By: Daniel Johnson, Staff Reporter | Photo By: Scott M. Roberts, Photojournalist
The study of geology studies the aspects of planets, rocks and other natural formations, said part-time MSE Instructor John Rogers.
Geology of New Mexico, course number EPS 1096, educates students about the geological history of the state. Examples of New Mexico geology can be seen while driving down almost any highway, he said.
“My goal is to take a student with interests in geology and build on those interests, but to also take a student with no interest and get them excited about it,” said Rogers.
The study of geology can seem like a chore, but keeping it exciting is a challenge that is worthwhile, he said.
History Major Joel Wiglesworth said that he has always been curious about geology, but the study of New Mexico’s geology seemed more relevant and fascinating than a basic geology class.
“Since the class is based on New Mexico, it became a great introduction to geology and whetted my appetite for more,” he said.
C o m p u t e r Information Systems Major Omar Flores said that he loves the class and finds it extremely fascinating.
New Mexico has a vast rock record with a lot of history within it, so it is perfect to explore while hiking or camping, he said.
“If you are an outdoor person, learning where and how New Mexico came to be and what it looked like in the past will blow your mind,” said Flores.
Rogers said that the class is great for locals to see how much history can be found in their own back yards.
“I offer optional field trips to all my classes to places like Tent Rock, El Morro and El Malpais as a way to get out and explore how special New Mexico is on a geological level,” he said.
Some of the field trips involve a lot of walking while others are just driving from place to place to look at different things, he said.
“Some trips are really hands on, for example, we went to the Sandia Mountains to look at the Great Unconformity and then did fossil hunting,” said Rogers.
Flores said the field trips are a great experience since Rogers uses them as educational day trips that leave students knowing more when they finish.
“I went on a field trip to Tent Rocks and could see how the ash from volcanoes formed the rock and, over time, water eroded that rock into a giant tent looking formation,” said Flores.
Rogers said there are also trips to areas near Taos and Socorro for mineral collecting.
“On some trips I am more of a student than the instructor because, even if you spent a lifetime studying geology, there would always be more to learn — and that is a wonderful thing,” he said.
Wigelsworth said he was surprised the class is not just a lecture-and-test format and thinks the field trips are a fantastic idea.
“The hands-on samples are intriguing and help make lecture more real by providing proof of topics being discussed,” he said
Rogers said he describes the class as a trip through New Mexico in geological time and space.
Topics include the types of volcanoes in New Mexico and how the state is home to one of the largest Triassic bone beds in the world, he said.
“New Mexico has a rich and diverse geological history that includes dinosaurs, mining, volcanic activity, earthquakes and even marine fossils,” said Rogers.
Geology is a wonderful thing for everyone to know about and starting at home makes it more exciting and relevant for students, he said.