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The Geology of Western National Parks: Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands

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The Geology of Western National Parks: Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Monday, February 6, 2023 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1NV018
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Materials for this program

Join geologist Kirt Kempter as he explores the geology of Western National Parks over the course of 2023, with an in-depth look at one location every month. Each program’s content is enhanced by geologic maps, photos, and Google Earth imagery.

Session Information

Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands

Southern New Mexico is home to these two iconic national parks, which oddly share a connection from the deep geologic past. Shimmering white dunes of gypsum sand define White Sands—the largest deposit of its kind on Earth—which hosts 45 endemic species living only in the park. The gypsum’s origin comes from limestone deposits preserved in the surrounding mountains, originally laid down by inland seas during the Late Paleozoic era. Approximately 260 million years ago, the seas’ coastlines were ringed by an extensive reef composed predominantly of sponges, bryozoans, and other microorganisms. Today at Carlsbad Caverns, this once deeply buried reef hosts a vast network of caves, passages, and spectacular speleothems, including the Big Room, the largest chamber in the United States.

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