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DEATH VALLEY: Thirteen earth and environmental science students studied the geological features of Death Valley during a class trip in mid-January. Pictured left to right, at a flood-deposited boulder in Mosaic Canyon are: Back row - Rachel Bleshman '06, graduate student Astrid Hesse, Nathan Boon '06, Caitlin Herlihy '06, Devin Ludwig '06. Front row - Adam Rose '06, Maya Gomes '06, Vanessa Meer '06, Jeremy Fairbanks '06.

 The students studied the valley's salty Badwater Basin, the deepest point in North America, located 282 feet below sea level. The students endured 50-mile-an-hour winds and temperatures ranging from 30 to 60F.

Astrid Hesse, left, and Caitlin Herlihy collected salt samples in the Badwater Basin for lab analysis. The lab analysis will reveal the presence of rare earth elements in the salt.

Martha Gilmore and Phillip Resor, both assistant professors of earth and environmental sciences, led the Death Valley Field Trip. The instructors teach the year-long course, which involves a semester of classroom work.

Pictured left to right, Vanessa Meer, Caitlin Herlihy, Maya Gomes, Gabe Knight stand atop the Ubehebe Crater. Gomes is holding red flags used to mark the location of gullies in the vicinity of Little Hebe, the smaller crater beside Ubehebe. Research documenting the grain size of particles at the distal portion of the gullies, located around the rim of the crater, may indicate the presence of water. Data may be used to calibrate remote sensing techniques that are currently being used to detect the presence of water on Mars. The trip was supported by the Harold T. Stearns Scholarship Fund for Geologic Study. (Photos contributed by the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department)