Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 4:15 PM
QUANTIFYING CONNECTIONS: THE VISITOR-GEOSCIENCE INTERFACE AT CHACO CULTURE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, NEW MEXICO
Chaco Canyon, situated in the San Juan basin at the southeastern edge of the Colorado Plateau, showcases both Late Cretaceous stratigraphy and evidence of nearly 10,000 years of human use and occupation. Here, a tangible link between the people and the land exists, preserved since ancient times in the stunning arid landscape and the prominent, unforgettable Chacoan Great Houses. GeoCorps participants can flourish in this extraordinary setting, studying its geology, geomorphology, culture, and ecology in order to create meaningful interpretive programs aimed at informing and intriguing the public. As members of the Interpretation Division they are placed directly into the park, speaking to its dusty, curious, travel-weary visitors and inviting every one of them to become something of a geoscientist themselves, maybe for the day, maybe for the rest of their lives. Direct interaction between park visitors and geoscientists, including GeoCorps participants, can lead to an increased interest in and understanding of the park’s natural resources. Inquiries from park visitors are diverse and often stem from observations encouraged by interpreters during programs, with continued discussion often occurring after the program has ended. This is seen as a positive indicator of increased awareness and curiosity about the role of natural resources in the lives of past inhabitants and present visitors to the park. This presentation will cover the various ways in which the public and the natural world come together at Chaco Canyon and the positive impacts of these interactions.