Day 1 was primarily a travel day. An uneventful plane trip was followed by a short visit to the ASU Mars Space Flight Facility, where we were given a tour. We then drove up to Sedona, an area whose geological features have been deposited shaped by the Colorado River over millions of years. On the drive up to Flagstaff, large-scale eolian features were evident in the Coconino Sandstone. That night we had dinner in the San Francisco Peaks where we watched the sunset.
The majority of this day was spent at the Flagstaff Volcanic field, where we spent the morning hiking up a cinder cone to SP crater, where Sebastian honored its namesake. We spent lunch and the afternoon at Colton crater, a cinder cone within a maar within a cinder cone. The steam explosion that formed the maar brought up some interesting basement rocks, which were fun to collect. An unhappy looking sky motivated us to leave somewhat early, however. We drove out to visit the black point lava flow, then went home after a brief visit to some well-preserved ripple marks.
An early start and a long drive brought us to Meteor Crater, where we toured the visitor’s center and walked briefly along a small portion of the rim. We then drove to the Petrified Forest, a region where well-preserved fossilized wood (made of silica) is oddly abundant. We drove through the beautiful Painted Desert, and then headed back to Flagstaff. That night, we went up to the Lowell Observatory, where we looked at Saturn and M5 through their telescopes there. The stargazing was, of course, incredible.
Day 4 was Grand Canyon day! After spending some quality time at an overlook, we split up and went our merry way in the Grand Canyon. A bunch of us went on the Bright Angel Trail, which continues to the bottom of the canyon, providing a spectacular view of the canyon along the way. Going 2 miles before heading back, we progressed through the Kaibab limestone, Toroweap formation, Coconino sandstone (with excellent cross-bedding), and Hermit Shale. We ate dinner at another outlook and watched the sunset.
This was mostly a travel day, except for a brief visit to Sunset Crater. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually get to see the crater itself, but we did see some interesting volcanic features, including a spatter cone.