Questions for a Geoscientist

As geoscientists, we encourage all Iowans to learn more about earth processes and materials. Here are some resources to help answer some common questions about Iowa’s landscapes and earth materials. 

Landforms of Iowa
The geologic history of Iowa and the processes that shaped the landscape are fascinating. If you have questions about the topography of the state or the glaciers and rivers that shaped it, these FREE publications by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are a great way to learn more.
Landforms and Geology – Iowa’s Nature Series
Geological Places to Visit – Iowa’s Nature Series

Many people become interested in geology after finding fossils. Iowa has quite a few well-known fossil-bearing rock formations. Most Iowa fossils were once marine animals, reflecting Iowa’s history as a vast, shallow, warm sea. Concretions are often mistaken for fossils. These common geologic phenomena occur in almost all types of sedimentary rock, including sandstones, shales, siltstones, and limestones. For more information on identifying fossils, please see the following resources.
Iowa Geological Survey – Fossils
Paleontological Research Institution – Concretions

The odds of finding a meteorite are slim even if you see it fall. Most disintegrate before reaching the ground or get lost in the sediments that cover Iowa. For more information on meteorites and identification, please see the following resources.
Iowa Geological Survey – Meteorites in Iowa
University of Arizona Lunar & Planetary Laboratory
A Comprehensive Guide to Meteorite Identification
Meteorite Testing and Classifying Institutions
Meteorite or Meteorwrong?

The focus of our work at Iowa State is educating students and conducting research to advance our understanding of earth processes and materials. We cannot offer advice or council on legal matters including but not limited to property disputes, mineral or fossil rights, or water quality. We cannot authenticate meteorites, fossils, or other potentially valuable artifacts. The Iowa Geological Survey offers public outreach as part of its mission. Visit their website to learn more about the resources available to all Iowans.

If you have further questions, please complete this form. As our time and resources allow, we will do our best to provide additional information or guidance to members of the Iowa community.

Go Cylcones!