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Northwest Missouri State University


News Release

Aug. 16, 2013

Northwest faculty, geology students explore Colorado Plateau region

Northwest geology students recently visited national parks in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico to gain a deeper understanding of understanding of geologic history in the Colorado Plateau region. (Submitted photo)
Northwest geology students recently visited national parks in Colorado,
Utah, Arizona and New Mexico to gain a deeper understanding of geologic
history in the Colorado Plateau region. The students are pictured here at
Arches National Park in Utah. (Submitted photo)

Thirteen Northwest Missouri State University students and a pair of faculty members recently participated in a summer field trip to explore the Colorado Plateau region.

Instructor of Geology Jeff Bradley, Associate Professor of Geology Dr. Aaron Johnson and the students spent two weeks traveling southern Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Students earned two academic credits by participating in the experience, which was designed to give students a more thorough understanding of geologic history in the Colorado Plateau region.

“Our department has been very active, for a number of years, with offering a variety of field trip opportunities for geology students,” Bradley said. “Too often, however, time is limited to three to six days, and a good portion of that is spent driving to and from our destinations.”

The group explored numerous parks in the region, including the Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion and Grand Canyon national parks. Students also visited Canyon de Chelly National Monument in northeastern Arizona, where the remains of Puebloan dwellings are scattered throughout the canyon.

“On field trips students have opportunities to collect rock and mineral samples that they normally only see in the classroom,” Bradley said. “This trip, however, was more of an observation study and camera tour as many of the stops were on federal land.”

The group also experienced weather patterns ranging from heavy snowfall in Colorado to large dust storms in desert areas.

“Anytime we can get students into the field to apply the things they learn about in the classroom, real learning takes place,” Bradley said. “It was great to see enthusiasm for geology from the students that may not always be apparent in the typical classroom setting.”

Ryan Starkey, a senior environmental geology major from Sleepy Eye, Minn., said he took advantage of the travel opportunity to enhance his understanding of the Colorado Plateau’s geology.  

“Every field trip that we go on benefits us because it allows us to see the rock units in their natural setting versus seeing them in pictures,” Starkey said. “It offers us the chance to use what we learn in the classroom.”

Bradley and Johnson hope to host the trip every two years.

For more information about Northwest’s Department of Natural Sciences and its programs, click here.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468