Grand Valley Magazine Spring 2015 - (Page 26)

FOC A L POI N T Mine-crafting photo by Amanda Pitts | by Matthew Makowski Exploring six miles of tunnel in a 100-year-old mine containing rocks approximately 330 million years old in a West Michigan gypsum mine is just another day in the "classroom" for Grand Valley geology students like Zach Curry. Eighty feet below the surface in the Wyoming gypsum mine owned by the Michigan Natural Storage Company, Curry has been researching mud cracks, which are the sedimentary structures found in the ceilings of the tunnels. His goal is to better understand exactly how and under what conditions these mud cracks formed. "The gypsum mine has been one of the most valuable educational tools I have ever had," Curry said. "It is a place where students can not only learn about geology through the rocks, but also about the history of the Grand Rapids area." In the early 1900s, gypsum was mined primarily for agricultural lime; however, most gypsum today is used to make plaster board. The company converted the abandoned mine into 26 Spring '15 a cold storage and document warehouse in 1957. Curry will present his research at a regional Geological Society of America conference in Wisconsin in May. He said the mines provide students with two essentials skills any prosperous geologist must have. "Observation and interpretation are two critical components of becoming a successful geologist and the gypsum mine provides a perfect place to improve these skills," Curry said. Peter Riemersma, associate professor of geology, said since Grand Valley faculty received permission to take students into the mine for field trips, the mine has been an invaluable educational resource. "As many students have never been underground or in a mine, it's an activity that is filled with discovery and exploration," Riemersma said. "The gypsum mine allows me to give the students a feel for how geologists interpret sedimentary rocks and what they can do."

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Grand Valley Magazine Spring 2015

Campus News
Donor Impact
Behind the gallery
Beer boom
Reenactment takes center stage in classroom
Global GV
Focal Point
Q&A Harmon, DesArmo
Off the Path
Alumni News

Grand Valley Magazine Spring 2015