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This is the second of 6 earthcaches that highlight the landscape of Denali National Park and Preserve.
Welcome to Denali Geo-Ventures, a set of virtual earthcaches that highlight the amazing landscape that is Denali National Park and Preserve. These activities are offered through the Murie Science and Learning Center, a consortium of partners working with the National Park Service to support research and education efforts in Alaska’s northern parks. This set of earthcaches was created by Alaska Geographic, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting people with our public lands.
These Denali Geo-Ventures take you behind the scenery; to investigating why the land at Denali’s entrance is so spectacular, and how it came to be. To ensure you have a positive experience and help us protect the park, please read through all of the ‘Before You Go’ information at the bottom of this page.
Landscapes present puzzles. Why does that hill look different than those around it? Why is there snow on one side of a mountain but none on the other? Why are the banks of this creek a different color than those just a few miles north? These kinds of questions and the curiosity that drives us to answer them are a fun, challenging, and engaging way to experience the natural world.
Take, for example the view from this cache. All of the mountains and valleys spread out before you are much newer than the rock you’re standing on. Running east to west near the bottom of this valley is the boundary between the old rock of the Yukon-Tanana Crystalline Sequence to the north and much younger rock to the south.
One type of younger rock that makes up most of the mountains in your view to the south is a group of sedimentary rocks called the Lower Cantwell Formation. If you were a geologist trying to solve the puzzle of this formation, you’d find sandstone, shale, and conglomerate rocks, and you also might find evidence of plants and animals trapped in those sedimentary layers. In fact, the Lower Cantwell Formation has preserved hundreds of dinosaur footprints and other paleontological evidence, helping scientists figure out what this environment might have looked like when the dinosaurs walked the earth! Sediments accumulated here for eons. Then, 56 million years ago, there were volcanic activities that left evidence within the UPPER Cantwell formation. Like working a crossword or solving a sudoku, Geologists deduced this by discovering rocks formed from cooling lava—basalt, rhyolite, andesite, and obsidian—in this layer of the Upper Cantwell Formation.
From the vantage point of the cache, you can actually see some prominent remnants of the Upper Cantwell Formation. To the southeast, one of the jagged-topped mountains closest to you looks different from those surrounding it because it has very little vegetation at or near the top. This is Mount Fellows. Why do you think it looks so different from its neighbors? Although you might not be able to solve the riddle from here, closer observation would let you see that its peak is comprised of volcanic material from the Upper Cantwell Formation, material that nourishes a different plant community.
To Get To This Cache: Find and hike the Meadowview Trail, via the Rock Creek or Taiga Trailheads.
To Log this cache: When trying to figure out the puzzle of complex landscapes geologists often compare the relative age of different rocks by the order in which they are stacked on top of one another. They also look for evidence of geologic uplift, the rising of landmasses caused by tectonic activity as well as recent de-glaciation. Did you know that Denali is rising at a rate of 1 millimeter per year? Though your GPS is not accurate enough to detect this uplift try to find your current elevation (to the nearest 100 feet) at this site. Email your answer to email@example.com. Use ‘Denali Geo-Venture Site 'Landscape Puzzles’ in the subject line of your email.
Before You Go Information!!!
1. All of the Denali Geo-Venture sites are located on established park trails or roads and are within the first 15 miles of the park road. There is no need to go off these durable surfaces to find your site. Help us protect the park by avoiding the trampling of the fragile subarctic plants. Also, please abide by the Leave No Trace ethics for your entire stay in Denali.
2. Denali Geo-Ventures do not involve any physical caches to be found. You will be required to look for a clue at each cache and email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. The completion of these Denali Geo-Ventures is easiest in the summer when the Park Road is open beyond Park Headquarters. In the winter months access to some of the caches can be done on a day hike, yet may require travel through snow and challenging conditions. For information about visiting Denali and weather conditions call the Denali Visitor Information line at (907) 683-9532.
4. Summer visitors with or without personal vehicles can participate in the Denali Geo-Ventures. If visiting without your own vehicle, you may need to make use of the free Savage River Shuttle bus to reach some of the Denali Geo-Venture sites. Consult a Shuttle Bus Schedule for hours of operation.
5. As with all visitors to Denali National Park and Preserve, you are required to pay the park entrance fee at the Denali Visitor Center or the Wilderness Access Center. Entrance fees are $10 per individual or $20 per vehicle. Several park passes are available and may be used in lieu of the park entrance fee.
6. For the east-end Park Visitor Center hours of operation visit this page of the Denali National Park and Preserve website.
7. Denali is a wilderness that is home to many species of wildlife, large and small. To ensure your safety while in this wilderness please remember to Keep Wildlife Wild and review our Bear and Wildlife Safety information.
(No hints available.)
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum