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May 2, 2024

Geology students take learning to underground mine, observation sites


A group of Northwest Missouri State University geology students recently took advantage of an opportunity to study the history and rock exposure of southeast Missouri during a visit to one of the biggest lead-zinc mines in the world.

Assistant Professor of Geology Dr. Onema Adojoh and Senior Instructor of Geology Jeff Bradley led students in Northwest’s historical geology and petrology course on the field trip, April 11-12, to southeast Missouri, where they visited the Doe Run Company’s Fletcher mine, Roubidoux Creek and Jefferson City Dolomite.

Northwest geology students and faculty toured the Doe Run Company’s Fletcher mine in April. (Submitted photos)

Northwest geology students and faculty toured the Doe Run Company’s Fletcher mine in April. (Submitted photos)

Visiting the Doe Run Company’s Fletcher mine helped students see some of the ways their geology skills can be applied in a career.

Visiting the Doe Run Company’s Fletcher mine helped students see some of the ways their geology skills can be applied in a career.

The students also observed Precambrian dolomitized reef and stromatolites, lead-zinc mineralization, Gasconade sedimentary rocks, disconformity, marble boulder bed and Cotter Formation in the region’s landscape dating back hundreds of millions of years to the Cambrian and Ordovician eras.

Doe Run Company’s underground Fletcher mine extends about 1,000 feet below the Earth’s surface and houses varied types of geologic features and igneous rock structures that host commercial minerals.

Students also visited Reynold, Phelps and Cole counties to examine outcrop exposure and complement the theoretical lectures presented during their coursework.

By observing the evolution of Precambrian igneous and sedimentary rocks, students gained a deeper understanding of the relationship between advanced-level geology and biology courses – such as stratigraphy and sedimentation, depositional systems, systematic paleontology and paleobiology.

The trip allowed students opportunities to meet world-class professionals and talk with them about the historical geology and petrology of rocks at various locations.

“Field experiences like this one will help equip our students to make informed decisions regarding the environment in the future and most pressing environmental and economic problems – all of which are influenced to a major degree by geology and biology,” Adojoh said.

Elena Flores, a junior middle school education major from Springfield, Missouri, said the experience helped her better understand how rock structures can reveal the geologic history of a region – as well as the economic value they hold and diverse skills needed in fields such as mining. After graduating from Northwest, she hopes to begin her career as a middle school science teacher.

“Not only am I armed with new information about the history of our geologic life, but actually having physical representation of what we are talking about, which provides an even deeper understanding,” Flores said. “I have to be able to work with what I have, be able to pivot quickly, and work with the local community, which are all skills we practiced on the trip.”



Contact

Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215
660.562.1704
mhorn@staffdevelopmentpros.com