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Northern Ecology

What's This Rock 3? Southern North Shore’s Geological Story

Course Overview

How many times have you walked along a cobbled beach or a rocky ledge along the North Shore and wondered, “What’s this rock? Where did it come from? Why is it here?” Lace up some sturdy footwear and head into the field to be immersed in the fascinating geology of the southern part of Minnesota's North Shore with UMD emeritus geology professor Jim Miller. This is a newly added third part of the “What's This Rock?” series* that will focus on “reading the rocks” between Silver Bay and Two Harbors. Like the other What's This Rock courses, the geology of this area tells the 1.1 billion-year-old story of fire and ice that created the Lake Superior basin. An introductory lecture on Friday evening (at Tettegouche State Park Visitor Center) will introduce you to basic geologic terms and principles that will help us interpret the geologic story of the area. On Saturday, we will visit various rock exposures between Two Harbors and Silver Bay that illustrate the story of lava eruptions that spilled across a vast barren landscape over one billion years ago. We will also investigate sediments and landforms formed by enormous continental glaciers that carved out the Lake Superior basin over the past two million years. On Sunday morning, we hike around Tettegouche State Park and examine its diverse geology. Students ages 8-15 are welcome to enroll with an adult (call for a 25% intergenerational discount); ages 16 and up can enroll on their own.

*The three courses in the "What's This Rock?" series do not need to be taken sequentially nor are they prerequisites to each other.

 This course will not be based at North House Folk School. Instead, the instructor will meet the students at Tettegouche State Park Visitor Center, which will serve as the homebase for the course. Students are encouraged to make lodging arrangements in the Tofte/Silver Bay/Two Harbors area. At this time, we are not able to provide group transportation so we will likely carpool. Our hope is that a mini-bus will be available for an additional fee to reduce the driving necessary for this course and to promote group discussions. Obviously, pandemic conditions at the time will define this option. This course does not require a state park sticker.

Required Tools

  • Sturdy footwear
  • Rain gear
  • Hat
  • Water bottle
  • Lunch for Saturday

Optional Tools

  • Camera  
  • For safety reasons, rock hammers are not allowed
  • All participants will be given a high-visibility orange vest to wear during highway field stops

Currently Scheduled Sessions

No sessions currently scheduled for this course.

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