Volcanoes, Mapping, and Gold-Mining

Volcano Outcrop Sketch

 Monday morning we were still very full from the game of yum-yum I described in the last post. We packed up camp and had a class on extrusive igneous rock (a.k.a. VOLCANOES). We then stopped by an outcrop that had tons of different rock types: I only wrote down observations for seven but there were many more: grey, pink, brown, purple, red and black rocks all set in soft dirt in a hillside. We identified most of them as different types of volcanic rocks. It was fun to see evidence of the processes we had just learned about.


Interactive Declination



Red in the Shed


Map and Compass Lesson

In the afternoon we had an introduction to topographical maps and compasses, which we’ll use for a geological mapping project later. To make sure we got the hang of it, our professor Zion split us into groups of 3-4 people dropped us in an unknown area where we had to make our way to a spot he previously designated on the map a couple miles away. Three groups didn’t make it, due to some confusion about which roads were actually on the map, but in the end everyone found the group or was found by the rest of the group. And we all got lots of map practice!

That night we slept at the famed CC Cabin and had delicious burritos and guacamole for dinner.  Many people decided to sleep on the deck, under the stars. Before bed we watched Dante’s Peak to reinforce our knowledge of volcanic eruptions, because Hollywood is always very accurate, geologically speaking.


Skewed Reality


Mega Dump Truck Class Photo


The Scale of the Gold Mine


The Leach Pad


Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine


Tuesday we  toured Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine next to the famous gold rush town Cripple Creek, Colorado. Gold mining has changed rather dramatically in the past hundred years. Colorado College alum and geology major Eric Daniels works at CC&V as a mine geologist. He gave us a very honest, in-depth tour of what goes on at a large-scale mine operation and how geology plays a part in it.  We saw the drills and the leach pad, played on a huge truck that transports the rock, and had interesting conversations about the implications of gold mining. And we all looked really good in safety vests and hard hats.

Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mine Runoff


Improvised Pot Holders and Strainer


Camping at Shelf Road


That night we camped at shelf road, a popular climbing spot among Colorado College students. While we unfortunately didn’t bring any climbing gear, we did have an epic game of ultimate Frisbee in the meadow next to our campsite (which got cut short by an equally epic Rocky-Mountain thunderstorm). After a very cheesy mac’ and cheese dinner, we played a review game of jeopardy in preparation for the “celebration of knowledge” (test) we had to take the following day.


Professor of Fun (Leading By Example)


Outcrop at Shelf Road


Outcrop at Shelf Road


Wednesday we began learning about sedimentary rocks by observing an outcrop near our campsite. It was very warm so we drove to Cañon city to eat lunch and go swimming in a river before celebrating our knowledge and heading back to campus. It hasn’t even been a week and we’ve already learned SO MUCH about rocks!

-Austin ’15 and Taryn ’14

Local Wildlife