Fraser Goff, who for three decades has been one of the primary experts on the geology of the Valles Caldera, will be making two public appearances this week in Albuquerque to discuss his new book, Valles Caldera: A Geologic History (click here to buy this book online).
Goff has been conducting on-site geologic studies of the Valles Caldera since the 1970s. Along with his new book, published by Univ. of New Mexico Press, Goff has authored dozens of scientific papers on the geology of the Valles Caldera, some of which can be seen on our Geology page. He’s also an adjunct professor in Earth and Planetary Sciences at UNM, teaching courses on volcanology. A Banana Slug, Goff has also performed research on nearly 40 geothermal systems and 20 active volcanoes worldwide.
Fraser Goff’s appearances to discuss Valles Caldera: A Geologic History:
Thurs., April 16, 7:00 PM, at Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande NW, Albuquerque NM 87107 (Map)
Fri., April 17, 12:00 PM, at Univ. of New Mexico Bookstore, 2301 Central Ave. NE, Albuquerque NM, 87131 (Map)
One of the most memorable and educational recreation experiences offered by the Valles Caldera National Preserve is the Fraser and Cathy Goff Geology Tour. The van tours, which are six hours long, cost $40 per person ($32 for youths and seniors). The Goffs offer guests a glimpse of many spectacular sights in the Preserve which the public seldom gets to see. Beginning in the Valle Grande (see a view from the sky here), the Goffs’ tour passes by the Baca Ranch Headquarters buildings (see a view from the sky here) before progressing down a shady, wooded road (VC02) to stop at El Cajete Crater, the location of the most recent volcanic eruption in the Jemez Mountains, 50,000-60,000 years ago (incidentally, see a map of the open roads on the Valles Caldera National Preserve in order to identify the roads discussed here).
The tour continues along a narrow valley between the base of Redondo Peak and the Banco Bonito. The valley opens up into Redondo Meadow, where a Depression-era logging camp thrived, at which point the tour begins to ascend the verdant Redondo Canyon (road VC03). In this canyon, through which the spring-fed Redondo Creek flows, the Goffs introduce visitors to sites in which dozens of extremely deep geothermal wells were drilled to gauge the feasibility of building a geothermal power plant in the 1970s and 1980s to exploit the fact that molton magma still exists several miles under the surface of the Valles Caldera. These geothermal explorations, conducted by a partnership between Union Oil of California (Unocal), Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), and the Department of Energy, never resulted in the construction of a power plant, and the wells have been sealed. However, much of the geothermal infrastructure exists, including the Union Building (a dormitory building for geothermal workers), geothermal pads, and the wells themselves. Goff worked at these sites when they were operational, and as the tour stops for lunch he provides a fascinating firsthand account of the history of Baca Ranch geothermal exploration directly where it happened.
Rising up above Redondo Canyon, the tour stops at the stunning Redondo Canyon Vista which can be seen below (near the intersection of VC03 and VC06), to which guests are treated to a talk about the visible geologic elements of the panorama: Redondito, Redondo Peak, Redondo Border, as well as Redondo Peak Rhyolite (the rock seen in the rear of the downloadable panorama).
Redondo Canyon Vista:
Download a 360° panorama of the Redondo Canyon Vista, the 4th stop on the Fraser and Cathy Goff Geology Tour.
The Goffs then commence an extremely scenic drive down Redondo Peak (VC03) through a valley in which one can often find the Caldera’s most dense concentrations of elk, Valle Jaramillo (click the view of Valle Jaramillo below for a full-size view from the sky):
After trekking through Valle Jaramillo (through which the Jaramillo Creek flows), the tour proceeds out to the Valle San Antonio on road VC02, for an up-close view of the North Rim of the Valles Caldera (click the view of the Valle San Antonio below for a full-size view from the sky):
The Fraser and Cathy Goff Geology Tour will be conducted three times this summer:
Sun., Jun 21, 2009, 9:00 AM
Sat., Aug. 29, 2009, 9:00 AM
Sat., Sep 26, 2009, 9:00 AM