2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 3:00 PM


HANSON, Sarah L., Earth Science Department, Adrian College, Adrian, MI 49221, slhanson@adrian.edu

Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monuments (NM) are located in northern Arizona along the southern margin of the Colorado Plateau. Although these monuments are only 20 miles apart, the geologic settings are dramatically different. At Wupatki NM, the landscape is dominated by Permian and Triassic sedimentary rocks of the Moenkopi and Kaibab formations. The landscape at Sunset Crater Volcano NM is dominated by cinders and lava flows from intermittent volcanic eruptions that have occurred over the last few million years. The most recent eruption was that of Sunset Crater Volcano approximately 900 years ago.

Access to Wupatki and Sunset Crater NM is via a 35 mile loop road that passes through the monuments, US Forest Service land and a small area of private property. Interpretation from NPS staff is generally limited to the Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki Visitor Centers and one trail at each monument. Additionally, although the primary interpretative focus at Sunset Crater Volcano is geology, Wupatki is primarily an archaeological site with little interpretive emphasis on geology. Yet geology, especially the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano, had major influences on the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans who lived there during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

It was because so many of the geologic features along this road were not interpreted to visitors that a booklet describing the roadside geology of the loop road was created. Published through a cooperative effort with the Arizona Geological Survey and the NPS, this booklet, designed as a self-guided road log, gives a brief geologic history of each monument followed by a more detailed geologic description of a number of locations along the loop road.

This guide has served several needs within the monuments. The primary goal was to provide public education and to enhance visitors' experience. This has been especially useful as staffing does not allow extensive contact with most of the visitors. The guide allows them to explore and learn on their own. It also provides a medium for new NPS staff and volunteers to learn about the area. Because most of the staff at these monuments have little or no geology background, this guide is used as an instructional tool for new employees. Response from the both the public and the staff has been extremely favorable.