The east rim of the Long  Valley Caldera as seen from near Lake Crowley

The east rim of the Long Valley Caldera as seen from near Lake Crowley
Photo Courtesy of Garry Hayes

Turning a current interest into an outdoor adventure can be a great way to initiate exploration and discovery in the world around you. We’ve discussed morel mushroom hunting, photo exploration, Native American rock art, historical exploration, tracking wild animals, geocaching and more ways to explore, in the emagazine. If you are a geologist or have an interest in geology you have another great avenue to get outdoors and explore. I call it GeoTrekking. If you head out with the idea of exploring the geology of an area you are GeoTrekking. To make the most of your adventure, you should do some homework first. If, for example, you are visiting Yellowstone National Park with the idea of doing some GeoTrekking, you might research the underlying geology of the area, identify key geologic points of interest and plan your visit around visiting those locations.

Garry Hayes, a geology teacher at Modesto Junior College in California leads field trips that are essentially GeoTrekking adventures for his students. He calls them geotripping and has a blog called Geotripper where he sometimes describes these adventures. He recently published a series of blog posts (February 5, 7 and 9, 2015) about geological activity related to the Long Valley Caldera, near Mammoth Mountain, California. It seems that around 760,000 years ago an eruption lofted 150 cubic miles of of ash into the atmosphere, then the earth’s crust collapsed leaving a hole ten miles wide and 20 miles long. That makes the eruption of Mt. Mazama to form Crater Lake seem small. His series of posts titled “The Sierra Beyond Yosemite” offer several photos along with descriptions of places he and his classes have visited in an effort to comprehend the enormity of this event. It is also an intriguing story of the politics of geology. In any case, it would be a great place to start your research if you wanted to try GeoTrekking that area (see the map below).

Garry also has a website at that suggests several other GeoTrekking opportunities. I also suggest you check the Roadside Geology series of books that address much of the United States. I particularly enjoy Fire Mountains of the West: The Cascade and Mono Lake Volcanoes that discusses the area in which I live. Choose a book for the area you live in or want to visit and you can create any number of GeoTrekking adventures. Happy GeoTrekking!


Long Valley Caldera

Long Valley Caldera – U.S. Geological Survey Graphic
Click for a larger version

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