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Geology students attend fossil festival

Nearly 30 undergraduate students enrolled in introductory geology field methods and paleontology participated in a “fossil and mineral dig” as part of the Falls of the Ohio State Park’s annual Fossil Festival this past weekend in Clarksville, Ind., across the river from downtown Louisville.

The Falls area is famed as a high biodiversity zone associated with its approximately 385 million-year-old fossil beds (Devonian Period).

In addition, the students were led on a field trip up I-65 by geology professors Dr. Michael May and Dr. Fred Siewers. On the I-65 portion of the trip, the students observed the roadside geology and studied and sketched an impressive road cut exposing rocks making up the famed knobs region in northern Hardin County.

The field trip and participation in the Falls of the Ohio Fossil Festival is one of several field excursions the professors are planning for the students this fall semester.

“It is important to get our students out to the field anywhere we can and it just so happens that we are fortunate to have the scenic knobs area up I-65 and, in the Louisville area, the world’s largest exposed Devonian-aged reef,” Dr. May said. “Both of these are areas where students can examine first-hand these excellent geologic and paleontologic resources. The field brings relevance to the classroom experience.”

Students were quite excited not only to observe the reef at the Falls of the Ohio State Park but also to collect fluorite and associated minerals and fossils brought in as piles provided for the Fossil Festival visitors.

“Geology field trips have a long tradition of excellence at WKU,” said Dr. David Keeling, head of the Geography and Geology Department, “and are critical engagement activities that prepare students for success in practical ways.”

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