A wealth of rocks, gems and minerals awaits those who travel to Western Wyoming College in Rock Springs this weekend.
The college is holding its sixth annual “Fall Geology Expo,” a chance for the public to visit its extensive geology and archaeology collections and learn more about its nationally acclaimed geology program, said Dr. Dana Pertermann, associate professor of geology and anthropology who created the expo in 2013.
“There’s a whole bunch of things that having the expo here accomplishes,” she said. “One is getting the community involved. Two is disseminating geologic information. A lot of people don’t know that Rock Springs and Green River are in every first-year geology textbook for the Green River Formation and Rock Springs Uplift.”
The event Saturday, open to the public at no cost, is also designed in part to raise money for activities in the Geology Department that Pertermann heads, including field trips, a summer field school and scholarships.
Events featured at the expo include hands-on activities put on by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Geological Survey, Pertermann said.
“They always come up with something different every year,” she said. “It might be using rocks as tools, it might be flintknapping. They get pretty creative every year to try to get people interested.”
Also on hand will be vendors selling a wide array of minerals, gems and stones, Pertermann said.
“A lot of them actually specialize in a particular stone in the rough,” she said. “One vendor specializes in moss agate or ‘Sweetwater stone,’ a particular kind of agate found near the Sweetwater River. We have another vendor who specializes in minerals from around the world. He goes to shows around the world and collects samples and then brings them here to Rock Springs.”
Also selling items will be the college itself, which will make specific items from its own collection available for purchase to raise money for the Geology Department.
“We have a huge collection,” Pertermann said. “I sell parts of that to benefit the students.”
Of particular interest to buyers in the past have been topographic maps, some of which have been in the school’s collection since it launched its geology program in 1972, she said.
“We usually get some interest from the hikers,” she said. “Some of these maps are really interesting. They make wonderful wall decorations.”
J Circle K International, the college arm of the Kiwanis Club, will also be on hand serving food and drinks for donations to its various causes.
Throughout the day, members of the public are encouraged to tour the college’s Natural History Museum and it collection of fossils and dinosaurs.
For more information about the Fall Geology Expo, visit the Western Wyoming College website.