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Rainbow Basin is just north of Barstow, CA, and is an excellent badlands-style exposure of the Barstow syncline in the Miocene Barstow Formation. In the first mapping class, their assignment is to map the basic geology of the basin, using a couple of distinctive marker beds within the Barstow Formation. Several faults postdate the fold, and three different ages of alluvial deposits occur within the basin. We camp in the nearby Owl Canyon campground, and spend three days in the field. More time could be spent with an introductory class, but three suffices to get most of the basin on the map. They are charged with writing up descriptions of the rock units they encounter. From the field map, students transfer information to an office copy, add a map explanation, and draw a cross-section through the map area. Mapping is done on a topographic map, specifically developed for the basin, with 10-foot contour intervals. This is a proprietary map, so permission is needed for its use.
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