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20th Anniversary
Benson Earth Sciences Building Celebration
September 15th, 2017

The Benson Earth Sciences Building (BESC) was dedicted in October, 1997, which means that we are fast approaching the 20th Anniversary of our home. Geological Sciences is not the same department it was when we moved from Old Geology to our new home. And the building itself has been a major factor in defining the Department’s transition. Our ability to hire the very best young faculty, and to recruit top students from around the country has been greatly enhanced by the infrastructure and appearance of BESC. In recognition of the 20 year anniversary, we have scheduled a gala celebration. You are warmly invited. Come help us celebrate two decades of education and research, and a bright future.



Following are planned activities.

September 15th, 2017, Friday

  • 4:00 - 5:30 pm, labs in Benson open house - Research Labs in Benson
  • 5:30 - 8:00 pm, 20th Anniversary Benson Reception begins, RSVP here to attend or call Jazmin at 30.541.1480

September 16th, 2017, Saturday

  • 8:00 am - 4:00 pm, Niwot Ridge field trip, Leader Dr. Bob Anderson - NO COST
    • Limited to 20 participants due to logistics. We will leave Benson Building at 8am and drive to the Mountain Research Station, then up the Niwot Ridge access road, parking at the cable gate. We’ll walk at a leisurely pace up to Niwot Ridge. The hike starts at 10,800 ft, reaches TundraLab in the saddle at 11600 ft after 1.3 miles. Weather and fitness permitting, we’ll have lunch on the west knoll, 0.4 miles farther. The sweeping vistas include the high country of the range from Pikes Peak to Longs Peak, and the glacially ornamented Indian Peaks sector of the range crest. We will discuss the geologic history of the Front Range, the glacial history of the alpine, and the geomorphology of the ridges above the glacier footprint. We will witness the ongoing research in the long-lived Niwot Longterm Ecological Research (Niwot LTER) site, the Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory (BcCZO), and the NOAA gas sampling site. We plan to return to Boulder by roughly 4pm.

  • 8:00 am – 4:00 pm, The Puzzling Presence of the Colorado Rockies, Leader - Dr. Lon Abbott - NO COST
    • The Colorado Rockies first rose during the Laramide Orogeny, but the mountains we see today are likely much taller than their Laramide predecessors because they ride atop a broad topographic swell that includes the western Great Plains. We’ll look at geological evidence supporting this conclusion, as well as clues that might contribute to a resolution regarding when and why that topographic swell formed. We’ll travel from the Benson Building to Castle Rock where sediment buried the Laramide Rocky Mountains, then visit Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument to see spectacular fossil trees and discuss the clues the monument’s abundant fossil leaves provide for the history of uplift. We’ll then visit an Eocene paleocanyon that drained the post-Laramide landscape, and turn for home along the trace of the state’s largest Laramide thrust fault, in South Park.

  • 8:00 am - 11:00 am, Green Mountain kimberlite, Leader Dr. Joe Zamudio Phone - (303) 444-1625 - NO COST
    • Limited to 24 participants. No cost. This is your chance to visit the seldom seen kimberlite diatreme on the slopes of Green Mountain in Boulder. We will meet at the Gregory Canyon Trailhead just to the west of the Chautauqua meadow and be back in time for the football game. https://bouldercolorado.gov/osmp/gregory-canyon-trailhead Be prepared for less than a three-mile hike that involves some bushwacking! Bring water and a snack if desired. This kimberlite is the southernmost of about 90 kimberlite bodies along the Front Range extending down from Iron Mountain, Wyoming. The kimberlite was originally mapped as a “peculiar... igneous rock” around 1905. Our own Bill Braddock rediscovered it in the early 1980s and recognized it as a kimberlite pipe. Among the notable phenocrysts in it are pyrope garnet, chrome diopside, and magnesian ilmenite. No diamonds have been found in this pipe. Current Boulder Open Space regulations prohibit the taking of samples, but we will investigate the outcrop.

  • 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Alumni BBQ
    • Location will be sent after we receive RSVP’s.

September 16th-17th, 2017, Sat-Sun

  • Active Salt Tectonics of Arches and Canyonlands, Utah. Leader - Dr. Karl Mueller
    • Limited to 12 participants. This trip will examine the spectacular geologic structures, erosional history and active salt tectonics of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.  Day 1 will examine extensional faults that accommodate collapse in Arches NP, including hikes to the Delicate Arch Overlook and a traverse through the Fiery Furnace, an amazing maze of sandstone fins and arches.  Day 2 will be a trip in modified 4X4 jeeps through the Needles District of Canyonlands where we will see actively dilating grabens and consider recent research at CU on active salt diapirs and extensional faults. Participants can drive to Moab from the Denver area, or fly directly into and out of the Moab airport the day before and after the trip. There may be a cost associated with lodging and meal.
Please let us know if you are interested in joining one of the activities above by August 20th so that we can plan the logistics accordingly.
You should contact;
Shana Mercer by email or by phone 303-492-1328 or
Kristine Johnson by email or by phone 303-492-2607




Geological Sciences
University of Colorado Boulder
UCB 399
Boulder, CO 80309-0399