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Explore Iowa Geology

UNI Earth and Environmental Sciences

Geology and Environmental Sustainability in the News

Geology plays a pivotal role in our daily lives and well-being. This story comes from the New York Times Daily Podcast. The episode was played on May 22, 2020. You can listen to or download the the podcast here

New York Times Daily Genie Chance and the Great Alaska Earthquake Podcast Page from a book This is Chance by Jon Mooallem

Key points: Natural disasters, Human Imacts, Human Resilience, Leadership, Taking charge. I think the most important take away from this story may be found in the ending quote from Jon Mooallem “But - and maybe this part’s harder to explain — it doesn’t feel depressing to me now because I also know that, sealed inside this vulnerable little snow globe we call the present, life feels anything but forgettable and meaningless, and that recognizing the starkness of it all, the course our straight line is taking, liberates us into the present. It imbues life with immediacy, just like a disaster does. And just like disaster, it gives us the chance to expand those boundaries the only way we can, by reaching out, by connecting our lives to the lives of others, by thatching our lines together like a net.”

Important questions - Could Iowa experiences an Earthquake? How do we prepare prepare for the future natural hazards? Who will step up in challenging times? Who will be Iowa’s Genie Chance, the next time we face a great challenge?

Iowa's connections to geologic concepts

The Earth is dynamic. Iowa’s geologic past reveals a fascinating history of plate tectonics, volcanic rifts, shallow seas, meteor impacts, glaciers and much more. While it remains possible to have or at least feel an earthquake in Iowa, our chances are low. Through geologic mapping and research we know that Iowa has at least three major fault zones: The Thurman Redfield, Plum Creek, and Iowa City-Clinton. Hover your ‘mouse’ over the Iowa Bedrock Map below to see where the faults are located. The Iowa Geologic Survey published a report on the Plum River Fault Zone (large pdf download) in 1985 and some background on the Thurman-Redfield Fault Zone in 2003. There are fascinating relationships between humanity and our environments, the Genie Chance story points to fragility, recovery and opportunities that may be found in our interactions with Planet Earth.

Mouseover Bedrock Map to see Iowa's major fault zones.

Further investigation

USGS 1964 Alaska earthquake page

U. of Alaska-Fairbanks Earthquake Center