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'Geology and scenery in and around the Colorado Rocky Mountains'

by jmaloni
Mon, Mar 14th 2011 03:35 pm

Penn Dixie's Wednesday, March 16, illustrated program is on the "Geology and Scenery in and around the Colorado Rocky Mountains." It will be presented at 7 p.m. by Dr. Rick Batt of Buffalo State College, in the auditorium of the Gateway Executive Office, 3556 Lake Shore Road, Blasdell. Children, scouts, students, groups and the public are invited. No pre-registration is required. Penn Dixie members are free, while non-members are $4 each.

Colorado is home to the highest part of the Rocky Mountain chain, which extends from Alaska through Canada and into the U.S. as far south as New Mexico. Along this great length, the scenic Rockies are the first mountains a traveler encounters heading west across the Great Plains. They mark the start of the tectonically complex western portion of North America - sometimes called the Cordillera. Beyond them lie more scenic regions, including the Colorado plateaus, basin and range, and a variety of pacific coastal region uplands and valleys.

The Colorado Rocky Mountains include several major mountain ranges separated by structural valleys. While most of these ranges expose old, Pre-Cambrian-aged metamorphic and igneous rocks in their cores, some of the western ranges include tilted younger sedimentary rocks and thick piles of volcanic debris that was violently ejected during the Cenozoic Era. The history of the Colorado Rockies includes episodes of repeated mountain uplift followed by erosion and subsidence, sometimes even accompanied by flooding under shallow seas. The sediments eroded from these mountains and deposited over the area now make up the colorful sedimentary rocks that flank today's mountain cores and add to the scenic beauty of the region.

This presentation will introduce some basics of Colorado Rocky Mountain geology while examining the mountains and surrounding features, with numerous scenic pictures taken on recent travels. In addition to the mountains themselves, things of interest found in the associated sedimentary rocks will also be included, such as some of the significant dinosaur discoveries in the Jurassic Morrison Formation and Cretaceous deposits along the eastern slope.

Batt is a geology professor at Buffalo State College, and often travels with his wife, Dr. Robin Harris (a science education professor at the same college), to various places of scenic and geologic interest. He earned his doctorate at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and has led several class field experiences to the Colorado Rockies. Many of the pictures included in this presentation are from his and Robin's 2010 visit to Colorado, which included day hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, visits to dinosaur localities, and other wanderings.

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