Consider that some 500 million years ago, the Twin Cities teemed with tropical marine life. A mere 50,000 years ago, the region was buried beneath glacial ice and local wildlife included prehistoric elephants. These fantastic scenes, so alien to our modern surroundings, are nevertheless evident in the geology of the Twin Cities. This one-day immersion offers the opportunity to visit local sites that reveal the fascinating geology of our distant past.
The day will begin with an illustrated presentation about the region’s geological history. You’ll also learn how to see and interpret the local landscape through a geologist’s eyes.
We’ll then travel by coach to several sites that illustrate the startling geological contrasts to be found in the region. First, we’ll ride to Mounds Park to see the geological development of the Mississippi River, including a waterfall that once rivaled the mighty rush of Niagara Falls. Then to Lilydale Park, where you will hunt for fossils, including those of 450-million-year-old marine creatures.
At Ford Dam Overlook, we’ll learn to identify the common rocks underfoot and read the evidence showing the site was once home to a large waterfall. Finally, at Minnehaha Falls, you will see where the “migrating” falls of the Mississippi River have come to rest and uncover clues to the area’s more recent glacial past.
Participants should be prepared to walk on uneven and potentially damp terrain. Tuition includes transportation, meals, and refreshments. Itinerary subject to change.
Jim Miller, PhD, University of Minnesota, is an associate professor of geology at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, where his research specialty is the geology of northeastern Minnesota. Previously a senior geologist with the Minnesota Geological Survey, Miller has conducted geological research and led field trips for geologists and nongeologists for more than 30 years.