GSA Connects 2022 meeting in Denver, Colorado

Paper No. 233-6
Presentation Time: 9:25 AM


ELLIA, Zachary, MURCHLAND, Madeline, WOLF, Drew, BALDASARE, Alexander, MCLEOD, Claire and CURRIE, Brian, Department of Geology and Environmental Earth Science, Miami University, 118 Shideler Hall, Oxford, OH 45056

Effectively communicating knowledge and understanding is fundamental to engaging a broad audience with the geosciences. Within the past decade, and particularly since the COVID 19 pandemic, the popularity of hiking has soared. Furthermore, research has shown that outdoor, nature-based activities can positively impact emotional, mental, and physical health. In this presentation we discuss the approach taken to research, design, and produce a trail guide which introduces the local and regional geology to a broad audience along the Louise Lake hiking trail in Torrey Canyon, northwest Wyoming. The geology of Torrey Canyon ranges from Archean igneous and metamorphic crystalline basement, to a sequence of marine Paleozoic sedimentary units, to Pleistocene glacial deposits. Opportunities therefore exist to discuss planetary-scale processes and environments which exist over a range of timescales.

The geology of Torrey Canyon formed the basis of several projects associated with Miami University's Capstone Field Course and provided fundamental knowledge which supported the overall design of the trail guide. Initial reconnaissance along the 4.6 mile trail (roundtrip) was conducted by recording GPS waypoints, distance along the trail between sites of interest, and photographs of sites at a range of scales. On a return visit, trail stops were refined based on distance and how well location characteristics exemplified the region's geologic history. With locations finalized, a detailed introduction (including a generalized stratigraphic column) was designed to present the nature and timing of major geologic events, and to provide context for trail stops. Explanations of individual stops built on this information and provided descriptions of individual lithologies. Annotated photographs were further used to highlight specific examples of minerals and textures while additional descriptions of canyon-scale views and local wildflowers were included to promote engagement with the surrounding landscape.

Through the development of a geological trail guide we broadly aim to support science education while raising awareness of the geosciences. Once finalized, the trail guide will be made available to the public at the nearby Dubois Museum & Wind River Historical Center.