UIU Assistant Professor Kata McCarville
and her students examine the largest
reported glacial erratic boulder in Iowa,
which is located west of Nashua.
FAYETTE, Iowa (February 11, 2011) — Upper Iowa University is looking for rocks – big rocks – that have been left behind by glaciers as they moved across the Iowa landscape thousands of years ago. Students are compiling a database of rocks left behind by the glaciers and need area residents to notify them about glacial remnants left in their fields.
Kata McCarville, UIU assistant professor of geosciences, noted that area residents have frequently seen remnants of glaciers whenever they see a big rock out in a field in Fayette County. These large boulders that have been transported by glacial ice are called “glacial erratics,” McCarville said, adding that smaller erratics are usually called “field stone.” Glacial erratics occur on many Fayette County farms, although some have been dynamited, buried or moved, she added.
By collecting the locations of these rocks, and combining that information with maps of topography and soils, the conditions under which these glacial materials were deposited can be studied, McCarville said.
Students at Upper Iowa University are working with McCarville on this research project. Sarah Kray, an environmental science student, is studying the glacial deposits within Fayette County as her senior thesis. In order to rapidly develop a database for the study, student teams in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are collecting location and rock type information for glacial erratics and piles of field stone.
By March 1, the project team would like to locate as many glacial erratics as possible in or near Fayette County. McCarville is asking residents who know of boulders or piles of field stone, whether they are in their original locations or not, to contact Kray at firstname.lastname@example.org or to call McCarville at 563-425-5233. Even if the rocks have been moved or buried, the information is of value for the research, she added.
Monica Bayer Heaton
Executive Director of Communications and Marketing
About Upper Iowa University
Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs and leadership development opportunities to over 6,600 students—nationally and internationally—at its Fayette campus and learning centers worldwide. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and independent study. For more information, visit www.uiu.edu.