The AAPG Foundation sponsored an opportunity for young professionals and students to attend the 2013 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section meeting and to take an educational field trip. The meeting and trip, organized by RMS and Utah Geological Survey, invited youth on a field trip the Sunday before the RMS meeting. A group of about 35 went to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake to learn about lacustrine geology.
The Rocky Mountain Section reported that this particular trip explored Antelope Island to examine geomorphic features of shorelines of Pleistocene Lake Bonneville and modern Great Salt Lake. Although Utah is the second driest state in the nation, Quaternary lakes play a prominent role in the geology of Utah’s west desert. During Ice-Age conditions of the late Pleistocene, most of western Utah was covered by Lake Bonneville, a freshwater lake up to 1000 feet deep with an area of approximately 19,800 mi2. Deposits and shorelines of Lake Bonneville account for much of the surficial geology of the Wasatch Front and are exceptionally exhibited on Antelope Island.
With changing climate at the end of the last glacial cycle, Lake Bonneville receded into isolated basins, the largest of which contains present-day Great Salt Lake. Since historic time (1830s- present), Great Salt Lake has fluctuated up to about 12 feet above and below its historic average elevation of 4200 feet. Such fluctuations have economic, biologic, industrial, and political impacts. Specifically, from 1982–87, the elevation of the lake surface rose about 11.5 feet and equaled the lake’s historic high stand level reached during the 1860s-1870s. The lake doubled its surface area causing millions of dollars in damage to highways, railroads, and other public and private resources. The fieldtrip will stop at the wonderful Antelope Island visitor center, as well as the beach at Bridger Bay for possible swimming (freshwater showers are available on site) and examination of modern microbial carbonate communities (depends on lake level).
The students and young professionals enjoyed time together while wading into the water to view modern microbial carbonates. The trip was well received by all. Everyone shared sentiments that they learned a lot while having a wonderful time. AAPG Foundation is a proud sponsor of this and other activities advancing geoscience educational initiatives.