Field Trips
General Info
During Meeting

Field Trips


Note: Some pre-meeting trips have been canceled. [ view trips ]

402. Structural Geology of the Subprovince Boundaries in the Archean Superior Province of Northern Minnesota and Adjacent Ontario.
Wed.–Sat., 5–8 Oct. US$484 (L, R, 3ON).
Cosponsor: GSA Structural Geology and Tectonics Division.
Leaders: Basil Tikoff, Univ. of Wisconsin–Madison; Robert L. Bauer; Dyanna M. Czeck; Peter Hudleston.
This trip will cross into Canada; passports required.

Trip Description
The geometric, kinematic, and deformational features along the subprovince boundaries of the Archean Superior Province are keys to understanding the tectonic amalgamation of the province. This field trip will visit some spectacular structural geology along two of the subprovince boundaries—Wabigoon/Quetico and Quetico/Vermilion—of the Superior Craton. These boundaries separate the relatively high-grade gneisses of the Quetico Belt from typical low-grade granite-greenstone terranes to the north (Wabigoon) and south (Wawa). Both boundaries are characterized by different styles of transpressional deformation. This was the first place where transpression was recognized in Archean rocks and one of the first regions of any age where vertical lineations and strike-slip shear indicators were recognized. The area provides excellent examples of phenomena noted worldwide in greenstone belts, including deformation with recumbent folds lacking significant tectonic fabric and extensive panels of sedimentary rocks with steep dips and modest internal deformation. We will visit many classic outcrops, including folded and boudinaged dikes, complexly folded banded iron formation, deformed turbidites with contrasting deformation in adjacent layers, deformed pillow basalts, anastomosing shear zones, and late-stage brittle structures. In particular, we will visit a variety of strain magnitudes within the polymictic Seine conglomerate, and we will tour the ductile-brittle Vermilion fault, a shear zone with vertical lineations and strike-slip shear indicators. We will also visit outcrops of the Wakemup Bay tonalite, which was intruded into the hinge of a fold and subsequently offset along the fault, and we’ll see evidence for regional variations in strain from strongly flattening to constrictional.
Leader Info
Primary leader email:
Primary leader bio: Professor of geoscience at the Univ. of Wisconsin.
Primary leader experience: I have done research in northern Minnesota and adjacent Ontario and am an expert is transpressional deformation. I have led multiple field trips in other areas, often associated with GSA national and sectional meetings.

408. Southern Outlet and Basin of Glacial Lake Agassiz.
Fri.–Sat., 7–8 Oct. US$181 (L, R, 1ON).
Cosponsors: GSA Divisions: Limnogeology; Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology.
Leaders: Timothy G. Fisher, Univ. of Toledo; Allan C. Ashworth; Ken Lepper; Howard Cory Hobbs.

Trip Description
Reconstructing the drainage from glacial Lake Agassiz to explain episodes of abrupt climate change during the last glacial termination has a long and colorful past. The type strandlines in the basin are named for the towns of Herman, Norcross, Tintah, and Campbell. OSL dating of these and other strandlines from the southern basin of Lake Agassiz enables estimating times of water level stability and outlet incision. Tracing strandlines to the north is complicated by their increasing number and often discontinuous nature. Much of the meltwater entering the Mississippi River was channelized through Lake Agassiz’s southern outlet. The spillway is floored by boulder lags and bedrock. Two cores penetrating through to bedrock have provided the most detailed history of southerly lake drainage. On the first day of the trip, we will travel to strandlines on both sides of the southernmost Agassiz basin and view the glaciolacustrine stratigraphy at Fargo, North Dakota; on the second day, we will visit more strandlines and the southern outlet spillway.
Leader Info
Primary leader email:
Primary leader bio: Ph.D. 1993 Univ. of Calgary (geomorphology, glaciology and quaternary research); Ph.D. thesis: “Glacial Lake Agassiz: The northwest outlet and paleoflood spillway, N.W. Saskatchewan and N.E. Alberta.” M.Sc. 1989 Queen’s Univ. (glacial sedimentology and geomorphology); thesis: “Rogen Moraine formation: examples from three distinct areas within Canada.” B.Sc. 1987 Univ. of Alberta; physical geography honors thesis: “Debris entrainment in the subpolar glaciers of Phillips Inlet, Northwest Ellesmere Island.”
Primary leader experience: I have co-led a north central FOP trip; professor for 17 years; published 50 peer-reviewed papers with 18 of them dealing with the history of glacial Lake Agassiz. My Agassiz papers are data rich and over the years have refuted many postulated reconstructions of the lake. I have made eight different field excursions to the southern outlet of Lake Agassiz during the past 15 years collecting data and am very familiar with the area.

410. Classic Precambrian Geology of Northeastern Minnesota.
Fri.–Sat., 7–8 Oct. US$222 (L, R, 1ON).
Leaders: Mark A. Jirsa, Univ. of Minnesota; John C. Green.

Trip Description
This trip presents the great diversity of Precambrian (Neoarchean, Paleoproterozoic, and Mesoproterozoic) rock types in northern Minnesota, and current thinking on their relevance to crustal evolution of the North American continent. It will highlight the geologic setting of world-class iron ore deposits on the Mesabi (ca. 1878 Ma) and Vermilion (ca. 2720 Ma) ranges, and the 1100 Ma Midcontinent Rift.
Leader Info
Primary leader email:
Primary leader bio: B.S., Univ. of Wisconsin (1976); M.S., Univ. of Minnesota–Duluth (1980). Senior scientist for the Minnesota Geological Survey (1979–present). Work utilizes the combination of geophysical, geochemical, and structural data acquired from drill core and outcrop to improve and convey the understanding of Minnesota’s Precambrian terranes. Authored and co-authored more than 125 maps, publications, and abstracts. Secretary-treasurer of Institute on Lake Superior Geology (1994–present); field camp instructor for Precambrian Research Center, Univ. of Minnesota, Duluth (2007–present).
Primary leader experience: More than 30 years mapping and research experience, focused primarily on Precambrian terranes of the Canadian Shield. Leader and co-leader of many, many field trips.

414. Geology under the Surface: Lake Superior and the Research Vessel Blue Heron.
Sat., 8 Oct. US$105 (L, D).
Leaders: Richard D. Ricketts, Univ. of Minnesota–Duluth; Steven Colman; Thomas C. Johnson.

Trip Description
Enjoy early October on Lake Superior aboard the Univ. of Minnesota’s research vessel, the Blue Heron. During the cruise, the scientists and technicians aboard the vessel will demonstrate its scientific capabilities, including a suite of coring and geophysical instruments. Participants in the cruise will observe features resulting from isostatic rebound since the last glaciation, such as the drowned Nemadji River channel and drowned beach ridges as well as shoreline erosion. Participants will be driven to Duluth, Minnesota, the homeport of the R/V Blue Heron, from Minneapolis. Once they are in Duluth, there will be two trips out onto the lake: a morning and an afternoon cruise. During the time participants are not on board the vessel they will be taken on a short Lake Superior North Shore field trip exploring aspects of the Quaternary and Precambrian geology near Duluth. The cruise is subject to cancellation in the case of severe weather.
Leader Info
Primary leader email:
Primary leader bio: B.S., Ohio State Univ., 1991, Ph.D., Duke Univ., 1996; Univ. of Minnesota–Duluth research associate and marine superintendent since 1997; adjunct assistant professor in geological sciences since 2004.
Primary leader experience: Richard Ricketts’ research has focused on understanding past climate change in a variety of settings. He has worked on lakes in East Africa, Central Asia, and Tibet and during these expeditions has used a wide range of water sampling, sediment coring, and geophysical tools to collect data. In addition to his research, Ricketts has been the marine superintendent for the Univ. of Minnesota’s research vessel, the Blue Heron, since 1998. In this capacity, he has facilitated the funding and logistics of sending an 87-ft research vessel out on the Great Lakes for over 75 days a year. He also regularly participates in educational cruises to demonstrate to students the R/V Blue Heron’s wide range of capabilities and has taught oceanography at the Univ. of Minnesota–Duluth.

415. Cycling the Mississippi River Gorge.
Sat., 8 Oct. US$68 (B, L, R).
Cosponsors: Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul; Fort Snelling State Park; Freewheel Bike Co-op; Mill City Museum; Minnesota Historical Society; National Park Service; Nice Ride Minnesota; Subaru of America; Trek Bicycles; Minnesota Ground Water Association; Univ. of Minnesota–St. Anthony Falls Laboratory and Dept. of Geology & Geophysics; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Leaders: Scott C. Alexander, Univ. of Minnesota; Kent Kirkby; Rebecca Clotts.

Trip Description
This day-long bicycling field trip will explore the Mississippi River gorge between Minneapolis and St. Paul with the following geologic objectives: (1) Explore the Mississippi River Gorge from Paleozoic to glacial to present-day from an “on-the-ground” view-point of a bicycle. The entire field trip will be conducted without fossil fuels for transportation and highlights Minneapolis as one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the U.S. (2) Create a cycling guidebook for multiple users, including college level intro geology courses, K–12 education, and family outings that build on a series of geocache-style points with digital content via “podcasts” and “smart phones.” (3) The retreat rate of St. Anthony Falls produced some of the earliest estimates of a geologic age for the most recent glaciation; cycling the length of the river gorge puts this time scale into a new perspective. (4) Explore the recent history of the Twin Cities; St. Anthony Falls was a center of milling and lumber production in the late 1800s and is still the highest lock and dam on the Mississippi River; Fort Snelling was at a crossroads of the Great Plains and was at the center of the origin of St. Paul and Minneapolis. (5) The Ordovician Platteville Formation has been the focus of recent research by the MGS combining stratigraphic analysis and hydrogeology into “hydrostratigraphy.” The total route is about 30 miles of riding with several potential bail-out points using the Hiawatha Light Rail system to return to downtown Minneapolis.
Leader Info
Primary leader email:
Primary leader bio: Scott Alexander is a research scientist in the Dept. of Geology & Geophysics at the Univ. of Minnesota. His duties include technical oversight and supervision of hydrogeochemistry, fluormetrics, and analog fluid hydrology laboratories. Specific duties include collection of groundwater and surface-water samples for chemical and isotopic analysis, development of analytical techniques utilizing chemical and fluorescence properties of natural and synthetic materials, and development of tools to measure fluid properties. Additional duties include coordination of the Hydrogeology Field Camp. He also works as an environmental health specialist in the Dept. of Environmental Health & Safety at the Univ. of Minnesota. Duties include management and reporting of NPDES permits to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, management and oversight of the University’s MS4 EPA stormwater permit, and development of official University Policy and Procedures on hydrologic issues relating to groundwater and stormwater on all Univ. of Minnesota campuses. Both of these positions require scientific and administrative skills while interacting with students, professors, administrators, facilities staff, and trades people. Specific tasks include writing and review of grant proposals and research papers, development and management of laboratory analytical and safety procedures, quarterly and annual reporting of results, and oversight of storm water related issues at campus construction projects.
Primary leader experience: Scott Alexander is an avid cyclist who has conducted research into hydrogeology and been involved with construction projects along the length of the proposed route.

416. Southeastern Minnesota Karst Hydrogeology: New Insights from Data Loggers, Tracing, LiDAR, and Hydrophysics.
Sat., 8 Oct. US$113 (L, D, R).
Cosponsors: Driftless Area Initiative; Minnesota Ground Water Association; National Cave and Karst Research Institute; National Speleological Society; Trout Unlimited; GSA Divisions: Hydrogeology, Geobiology & Geomicrobiology, Environmental and Engineering Geology, Geology and Society, Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology.
Leaders: E. Calvin Alexander, Univ. of Minnesota; Jeffrey A. Green; Anthony Runkel; Katherine J. Logan.

Trip Description
This field trip will showcase how modern techniques, building on 3+ decades of scientific study and mapping, are changing the paradigms used by resource professionals to sustainably manage the largest groundwater resource in Minnesota. Society's views of how to manage agricultural, domestic, and industrial impacts on surface- and groundwaters are beginning to incorporate new, more detailed, realistic and scientifically and politically defensible conceptual models of how karst groundwater hydrogeology interacts with human activities. Data loggers have enabled high-resolution time-series measurements of a variety of physical and chemical parameters and have proven to be critical to any effort to realistically model the highly dynamic karst systems. Tracing work supplementing the powerful, traditional fluorescent dyes with a variety of other physical, chemical, and isotopic tracers is beginning to shed light on the “gray-box” inner working of various karst aquifers. The availability of high-resolution LiDAR data is a quantum step upward in the speed and accuracy of sinkhole (and other surficial karst feature) mapping. Repeated LiDAR surveys will begin to give us data on the rate of formation (and filling) of sinkholes. Downhole geophysical techniques are fundamentally changing our conceptual models of how water moves in karst aquifers (and in many aquifers previously assumed to be isotropic and homogeneous porous media).
Leader Info
Primary leader email:
Primary leader bio: Morse-Alumni Professor of Geology & Geophysics, Univ. of Minn.; faculty member in the Geology & Geophysics Dept., Univ. of Minn. 1973 to present; Postdoc, Physics, Univ. of Calif. at Berkeley, 1970-1973; Ph.D., chemistry, Univ. of Missouri at Rolla, 1970; B.Sc., chemistry Oklahoma State Univ., 1966.
Primary leader experience: For the past 44 years, my research has focused on planetology, isotope geochemistry, and karst hydrogeology. I have been studying the brines, groundwater, biogeohydrogeology and post-mining deposits of the Soudan Mine for six years. I have led half a dozen field trips for colleagues, classes, and legislators to the Soudan Mine State Historic Park. The brines and their secondary deposits may serve as an analog for features visible in Mars orbital photographs. We have assembled a multidisciplinary team of researcher to characterize the complex microbiology living in the concentrated CaCl2 brines that emerge from 2.7 billion year-old rocks in the mine. This field trip will feature the brines, their secondary deposits, and the geomicrobiology of this fascinating microbial ecology.

417. Geology of the Ice Age Trail.
Sat., 8 Oct. US$91 (L, R).
Leaders: David M. Mickelson, Univ. of Wisconsin–Madison; Mark D. Johnson; Kent M. Syverson.

Trip Description
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail leads hikers on a 1,200-mile tour of glacial and other geologic features. In northwestern Wisconsin, the Ice Age Trail features spectacular end moraines, low-relief and high-relief hummocky topography, ice-walled-lake plains, eskers, tunnel channels, and striations and water-scoured features on basalt, all of which will be visited on this field trip. There will be several short hikes on parts of the trail, including one on a classic esker in a tunnel channel. The trip will concentrate on the genesis of the landscape along the trail and not on sediment properties. We will discuss the paleoglaciological significance of differing landform assemblages on the older, low-relief Emerald phase till surface and the younger St. Croix phase moraine, which has abundant high-relief hummocks, ice-walled-lake plains, and tunnel channels. Large potholes from the drainage of glacial Lake Superior will be observed at the Interstate State Park Unit of the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve. Discussion will focus on controversial issues: How do tunnel channels form? What do tunnels channels and eskers tell us about the nature of the glacier bed? What do striations and water-scoured features on basalt tell us? Why is there high-relief hummocky topography in some places and not others? How do ice-walled-lake plains form, and in what glacial context? What were glacier bed conditions throughout the Late Wisconsin glaciation? How does the flow event that formed the 20-m-deep potholes relate to early Lake Superior history?
Leader Info
Primary leader email:
Primary leader bio: David Mickelson has taught courses such as glacial geology and geology of Wisconsin for over 30 years and published numerous papers on genesis of glacial features and Wisconsin geology.
Primary leader experience: Mickelson has studied and mapped glacial deposits in Wisconsin for nearly 40 years and is just completing a book on the Geology of the Ice Age Trail.

419. Flaming Meteors, Dark Caves, and Raging WatersGeological Curiosities of Western Wisconsin.
Sat., 8 Oct. US$84 (L, R).
Leaders: Jean Cunningham, Crystal Cave Inc.; William S. Cordua; S. Blaze Cunningham; Holly A.S. Dolliver.

Trip Description
This one-day trip will introduce educators to some of the unique geological features of western Wisconsin that can be incorporated into any K–12 science program. Four strikingly different stops will show you how to expose students to geology in the field. Crystal Cave, located in Spring Valley, is Wisconsin's longest cave, at over 1 km. The educational tour will take you 70 feet below ground, into a dynamic cave with active speleothem development. Crystal Cave offers a distinctive educational program designed to expose students of all levels of the sciences of caves. A nearby stop will feature the Largest Earthen Dam in the Midwest. Built in the late 1970s for flood control, this stop offers a great place to learn about watersheds and how they affect our lives. Nearby is the site of an historic iron mining and smelting operation active from 1890–1910. The ore deposits, called bog ore, are probably related to Cretaceous weathering of Ordovician carbonates. The mining and processing of these rich deposits fueled a boom in the village of Spring Valley. This is a great location to learn how geology can influence history. To the south is the Rock Elm Disturbance, a 6-km-wide Ordovician bolide impact site. One of fewer than 200 known impact sites, you'll see deformed stratigraphy that until recently was poorly understood. You'll take a short hike to examine the destructive power of meteors. Join us on this fun trip!
Leader Info
Primary leader email:
Primary leader bio: Jeannie Place Cunningham has been co-owner of Crystal Cave, Spring Valley, Wisconsin, since 1986. She earned her B.S. degree in earth science from Univ. of Wisconsin–River Falls in 1975 and M.S. degree in geology from Univ. of New Mexico in 1980. Cunningham worked as an exploration geologist for Gulf Mineral Resources and Gulf Oil Corporation from 1976–1986. In 1986, she and her husband purchased Crystal Cave and have operated the facility since. Cunningham is a member of the National Speleological Society, Bat Conservation International, Minnesota Speleological Survey, Wisconsin Speleological Society, National Caves Association, and the Midwest Bat Working Group, all organizations associated with caves, karst, and karst conservation.
Primary leader experience: Jeannie Place Cunningham has been associated with Crystal Cave since her teen years when she was employed as a summer tour guide. The combination of working at the Cave and an excellent undergraduate geology faculty set a path for life. During her years as an exploration geologist, Cunningham spent many hours underground exploring caves of Wyoming and Montana. In 1986, she and her husband returned to Crystal Cave as owners, dedicated to providing every guest an educational yet entertaining visit to Crystal Cave. Currently, over 10,000 school-age children visit each year to learn about caves, karst and bats.

420. St. Anthony Falls Laboratory: Flumes, Experimental Landscapes, and a Waterfall.
Sat., 8 Oct. US$70 (L).
Cosponsors: National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics; St. Anthony Falls Laboratory; Univ. of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering.
Leaders: Chris Paola, Univ. of Minnesota; Karen M. Campbell.

Trip Description
St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, located in the historic St. Anthony Falls Heritage Zone, is a unique facility with a research legacy that spans more than 70 years. Built into the exposed Ordovician sediments of the Mississippi River's Hennepin Island, the laboratory is a world leader in fluid mechanics research. River water is diverted into and around the building through indoor and outdoor experimental channels. Flow rates can reach 300 cubic feet per second as the water flows from the Upper Pool of the St. Anthony Falls mill district to the downstream level of the island, approximately fifty feet below. Originally well known for physical model studies of dams, bridge piers, and related engineering structures, the facility has grown to accommodate increasingly experimental work in renewable energy and landscape morphodynamics and restoration. The laboratory now serves as headquarters for the National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics, a National Science Foundation–funded Science and Technology Center, and the Dept. of Energy funded Eolos Wind Consortium. These organizations are bringing new collaborative research efforts to St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, including investigations into delta sustainability, autogenic processes in experimental sedimentary basis, wind turbine design, algal productivity under varied turbulence, and the role of instream turbulence in river restoration practice. Tour participants will learn about the historic significance of the facility, visit ongoing experiments, such as the Experimental Earthscapes Facility and Outdoor StreamLab, and have an opportunity to try out smaller experimental teaching flumes.
Leader Info
Primary leader email:
Primary leader bio: Chris Paola has been a member of the Dept. of Geology and Geophysics at the Univ. of Minnesota since 1983. His Sc.D. is from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. From 2003–2008, he served as director of the National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics, headquartered at St. Anthony Falls Laboratory.
Primary leader experience: Chris Paola has been a faculty member at St. Anthony Falls Laboratory for most of his career at the Univ. of Minnesota. His research group is based at the laboratory and he directs the research in the Delta Basins and Experimental Earthscapes Facility, as well as many participating in many other aspects of research at the laboratory.

topCanceled Pre-Meeting Trips

401. Classic Volcanogenic Massive Sulfide Deposits of the Southern Canadian Shield.
Tues.–Sat., 4–8 Oct. — Canceled.

403. An Excursion to the Classic Bedrock Localities of Northern Minnesota with a Focus on Teaching and Learning in the Field.
Thurs.–Fri., 6–7 Oct. — Canceled.

404. Cu-Ni-PGE Deposits of the Duluth Complex.
Thurs.–Sat., 6–8 Oct. — Canceled.

405. Pedagogical Strategies for Introductory Geology Field Trips through an Examination of the Mississippi River Valley in the Twin Cities.
Fri., 7 Oct. — Canceled.

406. 3.5 Billion Years of Geologic History: A Teachers’ Guide to the Rocks of Southern Minnesota.
Fri.–Sat., 7–8 Oct. — Canceled.

407. Late Paleoproterozoic Deformational, Metamorphic, and Magmatic History of East-Central Minnesota.
Fri.–Sat., 7–8 Oct. — Canceled.

411. The History of Glacial Lake Benson.
Fri.–Sat., 7–8 Oct. — Canceled.

412. A Glacial Record Spanning the Pleistocene in Southern Minnesota.
Fri.–Sat., 7–8 Oct. — Canceled.

413. Groundwater and Surface Water of the Northern Highlands Lake District of Northern Wisconsin: 30 Years of Research in the Trout Lake Watershed.
Fri.–Sat., 7–8 Oct. — Canceled.

418. Application of LiDAR and Geophysics to Archeological Investigations in the Upper Mississippi River Valley.
Sat., 8 Oct. — Canceled.

421. Interpreting Genetic Origins of Landform Sediment Assemblages within the Upper Mississippi River Valley and Tributaries in the Twin Cities Area of Minnesota.
Sat.–Sun., 8–9 Oct. — Canceled.