Geology Professor Believes Every Rock Tells A Story

By Zac Schultz | September 19, 2018


Marcia Bjornerud loves rocks. As a Geology Professor at Lawrence University in Appleton she tries to instill that passion for rocks in her students. “We put a big emphasis on field based learning. We try to instill in students a curiosity about what these rocks signify.”

Bjornerud says rocks are not just inert objects, “They’re records of events that affected this part of the world as well as the entire globe.”

Bjornerud says she’s an accidental geologists. She found her career taking a required science credit and stuck with it. “Every day I’m grateful that I found my way into this field because it does have such explanatory power for me. Suddenly it was like learning the etymology of a word. It was here’s the etymology of landscapes around us.”

Bjornerud says all parts of Wisconsin have interesting stories. “The northern third of the state or so are the oldest rocks ranging in age from about a billion years old all the way back to about 2.8 billion. We can see the guts of these ancient mountain belts and volcanoes. We have in fact a longer record of geologic time here in Wisconsin than all of the Grand Canyon. The rocks in the bottom of the Grand Canyon are relatively young compared with the oldest rocks in Wisconsin.”

“I do love rocks, and to me again, they have mysteries to share with us,” says Bjornerud. “I don’t think we’ll ever get down to the bottom of all of them. Geology is such an amazing lens through which to see the world, wherever you are, there’s something geological under your feet. Landscapes are ephemeral, they come and they go, that there have been other versions of this place and the globe, but we are also part of this immensely long story. So it doesn’t diminish us, it should enhance our sense of wonder and connection to the natural world.”

Zac Schultz

Zac Schultz is a reporter for the “Wisconsin Life” project who thinks three-minute stories and one-line bio descriptions are woefully brief.
2018-09-20T13:55:46-05:00Tags: |

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