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Renovated outdoor rock display open for exploration

Rock display
The renovated display is outside the SC building.

With the transformation of SMT into the newly renovated Cedar Hall, geology instructors Katy Shaw and Kathryn Hoppe leapt on the opportunity to expand and improve the rock display, which had been quietly sitting outside the old building for more than 30 years.

Green River's large outdoor rock display began with Gerald M. Miller, the college's first full time geology instructor. Miller curated a small collection that consisted of several large boulders and columns of volcanic and metamorphic rocks from around Washington state. The rocks show a variety of large-scale geologic features and they have been an invaluable teaching tool for all geology classes.

When Gerald Miller passed away in 1980, the rock display was turned into a memorial to his memory. They have been sitting under the trees outside the old SMT building ever since.

metamorphic rock
A metamorphic rock with extensive veining, showing a complicated and high-pressure history.

Now, just as the old SMT has been improved and refurnished, so has the memorial.  This spring Shaw and Hoppe spent countless hours scouring local landscaping companies and sculpture studios. Together, they gathered more than 25 additional large rocks for the display. After consulting with Paul Metivier and Heather Corneilius of the Fine Arts department, Shaw and Hoppe came up with a plan to arrange the rocks in an artistic way that balances educational opportunities with pleasing aesthetics.

The rocks were put in place this summer with invaluable assistance from facilities staff Sam Ball, Tom Trindl, Ed Bloch and Rick Getchman.  The display is now visible in a new location next to the geology classroom in the Science Learning Center.

The current outdoor rock display features a wide range of rocks from across the country, representing an outstanding variety of rock types and many interesting minerals and geologic structures. Katy Shaw's favorite rock, shown left, is a metamorphic rock with extensive veining, showing a complicated and high-pressure history. Other rocks show features such as preserved sand ripples and volcanic glass. The expanded display will be an invaluable teaching tool for all Earth Sciences classes.

If you walk by the display, check it out, then drop by the geology department and ask questions about what you see.