Questions for a Geoscientist

As geoscientists, we encourage all Iowans to learn more about earth processes and materials. Below are some resources to help answer common questions about Iowa’s landscapes and earth materials. If you have further questions, please complete this form. As our time and resources allow, we will do our best to provide additional information or guidance to members of the Iowa community. The Iowa Geological Survey offers public outreach as part of its mission. Visit their website to learn more about the resources available to all Iowans.

Landforms of Iowa
The geologic history of Iowa and the processes that shaped the landscape are fascinating. If you have questions about the topography of the state or the glaciers and rivers that shaped it, these FREE publications by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are a great way to learn more.

Fossils
Many people become interested in geology after finding fossils. Iowa has quite a few well-known fossil-bearing rock formations. Most Iowa fossils were once marine animals, reflecting Iowa’s history as a vast, shallow, warm sea. Concretions are often mistaken for fossils. These common geologic phenomena occur in almost all types of sedimentary rock, including sandstones, shales, siltstones, and limestones. For more information on identifying fossils, please see the following resources.

Meteorites
The odds of finding a meteorite are slim even if you see it fall. Most disintegrate before reaching the ground or get lost in the sediments that cover Iowa. For more information on meteorites and identification, please see the following resources.

Donating specimens or collections
We are always grateful to be considered for donations. However space and resources to manage collections is very limited in our department. We do not have the staff to sort, identify, or evaluate collections. The GeoClub, our undergraduate geology student club, are open to donations of rock and mineral collections to help fund club activities. Please complete the form and someone from the club will follow up.

The focus of our work at Iowa State is educating students and conducting research to advance our understanding of earth processes and materials. We cannot offer advice or council on legal matters including but not limited to property disputes, mineral or fossil rights, or water quality. We cannot authenticate meteorites, fossils, or other potentially valuable artifacts.