A large round glass enclosed gondola hangs from a cable with dramatic mountain views in the background

Dramatic views from the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway (Stop 3 on our field trip)

When & Where:

When: After GSA Connects, Thursday, Sept 26, 8:00 a.m – 6:30 pm PST

Where: Anaheim, CA. Departing and returning to Anaheim Convention Center.

Field Trip Description

Explore the dramatic landscapes of the Coachella valley area with the IAGD while learning about field accessibility and inclusive science communication. We will do some geo-tourism on the drive to our first stop, a scarp along an active segment of the San Andreas fault. The aerial tram up Mt San Jacinto will provide spectacular views of geologic features near and far, with lunch and time to explore and discuss at the top. In the afternoon, we will visit the Thousand Palms oasis, a unique hydrogeologic feature that owes its existence to the San Andreas fault. We will round out our tour with an examination of ventifacts and the processes that create these sand-blasted features near Palm Springs. This trip is sponsored by the International Association for Geoscience Diversity (theIAGD.org), and is offered at no cost to participants. Transportation during the field trip, entrance fees and lunch are all covered thanks to our donors. All field trip locations, including the Palm Springs aerial tramway, are wheelchair accessible. Other accommodations, can be provided upon request. We are excited to offer communication in English, Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL). Everyone is welcome!


8:00 am – Depart Anaheim Convention Center (1.5 hrs to Stop 1)

STOP 1: 9:30 – 10:30 San Gorgonio Pass Thrust Fault scarp at Morongo Casino.

View the scarps created in this restraining bend of the San Andreas.

  • Access notes: Paved parking lot. No need to walk far from vans. Restroom break scheduled in.

30 minute travel time to stop 2

STOP 2: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm Mt. San Jacinto and views of surrounding area via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway with lunch at the top

During the tram ride we will see basement veins and fabric. At the top we will discuss which elements of the landscape are due to active faulting along the San Andreas fault and which are relict topography from Miocene extension of the region before the initiation of the San Andreas.

  • Access notes: You can walk very little or a lot on the may trails during free explore time. Tramway (cable car) is fully accessible, but please don’t board if you have problems with heights! There is not alternate transportation to the top and we will be there several hours, so this may not be the field trip for you if you don’t want to ride the tramway. Restrooms available at the top and bottom of the tramway.

40 minutes to stop 3

STOP 3: 2:40 – 3:40 pm Coachella Valley Preserve – Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve

Explore oasis. Here the landscape expression of the San Andreas fault is not very dramatic because the slip is primarily strike-slip; however, the near surface ground water reveals the active fault. The flow of ground water from the nearby Little San Bernardino Mountains is disrupted by the impermeable fault producing this amazing oasis in the middle of the desert.

  • Access notes: Unpaved dirt/gravel path is flat to gently sloping in places – passable for most, but some wheelchair users may need a bit of help here and there. Rustic restroom available w questionable accessibility.

20 minutes to Stop 4

STOP 4: 4:00 – 4:30pm  Palm Springs ventifacts at Garnet hill

The current landscape funnels strong winds through the San Gorgonio Pass.  These same winds have scoured the rocks exposed at Garnet Hill, which is an active segment of the San Andreas fault.

  • Access Notes: Short stop to see the ventifacts with very short walk from the vans. No facilities.

2 hours back to convention center (including a quick restroom break at a Travel Stop).

6:30 pm Return to Anaheim Convention Center

Want to get an idea of what IAGD field trips are like? Check out our previous IAGD Field Trips.

Field Trip Leaders

Anita Marshall (she/her) is a Lecturer and geoscience education researcher at the University of Florida, the Executive Director of the International Association for Geoscience Diversity (IAGD), a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and a Disabled geoscientists with a physical disability.  Anita specializes in inclusive, accessible experiential learning and leads field trips designed for people with disabilities and other underserved identities in STEM ranging from day trips to a full multi-week field camp.

Michele Cooke (she/her) is a Professor of fault mechanics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Michele has been researching active faulting in southern California for 20+ years and has experience both leading field trips in the region and leading accessible trips. She uses both ASL and English languages.

Brian Castillo (he/him) served as an adjunct professor at CSUSB for 5 years before transitioning to a career in the industry. During his tenure, Bryan actively participated in research on various paleoseismic sites along the southern section of the San Andreas fault. Although he has shifted his focus to industry, Bryan remains passionate about educating others on seismic hazards, particularly in California. He continues to maintain an online presence through social media, where he engages in the dissemination of geoscience information and earthquake hazard communication. Bryan is also engaged in communicating geosciences in Spanish.

Kate Scharer (she/re) is a Research Geologist with the Earthquake Science Center of the US Geological Survey in Pasadena. Kate studies active faults in Southern California, notably the San Andreas and Sierra Madre fault systems. Her recent work uses fire histories and radiocarbon dating to better constrain dates of past ground rupturing earthquakes.


How to Participate:

Our trips prioritize two types of participants: 1. geoscience colleagues with disabilities or other needs that would limit their participation or enjoyment in other field trips, and 2. instructors who are interested in guidance and ideas on how to run inclusive accessible field trips. To make sure those groups are adequately represented, an application form is required. Applicants who are looking for a fun geo trip with great people will be given any remaining spots. Participants will be notified at least one month in advance of the conference. Apply at: https://shorturl.at/rsxJ0

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©2024 IAGD. The IAGD is a 501c3, volunteer-driven, non-profit organization.

Disclaimer: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0939645. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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