Visiting the Guadalupe and Sacramento Mountains

With very careful consideration for safety given the pandemic, the Fall 2020 field trip for the course GEO 383 (Carbonate Depositional Environments) at The University of Texas at Austin was pared down. Five graduate students were able to explore the diverse stratigraphic and sedimentologic record of the Guadalupe and Sacramento Mountains, and Joshua Malone (PhD expected 2025) documented the field experience with stunning photos.

The unique and dramatic setting of the Western Escarpment of the Guadalupe Mountains and the sequence stratigraphy of the Permian strata in the canyon and Fountain Mesa were the focus of the first three days of the trip. Spectacular reef systems of Mississippian age were then visited in Alamo Canyon of the Sacramento Mountains. Finally, strata of the Bursum Formation that span across the Pennsylvanian-Permian boundary and were deposited during formation of the ancestral Rocky Mountains added to the work being done by Leland Spangler on his MSc thesis in the area. Spangler later took top honors for MSc thesis presentations at this year’s Jackson School virtual poster presentations for late-career MSc students. 

The trip was funded by an experiential learning grant from Chevron.

Written by Charles Kerans, Professor, Department of Geological Sciences

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Campsite near Williams Ranch House, Guadalupe Mountain National Park Credit: J. Malone
Western flank of the Sacramento Mountains Credit: J. Malone
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 Western Escarpment of the Guadalupe Mountains at sunset Credit: J. Malone
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Williams Ranch Houe Credit: J. Malone
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Western Escarpment of the Guadalupe Mountains at sunrise Credit: J. Malone
Geo 383 Field Trip Joshua R Malone
Silhouette of the Western Escarpment at night Credit: J. Malone