Rocks, Minerals, and Soils Introduction

Mike learned that Utah has three land regions: the Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, and Rocky Mountains. Mike and his father Dale, who is a geologist, love to hike these regions. As they hike, Dale collects samples of rocks. He would also be called a “Rock Hound.” Dale taught Mike that there are three types of rocks: sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic. But these rocks are always changing as part of the rock cycle. Geologists from all over the world come to Utah to study Utah's various rock formations.

Mike and Dale travel up Farmington Canyon located in Davis County. As they hike, they notice the rocks have a striped or banded appearance. Dale explains that they are metamorphic rocks. These rocks were once sedimentary or igneous but went through a change. The rocks we see in Farmington Canyon are a type of gneiss.

The next weekend Mike and Dale traveled to the Colorado Plateau Region of Utah. They went to Bryce Canyon National Park in Garfield County. Bryce Canyon is made of sedimentary rock. Erosion formed the hoodoos, columns and interesting rock formations found here. The sandstone here is red and pink. The color was formed from iron in the rocks that oxidized or rusted.

Mike and Dale's final hike destination was central Utah near the town of Fillmore , the Territorial Capital. They traveled west from Fillmore to the volcanic fields. These volcanoes were formed under Ancient Lake Bonneville. There are lava tubes and vents to explore. The type of rock we find here is scoria. Scoria is an igneous rock that we use in our barbeque grills. In the lava fields you can also see aa ( ah’ ah’). This is a Hawaiian term for the basalt that forms in columns.

In this unit you will learn more about how scientists discover Utah’s very distant past by studying evidence found in the present. You will also learn more about the rocks and minerals that provide us with clues to a world we can only imagine. So get ready to rock. This unit is all about rocks, clues and you.