Geology and land surveying careers are focus at Edgar Springs Science Day

For more information: 573-751-1010
Volume 37-161 For Immediate Release: June 8, 2009

ROLLA, MO, -- Sixty-five Phelps County R-III middle school students from Edgar Springs recently experienced hands-on science activities and learned about careers in the earth sciences during a field trip to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Division of Geology and Land Survey campus in Rolla.

Throughout the morning, geologists offered unique opportunities for the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students to identify rocks, minerals and fossils, learn about earthquakes and how geology and mankind impact environmental issues. Land surveyors provided hands-on training to educate the students about the role that professional land surveyors play in our lives. Cave formation, protection, safety and gear were topics of discussion as well.

Science teacher Diana Hasten said, "What is really great is that the experiences our students received from staff are great building tools for future learning. They draw student attention to new topics in earth sciences."

Led by land survey staff, students set out with maps in hand to survey the grounds. They located pins that had been set in the ground when the area was surveyed nearly 40 years ago. Students also peered through land surveying instruments used to measure points on the ground. They learned that the U.S. Land Survey System in Missouri, maintained by the Department, is the basis for all property boundaries in Missouri.

A tour of the Ed Clark Museum of Missouri Geology presented an opportunity to learn about Missouri rocks, minerals and fossils. A geologist explained the New Madrid Seismic Zone that stretches across southeast Missouri is the most active seismic area in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains. The region experiences more than 200 micro-earthquakes (magnitude 1.0-2.0) each year. Earthquakes in the New Madrid area in the winter of 1811-12 were some of the largest to strike the United States. Geologists with the Department create geologic and earthquake hazard maps for Missouri and work closely with various federal and state agencies, providing data and expertise.

A discussion about Missouri's caves and springs rounded out the morning. Missouri has more than 6,300 recorded caves, including 20 show caves, which are open to the public for guided tours. These conduits are a vital component of Missouri's water resources and scenic beauty. Students also learned that they have responsibility for protecting these treasures.

"Our staff members always look forward to providing students good educational experiences outside the classroom, especially since this affords them an opportunity to consider careers in the earth science and natural resources areas," said Hylan Beydler, the Information officer for the Geology and Land Survey Division. "It is increasingly important that young people understand the importance of protecting, preserving and enhancing Missouri's natural, cultural and energy resources."

The Department's museum is open to the public weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The division also offers maps and publications such as fact sheets that provide information about land surveying and the state's geology. Additional information can be found online at


Editor: Photo is available at

Cutline: Edgar Springs students learned about land surveying from Jason Lortz (center), Scott Faenger (left) and other staff with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Division of Geology and Land Survey in Rolla. Aided by a survey map of the Rolla campus and by applying mathematics and surveying techniques, the students were able to locate points that had been established on the ground nearly 40 years ago.