A field trip to Sierra Nevada
The Sierra Nevada, located in central California, is a mountain range that primarily formed in the last two hundred million years when the Pacific ocean floor subducted beneath the North America continent. The Sierra Nevada mountain range is commonly seen in geoscience literature. In the past week, I had a chance to see it myself. Our week-long field trip was led by Scott Paterson, a structure geologist from the University of Southern California. This trip was about granitic plutons and arc evolution. A Chinese geology group joined our field trip, and I was their driver. The Chinese group was led by Drs. Fuyuan Wu and Jinhui Yang. Dr. Wu is a member of Chinese Academy of Science, a humble person with a great mind. It was an honor and fun to talk with Dr. Wu during the trip.
This was my first serious field trip since I came to the US. It’s a regret that I didn’t have chances to work in the field during my Ph.D. All my samples came in chips, powder or mounts. Although I traveled a lot and visited many national parks, those experiences are different. In the field, I learn and think as a real geologist.
First day. Hiking in a valley, towards Tuolumne pluton rim.
Snow was melting. The river, fed by melted snow, became a problem for many of us. Xu fell over and dislocated his arm when crossing the turbulent cold water.
Overview of the valley. I was wearing the wrong shoes, which became completely wet when hiking through the muddy swamps. After we returned at the end of the day, I dashed to a nearby outdoor shop and bought a pair of waterproof hiking shoes.
Discussion at an outcrop in the snow.
Big feldspar crystals scattered in the granite.
Day 2. Lecture in the Yosemite National Park.
Lunch under the tree.
Climbing up the pluton.
Dr. Yang, sitting on his hammer, was reading a poster.
Day 3. Lots of hiking and climbing in this day.
Much of the mountain was capped in snow due to unusually heavy precipitation in the past winter and spring.
Dr. Wu walking on the mountain ridge.
Dancing in the snow.
Wenrong giving a talk after returning to the camp. Day 3 was very exhausting with intense climbing.
Day 4. Mountains burned after recent forest fire. Much of Day 4 was spent on the road with occasional stops.
Exhumed deformed cherts and sandstones from subduction melange zone.
Day 5. Bishop Tuff rhyolites. First time to see columnar jointing in rhyolites.
Hiking in the desert to the east of Sierra Nevada mountain range. Cars parked in distance.
Highway in the desert.
Mono Lake. The end of our trip.