic parts of the continent, as well as the natural hazards and environmental issues facing a unique and environmentally sensitive area of the western U.S. This course usually enrolls 14-18 undergraduate students.
The Sierra Nevada mountain chain spans much of the length of California and marks a major physiographic boundary between the Central Valley of California and the Basin and Range province of Nevada and Utah. The mountain belt is marked by a chain of recently active volcanoes, including the site of one of the great geological cataclysms on our planet-the eruption of the Bishop Tuff and the collapse of Long Valley caldera. The site is recognized as a 'type area' for studying volcanic phenomena, with world-class exposures of an extraordinary variety of glacial, volcanic, and structural assemblages and landforms. Unique ecosystems (alpine meadows and forests, high deserts, alkaline lakes) and cultural heritage (indigenous peoples history, early mining and exploration history) and complex environmental issues (development issues, water use, environmental contamination) offer a wonderfully rich mixture of possible learning experiences.