Category Archives: Geology

Calling Future Paleontologists

Do you know a high schooler who loves fossils or wants to be a paleontologist? The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History has a fantastic program aimed just for them. It’s called Paleo Expedition and the museum is looking for twelve kids to take part.

They’ll get hands on training at geological and paleontological sites in Oklahoma, including the famed Black Mesa site. Best of all, it’s free. As in $0 to attend! The deadline to apply is March 27th.

But wait, there’s more. The Sam Noble Museum has another program called Oklahoma Science Adventure for students in 6-8th grade. The goal is to show the kids what science is like out in the field. They’ll research fossils as well as live animals. It’s also free! 

I really could go on an on about the programs offered through the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum, they also have one just for teachers. But your best bet is to visit the museum’s explorology website. It’s chalk full on information for parents and teachers.

This Scientist is OK- Dr. Jim Derby

Dr. Jim Derby is a geologist. He’s worked in the petroleum industry and taught at the University of Tulsa. He’s very proud of the textbook he authored about the geology that makes up most of North America. I always enjoy getting the chance to speak with him. He’s definitely an OK scientist.

Help Track Oklahoma Earthquakes

There sure has been a lot of shake, rattle, and roll in Oklahoma over the past few years. We’re talking earthquakes. The most recent was just this morning (Dec. 1st) and several earthquakes hit over the weekend.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey reports the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma has steadily increased since 2009 and calls the situation “unusual”. There are theories and this study that say injection wells are to blame for some of the seismic activity.

I plan to explore this situation down the road sometime but, whatever the cause, there are ways you can help scientists track earthquakes. Just contact the Oklahoma Geological Survey. There’s an easy to fill out form on the OGS website. It’ll help scientists know where and when the earthquake struck, as well as any damage that may have been caused. You can also request a device to be placed on your property to measure seismic activity.

It’s important to have as much data as possible when tracking earthquakes. It’s the best way to help scientists figure out just exactly why it’s happening.

What Am I Reading? Well, glad you asked.

I’m big on reading. Now, I don’t get to read as much as I’d like but I do try to always have a good book at my side. Lately I’ve been reading a lot by Scott Sigler. His Galactic Football League series is a blast and the Infected trilogy would make for a fantastic movie. But I really love reading science books (go figure). So I’ll try to pass on my suggestions from time to time and let you know what I’m currently reading.

Right now it’s The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood by David Montgomery.  Pretty descriptive title that tells you exactly what the book is about. Montgomery examines how scientists of the past have used rock formations and the Bible to describe the events of Noah’s flood. I’m big on geology and Montgomery does a good job explaining how rocks are formed and how they move throughout time. It’s chock full of examples showing how early geologists used confirmation bias to come to their own conclusions. They wanted the story of Noah’s flood to be true so they formed their scientific conclusion around their religious beliefs.

The Rocks Don’t Lie is a great read for anyone no matter what their experience is with geology. Montgomery is very descriptive and this book is a fascinating look at a popular biblical tale.




A Coral Reef in Tulsa

A 20-minute drive (give or take) can take you 300-million years into the past. Redbud Valley Nature Preserve is a fantastic place to take a walk and learn about the area’s geologic history. Hundreds of millions of years ago eastern Oklahoma was covered by an inland sea. The water helped create this amazing geology.

Redbud Valley has a nature trail that winds through a woodland area and small prairie but the best part is the Bluff Trail. According to Susan Carr, a naturalist at the Oxley Nature Center, the cliff is made up of two layers of rock that date to the Pennsylvanian age which lasted from about 318-299 million years ago.

Redbud Valley Nature Preserve

The upper layer of the rock, according to Carr, is about 12-feet thick. You don’t have to look hard to see a lot of holes. Those holes are called Vugs and indicate that this area was once home to an ancient coral reef.

Redbud Valley Nature Preserve Redbud Valley Nature Preserve

Along the cliff face you’ll find rock that’s older than the coral reef. This is a layer of shale. It’s formed when minerals such as quartz, mica, or pyrite settle at the bottom of a body of water. The minerals mix with decaying organic matter in the mud. The pressure builds, lots of layers form, and the mixture eventually become rock thanks to a process called lithification.

Redbud Valley Nature Preserve Redbud Valley Nature Preserve

Who says time travel isn’t possible?!? I can’t even get my mind around how long it took to form these rocks. Geology is simply amazing.

Redbud Valley Nature Preserve is open Wednesday through Sunday from 8am-5pm. It’s a great place to spend the afternoon (unfortunately, dogs are not allowed).

Susan Carr will host a Geology walk on Oct. 19th, 1:30-3pm.