Class explores fossil formations | VailDaily.com

Class explores fossil formations

Daily staff report
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AVON — Join Walking Mountains Science Center on Saturday for the penultimate adult field studies class exploring the foundations of the valley. Fossil Formations, with Colorado Mountain College professor and local geologist JP O'Brien, will depart from Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon at 10 a.m. and travel through time exploring what the local environment was like millennia ago and discussing our geologic future.

The field class will make stops en route to fossil beds pausing to discuss the tectonic activity that shaped our relatively young Rocky Mountains. The attendees will witness layering that will make them question which way is up and have the chance to discuss Dowd Junction with an expert who has lived and studied the geology in the Vail area since the 1970s.

Over the millennia, continents have moved around the globe, sea levels have fluctuated hundreds of meters (Lionshead is a coral reef!) and peaks have soared only to be beveled back to sea level. The vistas abounding in the Gore and Sawatch are formed, and have been influenced, by mountainscapes even more vast and expansive than those that local inhabitants cherish today. The class affords the opportunity to discover prehistoric shark teeth while discussing the forces that have shaped the area.

O'Brien is a graduate of Battle Mountain High School and has worked as a state geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey and as a consultant for the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Energy and the Department of Defense. In the private sector, O'Brien has prepared environmental impact statements and environmental assessments for many projects in the Western United States. O'Brien is a geology professor at Colorado Mountain College and operates a geological consulting company out of Vail. He enjoys mapping and exploring the geology of Western Colorado on foot, snowshoe and skis.

If you go …

What: Fossil Formations.

When: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Meet at Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon.

Cost: $125 per person.

To register: Visit http://www.walkingmountains.org/sp and click on “Adult Field Studies.”