Crestone Science Center


The Crestone Science Center (CSC) provides educational programs in the Earth Sciences, based out of our headquarters in south-central Colorado. Programs to date have been in two categories: (1) occasional geological field trips in central and south-central Colorado, and (2) the annual summer field course in Neotectonics and Paleoseismology.

Our Location: the village of Crestone (population 125) lies in the San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado (Latitude 38°N, Longitude 105°42’W). The Valley is the topographic expression of the Neogene Rio Grande rift, and Crestone lies adjacent to the eastern rift-bounding normal fault, the Sangre de Cristo fault, Colorado’s most active fault. Crestone lies at 8000 feet elevation, while east of town four “Fourteeners” rise to 14,294 feet (Columbia Point, Kit Carson Peak, Crestone Peak, and Crestone Needle).

Geological Field Trips: we lead guided geological field trips in the Rio Grande rift of Colorado and New Mexico. Our director and trip leader, James P. McCalpin, has mapped in the Rift since 1978, including projects from El Paso, Texas, northward through Albuquerque, New Mexico, and up to Breckenridge, Colorado. Trips are generally aimed at interested non-geologists and students, and cover subjects such as:
      -- how and when the rift was formed
      -- which faults are still active and how we know that
      -- evidence for past large earthquakes
      -- glaciation of the rift-flanking mountains
      -- present and past lakes in the rift

Summer Field Course: Since 2001 CSC has presented a university-level field course in Neotectonics and Paleoseismology. The course lasts 7-10 days and is normally taught at the end of May or beginning of June. The first half of the course covers how to identify active fault traces using aerial photographs and LiDAR DEMs, how to map fault lines with GPS & GIS, and how to measure and date the surface fault displacements from individual paleoearthquakes. The second half of the course covers practical techniques of trenching fault traces. CSC maintains a permanent paleoseismic trench for teaching about 25 miles north of Crestone, across the Villa Grove fault zone. This is the only teaching trench in North America.
    For more information, download our FIELD COURSE BROCHURE


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