The Baja Basins Program provides students with a unique U.S.-Mexican collaborative research opportunity that combines digital field mapping techniques with state-of-the-art laboratory analytical work on the tectonic evolution of the Santa Rosalía basin area in the Gulf of California rift. Few places in the world expose volcanic and marine sedimentary sequences and large uplifted Quaternary terraces that can be used to understand the processes involved in the progressive stages of continental breakup. Because of the rapid tectonic motion in the Gulf of California rift, the Santa Rosalía basin area is a site where the stratigraphic history and processes of deformation can be studied in detail with exceptional exposures and accessible outcrops.

The Baja Basin Program is a seven-week program divided into a January field trip to México and a July laboratory session held at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC).  During part one, students conduct three weeks of fieldwork studying rocks, sediments, and landforms in basins of the Santa Rosalía area mentored by faculty from UMKC, UC-Davis, University of Oregon, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, Indiana Geological & Water Survey, and Mexican collaborators from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur and Universidad de Guanajuato and hosted in part by local mines.  Fieldwork during winter break (intersession) takes advantage of cooler weather and allows time for commercial lab analyses and lab materials to be prepared for the summer component.  During part two of the Baja Basins project, students spend four weeks at UMKC compiling and drafting field data, collecting and analyzing lab data, and during the final week, preparing and presenting an abstract and poster.

The program was originally funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site during 2015-2017. The Baja Basins REU site was re-funded by an NSF grant for three more years as an International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) program. The Baja Basins IRES ran in 2019-2020. The 2021 program was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The final year of the Baja Basins IRES program is scheduled for 2022.


Dr. Tina Niemi, Baja Basins Program Director;
Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, UMKC
Email: niemit@umkc.edu