2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 2:05 PM


MAYER, Paul S.1, BOWMAN, Carl B.2, HEYWOOD, J.R.2, SEELEY, Ellen C.2 and MATHIS, Allyson C.3, (1)Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Wisconsin- Madison, 1215 West Dayton Street, Madison, WI 53706, (2)Grand Canyon National Park, National Park Service, P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, (3)Grand Canyon National Park, PO Box 1962, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, paul@mpm.edu

In 1928, Yavapai Point Trailside Museum, overlooking the canyon from the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, was formally opened as a geology museum. This museum was one of the earliest interpretive structures in the National Park System. Over the years the original geology exhibits were replaced and then completely removed. The building was converted to a bookstore in 1990 and renamed Yavapai Observation Station (YOS). Over the last 8 years the National Park Service worked on designs for new geology exhibits at YOS. In May 2007 the new geology exhibits opened to the public.

The new geology exhibits are divided into two sections. The first section focuses on what visitors can observe outside the building's large picture windows. These exhibits were designed to answer visitors' frequently asked questions. There is a main panel that provides a brief summary of Grand Canyon geology. Nearby are exhibits that identify rock groups and geologic features visible from the windows. Another exhibit focuses on the Colorado River and its role in carving the canyon. The final exhibit in this section provides visitors with different perspectives of the canyon. In the center of the building there is a three-dimensional relief model of a portion of the Grand Canyon.

Exhibits in the second section provide more details on the formation of Grand Canyon. Two six-foot tall fiberglass stratigraphic sections of the canyon walls flank the opening to these exhibits. The first exhibit covers geologic time and the age of Grand Canyon. The next three exhibits focus on each of Grand Canyon's three rock groups: Basement Rocks (Early Proterozoic igneous and metamorphic rocks), Grand Canyon Supergroup Rocks (Middle-Late Proterozoic sedimentary and volcanic rocks), and Paleozoic Rocks (Paleozoic marine and terrestrial sedimentary rocks). The final two exhibits examine the uplift of the Colorado Plateau and the carving of Grand Canyon. Linking these exhibits together are nine paleogeography globes and a series of 14 landscape evolution drawings detailing the geologic history and paleogeography of Northern Arizona from 1.8 billion years ago to present.

To stimulate visitor interest in geology and the museum three geology programs are presented daily by park rangers and the museum exhibits use a variety of 2 and 3-dimensional art, touchable rocks, and models.