Interpreting geology in Yosemite National Park, California : a monument to strong granite, powerful glaciers, and the perseverance of life Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/6d5700421

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  • This thesis develops a thematic, geology-based interpretive training manual for the interpretive staff at Yosemite National Park (YNP), California. The manual will help staff understand and convey geologic principles to park visitors who are all experiencing a dynamic landscape comprised of glacially-sculpted igneous rocks. Basic geology and the results of the latest research in YNP and the surrounding region are included in ways that are meaningful to interpretive staff and park visitors. As a result, interpretive staff members are encouraged to incorporate more geology in their programs than they might otherwise. Chapters in the manual are primarily explanations aimed at a non-geologist audience, and therefore include less technical explanations of concepts and research. More technical "Zoom-In" sections are aimed at a geologist audience. Those sections include more technical explanations and summaries of current research. Chapter 1 is an introduction to geologic processes active in the formation of the landscape in YNP using geologic time as a framework. It emphasizes regional processes such as subduction, plutonism, uplift, and glaciation. Chapter 2 uses climate change to link landforms in YNP and the glaciers that sculpted them. This includes a discussion of Milankovitch Cycles and their influence on the glacial history of Yosemite. "Zoom-In" sections focus on radiometric and cosmogenic dating and their contribution to the understanding of glaciation in YNP. Specific examples of different landforms in YNP are used to illustrate glacial erosion. Chapter 3 focuses on the link between geology and the flora and fauna in Yosemite. There is an emphasis on weathering, erosion, and subsequent rockfall to form habitat. Chapter 4 focuses on the link between geology and people. This chapter expands on the processes introduced in the previous three chapters through a discussion of the Yosemite Indians, sheepherding, mining, rock climbing, and current visitors in YNP. There is a significant emphasis on plutonism including an introduction to pluton amalgamation to provide the background for Chapter 5. Chapter 5 presents my own research of the contact zone between the El Capitan granite and the Sentinel granodiorite in the vicinity of Yosemite Valley. Fieldwork was conducted in areas that visitors frequent and was done in a way that can be easily conveyed to park staff and the visiting public. I also synthesize published research regarding the link between active volcanoes and pluton emplacement in this region. Presentation of this research will broaden geological interpretation at YNP by giving the interpretive staff a better understanding of the relationship between the exposed granite-type rocks in YNP and the ancient volcanic mountain range associated with their emplacement. Each chapter includes "Interpretive Aside" sections concentrating on supplemental information, geological interpretation methods, and tangible-intangible connections that can be used by the YNP staff during programs. I have included methods that I developed in my two summers as an Interpretive Ranger in Yosemite Valley as well as other methods that have been successfully used by members of the interpretive staff at YNP.
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