Barrow virtual field trip, Athro Limited, Education on the Web:
 Skull Cliff 

You are now about 45 km south of Barrow, Alaska, in the vicinity of Skull Cliff. A reasonable campsite is available on Tuapaktushak Creek about one km to the southwest. In summer, fresh water is available about two km up Tuapaktushak Creek.

Arctic fox

There is plenty of wildlife in the area, and you might see, to name a few, caribou, arctic foxes, and wolves.

Orentiation to virtual field trip: Air photo of region around Tuapaktushak creek (south of Barrow in northern Alaska) showing sea cliffs, tundra, and dominant landforms.
Infrared aerial photograph of Skull Cliff.

This is a false color infrared aerial photograph of Skull Cliff and vicinity. Vegetation strongly reflects infrared radiation, and appears red in this image. Most of this image shows the wet tundra characteristic of the north slope of Alaska. There are many elongated roughly north-south oriented shallow lakes in this area, most of those visible in this image are swampy areas that appear as mottled red and blue ovals. Several creeks drain northwards into the Chukchi sea, these can be distinguished by their branching patterns. The tundra is covered with vegetation and underlain by permafrost, so the exposures of underlying rocks are found along the coast. Here the sea is eroding fresh exposures in sea cliffs, such as Skull Cliff.

There are two dominant landforms visible here - the dendritic drainages (little streams and things) eroding into the tundra, and the large shallow oval lakes.

Sea cliffs, Tundra, and Gulies at Skull Cliff
Features found on aerial photograph of Skull Cliff.

This virtual field trip explores sediments exposed on sea cliffs and in gullies at Skull Cliff. Most of these sediments are part of the Quarternary Gubik Formation. You can examine exposures in two adjacent gullies, labeled as Sections 20 and 65 on the image to the left. (These numbers come from J. Brigham-Grette's doctoral dissertation. They are her numbers for sections that she measured at Skull Cliff.) Overlain on this aerial photograph are images of the main topographic features in this area. Along the Chukchi Sea, Skull Cliff has a relief of some 75 feet. Other significant exposures are found in gullies that cut into the tundra (and permafrost) and drain down Northwest into the sea. You can click on this image to look more closely at these features.

From here you can:
Explore Section 20
Explore Section 65
Explore the tundra

Sources: The chief reference on the stratigraphy of the Gubik is (Brigham,1985). The best reference on the fossil molluscs from the Gubik is still (MacNeil, 1957). Recent papers on the age and climate history of these deposits include (Brigham-Grette and Carter, 1992; Kaufman and Brigham-Grette, 1993 Brigham-Grette and Hopkins, 1995).
For a list of the pages that are part of this trip see:
List of places and activities in this trip

This field trip is part of the Athro, Limited web site.
Copyright © 2000 Athro, Limited. All Rights Reserved.
Written by Paul J. Morris
Maintained by Athro Limited
Date Created: 2000 Jan 16
Last Updated: 2000 Jan 18