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Geology expert 'rocks' Delta County Libraries

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Given that geologist Dr. Dave Noe has spent the last 10 years outdoors, thoroughly exploring ranches, state parks, and BLM and Forest Service land, it might seem inappropriate to confine him to a library meeting room to give a presentation about his field. However, Noe works as well indoors as he does out, keeping his audiences rapt during lengthy discussions of the local geological maps that are the result of his work.

Noe's research is part of a federal grant program that funds the research and creation of geological maps for almost 25 years. Noe says, "Colorado, represented by the Colorado Geological Survey (CGS), is one of 45 states that has participated in STATEMAP since its inception. Previously, only the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) created geological maps." Although Noe has finished his work with CGS, the mapping continues in other parts of the country.

Noe credits local landowners with his success. "I worked with an incredible array of contributors who help us with our mapping projects. First and foremost are the landowners. Overwhelmingly, private landowners have been curious about the geological makeup of their lands, and have allowed our geologists access to those lands. We've also received support from municipal and county governments, federal agencies, state agencies, universities, natural-resource producers, environmental groups, and private geotechnical and hydrological firms."

Each map is a visual feast of color and information, providing Noe with a starting point for his presentations, as he explains his discoveries and then expounds on that information.

Noe has already spoken to large audiences in the Paonia and Hotchkiss Libraries, and plans to be at the Crawford Library on Thursday, May 12, at 5 p.m. He did the field work for the Crawford map in 2014 and explains that the map details the geology of the town of Crawford and vicinity, including Missouri Flats, Maher and the eastern part of Fruitland Mesa.His talk will also touch on the formation of the Smith Fork Valley and other local features.

In addition to the nitty gritty details, Noe has broader goals for his presentations, saying, "There is a geologic story all around us. I aim to connect people to the wonder and beauty of the area by showing examples of the geology that makes up the surrounding landscape." He continues, "For example, Needle Rock has been interpreted to be a vent that fed molten magma to a now-eroded volcano. Our detailed mapping has led us to different interpretation. I will unveil our new interpretation at the May 12 talk!"

Noe will provide maps and deliver presentations for areas further west in Delta County, aiming to reach the Delta and Cedaredge Libraries in late summer and early fall. Each map is as different as the community that supported its creation.

"We are thrilled to have an expert in such a relevant and interesting field offering programs at all of our libraries," says assistant library district director LaDonna Gunn. "His presentations appeal to a wide variety of people. Hopefully some of our patrons will see our local landscape through new eyes, thanks to Dr. Noe."

While his name conjures images of old James Bond movies, Noe really is a modern-day investigator, processing information from eons ago and converting it through sophisticated technology into formats that residents can understand and appreciate.

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