Skip to main content

2012 Field Trips


GSM Tours and Fields Trips in 2012

The following field trips and tours were offered by the Geological Society of Minnesota in 2012:


Bill Robbins organized a field trip covering the southern part of the San Andreas Fault in California on Saturday, April 14 through Sunday, April 22. Twenty two GSM members and guests participated. This field trip used the book “Field Guide to the San Andreas Fault” by David K. Lynch, ISBN 0-9779935-0-7, 2006, Thule Scientific, as its guide. The author himself, brother of GSM member Sherry Keesey, led us on the first four days of this trip. Having such an insider as our leader gave us a very unique perspective of the sites we visited. After following the Fault, we toured Joshua Tree National Park and GSM member Randy Strobel led us on a very interesting tour around the Salton Sea. The field trip concluded with a visit to the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles. Here are the preliminary itinerary and the Google Maps trip route that we used. See the Summer 2012 and Fall 2012 Newsletters for reports on this trip by Diane Lentsch, Bill Robbins, and Dave Wilhelm. Following are field trip photos links (the numbered trips refer to David Lynch’s Field Guide):

-          Day 1: Field Guide Trip 6 (Labec to Buttonwillow).

-          Day 2: Field Guide Trip 7 (Buttonwillow to Parkfield).

-          Day 2 & 3: Field Guide Trip 8; Parkfield, CA "Earthquake Capital of the World"

-          Day 3: Field Guide Trip 8 (north of Parkfield) & Trip 4 (Frazier Park to Palmdale)

-          Day 4: Field Guide Trip 3 (in reverse - Palmdale to Twentynine Palms)

-          Day 5: Joshua Tree National Park

-          Day 6 AM: Southeast of Salton Sea, incl. Sono Bono NWR, geothermal plant, boiling mud pots

-          Day 6 PM: Northeast of Salton Sea, incl. Salvation Mountain, Bombay Beach, Painted Canyon

-          Day 7: La Brea Tar Pits


Randy Strobel organized a 2-hour tour of Xcel Energy’s Allen S. King Power Plant in Oak Park Heights, MN on Friday, June 15, 2012 at 12 noon. See tour photos here. The links below provide general information about how coal burning power plants work: Power station, Fossil-fuel power station, Thermal power station, Steam turbine, Coal power in U.S., Power grid, Electricity Generation video, Coal Power Generation video, How a thermal power plant works video, How a coal power station works video, How do you make electricity from coal - animated video.


Lisa Peters organized an urban field trip to the Stone Arch Bridge on the Minneapolis Riverfront on Saturday, September 8, 2012, 10 AM to 12 Noon. We had two entertaining speakers for this trip. Tony Runkel, chief geologist for the Minnesota Geological Survey, and David Wiggins, park ranger and historian for the National Park Service, combined their considerable talents to talk about the geology and history of the Stone Arch Bridge.   Railroad magnate, James J. Hill, built the grand old bridge across the river in 1883. Hill used several types of stone to construct the bridge: local Platteville limestone, Sauk Rapids granite, and magnesium limestone from Mankato and Stone City, Iowa. Tony talked about how, where and when the stone was formed. He also answered participant questions about the nearby St. Anthony Falls. David concentrated on the cultural history of the bridge, with an emphasis on the quarrying of the stone, the challenges of building a masonry bridge, the floods of 1965 which caused the bridge to sag, and the current condition of the stone blocks and the bridge. The railroad bridge is now a pedestrian bridge. See photos here.


Randy Strobel organized a tour of District Energy in downtown Saint Paul, Thursday Sept 20, from 1:30-3:30. District Energy uses biomass, fossil fuels, and solar to generate heat and cooling for clients in the downtown area. The plant is located on Kellogg Blvd. next door to the Science Museum of Minnesota. The tour started with a 30-minute presentation, followed by the CHP (Combined Heat and Power) plant tour, and ended with a tour of the solar thermal installation on the roof of Saint Paul River Centre. See tour photos here. Further background: Combined heat and power, Biomass heating system, Chiller, Solar thermal energy, Thermal storage, Steam turbine, Electric generator.


Dr. Kent Syverson, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Geology, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire lead a field trip to the Blue Hills Felsenmeer State Natural Area in Wisconsin on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012.  The Felsenmeer is a truly unique place in the state of Wisconsin, and Dr. Syverson has received more inquiries about the Blue Hills Felsenmeer than any other area during his twenty years in the UWEC Geology Department. The field trip involved some hiking away from the bus to reach the Felsenmeer. During the bus portion of the trip as we traveled through Chippewa and Barron Counties, Dr. Syverson discussed frac sand controversies. See field trip photos here. See the Winter 2012 Newsletter for Dave Wilhelm’s report on this trip.