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Welcome to the Geological Society of Minnesota

The Geological Society of Minnesota is a public-spirited, nonprofit educational organization that has been in operation since 1938. Our ongoing mission has been to promote public interest and supply educational support in the geological sciences. We do this by sponsoring free lectures and labs at the University of Minnesota, conducting statewide and regional field trips, holding classroom presentations for schools, maintaining a media library, publishing relevant information for public distribution, and maintaining and expanding upon a series of geological markers located throughout the state.

GSM's exciting, illustrated Seminars are presented by leading professionals in their fields of Geology or Earth Science. These engaging talks are free and open to the public, and are especially valuable for enthusiastic learners from secondary school students to adults. A question and answer opportunity is always included. Where else can you enjoy an intriguing exchange with a leading scientist or educator? Our novice-friendly labs demonstrate at a comfortable pace the ideas and principles of geology and earth science. They allow an involved, hands-on learning experience for beginners, or a helpful refresher for the seasoned enthusiast. These instructive sessions are also free and open to the public. Where else can you actively practice science, under expert guidance, for free? 


Seminars and Labs

The schedule of seminars and labs for 2017-2018 is now available; click here 
All seminars and labs are free and open to the public.

The seminars are on Mondays at 7:00 PM in Tate Hall Room 105 on the University of Minnesota campus, except where noted otherwise. Note the this is a different location than the 2016-2017 lectures. MAP

 GSM will make any decision canceling or postponing a lecture due to inclement weather no later than 3:00PM the day of the lecture. This information will be posted on the GSM home page
The U locks its doors promptly at 7 PM.  Please wait, as a person will come every five minutes until 7:15 to let in latecomers.

Next Seminar: Monday, February 26, 2018 7:00 PM   (RESCHEDULED)

Glacial Geology of Washington State

Katherine Marshall, MS, Minnesota Geological Survey

LOCATION: Tate Hall, 116 Church St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

Room 105. MAP


Washington, like Minnesota, was glaciated multiple times during the Quaternary Period. As the Puget Lobe of the Cordilleran ice sheet advanced from the north, it carved deep channels in the Puget Lowland and deposited thick sequences of glacial sediment. To the east and west, glaciers coalesced and advanced in valleys of the Olympic Mountains and Cascades. Studies of glacial deposits and landforms along with radiocarbon and luminescence dating have established chronologies for many of these glaciers. These chronologies reveal the glaciers of Washington state did not behave in a synchronous manner. Instead, the mountain glaciers of the Olympic Mountains and the Cascades reached their maximum last glacial extent several thousand years before the Puget Lobe of the Cordilleran ice sheet reached its maximum extent.


Katie Marshall is a Quaternary Geologist at the Minnesota Geological Survey (MGS). She joined the MGS in 2013 and produces surficial maps, quaternary stratigraphy plates, and sand distribution models. Katie has worked in Becker and Wadena counties and is currently mapping Dodge, Olmsted, and Steele counties. Katie has a Bachelor of Arts (2011) from Earlham College, where, for her senior research project, she studied deposits from the 1771 Meiwa tsunami. She received a Master of Science in Geoscience (2013) from Idaho State University where she studied glacial geology and geomorphology on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington and in Wanaka, New Zealand.   


Next Lab: Saturday, February 24, 2018 10:00 AM

Hands-On Rocks and Minerals

Conducted by Jeff Thole, M.Sc., Lab Supervisor at Macalester College

LOCATION: Macalester College Geology Dept.,

SW area of basement of Olin-Rice Science Center (Building 14),
(south end of campus, by tennis courts) Meet in Room #100.

Campus Map     Road Map

ADVISORY: Macalester is hosting a large track meet this weekend with the same start time as this lab, which will affect parking near Olin-Rice building this Saturday morning.  See map for details discussed below:!ct/2556,2569  . To see the name of each parking lot on the map, hover over the P symbol.

The lot labeled West 1 (west side of Olin-Rice) is gone due to construction.  No public parking will be allowed along the ball fields or just north of the tennis courts (nearest Olin-Rice) as those will be used for buses and vans from the various schools at the track meet.  The lot right off Snelling Ave ("South Parking" on west side of Olin-Rice) will likely be full due to the track meet.  Our suggestions for GSM member parking are the West 2 and 3 lots and street parking on S Vernon St and Princeton Ct just west of campus.

We recommend carpooling for those planning to attend. We also recommend arriving early. Olin-Rice building has a lobby with many superb geological and paleontological displays, plus hallways with many very fine scientific photographs. You could easily spent a half hour looking at all the displays the building has to offer, so arriving early has that added benefit.


For the less mobile participants, cars should be able to unload and turn around near the northeast corner of the tennis courts through which is the south central entrance to Olin-Rice. 



The Geological Society of Minnesota will conduct a hands-on rocks and minerals lab in the Olin-Rice Science Center of Macalester College.  This lab will give you the opportunity to investigate common rock-forming minerals and how to identify them.  You will also have the opportunity to observe and identify common igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks in hand sample and through the use of thin sections and petrographic microscopes.  Jeff Thole, Lab Supervisor and Instructor at Macalester, will lead the discussion.  Several others will be there to assist as well. This lab is free and open to the public, with no advanced registration required. Signs in the building will direct you to the lab and we will meet in OLRI 100 (center of building, lower level) for a brief introduction.


Jeff Thole is the Geology Laboratory Supervisor and Instructor at Macalester College.  He arrived at Macalester in 1996 after doing 5 years of environmental consulting.  His work experience also includes spending a year as a geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia.  His primary duties include teaching introductory labs and maintaining, running, and user instruction for the instrumentation housed in the Macalester Science Division’s Keck Laboratory.  Jeff received Master of Science in Geology from Washington State University in 1991 and Bachelor of Science in Geology from the University of Minnesota – Duluth in 1987.  

Summer Fun Activities

Visit our Road Marker web site GSM Road Markers where we have create a geologic summer vacation game called Marker Treasure Hunt visit the site for more details.


Field Trips


GSM conducts professionally-guided field trips. Typically, these are excursions made to locations of geologic interest not usually experienced by the casual traveler. Local field trips can be as short as a few hours, others might encompass a weekend, and still others might take most or all of a week. We have travelled as near as the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and as far as the San Andreas Fault and Death Valley in California. These trips provide a satisfying and memorable learning experience because there are always plenty of opportunities to ask questions of the experts and do hands-on investigations. A comradery with enthusiastic learners and people curious about their natural environment is always a reward in itself. Depending on the destination, there may be a modest charge that includes shared expenses, and a liability waiver must be signed for each participant.  Taking part in the fun may permit Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for teachers and extra credit for students. Past and upcoming field trips are described here.



Speakers for metro area elementary schools are available through the Public Service Committee to help enrich the education of young learners, particularly the 2nd to 4th grade levels.


Membership in the society is open to anyone with an interest in geology. The benefits of membership include:

  • Extensive Media Library - GSM maintains a collection of more than 240 geological DVDs. These are available to the members at lectures or through the mail for a nominal rental fee. Catalog
  • GSM Newsletter - A quarterly(Feburuary, May, August and November) publication containing announcements of upcoming activities, interesting and informative articles on the earth sciences, GSM project and activity reports, and general club news and notices. Past issues
  • GSM Directory - An annual book that is a handy information resource, and makes it easy to access your organization.
  • The opportunity to meet others of diverse backgrounds who share an enthusiasm for learning and a curiosity for the natural world around them.
  • The rewarding feeling of supporting a public-spirited, nonprofit organization dedicated to public education.

Membership Information