A spring break learning experience

As part of GEO 305, Regional Field Geology, professor Dr. Amy Berger's class traveled to Arizona over their Spring Break. Students were able to learn about geology and geography in a region dissimilar to Ohio. Follow the students’ experiences, in their own words.

Day 1

Holly Meade
Junior Environmental Science major

We began our trip from the Columbus airport at 8 am and went through a one-hour layover in Chicago before arriving in El Paso, TX by noon. Once we landed, we gathered up our items, made a pit stop at Walmart for supplies, and were on the road to our campsite in Benson, AZ. The views along the entire way were magnificent! The plane ride had views of flat plains, mountains, and the Rio Grande Rift. The views from our van ride were just as great if not better! There were many sightings of cacti, mountains, and bare rocks—marvels for Ohioans who have never been to the south before. And the warm weather (75 degrees) is a great bonus!

Day 2

Anna McNabb
Junior Environmental Science major

Today we went to the Queen Mine and Lavender Open Pit Mine. These two mines were operational until the mid 1900s. We got a great history lesson in the Queen Mine. Some interesting facts about the Queen Mine:  25% of the mass pulled out of the mine was copper, and the youngest employee was just 16 years old. That came as a shock to me because I didn’t even work as a 16 year old and the fact that employees could become very sick when mining must have been scary for him. Despite that, the mine was very successful until 1944 when it was closed.

The Lavender Open Pit was just down the road. This structure was MASSIVE. Only half of it was seriously mined for the copper ore. This mine was shut down in 1952 and it was noticeable that it hadn’t been mined in a long time. At the bottom of the pit there was a large pond of dark red liquid which is run-off containing iron and other dissolved metals. Definitely wouldn’t want to drink that!

We ended our day with a trip to the Cochise Stronghold National Forest. We finally put our hiking legs to the test by climbing rocks and trails for about 3.5 miles. Although my legs were getting a little tired, the view was well worth the trip. What was cool about the Cochise Stronghold was that it contained lots of granite. To give some history, a fault pushed the granite upward into domes that make walls around the Dragoon Mountains. The domes have undergone erosion but they still make a barrier that was used by the Apache to defend themselves against enemies.

The views we’ve gotten to see from the van have been so beautiful, too! My favorite parts are when Amy points out certain structures in the mountains. They are breathtaking! I can’t wait to see more of what Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas have to offer us!

Day 3

Reece Schmidt
First-year History major

Today all of us went hiking at the Chiricahua National Monument! The Apache called it the Land of Standing Rocks because of the “hoodoos,” or rock pillars, which are all over the park. They are made up of rhyolite, which you can see me pointing to in the photo.

We hiked just under 5 miles and saw tons of cool rock structures. We even ate lunch next to some of the pillars. We also took the opportunity to take lots of group photos! We all had tons of fun hiking and the jokes we told were meme-tastic. As we left the park, we got to see Arizona White Tail deer! They were beautiful!

Once we got to our new campsite we saw a few rabbits before dusk. The wildlife on this trip have been stunning and I can’t wait to see more!

Day 4

Lexie Page-Boyd
Junior Environmental Science major

I have to say, each and every day, the locations get better. I have been able to see black sand in Iceland and now white sand in New Mexico. I have been waiting for this day for weeks. Amy has been talking this place up so much. Well, she was right. I was mesmerized by the landscape! No pictures can do White Sands National Monument justice!

I would come back to the Southwest in a heartbeat, but I could never find a better group of people to come with me. We have such a great and friendly group, not to mention that we are so photogenic! I don’t think we have taken a bad picture yet. With four environmental science, one biology, one business, and one history major, we have a fun and interesting mix. Can’t wait for tomorrow!

Day 5

Gillian Duer​
Sophomore Environmental Science major

Whew! Today’s hike was amazing! We got to walk on the remnants of a very old reef—it formed almost 300 million years ago and yet we can still find fossils of creatures that once lived here. I took pictures of the numerous fossils I found; I’ve never seen so many fossils before, not even in a gift shop.

One part of our group was a little more gung-ho than the rest, so while one half of our group continued up to the top of the reef, the other half of our group went at our own pace and made it to the main reef crest environment. Though I’m sad that I didn’t get to the top, we still got to see some amazing sights and had some amazing conversations. We all eventually reconvened at the bottom and walked along the valley trail. This has been one of the best weeks of my college life. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people!

Day 6

Isaac Goss​
Senior Business major

On day six, we woke up to a sunny Carlsbad, New Mexico, morning. We had our instant oatmeal breakfast and then drove to the famous Carlsbad Caverns National Park. We started our tour by walking down into the natural entrance, which descends 750 feet into Earth! Inside the cave, we observed may different cave formations and we even saw active stalagmites. Along the awesome formations, we also saw thousands-of-years-old bat poop where the bats used to roost in the cave.

Once we were done with the 1.25-mile underground tour, we had lunch at a picnic table with an amazing view of the Delaware Basin. It was so cool to be sitting at a spot that used to be an ocean reef! After lunch, we headed to El Paso, Texas. We are staying at an awesome Airbnb house and ate at a Mexican restaurant for dinner. It was a great way to end an amazing trip!

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