Geology 1010

Assignment Reflection

The self-guided fieldtrip may have been one of my most time-intensive project of any of my classes at Salt Lake Community College.  One of the first immediate problems was determining where to go for the fieldtrip.  I wanted to find a place that had a lot of information written about it as well as was interesting to look at.  The destination I chose, at the suggestion of my father, was Rock Canyon in Provo, Utah.  Interestingly this isn’t the first time I’ve been to Rock Canyon for the purposes of completing a project.  I once went there to collect insects for a Biology class.  Another problem was finding sources on Rock Canyon that fit the requirements of the research paper.  This was eventually overcome with clever Googling and a number of hours dedicated to research.

If I were to name any given part of the assignment that would be useful in my other classes, I would describe the skills I gained researching and the skills I’ve improved while writing the paper.  It’s not easy writing about geology.  I had to spend a lot of time understanding what my research sources were talking about so that I could correctly report on them myself.  Finding sources that are often written decades apart from each other and using their information to create a compiled report is not an easy task.  However, in the end, I pulled through.

Field Work in Rock Canyon

rockcanyon-01Rock Canyon is an excellent site for geologic research and has been investigated by geologists from around Utah and neighboring states. With outstanding extrusions of quartzite, tillite and limestone, it’s a favored destination for hikers, rock climbers and scientists. The quartzite is considered the most unique feature of Rock Canyon as it’s one of the few clear and distinct examples of the sedimentary processes involved with a shallow marine setting. The tillite beneath the quartzite draws attention to the ancient glaciers to the past. In conjunction with the active Wasatch Fault found at its doorstep, Rock Canyon is an important place in Utah for geologists.

To begin, the mouth of the canyon features a hilly landscape with scars from landslides created from the uplifting of land by the Wasatch Fault. The fault, responsible for the creation of the Wasatch Mountains 25 million years ago, is a normal fault (Eldredge, 2014). Unlike some faults, vertical movement of the terrain is limited and slippage only occurs every several hundred or thousand years. Signs of the fault at work can be seen through the mouth of the canyon with the orange Tintic Quartzite which is dated back to the Cambrian Age. Layered beneath the quartzite is tillite from the Precambrian Age. To the west and separate from the Quartzite and tillite by the Wasatch Vault are limestone sections from the Missippian Age. (Rigby, Hintze, 1968, pg 23).

The landscape making up Rock Canyon is spectacular and is mostly defined by its orange quartzite walls.  Large portions of the tillite have been understood to have been placed from glacier movement.  Known as the Precambrian Mineral Fork Tillite, the rock contains dolomite and quartzite within a matrix of mud and is approximately 3,000 feet thick (Harris, 2002, pg 7).  The Tintic Quartzite is believed to be the first of several Palezoic transgressions that moved across North America.  With no notable unconformities, the rock is valuable for the study of the sedimentary processes involved with a shallow water environment.  Further, the Tintic Quartzite within the Rock Canyon region of Utah has large-scale cross-bedding which is likely have been part of a lower-flow depositional process (Hall, 1981).

rockcanyon-02There is evidence of the current weathering processes of the quartzite rock throughout the canyon such as the remnants of rock slides and fracturing of quartzite facies.  Parts of the trail lead up to faces of quartzite which have vertical joints going up their sides.  The results of the erosion of these pieces of rock can be seen by the massive slabs of displaced quartzite found west of where the jointing can be seen.

To conclude, Rock Canyon is a breathtaking piece of Utah and makes an excellent place for hiking and geologic study.  The study of the Tintic Quartzite, a unique feature of this area, might be crucial in gaining greater knowledge of the Earth’s geologic processes.  As such, Rock Canyon is an important place for geologists both locally and around the world.



Eldredge, S. (n.d.). The Wasatch Fault. Utah Geological Survey. Retrieved April 14, 20
14, from
Farmer, J. (2010). Performing a Remembered Past. On Zion’s mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American landscape (p. 363). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Gunther, J. (n.d.). Estimation of Flood Magnitudes and Frequencies for Rock Canyon. BYU Geological. Retrieved April 12, 2014, from
Hall, C. D. (n.d.). The Tintic Quartzite in Rock Canyon, Utah County, Utah. Geology Studies, 28, 67-79.
Rigby, J. K., & Hintze, L. F. (1968). Guide to the Geology of the Wasatch Mountain Front, Between Provo Canyon and Y Mountain, Northeast of Provo, Utah. Geology Studies, 15(2), 1-29.
The Geologic History of Rock Canyon, Utah. (n.d.). BYU Geological. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from