The Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS) and University of Wyoming Geological Museum are hosting a free public event Oct. 15 in celebration of Earth Science Week. “Wyoming Rocks: Critical Resources for a Sustainable Future,” will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Geological Museum at the University of Wyoming (UW) in Laramie.
Earth Science Week 2022 is Oct. 9–15 and celebrates, “Earth Science for a Sustainable World.” The theme emphasizes the essential role of earth sciences in helping people make decisions that maintain and strengthen the planet’s ability to support thriving life, according to the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), who has organized the national and international event since 1998.
The local festivities will feature activities highlighting a sustainable future and some of Wyoming’s finite resources, such as minerals, critical elements, and the rocks we find them in that play a critical role today and in our future.
“We don’t realize how many items in our households are made from minerals,” says Christina George, WSGS Outreach and Publications Manager. “From the food we eat, to the material used in building our houses, minerals are involved.”
The event will feature hands-on activities, including a scavenger hunt in the museum’s, “Hero’s Rock Collection,” making a rock identification kit of where critical minerals in Wyoming are extracted and mined from, a creative art activity, and more that are in the works.
“Many rocks that we frequently hike on or drive by in Wyoming are actually the source for many important critical minerals and resources, but we don’t even know it,” says Dr. Laura Vietti, the UW Geological Museum and Collections Manager. “For example, helium, a top critical element in the world, is believed to source from the Madison Limestone deep underground near La Barge, Wyoming. This limestone formation is common throughout the state and can be seen in the Wind River Canyon among many other places. We are hoping to bring these rock resources to our participants and instill a sense of importance and pride in our Wyoming rocks, even the common looking ones.”
The event also includes partnerships with the UW School of Energy Resources and Art Museum. Wyoming Homeland Security has provided promotional items about earthquake preparedness, an important step for the future. Earthquakes occur on a daily basis in Wyoming, and it is essential to be prepared.
In addition to the hands-on activities, the Harry C. Vaughan Planetarium will have two free showings of their show, “Leftovers! Asteroids, Comets, Meteors, and Rings,” during the event, at 10:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
The AGI’s goal for the annual celebration is to help the public gain a better understanding and appreciation for earth sciences and to encourage stewardship of the earth. The WSGS and Geological Museum have held the local celebration for several years. Both organizers look forward to returning to an in-person event after a three-year hiatus.