This web text is for you!
How do we know? We know you found this site. We assume you are curious about Utah’s past.

The goal of this project is to encourage JOY:
The joy of observation.
The joy of wondering how Utah came to be.
Earth Science Education hopes you will enjoy understanding how geologists figure out Utah’s past history. Click here to read ESE’s mission.

Feel JOY when you go outside and see the evidence.  
Success: That’s all it takes!
Step 1: Go outside!! Look around and see specific patterns that recur. We’re not in New England. We can see our rocks without all those lovely trees that get in the way.
Step 2: See patterns and wonder how they came to be. Geology is cumulative. The future builds on the past.
Step 3: Use the web text as a resource. This web text presents the evidence and explores how it came to be. It explains what we “know” about the look of Utah in the past, Life back then, the tectonic processes back then, and how erosion/deposition carved the landscapes back then. It explains Utah’s past. However, this history aims to give you the skills and knowledge to see at least the basics yourself. We hope you will go outside and figure out a few relationships between older and younger features. That’s the joy you may acquire.

Specifically, this web text is for teachers. By teachers, we include teachers in Utah schools and informal teachers such as grandmothers and scout leaders. We write this text for anyone who would like to share the JOY of going outside, observing patterns of the physical world, and wondering how those patterns came to be. Wild success is communicating what you see with your students or family.

Ties to SEEd: Utah teachers know that science standards change. This text does not focus on facts or names. It explains “how we know” Utah’s geologic past based on SEEd standards:
Patterns: “If your students can see patterns, they can be scientists.” That is so powerful. Of course, if they can see patterns, it prepares them to be accountants or even bank robbers (not recommended!!).
Cause and Effect: Earth’s two extraordinary processes are Tectonics and erosion/deposition. Over time, they have changed Utah’s landscapes and written Utah’s geologic history in the rock record.
Numeracy: Teachers ask us to tie to numeracy. Topics such as “duration” directly address this opportunity.

Prepare to be amazed by Utah’s geologic history: 
The time frame is vast and unimaginable. Our goal is that you will be able to see relationships between what is older and what is younger in pairings of rock units. That is how Earth scientists figure out geologic history.

Prepare to take pride in Utah’s geologic evidence: Utah has the most complete record of North America’s geologic past.

Prepare to appreciate that Utah earns its “This Is The Place” motto: Utah, where North America has accommodated change for over a billion years!!

Note: Much of this web text will be under active construction. We share what we have drafted. If a cell of the grid is gray, it has no content.

Wander and wonder. Wonder and wander!
This web text’s organization is less linear than a history book, read front to back. This web text is a grid with two axes. The grid consists of cells. Each cell is the intersection of the vertical axis and the horizontal axis.

The vertical axis is time. Tectonic environments, as defined by L.F. Hintze and Bart J. Kowalis (ADD LINK), define the breaks between chapters. Indeed, tectonics rules! (ADD LINK). The first “chapter” of Utah’s past is the oldest, really, really oldest, and at the bottom of the grid. The youngest chapter includes present-day Utah and is at the top of the grid. The oldest chapter presents the formation of early North America. The youngest chapter presents the evidence and effects of active tectonic spreading of the Basin and Range province. It explains why Utah has earthquake hazards and how Utah has Great Salt Lake.

The horizontal axis is topical, with nine topics: Duration, Big Concepts, Rocks, Then, Evidence, Now, Rocks’ Stories, A Brief History, Tectonics Then, Landforms Then, Life Then, Fossils Now, and Scenery and Places. What interests you? Find that “chapter” and find the”topic.” Click on that grid cell, and there’s a chunk of information.

If you, dear teacher or a student, want to know what Utah was like when dinosaurs roamed the state, look at the grid; find “Chapter 5: Deserts and Dinosaurs,” click on that grid cell and explore. Then, you may want to explore other times and their life forms by moving horizontally
across the “Life then, fossils now” column. For example, should you decide to know more about the trilobites that swam in Utah’s coastal waters, move to the grid cell Duration – Chapter 3 – Shallow Seas and click on Life then, Fossils Now.

Other elements of this web-text include:
SNIPPETS. Snippets are short explanations of a concept discussed in the text. (Not active 12/2023).
GLOSSARY. The glossary explains terms. It will present information about landforms (physical features on Earth’s surface) such as “mesa” and “canyon.” (Not active 12/2023.)
REFERENCES: the primary source for this history is Drs Hintze and Kowallis, (date) and (correct title) LINK. We hope this web text “translates” that technical text written for geologists active in Utah into language and concepts useful for teachers. We have not attempted to update
its content, let alone improve it. We hope we have done it justice. Consider acquiring the Geologic Highway Map of Utah LINK as your expertise increases.

Conclusion: This web text is most likely read on your computer or in the classroom. We hope it is a helpful guide to Utah’s past and inspires curiosity. We hope this web text inspires you and your students to see patterns outside. That wonder is the JOY!