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A Geologic Tour of Copper Canyon, Mexico

Weekend Lecture/Seminar

Sunday, August 29, 2021 - 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1NV078
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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Copper Canyon (Photo: Kirt Kempter)

Deep in the heart of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains of northern Mexico is a series of spectacular gorges collectively called Copper Canyon. They rival Arizona’s Grand Canyon in depth, width, and scenic beauty, and are home to the indigenous Tarahumara, or Rarámuri, people known in part for their endurance running. Tourism in the region has long been centered around the Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico, an iconic train ride that passes along the rim of Copper Canyon before a circutous and scenic descent to the Pacific coast.

Join volcanologist Kirt Kempter as he focuses on the geologic origins of Copper Canyon and the Sierra Madre Occidental. Massive supervolcano eruptions culminating around 30 million years ago produced vast layers of volcanic strata (tuff) and left behind dozens of giant volcanic craters tens of kilometers in diameter (calderas). What geologic forces caused this extreme concentration of volcanic activity?  Kempter explores this and other fascinating geologic topics related to the Copper Canyon region, including the canyon-carving process in more recent geologic times.

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