Geology

Indiana Stones. Henry A. Ward was professor of natural sciences at the University from 1861 to 1875. He was also a fearless rock hound whose travels around the world enabled him to amass a collection of about 40,000 geological specimens. His aunt assumed his adventures would end with him being eaten by cannibals, falling into a volcano, or being killed by some other danger. None of those happened, but he did contract smallpox, which he promptly bull whipped in the face and kept on collecting. His actual death was fairly pedestrian—a car accident in 1906; he was 72.

Graveboulder? Devastated by the death of his sister, T.T. Swinburne, Class of 1892, committed suicide by jumping into the Genesee River in 1926. Years later, someone probably said, “Hey, you know that 26-ton boulder, near Irondequoit Bay? Wouldn’t that make a great memorial for T.T.?” Rumors that Swinburne’s ashes were buried beneath the boulder—now resting near Interfaith Chapel—were proved to be “boulderdash.” In 1932, Herman L. Fairchild, professor of geology and natural history at the University from 1888 to 1920, waxed geologic about the giant rock’s composition.

Do-lo-mite! Around 400 million years ago, the Rochester area was covered by a warm, shallow sea that was responsible for the formation of the extensive rock unit known as the Lockport dolomite. So what? So, according to Lawrence Lundgren, professor emeritus of geology, the boulders outside of Susan B. Anthony Residence Halls are more or less Lockport nuggets plucked from the bedrock when an ice sheet retreated from the area 10,000 years ago. Some Lundgrens are more appreciative of “rocky” issues than others.

Million-Year-Old Baby. Restored at the University of Rochester… Put on display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington… From the Middle Silurian period… belonging to the genus Arctinurus… Measuring at six-and-one-half inches and approximately 425 million years old… one of the best preserved ancient arthropod fossils in the wor-r-r-l-l-l-l-d… I-I-I-I-It’s a trilobite! Recovered by an amateur fossil hunter in York, N.Y., the trilobite spent 100 hours in restoration at the University, led by Gerry Kloc, a lab technician in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Meteormaggedon. There have been five times in the last 500 million years where Earth was the worst place to be. University geologists have contributed to evidence that two of those times Earth was the recipient of an interstellar “bonzai drop” from a massive meteor. The more merciful of the two wiped out the dinosaurs (65 million years ago); the other (185 million years earlier) is known as “The Great Dying.” The second meteor killed 90 to 96 percent of all species. Thanks to Michael Bay, we’re ready for the next one.

[MC]