IUGS Geoheritage


The Grand Canyon (GC) was selected as one of the FIRST 100 IUGS Geological Heritage Sites at the recent 60th anniversary meeting of the IUGS in Zumaia Spain. This geologic laboratory encompasses nearly 2 billion years of Earth’s history and is one of the most iconic sites on the globe. These rocks and unconformities record dramatic changes in Earth systems in an impressive scenery with outstanding geomorphology and current geological processes.

Connections to human heritages make Grand Canyon an ideal place to launch a series of IUGS Geoheritage adventures that provide the opportunity to explore and share the geology of some of the most spectacular geological sites on Earth.


Karl Karlstrom. University of New Mexico. Grand Canyon geology and tectonics.

Laura Crossey. University of New Mexico. Grand Canyon stratigraphy and chemostratigraphy, hydrogeology.

Stanley Finney. Secretary General, International Union of Geological Sciences. Stratigraphy and paleontology.

Asier Hilario. Chair, IUGS International Commission on Geoheritage. Geoconservation and Geotourism.


  • Interdisciplinary science. To bring together all different geological disciplines of the Grand Canyon geology.
  • International encounter. To encourage international collaboration among geologist from all over the world.
  • Geoconservation and Geotoruism. To strength the Geoheritage concept in / from one of the most iconic geological sites on Earth.
  • Local cultures. To stimulate the connection between science and local indigenous cultures.
  • Geological adventure. To enjoy an incredible scientific experience in a 9 days raft trip through the Grand Canyon.   


  • The group size is limited to 28 participants divided in two boats ( 14 participant each boat).
  • The nine-day river trip covers 280 miles from Lees Ferry to Pearce Ferry. On average, we cover about 25 River Miles per day (three hours per day of motoring through spectacular geology).
  • Numerous, very rigorous, half-day to all-day hikes are planned to visit geological outcrops, so participants must be physically capable of such hikes.
  • Interactive sessions: (1) discussions on the outcrop; (2) “plenary” discussions at morning and evening seminars with presentations from each participant and (3) short talks and discussions on boats while floating past key areas.

Logistics and preliminary program (April 1 – 11, 2024)

The trip will be run by a commercial charter rafting company (Grand Canyon Expeditions Company /

April 1. Participants arrive in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA in time for an evening orientation meeting and pizza dinner at 6:00 PM.

April 2. 4:30 AM Bus to Lees Ferry and launch in the late morning; group will travel downriver 20–50 river miles (RM) per day, camping on beaches

  • April 2: RM 0–32: Introduction to Paleozoic stratigraphy
  • April 3: RM 32–52: sub-Devonian unconformity and Cambrian Tonto Group
  • April 4: RM 52- 75 Carbon to Lava Chuar loop hike and examine the Shinumo SS at 75 mile
  • April 5: RM 75-91: Unkar Group along river
  • April 6: RM 91-108 Vishnu Basement 
  • April 7: RM 108-133: Great Unconformity at Blacktail Canyon and SV landslide
  • April 8: RM 133-188 : lava dams and long boat day to Whitmore
  • April 9: RM 188-242: long boat day and Lower Gorge
  • April 10: RM 242-280 by jetboat:, take out at Pearce Ferry: bus to Las Vegas, arriving by 4 PM

April 11. Departure from las Vegas.

Registration. Who can attend?

The adventure is limited to 28 Earth scientists. 

Anyone with an expertise or interest on the geology of the Grand Canyon and Geoconservation and Geotourism is welcome. To apply, please email Karl Karlstrom ( before June 1 (2023) with a letter of intent that includes:

  • Name and affiliation / country
  • Experience / expertise. Which can be your main contribution to the field discussions?
  • Which is your main interest in participating in the Grand Canyon geological raft adventure?

The list of final acceptances will be announced by July 1, 2023.

Estimated cost

The registration fee of U.S. $3,550 will cover camping gear, all meals, and field trip transportation. This is paid directly to Grand Canyon Expeditions.  

Participants are responsible for their own travel to and from Las Vegas, lodging in Las Vegas and optional additional travel insurance.

An initial deposit must be paid by August 1 / full trip must be paid by January 15 (2024)

NOTE. The IUGS in not involved in the funds of the expedition.